This month, for our last post in the Getting Older series, we’re looking at relationships between younger and older men. We’ll cover platonic relationships as well as sexual/romantic ones. Understanding the dynamics between the generations is important. In our fast-changing world, there’s a lot to be learned from people who on both sides of the age divide.
In order for any relationship to thrive, there must be mutual respect. Without it, our connections stay superficial and aren’t likely to last. It’s also important that respect goes in both directions. That means that we don’t get to reject younger men’s ideas as matter of course, and they don’t get to dismiss us because we’re older. Both of those behaviors are common and create issues.
I hear from a lot of men over fifty, that they don’t feel welcome in gay spaces. They blame this on younger men not wanting them there. But, is that really true? In my experience younger men don’t pay much attention to older guys unless they’re interested in them.
Of course, there will always be gaggles of bitchy queens bent on criticizing everyone, But, they come in all ages. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about behavior recognize it for what it is, and ignore it.
Unpleasantness can happen when we lavish unwanted attention on young men. This plays into our cultural stereotype of the “dirty old man”. The behavior is objectification. Treating a person as if they’re a thing. It’s a problem regardless of age. Relentless, unwanted, attention is predatory, and never okay.
If you’re attracted to a young man, and not sure if it’s mutual then approach him with respect. If he’s not interested, don’t push. Continue with a friendly conversation if you like, but if he’s unresponsive, leave him alone. If you’re approached by an older guy don’t assume that he’s going to be inappropriate. Even if you aren’t attracted to him, you might like him. We never really know where chance meetings may lead us.
When you’re chatting with someone, allow them their perspective. Age differences don’t mean that the other person’s ideas aren’t valuable. Dismissing other people builds walls and prevents connection.
Whether you’re starting a friendship, arranging a hookup, or going on a date, remember that everyone deserves to be heard. We may not agree all the time. But, if we’re respectful we can agree to disagree. We undoubtedly have much to teach the younger men in our lives. They also have a great deal to show us about the world we now live in. It looks nothing like it did when we were their age.
Worthwhile romantic relationships, or even simple sexual ones, are based on friendship. If you’re unable to form friendships with younger men you won’t find love, or lust, with them either. That beautiful “boy” who just took your breath away is also a man with ideas, thoughts, and opinions that are valid and worth hearing. The hot daddy who just said hello also has things to say.
I’ve been dating a much younger man. We’ve been separated by a COVID closed border. We’ve kept the connection going by understanding each other. Our generations’ need for communication is almost as different as our preferred way to do it. We struck a balance that allows both of us to feel good. I could’ve assumed that a guy his age wouldn’t be up for that kind of commitment. But, he’s not just a beautiful boy to me. He’s my friend. Wherever our connection goes, I want him in my life.
If you’re having trouble connecting with younger men as friends, or lovers, consider that the issue might have nothing to do with the age difference but with how you treat them. If you value them for their unique perspectives and individual qualities, instead of their youth you’ll probably find that you have far more in common than you think. You’ll open a door that allows your differences to bring you together rather than pushing you apart.