I'm still taking submissions for my cotton contest for the second anniversary of Love Letters. You can submit photos here. Or to meregoldstein at gmail dot com. Still waiting for someone to send the perfect elastic pants photo ...
I think I'll start with some background on who I am because I know people like to take that information into account when giving their advice. I'm a 23 y/o male. I am lucky enough to have a great job that is fulfilling and pays the bills well. In general, I have a good head on my shoulders for a 23 y/o, and I know that I have a lot of things going for me, which is basically the source of my problem (which may seem trivial but I think it is probably common).
I had a girlfriend for almost three years who I love very much (yes, read present tense). It ended because we are going in different directions. I'm building a professional career and I want to do it now. She wants to travel and put off a career as long as possible. I think there are merits to both directions, but she felt that pulled us apart too much. Some days I agree with her, some days I don't. We have seen each other a handful of times since we broke up and it's like it never ended. There is still a lot of love, which I think might be contributing to my problems.
Now, to my problem, I'm pretty sure that I am a very attractive guy and I don't have much trouble finding girls. I'm outgoing and I meet a lot of people. The problem is I don't think I am meeting the quality of woman that I want. I'm not happy with the girls who have been part of the pajama parties, and I have trouble having them sleep over because I miss my ex. I think I have a couple key issues that I need help with in order to find the quality women I am looking for. A) I'm still very much in love with a woman I cannot have, and B) I do not know where to find the girls I am looking for. The bar scene is not any good for meeting girls because even though I have a good time, I cannot talk to them with loud music, and, well, everyone knows how that scene is.
Twenty-three is also a weird age. Females like older guys. I don't feel comfortable venturing into the college scene anymore so I'm meeting mostly 24-25-year-olds. I do not accept the idea that "you're young, it's OK" because I may be young but I'd be much happier if I could meet some good people more regularly.
– Stuck in a Rut, Boston
A: SIAR, my first piece of advice is to avoid your ex-girlfriend. Seeing her even a handful of times is too difficult right now. Give yourself space.
My second piece of advice is to do some online dating. Seek out women who seem to be looking for something real. Because you're right -- the real problem with your ex wasn't that you didn't get along. It was that she wanted to be 23-year-old free spirit while you wanted to be a 23-year-old grown up. Find the grown-ups online.
My third piece of advice is to woo those older women. For whatever reason, you're a nester. There's nothing wrong with that. But a lot of women your age are still out there exploring the world. I know for a fact that there are plenty of 23-year-old women who want to settle down, but I'm even more confident that if you sought out 26-year-olds, you'd be overwhelmed by your options. Let them get to know you.
My fourth piece of advice is to have patience. Not because you're young, but because you were in love. Sometimes it takes a long time (years) to find someone you like as much as an ex. It's supposed to be difficult. If it were easy, we'd be too tempted replace our significant others all of the time. We're supposed to feel incredibly lucky that we found them in the first place. The pain of loss helps. It keeps us honest.
Readers? Should he date older women? Is he ready to date at all? Is the ex still in the picture? Thoughts about women wanting to date older men? Would a 26-year-old date a 23-year-old guy? Is online dating an answer? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.