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.
I think the best thing that ever helped me to understand the conditions that older people face was a month of training and two years of working as a nursing assistant. As far as the money goes, I really wanted to be much more independent when the relationship started. My older partner convinced me that it made more sense to let him pay for things since he made more money in one day than I do in one month. I still pay for things whenever I can… including my own education (graduate school). I also found that maintaining an actual job outside of the relationship most definitely helped.
I think the biggest problem in these relationships is not the older guy being the provider (they make plenty of money and want to spend it). It is being sucked into that and allowing it to consume you as a younger guy. You run the risk of giving up all of your power because the power dynamic will NEVER be equal (if you are dating a successful older guy you will forever be playing catch up, and if the older guy is not successful you will not be dating him — not because of the money, but because you are attracted to men with their stuff together).
I also have to be honest and say I will never see what a 40 year old man sees in a 21 year old man. Its not that I am not supportive of it… it is just entirely not me.
@tdx3fan: for the 40 year old man it’s the youth and beauty, for the 21 year old it’s the money.
@Harley – sometimes.
Sometimes, though, you get taken completely by surprise by a 20-something that really has a thing for older guys. I didn’t use to get get it either, until I had a couple of youngsters start coming after me at 45! And they know I have no money 😀
I’m 28 and my partner is 56. We’ve been together for 3 years and the hardest part of being in these kinds of relationships are the outside influences. People will forever call you a gold digger and assume that anything pricey that you own was paid for by the older one. I’ve learned to not let any comments like that slide and to speak up whenever people make those comments. I’ve even dropped friends with that kind of mindset of my relationship, and “friends” who think that just because we go somewhere with my older boyfriend that he’s supposed to pay for everyone. Nope!
Also, you have to put your foot down early on in the relationship. Let your older boyfriend know that he’s not your dad, he doesn’t control you, and he can’t tell you what to do.
These relationships can be hard, but they’re totally worth it. I love my man and plan to be with him for the rest of our lives.
Is it just me or does this article seem creepy?
“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.”
Instead of giving tips for what appear to be unhealthy relationships, perhaps Queerty should be trying to help gay men find loving, fulfilling, and most importantly, equal relationships. I don’t recall ever reading in straight newspaper tips for “gold digging.” I can’t imagine a single, reputable psychiatrist telling their patients that money (what this article calls stability) can be the foundation for a healthy and fulfilling relationship.
The assumption I took away in this article is that your gay relationship is transient; we date someone 20 years older than us because our relationships only last five years. Straight couples are encouraged to marry someone their own age because society expects them to spend the rest of their life with that person.
Gay men should base their relationships off the cute, very happy, older couples who have been married for sixty years not Hugh Hefner. When I am on my death bed at 100, I want my husband of 80 years to be by my side. Fulfilling lives and relationships don’t happen on their own; you reap the seeds you sow.
@Harley, well, maybe a lot of 40 year olds have more to offer than money. For example, a number of actors in their 40s and 50s are hot and sexy not only “for their age” but for any age.
Yeah, the subject matter seemed perfectly innocuous, until that creepy-crawly “can I order your dinner for you?” line.
as long as he’s over 21- fine….no one will EVER convince me a teenager is grown up!
@hybris: Definitely creepy. I assumed it was parody.
@petensfo: I hope you are correct; though I’m not sure it was intended to be a parody…
Articles like this bug me because they play into the handbook of the religious right. For example, that image of the cute boy be carried by (what I presume is an older man) is reminiscent of a father carrying a three year-old. Reparative therapy people believe men are gay because they have father issues; this obviously isn’t true but articles/images like this play into that argument.
I am a 50 plus fit, fun, intelligent, good looking gay man who is not into younger guys. Can I find even a date with someone around my age? Nope!! The most common reason is ” while I can still get the young ones “. Lots of gay men are very insecure, fearful with low self esteem so dating a ” young one ” helps them with that…..but for how long??
“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.”
Lol. No. That’s still how it is. And probably always will be. And that’s why relationships where one person is significantly older than the other are presumed creepy until proven otherwise. (Of course, the older you get, the bigger the difference can be without it being significant — 50 & 60 is not as creepy as 18 and 28.
That pic of the cop and his boy is hot, though.
Last week I attended the birthday party for a great friend of mine. The party was for his 84th birthday. He is a great man, active in the arts community, keeps two homes, throws wonderful parties, and…has two lovers in their 40’s. In conversations with all three of them, they each on their own tell of the great luck they have in being together. My 84 year old friend came out about 10 years ago. He says that in his wildest dreams he never thought he would have two lovers let alone one at his age. The three are great examples of a beautiful relationship between generations. Outside of legal boundaries, the boundaries of love are only what we create in ourselves.
@hybris: “Articles like this bug me because they play into the handbook of the religious right. … Reparative therapy people believe men are gay because they have father issues; this obviously isn’t true but articles/images like this play into that argument.”
How about we stop caring about what the religious right (or the straight white middle class for that matter) think of us, okay? You may like living on eggshells but that is not my idea of liberation.
Liberation is when adults can date whomever they want without being judged for it.
@vive: “How about we stop caring about what the religious right (or the straight white middle class for that matter) think of us, okay? You may like living on eggshells but that is not my idea of liberation.”
I disagree that we would be living on eggshells if the LGBT community was fully integrated into all of society. I don’t really care what the religious right thinks but we do need to change hearts and minds of the general public if we want to end homophobia. No one thinks racism disappeared after the Civil War or the 1964 Civil Rights legislation; it takes time and highlighting the non-differences to really move public opinion and improve relations from a societal point-of-view. And while public opinion shouldn’t be the deciding factor if you have rights or not, it does affect the quality of life of a community. Being able to get married is wonderful, being able to walk down the street in NYC while holding the hand of your husband without worrying about looks or getting beat up is better.
Anyone who has ever managed change in a large organization will tell you that it is a slow process and you have to be careful if you want to be successful.
PR matters, a lot… When the media portrays gay people for a straight audience, they tend to white wash over some common aspects of the gay community. Shows like Modern Family, which are made primarily for straight people, don’t show the gay characters in an open and/or disproportionate age relationship even though that is common with a lot of gay men. While the show might not portray gay people like you want, it has helped a lot of straight people accept gay men as being “just like me but attracted to the same sex” and that is huge.
You can’t force too much change at once; it can and has backfired. The public has advanced a lot in 10 years but we, as a community, have to move the public opinion needle slowly and responsibly AND at the right time. No one thinks Baker v. Nelson in 1971 helped the marriage equality movement, if anything it hurt it. In 1971, the LGBT community should have been entirely focused on just securing basic rights to exist openly. It has taken 46 years after Stonewall for marriage equality to be a real possibility across the entire United States; pretty amazing if you compare it to other civil rights movements: woman suffrage (144 years), ending of slavery (87 years), and legal protections based on race (68 years).
With that being said, the LGBT media has a responsibility to not provide fuel for the enemies in the culture war against the LGBT community. Until the LGBT community is cemented firmly in the normalcy of society we should think about PR; love it or hate it that is reality.
@hybris: I agree with you 100%. I’m 40 now and what seemed like a promising read went downhill quickly after tip #1. It’s a great subject on which to have a dialogue, but it was, unfortunately, given the Queerty treatment and seemed a bit like a caricature of what a true, healthy intergenerational relationship looks like.
@hybris: This is just the tip of the iceberg of gay dysfunction. Look at how they’ve let hiv spread for thirty years, when we had the means to stop it in the eighties. Look at the sociopaths telling us how difficult condoms are, when you’re in the moment, simple rubber balloons that a monkey could use. Look at any of the thousand and one rationalizations for self-destructive behavior that appear by the minute on every gay blog.
It’s very sad. But a large sector of our community cannot get over the internalized homophobia of living in a bigoted culture. And they do not respond to logic or argument. Some of us have been trying for decades. But it’s a waste of time.
@Harley: So incredibly not true. For the 20 year old it is very often the security that originally might have a part to play in drawing the younger to the older, but in the end if the older does not have something more to offer than just cash the relationship is doomed from the start. Putting up with someone you seriously have no feelings for just for a little cash is not something most average people do.
“maybe he doesn’t understand why you have a telephone attached the the wall of your house with a wire.”
And he won’t understand why you might shut off your cellphone for hour to meditate, or practice guitar, or see a play, or walk the dog.
“Why didn’t you text me back? You SHUT OFF YOUR PHONE??? WHAT??? WHO DOES THAT???”
Anyway, I think these relationships are if anything more frequent than ever, thanks to all those screwed-up children of divorce with serious “daddy” issues… and the student loan crisis!
Me=45,broke, bad credit, back in school, chubby.
Him=25 great job, great credit, and slim fit body.
I have no idea why, but he loves me for me and I love him for him. I have always liked older. He is the first younger guy I have dated.
Why does Queerty always seem to accompany these “daddy/son” stories with photos that don’t represent the story? Other than the last photo there doesn’t seem to be significant age differences. Just because a guy has a beard and muscle doesn’t make him a “daddy”. The guy in the cop costume has a beard but he certainly isn’t old enough to the other guys “daddy”.
@hybris: Your post is full of nasty judgement about the manner in which *you* think other people should lead their lives. If you don’t want to be in an intergenerational relationship then don’t be in one. Why do you care so much about who other people date?
It’s not the responsibly of “LGBT media” to promote the propaganda you think we should feed to the public at large. You assume straight people want to see us in a certain light, but they are themselves waking up to the fact they too are more free to have the relationships they want.
Also, nothing is guaranteed in this world. You mentioned you’d like to be in your death bed at 100 with your husband of 80 years by your side and that’s nice–but how do you know you’ll have a husband at that age or that you’ll die before him? For your sake, I really do hope you aren’t single in old age because it’s sounds your narrow minded views would keep you that way.
@Hermes: Interesting points.
Do you think the world would have been better off in 2008 if then Senator Obama didn’t change his 1990s view on gay marriage and perhaps lost the election? Just to refresh your memory, he was pro-gay marriage in the 90s and against it when it got to the national stage by 2004 (I doubt he changed his mind, he just changed what he said).
All I’m trying to say is the gay media (what there is left of it) doesn’t help win over people with writing creepy(ish) articles like this. This article should have been written more responsibility; they should have interviewed actual people in inter-generational relationships and humanized the story. Irresponsible writing like this does fuel negative stereotypes.
But then again, I shouldn’t expect pulitzer winning writing. It is disappointing that there isn’t thoughtful gay media outlets anymore. The Advocate and Out are shadows of their former selves and the other outlets have folded (Ten Percent, Native, most local gay papers).
Also I’m sorry I wrote that the gay media should try to portray healthy and equitable relationships.
@hybris: “…the LGBT media has a responsibility to not provide fuel for the enemies in the culture war against the LGBT community.”
I couldn’t disagree more with everything you said. So you think that black people shouldn’t “act black” until there is no more racism, and fem gay guys, Dykes on bikes, leathermen, and drag queens should be prevented from being seen in parades, right? You ARE the oppressor.
@lauraspencer, lol, I was thinking the same thing. Most of the couples in the pictures look of similar age. WTF?
@middleagespread, I can relate. Mine is 15 years younger. I’m also the poor one. Who knows why? I just go with the flow.
@middleagespread: If it works for you, great. I think I’m too insecure to be with a guy who was younger, better looking and more financially secure. I’d wonder what was wrong with him that he chose me or I’d be afraid that he’d find someone better. I don’t want to make you insecure. I’m just saying, that’s me.
@Harley: That’s not always true, I would say its not even usually true if you look in the right spots. Sometimes its the love. Cynicism rarely glorifies any of us.
@hybris: You do not get to define what unhealthy means. Seriously. Nothing confuses me more than gay men – who were illegal in any relationship they had in my state when I was 20 — who can’t cut slack to other legal people who choose to couple. It’s just not your business – and you don’t get to pick what is ok for them.
@hybris: Let me repeat myself. YOU are not the thought and moral police for other persons. I find it difficult to believe you have ever been part of any minority given the way you act. Let me add to that, I hope it is not parody, it is part of BOTH straight and gay culture – and while its nice that I’ve been in a relationship for 22 years and you want to die at 100 with a lover of 80 years – we do not, either of us, define other people – so stop trying. Further, let me note that the attempt to control the media – didn’t we just go through this in France, another free society (Je Suis Charlie)? Yes, they used violence, you are trying to use fake shaming – the idea is the same – control what people say, control what is printed. They do it in an attempt to establish power, you do out of fear that perhaps something will be used against…. YOU. Bull – the article is legitimate, it relates to a group of people – and if someone wants to point to legal relationships and attack them due to age differences, there are more than enough straight intergenerational relationships to point back at – in fact, I’ve heard them discussed on NPR. Get over yourself or go somewhere else.
@lauraspencer: Er — you do realize that at least a 20 year age difference is evident in all but one of the pictures, right?
The first photo the guy on the left looks 40ish and the guy on the right looks 30.
The second photo with the guy carrying the one guy doesn’t suggest any age difference.
The third photo of the guy in the cop costume with the beard and buzzed head (which are characteristics that make a guy look older) is probably mid 30s and the muscle guy next to him is 20 something.
The last photo in the pool…the bearded guy is probably about mid 40s (or just sun damaged) and the other guy with the wrinkles on his forehead and thinning hair is probably late 20s.
In all of these cases none of these men look like they would be old enough to be “daddy” to the other. Not sure what defines a “daddy”.
Obviously, I’m not the only one who doesn’t see much difference because Vive commented the same thing.
@jwtraveler: Everything you said, I have felt. I am learning to be much more secure in myself. Time will tell, but so far this has been the best relationship. I was in a 4 year, a 3 year, and a 16 year relationship, and this is the one I am the most relaxed, honest, secure and sexually satisfied with.
What a bizarre article. Kind of like something you’d read in the Pet Care column. “Be an even-keeled presence that he can look up to. And teach him how to be a better man by example.” Really?
Try to read it outloud ! how is that sound to you ? Labelling love !
Some comment i liked and some i don’t realy where is it coming from?
Funny fact :
you heard about being a suger daddy !
The new thing now is suger son
Is this article for real?
As a twenty something effeminate twink I love feeling the dominant and masculine difference in a 40 something man. I feel like his knowledge, grace and masculinity makes me feel safe, cared for and loved.
@lauraspencer: @Hermes: I’d say it could go either way. At any rate, this is Queerty’s idea of the daddy/son relationships where both are equally hot but not the usual reality. Those are the kind of relationships I can believe $ doesn’t have a factor in them. That and some of the commenters here too that have said so.
However, I know allot of them where $ is a factor whether it’s the older one paying for everything, school, or say just a monthly allowance. Anyone want to explain the difference between that and the usual escort services? Oh yeah, ones pay as you go and the other is pay by say the month. The best test is for the older one to withhold the $ and see if junior still stays. If he does he’s a keeper and it’s real love:)
Am I the only one who finds the idea of being called a ‘daddy’ just because I’m older, a bit weird? I wish gay men would move beyond labelling everything, rendering everyone a ‘type’ as it’s incredibly limiting. Whatever characteristics I possess (or not), I’m just ‘me’ and I don’t want to have to conform to anyone else’s idea of what that should be, based on a label or a stereotyppe.
@hybris: You’re insecure in your skin and rather than deal with that, you project that anxiety outwards to others. If they didn’t act THAT way, we’d be given more respect! To paraphrase the diarist, we had that argument over 30 years ago. Your side, with their closet-loving ways, were too afraid to stand up, to come out, to fight. It attracted too much attention. Learn from the past.
Here’s an easy example. Act Up. You attitude railed against Act Up for being too offensive. We’ll never get what we want if we act THAT way! Well, Act Up was the most successful citizen action movement of the past 30+ years. Lives were saved and prolonged because of Act Up. This wouldn’t have happened if the pearl clutchers like yourself were heeded. You sound young, so here’s some advice: You can’t control how others perceive you. Modifying your behavior in an attempt to control others’ opinions is a fool’s errand. You only sacrifice your own dignity and agency. Demand more for yourself. You’re entitled to it.
@hybris, relax. You are not free. Just BE free.
@hybris: I think you missed the entire point of the article. If you find an older guy ordering dinner creepy, then don’t do that. It’s really that simple. While not my thing personally, ordering dinner is not uncommon in Dominant/submissive relationships.
The only thing actually wrong with that section is that it starts with saying you don’t own your boy, then proceeds to assume that there will be some level of Dominant/submissive interaction. I’ve always preferred a Dom/sub relationship, myself, and I know many other Daddies who do, but certainly not everyone does.
You also seem to have missed the part where this article specifically states that it’s not about gold-diggers and is about those in loving, caring, intergenerational relationships. Again, if you find those creepy, then don’t be in one.
So I’m really intrigued by this article, especially when the second part is published. I’m in an inter-generational relationship and I’m hoping this will actually help it.
The age difference between my partner and I bothered me a lot at the beginning but not him. He was 20 and I was 35 – he pursued a relationship with me when I thought it was just a fling. That was 28 years ago and the age difference disappeared a long time ago. Having a younger lover probably kept me healthier and in good physical condition.
I’ve dated men much older than me when I was younger, and much younger than me as I got older. The one thing I’ve come to realize is that 10 seems to be the magic number. If you are both within 10 years of each other, the age difference hardly matters at all. But once you start going over 10, the personality differences start to become very apparent and most likely will cause the relationship to fail. Not saying there aren’t exceptions, but in general that seems to be the case in my experience.
@Dan, I think that number depends on maturity. There can be a larger difference between 20 and 25 (just 5 years) than between 25 and 35 (10 years), or between 30 and 45 (15 years). Of course it depends on the individuals involved.
Also, I think you (and I) have in mind a relationship of equals, which is what my boyfriend and I have (15 years difference). But a lot of guys (and this article) are more into relationships with a daddy-son dynamic, where larger age differences may even help rather than hurt. It’s a valid choice.
Not all gays are Daddies you know, some are Mummies.
The twink on the cop’s knee looks like he’s about to be raped.
Wow! How sad guys. My partner and have a 16 year age difference. We met when I was 32. We complement one another exceptionally well. When we first decided to date he was a little reluctant about dating due to the age difference. Once we started dating it took him about a year to get passed that little issue. We found we both were mentally about the same. I do not know for sure, but growing up I always hung out with older friends. Maybe that was one thing that helped. I always dated within my age range by a year or two and even was in an 11 year relationship and he 18 years. We both were miserable in those relationships. My partner could not keep it in his pants, and his was verbally and mentally abusive.
I had no idea of how much he made, and was not concerned with it for the first seven years. I paid for myself for him and vice versa and I also paid half our living expenses.
He was quite handsome and still is at 63. We have been together going on 16 years. We both have been deeply in love for years and fall deeper in love everyday. I would also like to make it clear neither of us has some weird fetish based on age. We just clicked and it has been the best relationship both of us could have ever imagined.
I feel sorry for those people who can not look past an age difference. I assume most of you who think this way think this is a gross thing or a psychological daddy issue or some other strange mental issue. I will tell you this thinking is way off base. I thank God for our meeting my husband and am thankful for everyday we spend together.
@Wagner Wallace: If there’s any chance you’re still getting updates on these, I’d love to PM you a question. I need some advice quite desperately and I think because of your relationship experience you’d be perfect to ask.
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