May-December relationships are commonplace in both the gay and straight sets. But when does a younger guy’s relationship with an older man put them at a power imbalance?
One Redditor recently posed that question to the r/askgaybros forum, offering up as an example a college-aged student dating a thirty-something man. “Is [the younger person] in such a relationship a lot more susceptible to manipulation and emotional abuse?” he writes. “Or are they completely responsible for their own actions and behavior as any other adult?”
Related: 20 gay relationships testing the age gap
Commenters on the post seemed to agree it depends on the situation — especially because “as each partner gets older, the age disparity becomes less of an issue,” as one said — and many shared some advice.
“When one partner is considerably younger and inexperienced, it can be easier for the older partner to manipulate and abuse them because of the extent to which they can shape what is ‘normal’ in a relationship for the younger person,” one commenter wrote. “If you already have a decade of relationship experience under your belt and you know it’s not normal for a partner to yell at you or attempt to control you, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to identify red flags early and get out. All of this is compounded by the potential for financial abuse: Often, the younger partner will become financially dependent on the older partner, which makes it more difficult to get out of the relationship.”
Another user shared the hallmarks of a positive age-gap relationship. “Green flags for age differential relationship: The older one tries to make the younger more independent and strong, not less. Especially if that includes money/career, sex, and self-esteem. There’s nothing wrong with dating an older guy who encourages you to keep your own place, advance your career, manage your own finances, believe in yourself, and even have your own sex life.”
Related: Overcoming the gay age gap is no small feat
One commenter, meanwhile, pointed out that younger guys who “flourish on that kind of dynamic” seek out older men. “They want someone taking control, advising, guiding, telling them what to do, supporting emotionally and financially,” that commenter wrote. “So it can work. Just don’t fool yourself thinking that you’re so mature that you’re on equal ground, because you’re not.”
As that last commenter noted, age-gap relationships can certainly work. Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black seem to be traversing their 20-year gap pretty well, after all. But when those red flags pop up, lads, please don’t ignore them.
Nothing wrong with May-December relationships. However, if you’re say middle aged and obsessed with teens or just really young guys that have no experience there is definitely red flags all over that.
Oh and stop bullshitting your way through it. Yeah, I’m sure junior is paying his own way and really want to be with you with no strings attached because you’re such a great catch. Lol
The shade, the SHADE of it all! lol
The second part of your answer is both ridiculous and offensive. My husband is 21 years younger than I am, has always insisted on paying his own way and we are in deeply in love (together for 9 years, married for 7). But thank you for keeping stereotypes alive. Sounds like you are thinking more about your own experience as a leech.
@ChrisGMN the 21 year age gap means you are easily old enough to be the parent of the person you are with. If you are say 20 and 60, then 20 years ago you were both adults so meh, but if you are 41 and 21, well you see the problem. You were an adult 20 years ago and they didn’t exist!
Of course that has to be called out for power dynamic issues!
You say you have been together for 9 years? And there is 21 years difference, …. how does the math stack up on consenting adults here? And isn’t it weird being romantic with someobe who has no frame of reference for 21 whole years of your life?
I mean fantasy is one thing, but isn’t the reality a bit… strange?
curiobi, what is strange that you feel somehow in any way competent to judge someone else’s relationship. Especially when it is someone you’ve never met. What is strange is the need for people like you to make broad judgments based on your narrow view of life, with no consideration that others may have different views and experiences. What I also find very strange and disturbing is that you assumed one of us was underage when we dated. Who said anything about that? Sounds more of an indictment of you than two adults in a happy, healthy relationship.
Underage is a non-starter. Everything else is fair game. Some men are users and manipulators, best beware, they come in all ages though.
I am in a long-term relationship (14 years so far) with a much, much younger guy. If anything he is the dominant partner. if we fell out he could easily get another guy of any age (he obviously likes older guys). I would not find it so easy. He is not, and never was, financially dependent on me.
So basically he’s got a grandpa fetish. Well, as my grandma used to say. There’s a lid for every pot.
What a silly article based on heterosexism. Straight people are not a template for gay relationships.
If both people are of age of consent, it ain’t your goddamn biz, but you are free to gossip jealously with the other queens and “Karens” behind the hedges.
If both are over 25 at the start…it should be fine- even if the younger was looking for a daddy or the older for a ‘boy’…the problem is when the guy is still growing up. Yes- we’re legally adults at 18, but how many of actually are fully before 25 or so? 18/19 with +30- NO! Let that child grow up. 99/100 psychologists will tell you there’s something wrong with 1 or maybe both (Peter Pan complex, dead father)
What fantasy world do you live in where 25 year old people are automatically fully formed, functional members of society with all the experience they need to handle life’s BS? Because I know people much older than that who are less mature than an 18 year old. Who are less emotionally functional to have a serious relationship.
Every relationship is unique. Some young men are taking advantage of the older man. Power goes either way. I think it easiest when ages are more similar, but that’s me. Young men like me, but there always seems to be some sort of price tag associated with it.
College-age and thirty something is NOT May-December. It’s More like May-July/August. Quit writing guys off as practically dead as soon as they hit 30.
It’s pretty insulting to assume that any relationship is more inclined to abuse than another. That stereotypical thinking makes people in abusive relationships feel less visible and less likely to be believed. I was emotionally and physically abused by a guy I dated who was 2 years younger than me.
He is an abusive person and it has nothing to do with his age. I’m just thankful to be out of it and that he physically struck me so early into the relationship that it snapped me out if his manipulation.
Aires the Ram
How about this scenario……an early/mid 20’s guy gets to know a ‘daddy’, let’s say 40+, who’s successful and has all his ducks in a row. Nice house, car, vacation home, vacations, all the bells & whistles. Pretty attractive to the young guy, eh? Of course! Perhaps he’s looking to live the life of Riley while going to school and/or building his own career. The older guy, on the other hand, loves the ego gratification of having a hot younger guy on his arm. Yeah, he knows it costs money, and if the money ever dried up it would be all over. BUT, as long as they get along, the young guy is getting what he wants, financial, emotional support while living like a King, and the older guy gets to consistently bed this young hottie, is this REALLY an ‘issue’ for anyone? I mean, it’s their own damn business, not only ‘how’, but ‘why’ this age discordant couple run their lives. Why does it matter to anyone else.
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