I am in my 60s and dating men in their 40s. The sex is great – so why do I feel guilty?

I have always preferred younger partners, but now that I am getting older I think other people are getting judgmental

Woman stretching in bed (posed by model)
‘I have always looked young.’ (Posed by model.) Composite: Getty
‘I have always looked young.’ (Posed by model.) Composite: Getty

Last modified on Tue 12 Jan 2021 07.00 EST

I am a divorced woman in her 60s who has recently dated a couple of men in their 40s. I have always looked young and my ex-husband is much younger than me. I have never thought much about it, but now that I am getting older I think other people are becoming judgmental. The sex is great and they are not boys, so why do I feel guilty?

It is not easy to shrug off societal judgment. I suspect the people who judge you negatively would barely notice a man in his 60s with a 40-year-old woman. Is there an obvious derogatory word for an older man who dates young women? No. Ageism, hypocrisy and double standards regarding “acceptable” partnerships abound in our society. In most cases, age differences between partners are no one else’s business. Your best course is to ignore judgmental looks or comments – including congratulatory words that constitute veiled criticism. People who are sexually confident can attract adult partners of any age – and they have a right to feel comfortable about that.

  • Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

  • If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@hlcarpenter.com (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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