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The Sex Column: Is 15 years too much of an age gap?

I’M 49, divorced and have two fantastic grown-up kids. I met my girlfriend about a year ago and though the spark was immediate, I keep worrying if she’s happy. She’s 34 and has her own great kids. We get the usual comments about our ages (we joke about my midlife crisis) but I believe we are both in this for the right reasons. We have shared interests, good conversation, a good sex life — although I worry that the passion has gone a little recently — and her family are warm and accepting. I’ve asked her if she wants to talk about anything but she says there’s nothing wrong. My ex-wife said that before we separated. What’s your advice?

SOOTHING the ageing process with a younger companion is one of life’s eternal cliches but 15 years is still a fairly meagre age gap.

The union ultimately sounds like a happy one, says Rupert Smith.

‘You describe her with affection, you say the sex and companionship are good and that her family likes you.’

Which means that the only glaring obstacle here is your unfounded fear.

‘Something is driving you to reject this relationship before it rejects you,’ Smith continues. ‘Does this habit extend to other areas of your life — with work, perhaps, or in your relationships with your children and friends?’

Or are you presuming that she’s unfulfilled because you’re approaching middle-age and she’s not?

‘If the age gap wasn’t a factor, then I suspect you wouldn’t be so piqued by comments from others,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin.

Squandering your energy worrying about lost passion is a waste of time.

‘Intense romantic feelings always evaporate in a year or two,’ James McConnachie. ‘It’s an intensity you wouldn’t want all the time. Love is a slower, deeper experience.’

Instead of fretting about her happiness, you should make the relationship the happiest it can be.

‘How does she like being treated? What is it about you that she loves? Be that man, not a self-doubting guy who seeks reassurance,’ says Rudkin.

‘Only time will tell whether you will last,’ Rudkin continues, ‘but be what you’re good at — someone who loves and enjoys being loved.’

Divorce can be painful and may be feeding your current anxieties but what divorce offers is a second act that is different from the first. Roll with uncertainty, you may be pleasantly surprised at how the story ends.

The experts

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

Rupert Smith is the author of Interlude (Turnaround)