Friday, March 19, 2010

Do we need to appreciate our men more?

I've been researching what men really want from their wives and partners. Surprisingly, the thing the guys seem to desire most is to be appreciated.

The breaking news of Oscar-winning actresses Sandra Bullock and Kate Winslet's marital problems made me wonder if their husbands felt the same way. I posed this question on my other site, True/Slant, and stirred up quite a spirited conversation. Check it out by clicking here.

I'll be writing more about this topic in future posts, so stay tuned!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Love with a younger man - how much difference does age make?

This is the second part of a story about Nora, a beautiful actress who fell in love with a much younger man. For part 1, scroll down or click here.

You know the stereotypical Cougar relationship where the predatory, well-preserved woman seduces a hot young stud, tutors him in the ways of love, and trots him around to chic bistros and art galleries until the attraction wears off?

Nora and James' relationship was nothing like that.

Since they were friends before they dated, Nora, 46, and James, 30, had a lot in common from the start. Both worked in the arts, they shared many of the same interests and goals. And unlike Nora's prior lover, kids weren't an issue for James - he didn't want any.

Within just a few dates, Nora was crazy about James and they fell into an intimate, laid-back routine. They spent all their free time together, working out, riding bikes, writing, cooking and hanging out at the farmers' market. In LA, eclectic couples were everywhere; Nora didn't feel self-conscious about being with a guy who was obviously younger.

She certainly didn't feel intellectually superior to James - he was the one who taught her things. He taught her how to text message, helped fix things around the house, and even helped her write the screenplay she was working on.

"He made my life so much easier," she said. And he adored her.

He asked Nora, "Did you ever think you'd be loved so much?"


James wasn't the tall, dark and handsome type Nora usually fell for. He was boyishly charming, but when he took off his clothes, he was all man. Not only was he ripped, he was.... well, as Nora put it, "I could see where he got his confidence."

Their love life was very, um, satisfying. Eventually they moved in together.

Their relationship flourished for over a year in California, but James wanted to pursue his writing career back in Boston. He begged Nora to move there with him.

Things were different after they moved. Their simple LA lifestyle was staggeringly expensive in Boston. James had to work at three different jobs just to pay the bills. Nora wasn't getting much work as an actress and took a job as an administrative assistant in a medical office. She thought about going back to school.

Their jobs kept them so busy they rarely saw one another. Through his work, James made a lot of new friends who he hung out with after hours. Nora felt excluded and lonely.

When James suggested she apply to school in Chicago to be closer to her kids, Nora knew it was the beginning of the end. Ten days after she moved to Chicago, he broke up with her on the phone.

That was a year ago. Nora hasn't seen him since.

"It doesn't work out with younger men," she told me. "Men in their 30's change."

She wonders now if James didn't want to introduce her to his new friends in New York because she was so much older.

Nora isn't entirely over James but she's moving on with her life in Chicago. She's working, studying and has reconnected with her family and friends. She has even dated a couple of guys her own age, which has been an adjustment after being with hard-bodied James for four years.

"I went out with a 52 year old man and when he kissed me good night, his big belly made contact before his lips. I went inside my house and cried."

Nora isn't interested in another young guy, but she would like a man who is fit and healthy and takes care of himself, like she does. For now, she's in no hurry.

"I've decided not to be looking. I need to get whole as a person."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Falling in love with a much younger man

Nora* is an actress, a writer, and an absolutely gorgeous woman. With her trim figure, tousled brown hair and flawless complexion, it's not a shocker that her most recent relationship was with a hot 34 year-old guy. The only surprise is that Nora is 50. She appears at least 10 years younger.

"You look fabulous!" I gasped when my friend Susan introduced us over dinner at Union in Evanston. "How do you do it?"

Nora shrugged. "I take care of myself - I eat well and I exercise," she said. "Genetics help. And I'm an actress, so I know how to stay thin."

I was eager to get the skinny on the slimming secrets of a professional actress, but Nora's regimen didn't offer up any shortcuts.

"When my pants start feeling tight, I exercise more and eat less."

Right. I sucked in my stomach and changed the subject.

Nora married her college sweetheart when she was 20 and gave birth to the first of two children at age 21. In her 30s she was one of the top commercial actresses in Chicago. Ten years ago, she and her husband split, flinging Nora into the unfamiliar, chaotic world of dating and sex.

Well, not that much sex.

"Here I was at my sexual peak, raring to go, and I couldn't find anyone to sleep with. I was worried I'd never get laid again," she remembers.

At last Nora found a guy that really turned her on: Paul. "We saw each other across the room at a networking event. It was instant attraction. My insides were vibrating."

Paul appeared to be about the same age as Nora, but as they got to know each other, one thing was clear. Paul wanted to have kids; Nora was finished with that. Even though they knew it wouldn't work in the long run, the connection was irresistible.

"We decided to have a love affair," said Nora.

Since they were living in the moment, it didn't matter that Paul was actually 12 years younger than Nora. Their relationship lasted about four months.

"It was a healing, nurturing and exciting experience for both of us."

At 46, Nora left Chicago to pursue her acting career in Los Angeles. That's when she met James - an aspiring writer who bartended at the theater where she performed. James was cute. He was confident. He was definitely interested in Nora. And at 30, he was really, really young.

Too young for Nora, she decided. Her own son was only five years younger. But James was there at the theater every night, watching her on stage, waiting for her after the show, asking her out. Nora refused to date him, but slowly, she got to know him. They became friends.

On the closing night of her play, James took Nora out for dinner. They went back to her place, listened to old record albums and talked and talked. The current between them crackled.

Finally James said, "Stand up. I want to kiss you."

Nora stood.

"I thought to myself that night - okay, just one more young man, and that's it."

Check back next time to find out how Nora & James' relationship developed and what love was like with a much younger guy.

*Not her real name.