Dear Richard: The Age Old Question

By: Dear Dick

Dear Richard,

I'm going through a dating dilemma. I met a man who claimed he was 30 years old. After lots of talking he revealed he is 37. I am 18, almost 19. I normally don't have an issue with age but for some reason I feel discouraged about getting in a relationship with a man of that age. He is a great guy and I could see myself being with him for a long time, but I don't know if it's wrong of me to say no because of his age.

What might be a few things I should think about in order to persuade myself that dating an older man is okay?


Troubled With Age

Dear Troubled,

What should be bothering you more than the age difference is that this guy lied. Any time that happens there are going to be problems with trust. Sure, there’s the whole issue of ageism in the gay community, and with you being 18 he was probably nervous you wouldn’t be into someone his age, but then that assumes you would be cool with a dude who lied to you before you even became boyfriends. And something tells D.R. that you are not that kind of guy.

Okay, that aside, let’s talk about the age issue itself. There is nothing wrong with saying no to dating a man because you think he’s too old for you. And there’s no reason to feel guilty for feeling that way. If your gut tells you that you just can’t handle it, then break it off before he gets too hung up on you.

If you’re really into him and want to see where things lead, then go for it. A lot of intergenerational relationships work because there isn’t competition—you know he’s financially better off than you and he knows you’re younger and more attractive; you bring sex, energy and an eye for current culture while he brings maturity, stability, and sophistication that can help you grow and mature. But all that said, you have to be realistic and understand that there are lots of issues that come with a big age difference.

For example, your friends and family will have opinions about you dating someone so much older and you’ll both need to handle the teasing, as well as the questions they ask about why you’re with him. D.R. is also going to assume you haven’t had a lot of sexual partners yet. If that’s the case, then when you’re old enough to hit the bars and meet tons of hot men who think you’re also hot, he will be almost 40. He can still be smokin’—most 40-year-old gay men are these days— but if you’re in a monogamous relationship then you won’t be playing around and that can build a sense of resentment. It’s the “I gave you the best years of my life!” syndrome. And if you start fantasizing about other guys while you’re with him, flirting with other guys when he’s not looking, or you just plain cheating on him, then you’ll be dealing with all the guilt that comes along with it.

Dating an older guy can definitely be a good thing. D.R. always has a hankering for mature men because they’re experienced, both in bed and in life, which means they know how to perform and they don’t sweat the small stuff. So on that level there is nothing wrong with going on some dates and seeing if anything comes of it.

However, the truth is that an age difference doesn’t matter as much when you’re older and more settled, but when you’re young it does because you still have a lot of life to explore and enjoy. Remember that when you’re 30 he will be nearly 50, and when you’re still hot in your 40s he’ll be nearing retirement. Is that what you want for yourself?

If you can say that it is— great! Just clearly define the rules and expectations of your relationship, stick with them, and communicate openly and constantly, because you’re going to need that foundation if you want it to succeed.

Oh, but one warning: Don’t date a known liar. If he lies about something as simple as his age, imagine what other things he’ll happily lie about.

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.