Guest Post: Rodney and Me pt. 2

Today we have a second installment of Robert Riley’s open letter to the parents of his new significant other. You can read the first installment here.

Seeing my own words in print elsewhere besides my coffee table is gratifying and I appreciate you, the gentle reader… I’ll continue if it pleases you.

 

If your son is anything like Rodney, and his relationship with someone older continues as I am certainly hoping that ours will, at some point you will have a conversation and parts of it are going to sound like this:

“But that’s a whole generation”, “He’s old enough to be…”, “Are you crazy?”, or “Son are you sure you want this?” There’s a few bazillion other things you might say as well, some couched in your own prejudice, assuming human nature is as much a part of your makeup as it is anyone else. Then you’re going to “repair” to your own thoughts, perhaps thinking that if you object you’re going to drive him in a direction you’d prefer he not go. It’s okay to not want your son to be in a relationship with some guy who is twenty five years his senior. You’ve got a right to your feelings. I’d suggest that you really take a bit and experience them. You’re going to think things that will range from “What kind of pervert…?” when you imagine my face to “Well, it’s his life; he needs to make his own mistakes” when thinking about your son. Being frustrated and fearful that your son is making a terrible mistake is part of being a parent, and you’re probably already used to it. The difference is this may be an area in which your input is not going to be so quickly wanted or heeded, you’d better get used that too. Somewhere along the line in this process you’re going to get curious, so go ahead and get that other crap out of the way. After all you’re concerned and rightly so, on a couple of points at least: You don’t want your son hurt, he’s your child – of course you don’t. You don’t want to see him taken advantage of or in a situation where he is operating at a disadvantage. You see the difference in years as something to be worried about. You could easily be thinking that he’s being taken advantage of or just being used sexually. As much as it pains me to say, you could be right, there are some real bad people out there and it’s entirely possible that your son might have stumbled on to one of them. Try to equip your son with the knowledge of what the “red flags” look like and be careful that you don’t over do it.

In the midst of all of the negative you might be thinking (and forgive me if I’m terribly wrong about you) I would like to raise a point here. Have you considered that there might be some advantages too, or are you just stuck on what’s wrong? (That part of me that wants to be supportive is battling with that part that wants you to remind you {loudly and with maximum prejudice} that “no” isn’t the only answer to a question) Parents are used to saying “no” aren’t they? Speaking from my own experience, our kids present us with lots of situations in which we need to “parent”, we establish rules, guidelines and expectations in the hope that they’ll follow all of these instructions and somehow ferret out the right path. We want them to take advantage of our mistakes because we recognize how much pain our errors have caused us and we don’t want them to have to endure what we have endured. When our kids stray from the rules we say “no”, when they’re not following the guidelines we say “do it like this” and when something goes wrong we explain the expectations we had for them… am I correct? Then if that still doesn’t get the point across we follow that up with discipline or worse, punishment. I’m hoping that you don’t go down the punishing path… (oh yes, you can still punish him despite the fact that he’s reached the age of majority) You can isolate him, let him feel that you’re angry because of his choices. I’d like to take moment or two and remind you of something…. Something that gay people over the age of 30 (and a great many younger too) have come to know. Young people that happen to be Gay spend a lot of time being punished, many of them do it to themselves, they really don’t need you to help them to more punishment. Rodney is doing it to himself but I think he’s gaining ground on this. At one point he had convinced himself that you’re going to be so completely disapproving that he’s keeping his seeing someone a complete secret. My guess is that he’s terrified about telling you about this person he’s been seeing once or twice a week.

I don’t want to scare you but this needs to be said because it’s epidemic.

The greatest cause of death among people who are under 25 and identify as GLBT of any variety is Suicide, driven by both real and imagined non acceptance of people they love. Please don’t add to the burden your son already feels, allow him to be who he is without editorial comments, kindly, carefully express your concern but for the time being at least, for his sake keep your judgmental perspective to yourself! If I’m wrong and you are a supportive and affirming parent, don’t pass up the chance to tell him you love him more than life itself, you’ll have my unending gratitude as well as everybody’s from under the rainbow.

 At some point in the last couple of years you might have thought: “We’ve spent all this time and energy trying to teach him how to get from “A” to “B” and then he throws a curve ball” I can almost hear it in the wind. “Mom, Dad… we need to talk” “What’s wrong honey?” His Mother says with a hint of alarm, his Dad sits, quietly. They both look at him as he fidgets a bit. “I have something to tell you”. His pronounced adams apple bobs gently and then he says: “I’m gay”. His Dad exhales sharply, and says “Oh, is that all. I thought you were, um… I mean I thought somebody was pregnant”. His Mother looks at her husband… mouth open wide, “is that all, Tom what’s got into you?” A year later, you’ve still not really dealt with the “Gay” thing and you discover, quite by accident that your son of 20 is in a relationship with someone as old as his Father and you have no idea what to do. Let me make it easy on you: Sit down, relax, let me help you here a little.

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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

Guest Post: Discovering Self and Others

Today’s guest post is from GtD reader Carl of Tucson, AZ. I appreciate him sharing part of his story; it highlights how relationships evolve overtime and how that causes us to evolve over time ourselves.

Tom and I are a good twenty-seven years into our time together. Lovers, buddies, partners, friends, housemates, sharers-of-pets, we’ve come a good way along the path together. You know: house, cars, yardwork, repairs, illnesses, triumphs, successes, failures– we’ve weathered them both individually and as a unit. Heck, our house is nearly paid-for!

A few years ago, Fil entered our lives. Thirty-three years old, he offered a newness to our studied habituations. Way different and more easy-going than we, he was filled with jollity, laughter, copious amounts of wine and off-centeredness. Fil lived up to his name, filling gaps Tom and I hadn’t realized were present in our lives as individuals as well as a pair. Fil came and went. I understood. He’d had his own life to sort out; we, ours. Then, out of the blue, a few months ago, Fil re-emerged, re-connected with us. He’d moved, gone to North Carolina, come back, become a caregiver for his grandparents, continued laughing, imbibing, being loving and caring. He’d come over for dinner, a movie, a night of massages and health tips– whatever. I figured it was cupboard love. I was OK with that. Really, I was.

Not knowing “the rules” of the new landscape, Tom and I both held back, resorting to entertainment rather than home-iness. Just what was going on, anyway? Fil would have none of it. True to his nature, he steamrolled good-naturedly passed the bs, landing fully in the moment. Ah, youth!

Now, after a few months of renewal, Tom and I have made a place for standing dates for movies, “Fringe”, good food and laughter, and continued baby-steps to a triadic comfort zone, where three people, two generations, differing ethnicities and family backgrounds and disparate personal histories begin to mix and gel their three personalities– two of whom love and respond to youthful playfulness, and one of whom self-confesses, to our delight, that he likes “grandfatherly types”, which, I hope, means wisdom, patience, stability, longevity– into a more unified sense of what a relationship means: Trust, sharing, a sense of belonging while exploring individuality. Allowing and encouraging the other partner(s) to grow and blossom is the test of whether we, from our differing perspectives, can and will develop our lives into something greater than what the sum of the parts may be. We have entered another point on the continuum of possibilities in human relationships. I look forward to the exploration.

Jealousy: The Specter of Former Lovers

When relationships are new there tends to be a lot of uncertainty and insecurity.  One of the number one things that can spur on that insecurity are the former lovers of your partner.  This can be especially true for the younger partner in interegenerational relationships and for older men who have recently come out of the closet.  When these sorts of individuals enter a relationship it can mean there is a large differential between the number of lovers each person in the relationship has had.  Compounding this challenge is the fact that gay communities can often be small meaning that former lovers are still within your partner’s social scene or network; sometimes even remaining close friends.

When John and I first got together I found this sort of thing particularly challenging.  John was very open and honest about his past dating and sexual experiences.  While this was great in the sense that we could have a trusting, well communicated relationship, at times I felt like he was constantly revealing people he had dated or slept with. I had only had one previous lover while he had many.

One individual, Oscar, was especially challenging.  Oscar is a very attractive Latino man, a bit older than me, and very successful in his career.  Shortly after I met Oscar and his partner, John revealed to me that they had dated for a while some years before.  He even recounted an evening during which he gave Oscar a blow job while he lounged in John’s whirlpool tub.  This painted an indelible mental picture that still sticks in my mind today, and at the time I wasn’t sure how to process.  It was clear John was still attracted to Oscar. I couldn’t help but feel as though I was being compared to Oscar (and others) and I worried that I could lose him to one of these other men.

As I recount this story, I wish I could give easy solutions for getting over this sort of insecurity and anxiety, but I can’t.  John and I have now been together for over three years and those fears from the first year no longer nag at the back of my mind.  How did we stick through it?  I’m not completely sure.

To a certain extent I think it simply took time.  It took time for us to become fully comfortable with one another, to fully trust one another.  I think it also took coming to a point where we accepted the fact that we might be attracted to other people, but this didn’t mean we weren’t committed to one another.  And ultimately it took good communication and a willingness to talk about our pasts, our attractions, and our love for each other.  While that early level of openness on John’s part was a bit unnerving at the time, I think it helped me grow.  It helped me come to terms with my own sexuality and eventually helped me love John for exactly who he is, complicated past and all.

What have your experiences been with your partner’s former lovers?  Have you had bad experiences with these former lovers?  Good experiences?

Previous thoughts on anxieties in intergenerational  relationships.

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.

Love and the Little Blue Pill: On Sex and the Older Man

The one topic I think most people are curious about when it comes to age disparate relationships yet are too afraid or too polite to ask about is the issue of sex. I can almost watch the question cross through people’s minds when they see my septuagenarian partner and I together; they wonder how or if we have a satisfying sex life together. Well, it’s clear through both personal experience and through the results of scientific studies that men can have active and satisfying sex lives late in their lives. That said, there are unique considerations when it comes to sex with an older man. The following is a list of 10 things every gay man should know about having sex with an older man.

1. Older men still like having sex, a lot. This is a topic discussed on this site quite a bit, but I’ll reiterate. It is a myth that men become dead below the waist after they reach age 50. Older men still desire sexual intimacy.

2. Many older men do suffer from erectile dysfunction and may need the aid of E.D. medication. Of course this probably isn’t news. However, younger men interested in mature men should keep this fact in mind and be prepared to be flexible and supportive when it comes to problems E.D. sometimes presents.

3. Erectile dysfunction makes it more difficult to perform penetrative anal sex than vaginal sex. The fact that the anal sphincter is much tighter and less lubricated than the vagina means that, for gay men, maintaining a strong erection is more important. This leads older gay men to rely on E.D. medications earlier and more often than their straight counterparts. It also results in many men that originally considered themselves tops to reorient their role to that of the bottom.

4. Erectile dysfunction doesn’t always present itself to the same degree each time one has sex. Changing emotional and physiological conditions can effect the rigidity of a man’s erection. Intense instances of arousal may make an erection easier to maintain while fatigue or depression may cause an erection more difficult to maintain than usual.

5. Erectile dysfunction treatments are not always effective to the same degree with each use. Again, even if an individual suffering from E.D is taking medication emotional and physiological conditions can effect the strength of an erection. Also other factors can alter the effectiveness of E.D. medications. For instance large meals or meals heavy in fat can greatly diminish the effectiveness of treatments. You may consider having sex as an appetizer rather than dessert.

6. For the person with E.D., medication isn’t always necessary to have a pleasurable sexual experience. Though a man may not be able to achieve a sufficient erection to perform penetrative anal sex they can often get hard enough to make rubbing, mutual masturbation, or oral sex thoroughly satisfying.

7. Older men are not necessarily less sexually adventurous than younger men. I think that in general there is a perception that older men are more conservative than younger men, and this translates into perceptions about sex with older men. However, because we so seldom talk about sex openly in our society I would make no assumptions in this respect. On more than one occasion I’ve been surprised by the adventurousness and flexibility of older partners. I also recognize that my current partner has influenced my own views on sex and sexuality, making me less conservative than I once was.

8. Older men often take longer than younger men to reach orgasm. For the younger man this could be both a benefit or a frustration. This fact means that the sexual experience may be extended, lasting longer and being more pleasurable. However if the younger partner feels that getting their partner to climax is too difficult or that it may never come can be highly frustrating, this can be particularly true if the younger partner climaxes well before the older man.

9. Older men often hide the fact that they have erectile dysfunction. There is a stigma about sexual impotence that leads older men to hide their E.D. My current partner came forward about his E.D. quite early in our relationship. On the other hand I found out much later that a man I had dated earlier was effected by erectile dysfunction and that he covertly took his medication; at times even in my presence.

10. Erectile dysfunction effects younger men than you might expect. I think a lot of people don’t really expect others to use E.D. treatments until they are in their 50s or 60s. I haven’t seen statistics on E.D. treatment usage, but I know of more than one person that started using them before they reached 50. After contemplating the issue, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were many more people I know using E.D. treatments

What I’ve brought away from my experience with men with erectile dysfunction is that it benefits the younger man not to be judgmental. Keep in mind that erectile dysfunction is often a fact of life as we age, and we may well suffer the same disorder. If one is truly attracted to and/or truly loves an older man then patience and understanding should be a given. Despite the potential problems that may present themselves during sex with older men those pale in comparison with the benefits; older men can be sexy, adventurous, imaginative, and experienced.

Advice for Older Men: On Meeting Younger Men

I apologize for being a little skimpy on the posts this week. John and I have family visiting currently so it has been difficult to find additional time to write. However I am inspired on some new topics related to intergenerational relationships; my writing should pick back up again sometime next week. In the mean time I leave you with has become the second part of a post on meeting me for intergenerational relationships.

Last week one of my posts included suggestions on where a younger man might meet older gay men. This week I take a look at suggestions for older men. Inevitably there is quite a bit of overlap in these suggestions, but I’ve tried to tailor each to the older man. Again, I hope these suggestions will encourage readers to try a variety of strategies when it comes to meeting other men.

1. Find a gay dating site geared toward intergenerational relationships. I think this is a little more imperative for older gay men than it is for the younger guys. Traditional gay dating sites offer a huge pool of hot young guys, but you end up having to wade through all of them to find the few that are legitimately interested in older men. Sites such as Silverdaddies, Caffmos, DaddyHunt, and SeeksOlder take much of the guess work out of contacting younger men. You know they are much more likely to be interested in you so you save time and trouble.

2. Join an organized group geared toward GLBT members. When choosing a group try to find a topic or hobby you’re interested in, but also consider whether younger guys are also likely to be involved. The local gay softball team or cycling group are probably safe bets. The wine tasters and square dance clubs probably are not.

3. Get involved with your local GLBT community center. This is all about knowing what is going on in the community and networking with people. The larger your gay social circle the more likely you are to meet someone interesting. Or to be introduced to someone from someone in your new larger social circle. Through the local community center you’ll know what special events are happening in your area and they can probably help you find some of the GLBT groups mentioned above.

4. If you haven’t already, consider joining a gym. This isn’t about obtaining a gym body; for the most part younger guys that are attracted to older men aren’t looking for the traditional adonis anyway. However fitness is important and young guys like to know that you’re taking care of yourself. Ultimately you’ll look and feel better, but don’t feel like you have to kill yourself during your workouts. The other important aspect of going to the gym is actually meeting people. As the character Jack said on Will and Grace, the gym is gay church. It offers a lot of potential for meeting young, fit guys.

5. Go to the gay bars and clubs. Like with traditional dating sites you may have to wade through a lot of guys that just aren’t interested in older men. We’re a part of gay culture which cherishes youth, don’t let it get you down. Instead grab a friend, go and have fun, and try to chat up some of the younger guys, just don’t try too hard. Going with a friend will help keep you calm and will give you someone to enjoy your experience with, whether you meet someone or not. Ultimately, this will help you meet people; you’ll look fun and confident. When going out try to keep yourself age appropriate. Depending on your age and personal style certain clubs just might not work for you. As I’ve said before, trying too hard will evoke a sense of pity or scorn from your intended target rather than attraction.

6. Keep you eyes and mind open during your day to day life. As a group gay people are pretty bad at keeping to ourselves; we think that gay bars and dating sites are our only options. Instead, remain open to opportunities to meet people all the time. Your hobbies and everyday activities may present opportunities for potential mates to approach you. Just walking your dog, reading a book at the coffee shop, or what you pick up at the grocery store may draw a potential mate’s attention. Also, look for ways to start conversations with those men you find handsome or interesting. I’m not saying you should flirt shamelessly, but test the waters with attractive younger men when you can. Even if they don’t happen to be gay learning to approach and talk with younger men will be good practice for when you do meet an younger gay man.

For those older guys out there that have dated younger men, what strategies have worked best for you? At what sort of places is it easiest to meet younger men?