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Older-Younger Relationship

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by WilliamHunter, Jul 25, 2020.

  1. WilliamHunter

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    Hello EC family,

    I'm 62 and was married (to a woman) for 30 years. I finally came out to everyone about 5 years ago. Since then I've divorced her and living happy without hiding myself. I've dated around mostly with guys younger than I. Not really trying to but younger guys seem to like me. By younger is mean 20-30 year olds. As fate would have it I met a 25 year old on dating app. We had a long non-sexual chat. He came over and we continued to talk about life and experiences. Come to find out that both of us are newly gay, if you know what I mean. We started talking and texting every day. Something "clicked" between us and we realized we were in lover. That was 3 years ago.

    Neither of us was looking for a boy friend, but it happened so naturally. He moved in for 3 months before he was off to his hometown for college 1500 miles away. We recognized the age the big age difference and it seems to be one of the things that bind us together. While we lived together we made long term plans for a future together after he graduates. We are not the "daddy and son" thing. We are equals in the relationship. We consider ourselves to be life partners. But the 1500 miles and time physically apart hurts. I wonder if I've done the right thing and we talk about it. We are assured we're to be together.

    Question: As anyone been in a long distance relationship? What did you do to keep it fresh?

    Thanks for reading. W.
     
  2. OnTheHighway

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    Nothing in your preface suggests your not keeping it fresh despite the long distance, but you do seem to be reflecting your own concerns if the relationship is right. So what is the real question? Are you concerned about the age gap? Are you concerned about the long distance aspect? Do you think your relationship has a future?
     
  3. WilliamHunter

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    Thank you for replying. I’m not concerned with age difference. I’m mostly concerned about the distance and how to do it?

    We have made plans to be together for the rest of my life (haha, men in my family live to be 100).
     
  4. OnTheHighway

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    He is off to college, is in his late 20’s and your 1,500 miles apart. Do you feel he is willing to put the effort in to maintain a relationship? You and he have a 30 year generational gap. And where he is at the beginning stages of starting his life and he is now in school (which makes me scratch my head why he is only now in college at as he is approaching his 30s) both you and he would need to work really hard to make a long distance thing work. Do you know if he is asking the same question?
     
  5. WilliamHunter

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    He’s mid 20s. He chose to return home for family reason, but now regrets it. Unfortunately he’s already in a study track and would be difficult to change. It’s 1-1/2 years long.

    He just left spending summer with me. I’ll go to see him in November and April. Of course this virus is making travel and going out difficult. We discussed the 2 different stages of life. I’m retiring and he’s just starting. Believe me we continue to talk about the details of our stages.

    I continue to challenge him with the togetherness question. I love him and want him to choose his path. I seem to be his choice.

    Any suggestions on how to keep us both on track with the distance?

    Thanks much!
     
  6. Chip

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    So this may not be exactly what you want to hear, but I think it's important to the bigger picture.

    Here's the challenge: You're sending very mixed messages, and my guess is you aren't aware of how it is coming across... which might be part of why, on an unconscious level, you decided to post.

    In your initial message, much of the message is justifying why the age gap is OK. Right before the close you say "I wonder if I've done the right thing". Given that he's the one going off to school, the "I wonder" sounds like it is with regard to the relationship and age gap.

    There's also an important piece to understand: There's no possible way for the two of you to be equals in the relationship. The age difference is inescapable; you are at very different stages of life, and you have a lot more life experience than he does. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is absolutely present in every part of your relationship, though the two of you may not be consciously aware of it. This is also quite common among gay men who are coming out at different stages of life; most gay men who come out later in life are unconsciously seeking to play out the youth they never got to have. And for the younger person, often the relationship serves to address and mend an absent, incomplete, or distant father relationship. This doesn't in any way mean there's a daddy/son relationship, but it does mean that those dynamics are interwoven deeply into the relationship, and it is challenging for it to not become in some way codependent because of that. None of this makes the relationship impossible, but it does make it very, very difficult; statistically the relationships with that sort of age gap very, very rarely last in the long term, and when they do, they are often fraught with dysfunction. And by the way, the older person isn't always the caretaker; often it is the opposite, but no less problematic. So I'm simply taking the subtext of what you've said and addressing it.

    So he is, at ~28, going away to school in his home town. There are many variables and a lot of questions here; I share the same line of thought as OnTheHighway. If this represents the first time he's attended school full-time, depending on the school and program, he may or may not be immersed in other activities. (In the midst of Covid, I was not aware that any colleges were actually doing in-person classes at the moment... so is he in class, or online, or a hybrid? That plays into things as well.) And 27-28 is a period where many people experience a major change in their lives. One question that would come up for me is why he's suddenly made this decision. If it's for family reasons, why not go visit and address the family issues, rather than commit to spending 1-1/2 years apart? And with so many college and universities offering online programs for the 2020-2021 school year, it's hard to imagine there isn't an online program that he could do and stay with you, if that were indeed the highest priority.

    One of the challenges in looking at situations like this is understanding what is going on in the unconscious as well as the conscious. For someone who came out at 25, and you were perhaps his first serious relationship, there can be some real cognitive dissonance about what that means to be with someone more than twice your age. So he may consciously be saying this is what he wants, and unconsciously, he isn't so sure... or perhaps he has deep feelings for you, but those feelings are intertwined with the father-figure piece (that he might not even aware of) and he is unconsciously worried about losing that connection if he decides to let go of the relationship, which could explain the decision to move 1500 miles away... and then regretting it. In other words, what the consicous and unconscious want are different. If he senses that this is what you deeply want, even if you are giving him the choice, it may be very, very difficult for him to want to end the relationship, and so unconsciously, the moving away could be a means of making that easier.

    And of course, all of this is complicated by the fact that you very clearly want this very much (and who would not, in your situation.)

    So to be honest, I think that all of these factors are things that really need to be explored, as that has a lot more to do with keeping the relationship "fresh" than any specific activities or exercises or whatever. And my guess is it may be something that both of you are having a hard time honestly looking at, which might be why you are wondering about keeping the relationship fresh.
     
    Ram90, out2019 and OnTheHighway like this.
  7. WilliamHunter

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    Chip, Thank you for you comments and observations. I didn't explain in detail what I meant by "equal relationship." But I get what you're saying. I'll keep everything you said in mind. The major life changes in late 20's is something I completely forgot. I remember my changes (during 1980s and wanting to be out).
     
  8. Nickw

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    Hey @WilliamHunter

    I just wanted to second a lot of what Chip has mentioned.

    I came out, as a bisexual in my mid-fifties. I’m about your age now. I remain married to my wife and have a boyfriend who is in his early thirties. He and I have been FWB, for lack of a better term, for about two years. He is like part of the family. He and my wife adore each other.

    My friend is mature for his age and I don’t feel like our relationship is the Daddy/son thing. But, when he and I go out, he is often mistaken for my son. We get a lot of comments about how “close we seem”. Of course my situation is different than yours. My friend truly is a friend. We won’t ever be a couple. We both know this and even though he doesn’t see anyone else I actively encourage him to find his soul mate...his age.

    There is no way that I could be right for this man, if I was single. I’m not judging you because I understand, too well, how it feels to be with a guy so much younger. No matter how I might argue otherwise, there is a part of me that is re-living what I didn’t have when we I was younger. And, no matter how much he might deny it, I am a father figure to him in many ways.

    Your lover is going to go through so many changes in his life right now. I wonder how he will do that when you are in such a different place in your life? Before my current FWB, my previous boyfriend was even younger...by about 7 years. He and I remain in contact. He is going through such an amazing transformation right now as he discovers who he is. His first real job after college. His search for the right man and all that is involved in that. I cannot imagine being in the way of that.

    I hope you see this as a comment from someone who really gets how a young man can make one feel. But, sometimes, we have to recognize that the love we feel for them can be best shown by letting them go and live.

    I hope I’m not over stepping here.
     
  9. WilliamHunter

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    Nick, thanks for your comments. I do recognize that feeling to recapture my youth. A far back as grade school I've always been the protector "father-type". But seriously, I don't feel like his father. I've had other FWB where they wanted the Daddy. This isn't at all like that. He hates when I buy him socks. He insists on buying every other meal. He has his own money in the bank. And he's more mature than most his age. (He just finished military service). Even today we talked about him being free to chase his future. That really pissed him off, but I know its important. Most likely we'll be together.

    I commend you one integrating your BF into your family. That must have been hard. It so untraditional. I too have grown children, I am a real dad, and they have accepted my BF. My kids tell me all the time I'm happier with him. Indeed.

    Best wishes to you and your family.
     
  10. Chip

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    I don't think either NickW or I were suggesting that. The way the dynamic plays out is a lot more subtle, so much so that the younger person often does not even realize that it is happening. (This is very different than the daddy/son dynamics, which I happen to think are horribly unhealthy for both.)

    Emphasis mine. That statement, to me, is telling. It can often go back to the unconscious desire. The unconscious hears "He's going to abandon me" or "He doesn't love me" or "I'm not doing enough for him to stay with me". The challenge is, it is very hard to get that out of the unconscious and into the conscious. And with a first serious relationship, the dynamic that would inherently be there, of feeling like "This is the one" (which pretty much everyone experiences) is deeply intertwined with the seeking of approval of the older person (which is often unconscious). And neither of these are the sort of things that people can typically analyze and evaluate for themselves, because they are too close to it.

    It sounds like you're doing your best, at least at some level, to give him the choice. The problem is... there's definitely a mixed message coming from you, and there is also, for him, the complexity of these two factors. Likewise, if he knows your kids have said you're "happier with him", that, too, would make it more difficult for him to separate his own feelings from your wants/needs. And his own desire, part of which is for you and your personality and what he's fallen in love with, and part of which is the archetype of what you represent.

    Again, this is more about giving you pieces to consider than suggesting any particular actions.
     
  11. WilliamHunter

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    Chip,
    Thanks for your tips. I'm processing everything said on this thread. I'll try not to send mixed messages. Any thoughts are appreciated.
     
  12. OnTheHighway

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    As you think through how you want to see your relationship evolve, allow me to provide my own perspective.

    I had a failed generational gap relationship in the past. My prior partner of 4.5 years grew up not being close to his father. His mother had to work in another geography to support him and his brothers. His brothers raised him. There were a few things he said to me over time which in retrospect were certainly warning signs. Once he said “never give up on me” and another time he said he cares about me because of the “safety and security” I provided him. Those comments struck me and I still think about them today. Given I was dealing with my own emotional issues back then, where I using him as my own emotional crutch, when he made those types of comments I did not fully grasp the magnitude of what he was saying at the time.

    Also, 3.5 years of that prior relationship was long distance. While we got together on average a week to ten days each month as we both traveled extensively, we both lived far apart from each other. I can say from experience that long distant relationships are extremely complicated and very difficult to manage. Often there is miscommunication between the parties, there is emotional insecurities that come to light in the form of jealousy, and the physical distance where intimacy is limited can create real voids.

    The complexity of my prior partner looking for me to fill a parental void, my own need for personal development and growth and where a period of our relationship was long distance created a stew that lead to a hot mess!

    I often laugh when someone says their significantly younger bf/partner is “mature for his age” as I once used to say that. I put that phrase on the same level as when people say “age is just a number”. I often hear this expression from most couples with generational gap relationships that I come across. I am not sure what that really means to be honest. As others stated, real maturity is a function of life experience. When there is a significant generational gap it is difficult for each person’s life experiences to align themselves. When there is misalignment of life experience, there may also control in-balances that go along with it.

    Instead of looking at age gap relationships as a maturity issue, and while taking into account life experience, I do look such relationships in terms of how responsibilities and decision making are shared along with each other’s emotional foundation. If each party are truly sharing the decision making, each can relate intellectually to one another, each contributes financially (although this still can create underlying control issues to the extent the financial contributions are not equal), each party is allowed to retain independence without either one feeling jealous or anxious, and the partners both have a solid emotional foundation then the prospect for success in an generational gap relationship may exist.

    All this said, there are varying degrees of control in-balance that may exist depending on the specific relationship and how the relationship has evolved or has been managed between the partners. The older partner in such age gap relationship has an additional burden to ensure any potential control issues are minimized while allowing for the younger partner in the relationship to independently grow, learn and develop as a person (I emphasis the word “independently” as it should not be the responsibility of the older partner to be a father figure). Co dependency is a real risk in these relationships, and the need to retain some independence is crucial.

    Today, I have found myself in another generational gap relationship with my current boyfriend (hence why this topic is still very much on my mind). We have a 20 year age difference. We have known each for two years having met following the breakup of my last relationship; and agreed to be boyfriends about eight months ago. My current boyfriend grew up with both a mother and father figure that protected him (probably a bit overly protected), but allowed him to grow and develop with self confidence and self respect. He embraced his sexuality at an early age and received strong support from both his parents. He has faced his own personal challenges in life that appears to have overcome. He is well educated with both an undergraduate degree and a masters degree. While he currently has an admirable career that most would be happy with, he continues to improve himself and is now attending night school to supplement his skills to take his career to the next level. He currently retains his own apartment and pays all of his own bills (student loans, car payments, personal expenses, rent). As the current pandemic progressed, even though he has his own place, we agreed a few months ago to cohabitate at my place initially as a safety measure but now we spend most of our time together (six days a week) because we enjoy living together.

    As the relationship between us has progressed I have retained a degree of healthy skepticism. I do not want to end up in a situation that I was previously in. So I have been taking cautious baby steps to ensure I do not make the same mistakes as last time. I have debated this currently relationship in my own head, with my therapist and with other family members, acquaintances and friends (as well as my own threads on EC). Ideally as I sit here today I would like my current boyfriend to remain my partner for life and he has said he wants the same. Where I am doing a lot of internal analyzing and have taken a cautious approach to our relationship, he also seems to be taking a similar methodical approach to ensure the right foundation exists. He is coming to the relationship with his own prior experiences that have been life lessons for him as well.

    I am cautiously optimistic that our relationship will work in the long run. I did not set out to be in another age gap relationship and I initially tried to avoid getting into one after my last experience. However, my current boyfriend entered my life unexpectedly. We have taken our time to allow our relationship to evolve. Now that I think the right foundation exists, we have begun talking about taking our relationship to the next level (which I have articulated in another thread). Once his lease is up at the end of the year we have talked about him moving in officially.

    The questions I asked you previously I did with the intent of challenging you so you think about where you are in your relationship and where you want to be. Just as I have challenged myself. I have made mistakes and I have a perspective based on those mistakes which helps me see warning signs in others. Whatever you decide I wish you the best on your journey and hope everything works out the way you want!
     
  13. Nickw

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    Hey @WilliamHunter

    This question is, maybe, more about projecting myself on you than about you maybe. But, since this thread is about “older younger” I thought I would bring it up.

    You mentioned that you have been with mostly younger men. Was your first a younger man? To be completely honest here. Do you find older men attractive? When you were new at m2m, did you find that the younger guys were more your “sexual age”?

    I know the dynamic with my younger men. It is a safe relationship for both of us. Neither of us has to risk anything. The several young men I’ve been with are all stunning. They know I notice that. While there is a lot more to the relationship than that, there is a baseline safety it provides. What they get is a man who has a lot of relationship experience from being married so long. It’s all so comfortable.

    Your long distance situation might test that dynamic...if it exists.
     
  14. WilliamHunter

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    Nick,

    My first several men were my age. I'm attracted to guys with the right personality and life outlook. Just so happens that my BF has the right stuff. I have many older gay friends that I hang out with. Sometimes it gets physical.

    I'm curious if there are others that have Older-Younger relationships and how it's working out. Another reason why I started this topic.

    Thanks,