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Dating Again #2: Mr. Too Attached

Though I’m now seeing someone exclusively I thought I’d continue my series of posts on my dating experiences after my split with John. I started the series late last year with a post on Mr. Rebound. Today’s post is about the second major figure in my post-John dating life.

I had entered my experience with Mr. Rebound knowing that I wasn’t looking to date anyone seriously. A few months later though when I met Mr. Too Attached I was starting to feel that, in seeing someone, I could start considering something more serious. I wasn’t looking for a relationship but I was going to let myself be open to the possibility.

Like Mr. Rebound I met Mr. Too Attached through an online dating site. We traded some messages and decided to meet for a coffee date. My initial encounters with Mr. Too Attached went really well. He seemed really good on paper. In his early sixties he was handsome, educated, in a creative profession. He had also recently moved to the city and so we had a shared experience of feeling like we were starting over. I definitely saw dating potential in this man.

We soon had a second date, dinner out and after which he invited me to his place. It started innocently enough, but again it ended by getting far more physical than I should have allowed. I clearly didn’t heed my own warning after my experience with Mr. Rebound. However, this time it backfired not because of misplaced interest. Rather, it complicated the process of dating by creating a sense of seriousness or intimacy early on, making it more challenging to end the relationship when I realized he really wasn’t right for me.

In total we probably saw each other seven or eight times. At first it was all great, I enjoyed the time we spent together and learning about what he did and his personal history. Sadly, the interesting conversations wore thin pretty quickly and Mr. Too Attached was in constant contact. Soon everyday he was e-mailing and/or calling me without really saying much.  All conversations seemed to devolve into dry commentaries about our work day. I was still having an enjoyable enough time when we’d go out together, but I just didn’t feel the click.

clingySadly Mr. Too Attached was moving in the opposite direction. As I was beginning to feel “this guy would make a fine friend, but not a partner” he was starting feel that I was the one. Eventually, during one of our frequent phone conversations I had to tell him “look, I’m beginning to recognize that I’m not matching the level of intensity you’re feeling toward me.” Immediately afterward he was quite upset but then came back saying he wanted to see if we could still work, he promised that he’d mellow out and we’d just see how things developed naturally. I was willing to give this a try, I still saw some potential and didn’t want to pass up an opportunity. Unfortunately, Mr. Too Attached was just that.

I can’t quite figure out why Mr. Too Attached was so enthusiastic about me. I don’t have such an inflated view of myself to think it’s my devilish good looks and irresistibly charming personality. Perhaps, it was his own lack of a social circle in this new city. Maybe he was in love with the idea of being in-love. I don’t know, but I found, despite what romantic comedies seem to portray, being hotly pursued when the feeling isn’t mutual can be a huge turn-off.

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Dating Again #1: Mr. Rebound

When I met John I had been in the dating world only for a short time. After our relationship ended I found myself back in the dating pool. Since, I have found it a bit daunting to try dating again. I certainly know a lot more now than when I first really started dating older men six years ago, but I’m finding that I’m encountering more unusual and challenging experiences than I expected. This is the first post of a series reflecting on my experiences now that I’m dating again.

Shortly after the split I started frequenting one of the more popular intergenerational gay dating sites. Having just come out of a relationship I wasn’t looking for anything serious and even if I were I wouldn’t know what I was looking for. I just wanted to get out, try dating again, and hopefully have some fun times. On this website I started trading a few messages with the man I’m going to call Mr. Rebound.

Mr. Rebound was friendly, thoughtful, and a little bit shy. My own introverted nature led to some of the problems I had with John and it was refreshing to encounter someone that seemed to understand that part of my personality. After a couple of weeks of correspondences and chatting we agreed to meet for coffee one afternoon. The first meeting was rather uneventful. Mr. Rebound was unassuming and easy to be around. We sipped coffee and had rather general conversation. At that first meeting I found him attractive and was excited at the prospect of potentially being with him.

Mr. Rebound and I continued to have our online conversations, and early on he was well aware that I had just come out of a relationship. We commiserated together at how much of the world just doesn’t get the way introverts like us operate. A week or two after the first coffee date we met again for dinner.

To be honest, I don’t remember the dinner much. Afterwards he invited me to his place. We chatted more, listened to music, sat on his couch together and eventually began to make out. Mr. Rebound respected, or at least tried to respect, the fact that we really hadn’t known each other long and that I was fresh out of a relationship. I kept the momentum going however and we ended up in his bed. Again, he tried to slow things down but I thought I was ready to go for it. I threw caution to the wind and we ended up hot, sweaty, naked, and sticky.

I don’t think it was too long after that that I realized that I had made a mistake. I continued to see Mr. Rebound but we didn’t have sex again. It wasn’t that there was anything particularly wrong with him. But, while I didn’t realize it at the time, I was trying to fulfill competing desires with my relationship with Mr. Rebound. On one hand I wanted a friend to talk to, to decompress with, and to get thing off of my chest that had built up as my relationship with John fell apart. I hadn’t felt comfortable doing that with any of my existing friends. On the other hand, I wanted to fulfill sexual desires that weren’t being met. I discovered those two roles shouldn’t be fulfilled by one person, especially not during the emotionally stressful period I was experiencing at the time.

With Mr. Rebound I realized I wanted a friend more than I wanted a lover. Eventually, I was able to tell him this and to my surprise he wasn’t angry nor did he simply disappear after I made it clear I no longer wished to have a romantic relationship with him. We have continued to be friends, and though not terribly close we see each other fairly frequently to have walks, chats, coffee, etc.

Since then I think I’m still trying to learn lessons from this first post-John relationship. First, one must make a distinction between those they really wish to date and those they simply want something physical with. I should have learned that when dating someone that I may want to have a meaningful relationship with that I need to take it slow on the sexual front. I’m not sure I have fully learned that lesson, but that’s a story for a future blog post. By meaningful relationship I mean either long-term dating or simply friendship. To move quickly into sex complicates the getting to know you process and if you do determine you just want to be friends the sex could be deadly to the future of the friendship. I feel that I was pretty lucky to come away with a new friend in Mr. Rebound.

Guest Post: Rodney and Me

Today’s guest post comes from a GtD reader. Written in the form of an open letter to the parents of his new significant other, it addresses the concerns of outsiders looking in at a may-to-december relationship.

I’d bet you’re here for a reason… there was a reason for me too. When I discovered this site I had only had a need of it for just a few days… I was rapidly becoming emotionally involved with someone in excess of twenty five years my junior. Not only is he significantly younger, he’s significantly young. This is of course going to trouble a great many people, being a responsible and moral person I’m one of them, the first I expect. This collection of people may have just recently grown by a few, could be you and your spouse – Rodney’s parents, are a bit troubled too.

I’m glad you’re here; I hope you can find the answers you’re looking for. Please know that this site is about supporting people who are in, could be in or are otherwise somehow related to someone in an intergenerational gay relationship. It’s a fair assumption that you might feel the need for some support, if nothing else you’re concerned for your son or other family member, probably worried that he is being taken advantage of. As we might have someone in common that we care about I’d like to offer you some support. You’re possibly wondering why I’m here offering this to you; I’m thinking that its possible that you’re seeing me as the “enemy”. While I’m certain that you are mistaken on this count, nothing will change that impression if I am not willing to step forward and extend my hand, taking ownership for my part in this situation.

I’d like to offer up a few things for you to consider. First, you’re probably not here by accident. Your Son or another family member gave you a link to this website on purpose or you were looking for information on your adult child’s intergenerational relationship. Somebody has something that they’re trying to tell you. It’s in the spirit of openness and consideration for your feelings that you’ve been sent here, if you arrived by accident you’re curious because of someone you know. Please keep that in mind and if you are upset, scared, worried or otherwise feel that your family member is being victimized take a moment to relax and have faith in your son, while I bring you up to speed on a couple of things. While I can’t speak for everyone in this situation, I can present my feelings to you and offer you the possibility that I may not be the only older half of an intergenerational gay relationship that is willing to be open and forward. It’s not easy as I’m thinking that you may see me as an enemy, though I am far from it. I believe in Rodney, truly want the best for him and am willing to open myself up to scrutiny.

When I discovered my attraction for (and we are going to call him Rodney) Rodney I was more than surprised that things might take this kind of turn. We had communicated online a month before we met, most of that was about when are we going to get together, my schedule, his schedule etc. Once we finally got together, had opportunity to spend some time together we found that like other people we just enjoyed being together. It did not take long for me to realize that this young man was not cut from the same cloth as others his age. He has a deep sense of compassion with still waters running very strong and deep, nor given to childish pursuits. One would quickly call him an old soul without hesitation. I will confess that by the end of our first date I had long forgotten his age as he seemed much older. Our third date was a disaster, but as parents you could not have been happier with his bravery and willingness to deal with a crisis.

We had arranged nearly a week ahead of time to have brunch on New Year’s Day. I expected that we would eat and then catch a movie; my absent mindedness would change our plans. While cooking I had turned on the wrong burner on the stove and there was a frying pan handle over the burner, when I noticed this I corrected the situation and put some oil in the pan and then was distracted. It didn’t take long before the pan had gotten too hot and was smoking. I reached out to move the pan without thinking and burned the inside of my fingers on the frying pan handle, dropping the frying pan on the stove, the oil splashed out burning the outside of three of my fingers. Standing next to the sink I immediately went for cold water but that wasn’t enough. I was rapidly going into shock and were it not for Rod I might’ve have collapsed or worse. Most people would have politely excused themselves and ran out as quickly as possible, but not your son. It didn’t enter into his mind, not for an instant. He just saw that I needed someone to help then ran out and got snow to cool the water even more, then helped me make it to the couch and eventually the bathroom. An hour later after I was no longer in shock he drove me to the hospital, staying with me until the emergency room people were done with me. Afterward that evening we had dinner and came back to the scene of the injury for a movie.

I’d like you to know that whatever you taught Rodney, it was all worth it. You look at him and see your barely adult (chronologically) son, of course. It is clear to anyone that while Rodney may be young when it comes to the calendar, he handles himself and crises like an old pro. He was there for me when I needed help and possesses a maturity well beyond his years. I look forward to being there for him should it be necessary at any time in the future.

Best Regards,

Robert Riley

Notes on Being With a (Formerly) Married Man

Over time I have noted an interesting attitude in the dating pool, gay or straight.  This is the notion that people wouldn’t want to date someone who has previously been married, especially if they have children.  I think this stems from a desire not to compete for the love and attention of one’s partner.

However, since meeting John I’ve gotten to know quite a few older gay men of both types, previously married and not.  It may just be me, and it may warrant actual scientific study, but I think that many previously married gay men exhibit traits that make them equally desirable, if not more so, than their never-married counterparts.bridge

I have noticed that older gay men that have been married tend to be less self oriented and seem better at compromise.  It seems that having a spouse and the responsibility of children forced these men to be more complex/mature problem solvers.  They also avoid the pettiness that is stereotypically associated with gay men.

In my relationship with John, his children have been the opposite of a liability.  To the contrary, they make me respect him more.  Though they might not fully accept me into the family, I recognize them as smart, interesting, and good natured people.  Their personal qualities as well as the way John interacts with them reflects well on the sort of person he is.

When my thoughts turn toward never-married gay men, I can think of so many that fixate on the superficial, themselves, or even worse their pets as a means of sublimating their desires for love and fulfillment.  Perhaps this is harsh, and certainly it doesn’t apply to all of those that have never married.  Nor would I advocate that it is necessary that young gay men marry women now in order to have fulfilling homosexual relationships later.

My model also doesn’t take in to account those gay men that have been in long term homosexual relationships; I suspect that a similar pattern would emerge in them as it does in the previously married men.  Unfortunately I know few gay couples that fit that model well; that is to say at least one of the men in most of the long term couples I know were previously married to women.

So far these thoughts are rather incomplete, but I thought I’d post them here and get your reactions.  So what do you think?  Do gay men that were previously married make better partner material?  What are the positives and negatives of dating gay men that once lived the straight life?  If you think I’m off the mark completely, don’t hesitate to let me know that too.

Top Five Anxieties When Entering an Intergenerational Relationship

anxietyFor individuals entering any type of intimate relationship there is going to be some level of anxiety.  One is always concerned if the other party is going to like them.  However, for intergenerational couples these anxieties may come in the form of age or status related concerns.  Often these anxieties can be subliminal, not fully apparent to the individuals involved in the relationship.  By addressing these anxieties consciously, though, an individual can either move beyond them and let the relationship flourish, or identify incompatibilities that are irreconcilable and decide to move on.  Today I present to you five major points of anxiety for gay intergenerational couples.  I hope they serve as a starting point for self reflection for my readership as well as a conversation starter here at GtD.

Perception – Individuals within intergenerational couples are often concerned with the perceptions of others, particularly if they are entering their first age disparate relationship.  As I discussed in many of my early posts here, there are a number of stereotypes surrounding intergenerational couples.  This can lead to a lot of anxiety for those individuals, which can effect how they approach the relationship.  I remember fearing intensely the reactions of family and friends to the news that I had entered a relationship with someone much older than myself not to mention anxieties over the way strangers may treat us as well.  Outside societal pressure can definitely have negative impacts on ones relationship and until I came to the conclusion that I had to make my own decisions, I questioned what future John and I might have.

Opportunism – Both older partners and younger partners my have concerns that they are taken advantage of.  Is the younger partner simply using the older for financial gain?  Is the older with the younger merely for sexual reasons or for status within the gay community.  While the problem of opportunism can be a legitimate concern, and I would never encourage an individual to let themselves be taken advantage of, the charge of opportunism is a serious one and can be quite hurtful if not true.  Fully examine anxieties over opportunism, before acting upon them.

Performance – This is probably an anxiety felt more acutely by older men than younger men.  Incidence of decreased sexual function increases with age.  Some older men fixate on problems they may have with sexual function leading to anxiety about how that will effect the relationship or how the younger man may react.  To a lesser extent younger men may have some anxieties in this area, worried how they may measure up to previous partners in the love making department.

Autonomy – On the other hand anxieties over autonomy are more likely to touch the younger partner.  Older partners in intergenerational relationships are often more established financially and professionally, and may have a leg up in terms of their relationships with friends and family (i.e. how long they have been out and accepted by those groups).  For the younger individual this may pose a challenge to their independence and self authorship.  How do you cultivate a healthy relationship with someone that has already established their identity when you’re still working on yours?  At the same time the older partner may fear hindering their younger partner’s development, concerned they may hold the younger man back.

Rejection – Ultimately the anxiety we all share when we enter a new relationship is the fear of rejection.  The previous anxieties feed the fear of rejection as do other concerns.  The older man may fear that he not in good enough shape.  The younger man may fear that he’s not educated or experienced enough.  And because of these or other anxieties both parties ultimately have anxiety over rejection.  Early on every small argument and disagreement my feel like grounds for rejection.  Fortunately as time goes by, if all these anxieties are confronted and dealt with, that anxiety of rejection begins to fade and a stronger relationship is left in its place.

What They Say About Assumptions

Today I was thinking about when John and I first met. We had traded messages online a bit and decided to have an initial meeting at a local restaurant. In hindsight I wish I could remember the details of our first meeting more clearly. What exactly did we talk about, what were my initial reactions toward him, etc. I would love to reflect on those reactions now with some distance of time, but they elude me. However there are two instances from that first meeting that I remember quite clearly; the first of which illustrates that one shouldn’t make assumptions about age.

We first met outside the restaurant. When we went in we had to wait quite a while for a table. I the meantime we started talking about ourselves. I remember telling John about the masters program I had just finished and my academic background. After being seated, we continued talking about things like jobs, families, and other interests. It was clear to me early on that John was smart, well educated, and a serious minded person. Eventually the topic of conversation turned to film. I told him that my interests tended toward dramas and independent film. He told me he liked dramas also, along with foreign films and documentaries. Then he took me a little off guard by asking me what I had thought of the movie Borat. I had seen it for the first time pretty recently and found it pretty funny, but I immediately second guessed responding honestly. With his serious demeanor and at his age it didn’t occur to me that John would have reacted positively to the film; after all their had been so much controversy over people taking offense to the movie. I just imagined that he may have really hated the movie and found it sophomoric and that if I admitted to liking it too vehemently that it would reflect poorly on myself.

I resisted my urge to out-and-out dismiss the movie, but I also tempered my praise of the film. But, to my surprise John responded by saying how much he loved the movie. His face lit up when he talked about particular parts he liked. I was astounded, relieved, and impressed. I had met someone that was mature and intellectually curious but was capable of not always taking things too seriously. The man had a sense of humor. That little bit of trivia about John, that he loved Borat, actually became a little endearing trait that stood out. In a small way I think I was a little ashamed that I had assumed that John was “too old” for that type of movie. And in making such an assumption I easily could have become insincere in an attempt to impress him.

The rest of the dinner and conversation went relatively well. We parted ways in the restaurant parking lot. As the evening ended I wasn’t completely sure what to make of the meeting. John seemed nice, I found him attractive, we had some things in common, but throughout the conversation I found it difficult to read him, to know how he was reacting to me. That brings us to the second thing that happened that night that I can remember quite clearly. As I was heading away from the restaurant, reflecting on what had just happened, my phone rang. Before I was even out of the parking lot John was calling me. He was heading out of town for a week and he wanted me to give him my e-mail address so we could make plans while he was away to get together when he returned. After the call I was giddy with confidence and excitement. That call simultaneously signaled John’s interest in me and solidified my interest in him.

That night I met a man that I found could impress and surprise me. Thanks to my own little snafu over making assumptions I’ve tried not to take anything else for granted when it came to John. And so, I’ve gotten to see the world and learn about new things from his point of view. It is a vivid life he leads and I’ve been fortunate to get to take part in it.

Online Dating Profiles: Make Them Work For You

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I found online dating sites useful tools for meeting older men. Sites dedicated to older men and their admirers certainly narrow the field and can make meeting people with similar goals easier. But, whether you decide to use more general sites like Yahoo personals, an intergenerationally focused site like Silverdaddies, or something in between; how you present your profile will have the ultimate bearing on your success. Over the years of web assisted dating I have seen well written profiles and profiles that look like train wrecks. Based on my experience and conversations with others I’ve collected the following list of 10 criteria for creating a better online dating profile.

1. Determine what you want out of your profile. Are you searching for love or just lust? Perhaps you’re open to either. What ever your goals are, keep that in mind as you develop your profile and tailor it accordingly.

2. Post a profile photo. A major part of attraction is the physical element. Photos add personality and entice readers to respond to your profile. A profile without a photo seems very anonymous and abstract. That makes it difficult for people to feel like they can approach you. Also, because most dating sites allow users to search for only profiles with photos, your profile is far less likely to attract attention if you don’t include one. If you’re weary of posting pictures publicly, many sites offer private galleries or other means for you to share your photos with other users; I recommend you use these systems.

3. Choose your profile photos wisely. Depending on your goals for the profile you may want to present different types of photos. Choose photos that are flattering and present you honestly. If you’re honestly looking for a long term relationship then you may want to avoid using too many erotic photos. Instead choose photos that show off your personality or interests.

4. Be honest about your physical attributes. Most online dating profiles have areas in which you fill in your physical statistics. We all get a little self conscious about ourselves at times, but resist the temptation to lie about your stats. In the long run who ever you meet from the dating site will eventually find out your true age, weight, and height. Can you imagine anything worse than meeting “the one” and having to admit you initially lied to them?

5. Describe yourself and your interests using specifics. I have seen so many men describe themselves in generalities such as “a fun loving guy with a good sense of humor”. But what does that really tell you about the man, we would like to all think of ourselves that way. Instead focus on the specifics that might attract a mate. What hobbies do you have, where do you like to travel,what is your profession, what is your unique philosophy on life? Use details rather than generalities when writing your profile.

6. Clearly describe what you’re looking for in a mate. What is it you expect out of a mate? Do you want someone to grow old with or are you just looking for a casual date to go out with on the weekends? What interests do you hope they will share with you? Elaborate on a few things you hope to find in a potential partner, but try not to appear that you’re limiting people of other interests from contacting you.

7. Insert at least one “hook” in your profile. Try to find at least one thing to really make stand out in your profile. For instance this could be an attention grabbing photo in your gallery such as you on your last trip abroad, participating in your favorite hobby, etc. Or you may want to describe in your profile text something really unique about yourself or something interesting. Try to think of something that might make a good conversation starter, something that makes people want to ask you questions or introduce themselves because they have a shared interest.

8. Stay positive. When searching for potential mates it is easy to become frustrated. You may encounter lots of people that rub you the wrong way or that your just not interested in. However, avoid the tendency to make your profile a laundry list of dislikes. A profile with a negative attitude can be a real turn-off even to those you’re not targeting. State what you’re looking for rather than what you wish to avoid.

9. Proofread for grammar, clarity, and length. We’re not all English majors, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our best to make our profiles as accurate as we can. But, perhaps more importantly, make sure your profile is concise. At most it really should only be a few paragraphs in length, any longer and you run the risk of your reader getting bored. Besides you want to save something for the conversation on your first date.

10. Update your profile regularly. If you use an online profile over a long period of time you should review it every four to six months and make sure everything is up to date. This will help keep your profile honest and accurate. I also recommend changing your profile photos every few months. If you weren’t having luck with your old photos, new ones make spark renewed interest in your profile.