I have to admit, boys and girls, that I love getting contacted by my readers. Comments, emails sent directly to me, etc. I enjoy them all. So, please feel free to write any time.
Today I received the following email from a kind reader:
I have been reading your blog on inter-generational relationships between gay men. I recently had such an experience myself; see attached. Feel free to print it in your blog if you wish. At any rate, I'd appreciate whatever insight and wisdom you can offer me on this situation.
The attachment contained the following:
“My First Experience with a Younger Man”This summer I dated a man 28 years younger than I am (I am 58, he is 30). We met on a website for older-younger gay men seeking one another. We dated for two months.Upon first meeting, both of us found the other incredibly attractive and we kissed very passionately. On our second date, I explained that I’d soon be moving to another state and asked if that might be a reason for not wanting to date me. He said, “No, it wasn’t” and he even told me that he had applied for a job in the state to which I was moving, that he was eager to move away, and that it was possible for us to move away together if things developed well between us. On that same date he asked me if I’d be monogamous in marriage. The look in his face seemed to suggest that he was falling for me. We continued to go out, and each time we enjoyed ourselves immeasurably. A few weeks later he told me that he was thinking of ours as a serious long-term relationship. Although we never had sex, there was a lot of hugging, kissing, and holding hands between us. It was more romantic than sexual between us.I had never had so much fun dating someone before. I also had never felt such sweetness and tenderness between another man and me in a dating relationship before. And each time we were together it was obvious that he was experiencing much joy and happiness in my presence. He was like a flower blossoming in front of me. And the more I got to know him, the more I could imagine him as my partner for life.What eventually became clear, however, was that he felt some ambivalence about our relationship he hadn’t been sharing with me. He broke two of our dates at the last minute, but I learned about these cancellations only because I had contacted him to ask about our plans, not because he had taken the initiative to contact me. I told him we needed to talk.When we got together, he said he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. Moreover, he told me that he was not in love with me and had never been in love with anyone before. Although he said he didn’t want to lose me altogether and hoped we could remain friends, I have never heard from him again. I am experiencing great sadness as a result. I not only fell in love with him but also I deeply love him. That is to say, I care about his well-being even if that doesn’t include me. I told him this after he told me that he wasn’t ready for a relationship. I don’t call since I know he doesn’t want to hear from me. I wish I could understand what happened inside of him and why he ran away from me and from what we had been developing since it seemed so beautiful and loving. If any of you with greater experience and wisdom can offer me some help, I’d appreciate hearing what you have to say. "
If, dear readers, you find yourself interested, please see my response below.
(Insert name here), thank you very much for taking the time to write. Without any identifying information, chance are (unless you strenuously object), your email and my response will appear on my blog.
Rather than recreate the wheel in responding, I am going to share a posting I wrote long ago on this topic. If you've read it already, please forgive me for repeating myself. I'll add some additional comments after the post. I've highlighted the section of the post most pertinent to our discussion in bold and in green.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
This, dear Daddy brothers, seems obvious. And yet, often when chatting with other Daddies, I hear them express their frustrations at their dealings with the Hunters in their lives. I hear concerns expressed about their beau’s level of maturity, range of common sense, and even, sometimes, lowered levels of self esteem. Younger guys, especially much younger guys, are naturally going to bring a unique set of issues into any relationship. Many, as did many of us, suffer from what I like to call, “The Lost Boy Syndrome”. Being gay, they may never have grown up in regards to dating and romance. While young, they weren’t afforded the opportunity to learn some of the most basic romance-related skills that straight folk learn as they develop, or that older Daddies have learned, having dated for many years. They didn’t get to have their first kiss at 16. They didn’t have notes passed around in middle school, at least not by those they wished were doing so, talking about how cute they are. So, suddenly they find themselves at 25 having their first ‘crush’; or, at 29, having their first ‘serious’ relationship, dealing with all the feelings and reactions which result from these ‘firsts’ can be quite difficult. Like having the measles, experiencing this stuff as an adult, is much worse than at 16. I am often shocked, shocked, I tell you, to chat with some hot, HOT, and I do mean, HOT Hunter, only to hear him express doubts about his attractiveness, or worry that he’ll never find love. Not all Hunters have issues like these, of course, but some, perhaps many do. Part of our ‘job’ as Daddies is to recognize that as hot as they may be, as mature as they may seem, they are, in many ways, still ‘boys’. Which, after all, isn’t that one reason why we love them so? It is our job to be patient, supportive, and loving. If we can learn to do these things, the Hunters in our lives will be much happier and therefore, and so will we. And isn’t that life is all about?
In your message, you don't tell me much about the young man. You also don't say anything your own romantic experience. So I could be completely off base in my response(s) and may make some unwarranted assumptions. If so, let me apologize up front. You said the two of you didn't have sex. Does that mean he was a virgin? If so, that ads an extra layer of complexity to an already complicated scenario. Perhaps he just had a serious case of the Lost Boy Syndrome?
In my many years of dating, I've seen this type of behavior time and time again. I can't explain why it happens, but it is pretty common. So the behavior is common, the reasons behind it not very understandable. You know what I mean, you meet someone, have a few frantic embraces and suddenly he is talking about 'this' in terms of 'this' being the makings of a relationship. Maybe it is in the morning after a one-night stand (man, I don't think I've done one of those in over a decade). Maybe it is during a second 'date.' Suddenly, you find yourself totally taken by surprise by an ardent suitor, talking about a 'future.' He seems honest and sincere. His apparent honesty and sincerity impresses you, so you find yourself caught up in it. The next thing you know, he isn't returning your calls. I've never understood it, or been able to explain why guys do this sort of thing, but it isn't an uncommon behavior.
To me the fact that so early in your 'relationship' (on the second date) he was making comments along the lines you stated below (ex:.."he even told me that he had applied for a job in the state to which I was moving, that he was eager to move away, and that it was possible for us to move away together if things developed well between us." And, "On that same date he asked me if I’d be monogamous in marriage."), clearly indicates a lack of maturity in relationships.
This could also be an example of what I call a, 'cruise ship romance.' You know what I mean, you go on a business trip, or some other sort of outing with a bunch of folks you barely know, maybe like your choir trip or senior trip back in high school. Away from home, with things out of the norm in common, engaging in a shared experience, in quick order you develop very unexpected, intense friendships, relationship, and connections. These last only as long as does the event. Plans are made to stay connected after the event. Like the end of a cruise, once you return to dry land, however, real life intrudes, and all of those sincere intentions of a continued connection fall away.
Perhaps, like that moment a first time parachutist steps up to the door of the plane, having fully intending to jump, having been trained and received encouragement to do so. When faced with the reality of the jump, suddenly the realization dawns that S/he can't go through with it.
We all want to believe in the concept of 'love at first sight.' And it certainly happens. But, more often relationships 'develop' a lot slower than does the fire of passion. If he was a virgin, or was seriously lacking in dating experience, like any novice, he wouldn't have the skills and tools available to truly evaluate his feelings. He'd also not possess the ability to understand how his words and actions might be affecting you. As older men, we take in what people say and how they say it in a vastly different way from someone of a later generation. Words literally mean different things to us. There is also a very different way in which folks of his generation (Millennial) perceive relationships. They see nothing wrong with ending the romantic portion of a relationship and then carrying on as friends. The whole thing is very lesbian. You KNOW how are those guys. Millennials believe in 'starter' marriages.
If as he stated, he'd never been in love before, he'd not have really been able to tell if what he was feeling for you was 'love.' Most folks don't really appreciate what they've lost, until its gone. With perspective comes knowledge. Unfortunately we'll never know his reasons. Maybe someone talked him out of what he was feeling. There is a lot of peer pressure, for example, on younger guys NOT to date older guys. My Marine recently came out as 'bi' to a group of strangers with whom he was serving on a temporary assignment. This being his first time to openly talk about dating a guy, he showed one of the other LGBT folks my picture. The first thing that guy said was, 'couldn't you date someone your own age?' My Marine turns 27 in a couple of weeks. I turn 53 a couple of weeks after that.
I think what you need to take away from this experience is:
1) Love is possible at any age.
2) You are clearly still capable of feeling and experiencing it.
3) There are guys out there who find you appealing.
4) It is vastly better to have had this happen BEFORE you moved away and set up housekeeping.
5) He wasn't the right guy, or at least not the right guy at the right time, for you. That doesn't mean a right guy is just around the corner.
It may sound trite, but chances are whatever caused him to end your relationship had everything to do with him, his issues, and his situation and very little to do with you. It is hard to understand that in the moment, but most often that turns out to be true.
At least, that is what THIS DADDY thinks.
The Temptations - Some Enchanted Evening (1995)
From the Motown CD: For Lovers Only
From the Motown CD: For Lovers Only