Becoming Comfortable with Age-Gap Relationships

Dr. Olson,

When I was in my twenties, I fell deeply in love with a man who was nearly sixty years old, and we are still together ten years later. It’s the greatest relationship I have ever had. His life-loving attitude makes me feel he is so young at heart that I sometimes think he is younger than me, and that’s one of the things I love about him.

 I have always been attracted to men with silver hair and a belly, and I could never figure out why! I had an amazing, loving father, but he was gone a lot. I don’t know if that is why I am attracted to older men.

I was always concerned about what my gay and straight friends would think about me, knowing I’m with a man who is over thirty years older than me.

From my experience, not all older men know how adorable and sexy they are and how much they are sought after!




Thanks for your lovely note. You are not alone. I receive a lot of comments and questions about this topic.

I have written two pieces about gay age-gap relationships for Psychology Today. One has been accessed nearly 200,000 times and the other about 70,000 times:

The Curse of an Attraction to Older Gay Men

Age Differences in Gay Couples

In my book Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, I wrote a section called “Men with Rounded Corners.” I love this metaphor. It incorporates many aspects that some younger men find attractive in older men.

Many younger men are uncomfortable (at least, at first) with this attraction. They see it as abnormal. It often exists from their first awareness of sexual desire. They wonder why they are not attracted to their same-age cohort like most of their gay friends. Often, they look for an explanation in terms of their relationships with their fathers.

But some, like you, had a wonderful relationship with a loving father; others have had an absent father. Consequently, their relationship with their fathers would seem to have very little, if any, influence in their sexual desire. The truth is, we know almost nothing about what creates our sexual desires.

Although men in these relationships experience sometimes large differences in chronological age, they feel as if their psychological ages are quite compatible. What may seem strange to others feels normal to them. Many myths exist about these relationships (sign up for my newsletter to receive “10 Things People Get Wrong about Gay Age-Gap Relationships”), the most common ones being “They can’t last” and “The young guy is looking for a ‘sugar daddy’ who will take care of him.”

Many of these relationships are stable. My partner is fifteen years younger, and we have been together thirty-six years. Our age difference has rarely been an issue between us. Our sexual age and our physical age are quite compatible. We like the same movies, the same foods, and the same travel destinations. We can talk endlessly or just sit silently together. End-of-life issues come up, but we can talk about them, and we even agree on them.

Age-gap relationships, it seems to me, have always been more acceptable in heterosexual relationships, and I believe acceptance of them in gay relationships is also growing. Although people may not understand them, they seem more accepting of them.

You have no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed of your sexual desires. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. No one asks straight couples or same-age couples for an explanation of their attractions.

I agree that most older men find it hard to believe we’re attractive. We often see our older selves as inferior to our younger selves. This can create doubts about the motivations of younger men. I have learned to trust that the love is real.

I once told my younger partner I expected him to leave me when he found someone his own age. His response was “If I’m still here in the morning, you’ll know I remain committed.” That was thirty-five years ago. I’m nearly eighty now, and he was still here this morning.

Loren Olson