Dating at Midlife/End of Rope



I am in a long term relationship that I am seriously thinking of leaving. I don't feel respected. Maybe I am too demanding and that is why I am writing you. I suspect I am not.

My boyfriend is 61 years old and incredibly stubborn. If I don't do something he thinks is right or if I ask for what I need I become the bad guy and he threatens me with breaking it off. Tonight,it was because I was bothered by the fact that he asked me to cook dinner and have it ready by 8:30. He and his brother were playing soccer. So 8:30 rolls around and then another 30 minutes go by. He calls me tipsy and says that he and his brother have been drinking with the team and he will be home later. I asked why he couldn't call me at 8:30 and tell me this and he says that he is not going to get up from a conversation and call me! I raced home from work to make this dinner at his request and he won't even make an effort to let me know he is running late! Not ask my permission just give me a heads up.

I am tired of being disrespected. He says that if I want a man who calls then he is not it. Then he tried to kiss me. I am just sick of this treatment. How do I stand up for myself in a way where I can get what I want, which is respect for my time and efforts. Or do I just bail?

Hi  Rachael,

You have a very difficult problem.  

I have worked with others in this situation and I have spoken to women
who have been very successful in achieving the change you are asking for.
It was touching to hear how the couple looked back on how they were.
He said, "She changed me and she tamed me. I was a very difficult man."
She said, "I did and it was like dropping water on a stone."

She is now a counselor and she said, "I tell women that they have to
make demands on their husbands because it teaches them how to love and
how to be a better person."  

She was a very strong woman and they had a powerful emotional and
sexual connection and she was very clear, loving and steady. At the same time
there was work she needed to do.

In your case, you have made some progress but if you don't do the rest
you will have to leave.  And it is also possible that things are deteriorated
or that he doesn't have the strength of character to make the necessary changes.

You will have to test him and it will be intricate and tricky.

The question is whether you love him enough still to put him through a very
difficult test.  

So there is that and also the fact that you will have to learn to stand up for yourself.

Essentially I am saying that (as you already know) you might have to bail. At least you have
to be willing to bail.  You also might need some coaching to help you devise a challenge to him
that he will accept.  And that will take some thought and also some wiles.

Let me know if you would like to follow up on this exchange. This is the most I can do for you
in this forum.

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.  

Dating at Midlife

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Philip Belove, Ed.D.


Hi. I`m Philip Belove (that is my name, really). I`m 71 and I`ve been a psychologist all my midlife, the past 35 years. My specialty has been counseling and coaching other midlife adults.  I think we all figure things out as we go along, but even more so at midlife. Being between 40-ish and 60-ish and single is like being a stranger in a strange land. I`ve learned which questions help people find their own way. I created this category, I publish a blog at and I write articles for various web sites. My commitment is to help people 1) understand and improve how they deal with others, 2) understand the forces that rule the relationships they are in, and 3) make the decisions which will shape, or create, or end those relationships  so they achieve the goal of midlife development  to finally live with personal satisfaction. I`ve been divorced twice myself. I`m in a satisfying relationship with a fine person. I`m very interested in learning about your challenges and in offering what I can.


Professionally: Licensed Psychologist. Marriage and Family Therapist. Coach.Author. University Lecturer. Personally: I'm 71. I've probably made all the big mistakes, er, learned the big lessons.I've forgiven myself and made many apologies and I've made it into a good, stable, sweet relationship. I now have a perspective on midlife.

Please check out my book, Rabbis in Love, at Also my blog at The Rabbi book was done as part of a research project. My collaborator, Marilyn Bronstein, and I wanted to interview couples with very successful marriage and also we wanted to talk to people who cared as much about their spirituality as love. Maybe being able to love and be spiritual were one and same, we thought. So we found a rabbi couple and the interview was so astounding that we interviewed nine more rabbi couples. One dropped. They'd revealed too much. It's a fascinating book and, Jewish or not, religious or not, these couples do a lot of things right and there is a lot to learn from them.

Masters in Counseling Psychology, Alfred Adler Institute Doctorate in Consulting Psychology, focus on family therapy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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