Dear Dr. Archer,
I know this sounds so cliché, but I fell for someone I met on the Internet. I am 33 years old, single, and have no problem getting dates. However, I am a bit of a party girl, and I normally meet guys who share the same interests. Most are handsome and single, but not very serious.
I guess you can say I’m tired of being in the same rut, so I stopped clubbing altogether and just go out with my friends for a drink. I made a new rule that I wasn’t going to meet any guy ever again from a club. It was good to break this cycle, and I started enjoying other interests, like going to the museum, orchestra, plays and reading.
I was feeling so good up until I met this guy! I was on this gaming site, playing against him; we’d always seem to bump into each other online. One thing led to another, and we started talking, friending each other on Facebook, and getting to know each other.
I trust this guy. We seem to share a bond, and we’re able to finish each other’s sentences. The only problem is that he’s way younger than me. He’s only 23 years old!.
We were both open about our ages in the beginning, and there was never anything romantic. It was always fun and friendly. We started talking in December of last year, and recently he confessed that he had feelings for me.
To be honest, I didn’t expect this, and I fought against it because of our age difference. In fact, I decided to be sensible and stop talking to him — I started going out on dates again and even met a good guy. But I can’t stop thinking about this younger guy who made such an impression.
He’s emailed me saying that I should at least give him a chance, regardless of the age factor. Do you think I’ve lost my mind to even consider this?
No. I don’t think you’ve lost your mind. The age difference doesn’t bother me at all. If both parties are over 18, age is irrelevant. The question is: Do you share the same goals and ideas about the future? Age is a number. The issue is the maturity level. Some 23-year-olds are as immature as a young teenager, while others are thoughtful and mature beyond their years.
There are many stigmas put on women for a variety of reasons, with age being one. If she dates an older man, a woman is labeled a gold digger; if she dates someone younger, she’s a cougar. The truth is, it’s no one’s business who you date. If you consider the age difference to be an obstacle, then an obstacle it will be. If you decide it’s not, then you have a chance for a loving relationship.
However, one thing must be clarified. Have you ever met this guy in person? Meeting him face-to-face is a must before deciding how to proceed. Often, relationships that begin on the Internet turn into a disaster when the parties actually meet. To give this relationship a chance, meet this guy first, without making any promises. If you are happy with each other, then great, give it a shot.
But, dating a “good guy” while thinking of another implies that this good guy may not be right for you. Your Internet friend may or not be, either, but you won’t know that if you don’t meet, right? Dana Delany, famously known for dating younger men, said “…younger men are just more fun. I like their energy. I’ve always been kind of young for my age.”
If you meet this guy and like what you see, and you accept him for who and what he is, then enjoy. Don’t let age be an excuse not to find love. Good luck!
Dear Dr. Archer,
I love my wife, but I’ve fallen for a co-worker. I’m fighting these feelings for my co-worker as hard as possible. I know what I should do, but I just can’t seem to do it.
I thought time would reduce these feelings, but it’s not happening. They’re difficult to deny. I try not to think about it, but it’s always there; something always brings it back. I think my co-worker knows what she’s doing, because when I do something to distance myself, she does something to bring me back — like a text, email or personal contact.
It’s so subliminal, almost like a game. I want to get out of the game without confessing my feelings and without hurting anyone. How can I achieve that without changing my job?
This happens more than you think. You’re playing with fire, and if you continue down this path, you’re going to get burned. Quit entertaining thoughts of this other woman. If you don’t, you chance devastating your wife and losing your family. By allowing this to continue — and you are allowing it — you risk losing it all.
Perhaps this feeds your self-esteem and that’s why you allow it to continue. If this co-worker actively pulls you back when you pull away, then man up and tell her the way it is. Tell her you’re happily married and mean it. Tell her to stop the emails and the texts. And then put your energies into making your marriage fabulous.
Consider the words of Winston Churchill, who said “A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality.” If you want to get out of the game, then get out of the game. It’s not up to her; it’s up to you.
If you don’t take charge quickly, it will soon be too late. The only thing left will be regret. Now do what you already know you need to do. Good luck.
Dear Dr. Archer,
What makes a mind go blank? Ever since I was little, if asked to remember something, I totally go blank. Given a clue, I can remember everything. This has made me fear that I appear stupid, and that’s affected me socially. School was a nightmare, and tests were the same.
I’ve tried some memory tricks, like remembering a name and associating it with a visual clue, but then I would forget the clue. I really feel part of my brain isn’t working. I didn’t even recognize my own newborn in the hospital. I looked at several and couldn’t pick him out.
You’re not alone. Many times, anxiety can shut the brain down faster than the speed of light. Thought processes change, and the brain may as well hand out a “Gone to Lunch” sign. Read the chapters on generalized anxiety and social anxiety in my book, Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional, and see if the descriptions apply to you.
When the mind goes blank, we all feel dumb and dumber. We feel everyone is ridiculing us, and think we are stupid. In short, we get an inferiority complex. You can continue to let this get to you, in which case it will probably become worse because you’re worrying about it, or you can shrug it off. I suggest the latter.
If and when this happens, simply say “My mind went blank.” Whoever you’re talking to has had this happen, and they’ll understand. The harder you are on yourself, the more this is going to happen. Try your best to laugh it off.
In the meantime, try this: Focus your mind on what’s in front of you or what the person is saying. Do not focus on yourself. Concentrate on what’s being said. As far as circumstances, like recognizing the baby or other people, study features, mannerisms and how they talk.
We tend to become distracted or irritated by things we don’t understand. Those tests you mentioned are an excellent example, because this is when many of us experience a problem. It’s okay; that’s normal. Take a deep breath. Relax. If you don’t know the answer to something, skip it and come back to it later.
There’s a saying, “The human mind is like a TV set. When it goes blank, it’s a good idea to turn off the sound.” There’s wisdom in there. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.”
If this doesn’t help, then consider counseling. Perhaps anti-anxiety medication can help.
Dr. Dale Archer is a board certified psychiatrist who founded the Institute for Neuropsychiatry in Southwest Louisiana. He’s a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN Headline News and other national TV programs and the author of the New York Times best-selling book Better than Normal. Visit him at DrDaleArcher.com.