Intergenerational relationships are nothing new. We’ve been dating in and out of our age brackets since forever.
But in recent years, something’s changed: gays have been getting even better at dating much younger or much older guys. In decades past, because of the closet and social stigma, it used to be far more common for older/younger pairings to have a creepy power dynamic in which one or both parties were taking advantage of each other.
We suffered with the stereotype of the creepy old cruiser picking up unwitting boys; or the wicked rentboy stealing from a hapless senior.
Well, thank goodness the gay community is moving on from that. These days, it’s easier than ever to take pride in intergenerational relationships that are healthy and hot.
Of course, there are plenty of pitfalls out there, whether you’re an experienced man looking for a fresh-faced youngster; or a scrappy kiddo in search of experience.
We’ve rounded up some top tips for navigating the age differences. Here in Part 1, we have advice for the distinguished older guy who’s looking for some company on his next trip around the block. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we offer counsel to younger men.
1. Let him trust you.
Be real. Be honest. Be direct. Show your boy that you’re a steady, stable rock that he can count on. That’s what young guys love about older men, after all.
Sometimes, that requires patience, since guys in their 20s are puppyish bundles of energy. If he doesn’t call you back right away, don’t take it personally — he’s still learning how to be a man. Don’t nag, don’t fly off the handle. Instead, put yourself in his shoes, and remember how flakey you were when you were a kid. Be an even-keeled presence that he can look up to. And teach him how to be a better man by example.
2. You don’t own him.
A daddy is different from a dom. Your boy may be young and silly, but that doesn’t mean you should start running his life. At the start of the relationship, talk openly about just how much you want to be calling the shots. Ask him how much he’s willing to defer to you. And every now and then, have a check in, something as simple as “I want to pick your meal when we go out tonight, you OK with that?” Some boys love that. Others will say, “uh, no.”
3. Laugh at your differences.
No matter what, he’s going to make you feel old sometimes. So you have a choice: either feel sad about it, or laugh about it. Yeah, OK, maybe he doesn’t know who Bette Davis is, and maybe he doesn’t understand why you have a telephone attached the the wall of your house with a wire. But who cares? If he’s truly interested in you, it’s because your life is different from his life. So instead of rolling your eyes and being condescending, explain what All About Eve is and regale him with stories about payphones.
4. Find common ground.
You may have your differences, but now and then you’ll be surprised to discover that the two of you actually see eye-to-eye on something. Maybe he appreciates that you taught him how to pump his own gas; or maybe you enjoy watching him at his go-go dancing gig. Look for places where your hobbies and interests overlap, whether it’s knitting or hiking or watching The Muppet Show. The stuff that makes relationships strong — no matter what your ages are — are when you both find something that you like to do together.
5. Trust him.
There’s always a risk that he’s a gold digger, just after you for your cash or stability. So keep an eye out for those boys on social networks, but when you feel a real rapport, give him the benefit of the doubt. Chances are, if you get along well, he’s interested in the real you.
“Most of the guys on Daddyhunt are genuinely attracted to older men, and the things that an older man has to offer,” says Daddyhunt CEO Carl Sandler, “in and out of the bedroom.”
If you think your boy is just in it for cash, ask him if he’d mind paying for lunch one day. If he looks aghast, something might be up.
6. Make mistakes.
Even though gay men are great at intergenerational relationships, there are some issues that we still haven’t quite figured out. Among them: health issues. It’s hard for young gays to understand the medical problems that older gays face, whether it’s HIV or just simple arthritis.
“I would love to see more resources for gays who are aging,” Sandler says. “SAGE is an amazing organization working to provide care, resources and support for older LGBTs.”
Accept that some issues are going to challenge you as a couple, and resolve to be there for each other and forgive when someone makes a misstep.