Tell Me About It

Am I just a sleazy landlady using a struggling young artist for sex?

Tell Me About It: I feel this could be a proper relationship, but my friends think I’m fooling myself

PROBLEM: I am in my late 30s. I had a relationship from my late teens for just over a decade. My boyfriend broke the relationship off very suddenly and got engaged and married to someone else within two years. I was heartbroken but moved on quickly.

Since then, I have had a very full life but up until recently haven’t dated or been physical with anyone else. I have loads of family and friends and would not say I was lonely. However, I do really crave intimacy.

My house has a basement that I rent out to a young artist, who also works from home. There is a shared entrance, so we meet regularly. He is foreign but speaks reasonably good English. He is very handsome, charming and witty. He has done loads of favours for me such as painting and decorating. I often find myself trying to think of things that I could get him to fix, just so that I can spend time with him.

Since he has moved in, I have been really surprised how liberated I can be. I had never actively tried to seduce a stranger before, but within a week of knowing him, I made it clear to him what I wanted and I got it, and to say it was the best sex I ever had would be an understatement. I actually never imagined doing the things we did, or my body feeling so good.

We have slept together eight times over the past six months. We haven’t had any dates or deep and meaningful conversations and I know nothing about him except his name, the country he is from and the type of artist he is.

It is almost metaphoric, but our encounters have usually only ever occurred after a broken light switch has been turned back on. I would like to be with him much more often and to find out more about him, but he is rarely available. He finds it difficult to sell his art and struggles financially and needs to work in bars to improve his income. I have even given him considerable leverage on his rent, so that he can concentrate on his art and be in the house more often.

I want this to last and I want to form a relationship with him. I have often seen a girl leaving his apartment in the morning; she is nearer his own age. We are not in an exclusive relationship, but when I have asked him about her, he has laughed and told me that she is just a friend from his hometown and that there is nothing going on between them. He has also told me that I am the one he wants and that if I am patient he will “take me on the most beautiful dates” but it never happens.

My friends think that I am overthinking it and being too intense. They see it that I am just getting mind-blowing sex from a semi-available hunk and that I should enjoy it while it lasts.

I feel there is potential for a proper relationship but how do I know he is not just a chancer, sleeping his way to cheap lodgings or perhaps I am just a sleazy landlady using a struggling young artist for sex?

ADVICE: The one thing you do seem to want is an exclusive relationship and perhaps this surprises you after many years of happy singledom, but this might be a moment in your life where you take stock and figure what you really want from a relationship. One thing we do know from your history is that you can stay in a relationship that is not going to end well for you and this pattern needs to be looked at carefully now. The danger is that you will also stay in your current situation, even though the signs are telling you that it is not moving in the direction you would like.

You are falling for someone you know almost nothing about, other than the wonderful, if occasional, sex

Your guy is in the throes of struggle, trying to make his art the centre of his life while making a viable living at the same time. The difficulty here is that he cannot say no to you easily as you provide both shelter and support.

How can you know if he is choosing you for reasons other than these?

Also, you are falling for someone you know almost nothing about, other than the wonderful, if occasional, sex you have.

What is clear is that this man has awakened in you the desire for intimacy, closeness and relationship, and it is this call that requires attention and investigation. As a woman in your late 30s, you might need to take into account any desire you have for children and if you can afford to wait for your artist to commit. However, if children are not an issue, you can enjoy the dalliance that is on offer but it seems that you are growing in your desire for a meaningful relationship and so this begs the question of whether this current liaison might actually be deflecting you from your aim.

It is likely that you will compare all other romantic possibilities to him and this would be unfair; what we can’t have is always very seductive to us

If you decide that the latter is the case, you need to reconsider letting your tenant continue to be in such close proximity to you as it is likely that you will compare all other romantic possibilities to him and this would be unfair; what we can’t have is always very seductive to us. Most research suggests that our friends and family are better judges of our relationships than we ourselves are (at least in the early stages) so it might be worth listening to your friends as they are unlikely to steer you in the wrong direction.

That you are questioning at all suggests that you need to pause and consider what you are doing and if it is leading you where you want to be in your life.