In my role as a Dating and Relationship Coach I see a number of different clients come through my doors. Age-disparity relationships are becoming more and more frequent and commonplace now-a-days.
In the straight world it has been commonplace for women to be attracted to older men, and many settle down with the best hunter-gatherer she can find. This gives her the opportunity to have an established status within her peer group. The male counterpart has a young and healthy woman who is both attractive on his arm and young enough to care for him and his family. The gay world is not that dissimilar.
For relationships to work, any relationship but especially for age-disparity relationships, in my experience as a professional relationship coach, the core elements are:
Be on the same level: No matter what your age difference is, you have to have a similar outlook and share goals. If your idea of a great night is dancing away until the early hours with your shirt off waving a glow stick in the air, and your partner’s is a candlelit meal and drinks on the terrace, you are naturally going to clash.
Don’t change yourself: Just because you are dating an older guy, you don’t have to suddenly take an interest in golf and wine tasting. Fair enough if you are interested in these things, go for it, but if it clashes with the sort of person you are you will only be able to keep the charade up for so long before cracks begin to appear.
Don’t hope to change him: It is vital to get this straight. The older we get the less likely it is that we are going to change. Yes, there are things that we all have to have a bit of give and take on. We have our ways and it’s very difficult to change. If he likes living in his house in the suburbs and enjoys his garden and you want to live in an apartment in the city, there will be a clash. And if this clash means you have to compromise so much you are having to change yourself, this is not going to work.
Allow people in your family and social group a period of adjustment: If you are in a relationship with someone the same age as your parents, there may be concerns raised. To not cause a rift, it’s important for you to allow them time to question and answer their worries. The time of introducing an older partner to those around you can be challenging for you, your partner, and your social group. Be clear on your goals, and make them aware of your feelings and perspective on the issues surrounding an age-disparity relationship. Especially how you feel about this relationship, with this man.
Dating an older man is very rewarding, fruitful and can be immensely satisfying. The common issues that are raised are the physical age issues, loss of sexual libido, health complications, and general slowing down in life. These issues are not exclusive to age-disparity relationships, of course. They happen in most relationships across all age groups. However, it is a fact of life: the older you get the more pronounced these issues become.
The trend for guys having older boyfriends and partners is becoming increasingly popular, but this is someone’s life we are talking about, not a disposable fashion accessory. If you are a younger guy and looking to settle down for a long term, permanent relationship with an older man, make sure you are aware of what you are committing to. A relationship isn’t like going to college for a degree. It’s not just for a set period of time, it’s for a lifetime. If you are committing to a guy who is much older, then be aware of the full implications of that commitment. If the relationship ends because the novelty of having an older partner has worn off, remember that you are leaving a person single and alone in the autumn or winter of his years. If you are just having a fling with an older guy, make sure he’s aware of the nature of the relationship so he can choose to go along with it or move on.
The core element to any successful relationship is communication. Becoming complacent in any relationship causes disharmony, and when undiscussed issues are glossed over the cracks begin to occur. Assumptions are created and disastrous misunderstandings can happen, when all that is needed is a conversation to get the heart of the issue.
Dating an older man can be very fulfilling and rewarding. But it is not without its complications. A little communication — with your man, and with your friends and family — will go a long way to making it one of the best experiences of your life.
JONATHAN WELFORD heads up GayDatingExpert.com, a relationship and dating coaching practice. He was awarded the accolade of being one of the top 10 Gay Relationship Bloggers for 2013. He writes gay advice columns for numerous publications in both the UK and USA, and is also a regular columnist for DatingAdvice.com. He lives with his Scottish husband in Manchester, UK.