"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
I am a 60-year-old married man with no kids. My marriage is OK. I am still working.
About a year ago, I entered into a "relationship" with a 20-year-old masseuse. She is aware that I am a married man.
I have a weekly massage session with her. Besides the massage, she allows me to hug, kiss and touch her. She stops short of having sex with me though.
I buy her things and provide financial assistance. Recently, she agreed to go for meals with me. I take her out shopping when she has a day off.
Should I continue or stop this relationship? Both of us are aware that there are no consequences since I can't marry her anyway.
I do enjoy spending time with her. We contact each other daily via WhatsApp. I send her lovey-dovey messages which she reciprocates.
I tried a few times to end this relationship, but failed.
I am not sure if she loves me or my money. If she does not love me, then why does she sacrifice herself to be intimate with me? I am confused and unsure of her motives.
Please give your view on this. Is it love or money, or both? - Hopeful
I think it's fairly clear what's happening here, but you are too close to it, so let's start by getting some perspective.
Laura has been married for 30 years to Peter. About a year ago, Laura went to a dance class. As she didn't have a partner, Roger, a handsome young man who worked at the studio, partnered her.
Fairly soon afterwards, Laura and Roger began exchanging sexy text messages. Now Laura is giving Roger an allowance. They have lunch together, go shopping and Laura often buys him presents.
Question: When Peter finds out, what will his reaction be?
I know you know the answer to this. Peter would be crushed. He'd say Laura and Roger were having an affair. The fact that they hadn't been to bed together wouldn't matter. What would hurt is that Laura is seeing the young man, sharing her love with Roger, instead of sharing it with her husband Peter.
From your letter, you have feelings for the masseuse. You are sending text messages, want to spend time with her, and have feelings for her. This is what is called an emotional affair.
The fact that you are not intimate sexually isn't pertinent. What matters is that you are seeing someone whom you are interested in romantically. However, you are already married.
You state there are no consequences as you can't marry the masseuse. I find this curious.
There are people who have open marriages. However, I suspect this is not the case with you. You are much more likely to have a traditional marriage where you promised to be faithful to each other.
Life is complicated and our emotions can sometimes get the better of us. While it is perfectly normal to occasionally have a crush on someone, you can't act on it when you are already in a relationship. Once you do, you are cheating. There is no getting away from this.
Your emotional affair with the masseuse means you risk exposing your wife to potentially horrendous pain. It is awful to know that the person you married actually prefers someone else.
Please don't tell yourself your wife will never find out. She will sense something is wrong. It is also very likely that someone will see you out and about with the masseuse. You will be discovered.
What can you say about the emotional affair you are having? What does this girl truly feel about you? Again, I think you need a bit of perspective.
Think back to when you were 20 years old. Who were you dating? Who did you dream about? Were any of the ladies you had your eye on of your grandmother's generation?
I think it is a fairly safe bet that you would have been appalled to put someone 30 or 40 years older than you in a romantic light.
Perhaps you stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself that it's not the same. Maybe you tell yourself you have a lot to offer.
This is true. Older men are more sophisticated than young men. Younger women might find them more caring, too. However, it is more likely that the masseuse and other young women see you as an uncle, not a potential lover.
At this point, I think you also have to ask yourself: What is falling in love about? The answer is pretty simple.
Love is about catching your breath when you see each other. It's about wanting to be together, about laughing at the same things, or nothing at all. It's about the constant need to hug, touch and cuddle. Love makes you feel light as air, and deliciously happy.
For a year, the masseuse you were hankering after saw you when you paid her. That's not a relationship; that's a commercial arrangement.
From your letter, it is you who wanted more. You wanted shopping, breakfast, and lovey-dovey text messages. You wanted romance. I suspect that when the financial assistance you talked about kicked in, it was that extra cash that convinced her to give you the girlfriend experience.
This is going to end in disaster because it's not real. You're paying for an illusion. This woman is with you for the money, and that's not just asking for heartbreak - it can be incredibly dangerous too.
You are 60 years old, desperate for love and you have money. This makes you an excellent target. How often have you read about a man who ended up being bankrupted by a gang using a pretty woman as a bait? A few tears and you'll be paying for some phantom relative who needs an operation or standing as guarantor for a fake business loan.
Don't think you're too smart to fall for this. You've been paying for the illusion, remember? You are so desperate for love that you're already confusing a commercial agreement with a relationship. It won't take more than a nudge to push you into more foolishness.
I really can't see any alternative but to drop the affair immediately. You should then take time to consider how you feel about your marriage.
You say your marriage is OK but there's clearly something missing. If it were good or excellent, you wouldn't be looking for love with another woman.
It is common for people to grow apart after many years of marriage, but luckily many people find they can revive that spark. I suggest going back to a point in time when you were in love. Think back to what it was that connected the two of you. Then work on rebuilding that connection.
Usually it's best to do this in small steps. You've probably spent years drifting apart, so it's not something you can overcome in a couple of days. Start going on dates again. Rediscover each other. Have fun. Be friends. When you start to get to know each other again, you will rekindle the love.
If after some time you decide your marriage is not OK, then you need to talk to your wife. It may be that you can work things out, or you may decide to call it a day. Whatever you do, be honest but be kind. You've built a life together - that's something precious. Don't throw it away on a whim.
Whether you choose to stay or quit your marriage, should you confess? I would say absolutely not. If you have cheated, it is your guilt and your responsibility to carry it. Don't compound your mistake with burdening your poor wife.
However, if she does discover what you've done, and confronts you, you must be truthful. You will then have to work together to decide on your options. The bottom line is that everyone deserves love. You should have someone who feels breathless when you're around, who giggles at nothing with you, and who sends you lovey-dovey text messages because she loves you with all her heart.
But you have to get to your goal with honour, and it has to be based on truth, or it's going to end in heartbreak.