Question: There is this guy that I talk to every now and then and we always flirt. We have hung out a few times, though we have never gone further than kissing.
I have a huge crush on this guy and I honestly believe he is into me as well. HOWEVER, we are 10 years apart in age: he is 32, I’m 22. I don’t think it would be an issue at all, but I sense that this a huge hang up for him.
I am considering telling him that I believe we could really have a great relationship and that I don’t think he should be so concerned about our age difference. What do you think is the best way to go about this?
It has always been common for gay and lesbian couples to have large age differences between them and many of these relationships have been successful. Historically, older gay men who came out later in life were not as mature as younger gay men.
I always distinguish between our gay ages and our chronological ages. For many older gay men just coming out, their gay ages are most likely the same age as the chronological age of the younger gay man with whom they are involved.
Yet we live in a very judgmental culture where age differences are of major concern for many people. This is a pet peeve of mine. People often make sweeping generalizations about the rightness and/or wrongness of a couple having an age difference of 10 or more years. But a judgment cannot be made based solely on the individual partner’s ages. Maturity factors in heavily for both, along with individual personalities and how the couple negotiates and navigates the years between them.
It is great that you are going to have a conversation about this. When you talk, you should be real and honest. Tell him that you sense he has a hang up about the age difference and ask him what his thoughts and feelings are. It is important to take him seriously, as some of his concerns might be valid. Next, tell him your thoughts and feelings about the age differences and ask that he take you seriously as well.
It is important to validate his concerns because, after all, they are his concerns, whether they are real or imagined. He has to work them through and talking together is a great way to do this.
Some of the things to consider are what others will say about your relationship and the way in which they will judge it. The two of you need to anticipate this and find a way to handle it. Older gay men will think that you, the younger man, are out for your potential partner’s money and security. Younger gay men will judge your partner for not being able to keep up with his own age group.
You have to remember that negative comments often come from people’s own insecurities and things they have not worked out within themselves. After 26 years as a therapist, I have learned that each couple is unique and different and how they make it work is tailored to that couple. No one can look in from the outside and judge it.
That said, there are unique things you will encounter that will be generational and also depend on where you both are in your lives. I suspect your potential partner, at 32, has settled down with a job and perhaps owns a home; whereas at 22, you may either be just finishing school or just starting out in a job. Being at two different life stages can be difficult when there is an age difference, but it is not anything you cannot work through.
Follow your heart and talk to each other and see what is realistic and where the challenges lie. I say go for it and good luck to you both!