Dear Richard: Issues With Age and Open Relationships
Last summer I met Luke, who's 40. I'd just turned 25, was having fun at the bars, but then I met him and he was super hot. We started dating, and it was pretty great. He'd take me to cool things, he's smart, and the sex is amazing. Like some weekends we don't even leave the bedroom. Without saying too much, Luke's taught me a lot.
The tough part was both our sets of friends, who would tease us about the 15 year age difference. All the little jokes kind of annoyed me. I'd try to brush them off, but after a while I was more into us not hanging out with them because it got old. I don't want to be that needy boyfriend who says he can't hang out with his friends, and he's not the kind of guy who'd accept that anyway, so we both spend time with our friends when we're not together.
Then a couple weeks ago my friends and I were out clubbing and this really hot guy hit on me. I was drunk and we ended up sleeping together. I felt like crap and told Luke. He said he understood, that I was young and needed to play around. That kind of pissed me off, because it felt like he didn't appreciate how guilty I felt. I also feel like I should be able to say no to temptation like that. Then last night I said I wanted us to be officially boyfriends and he said he wanted to also, but if I ever wanted it to "open up" the relationship that he understood and he'd be cool with that. He said he's fine keeping it closed for now, but it's up to me.
I don't think I want that, and I've never said I wanted that, so why is he assuming it? Is he trying to tell me something? Or is this just because I cheated on him that one time?
I don't know how old you are, but I'm hoping to talk to an older guy who might have some ideas on what's happening with Luke and what I should do.
Young and (Possibly) Restless
If you’re really into Luke and want to see where things lead, then go for it. A lot of intergenerational relationships work because you're both at different points of your life. In this case, it sounds like you understand that he’s financially better off than you, more cultured and experienced in multiple areas, while you bring sex, energy, fun and an eye for current culture to the relationship.
That said, ageism is a big issue in society, and especially among gay men. We joke about it because it makes us uncomfortable. There's usually the association (true or not) of the older guy being the sugar daddy. But here's the deal: If Luke has more money and experience and you're ego is cool with being the younger man who has less money, then screw everyone else. This is about you guys, not them. Friends will come around when they see that you're really and truly happy.
As for the cheating—dude, you're young, you were drunk, and you gave into temptation. If Luke forgives you for it, then don't let guilt weigh you down or feel like you "should" feel guilty about it. You can always learn from the moment, but don't waste time beating yourself up about it.
Now some reading this letter might suspect that Luke has been cheating on you and that's why he's suggesting a possible open relationship, but if he was you'd suspect it—in our heart of hearts we usually do know when it's happening and just choose to ignore it. If that was the case, you'd most likely have said so in your letter. So assuming that he's innocent, he's probably trying to just be compassionate and let you live your life as freely and openly as you want. Luke has lived through his 20s, and since he's a stud in the sack he knows a lot about hooking up. Chances are he did his schooling at your age, so he's trying to give you the space to have your own explorations. It's not an insult to you that he's letting you decide the rules, it's actually a sign that he cares.
Relationships are fluid. You can start out monogamous and then become open and then go back again. You could also remain monogamous forever, or start open and never look back. It's all up to you two. The key is communication, letting each other know what you like and want, how certain situations make you feel, and setting the rules so you have a solid foundation for any scenarios that come your way.
Dear Richard is not a medical doctor, a licensed psychiatrist, a counselor, a reverend, or a rabbi. He has not been evaluated by the FDA, the CDC, or the BBC, and his words are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The information is for educational purposes only and it not intended to serve as medical advice.
Dear Richard does, however, love hearing from you and answering your questions. Leave a comment or send him an e-mail.