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Older Gay Men

Why Am I Afraid to Have Sex?

Dr. Olson,

I’m in my mid-60s, and I’ve been out since my mid-20s. I’ve never been in a long-term relationship. In fact, I’ve had relatively little sexual activity during my life, but not for lack of desire. 

In looking over the occasions when I have had sex, I can’t think of one that was a positive experience. I’m fearful, anxious, and self-conscious to the point that I (and probably the other guy) do not have a good time. 

I’m grateful that I’ve never had erectile dysfunction, but I typically stay hard for a long time without having an orgasm. 

The first time I had sex, I caught gonorrhea. Another time, I had a panic attack the day after sex because I was so scared of having been exposed to HIV, but I wasn’t. 

I want to have an enduring, romantic, and monogamous relationship with another man. For me, that means I have to first establish a substantial emotional connection so that I can feel “safe” enough to have sex with a guy.

But how realistic is that at my age and with my sexual history?

I’ll answer your last question first: you are never too old to have sex. Men can remain sexually active well into late life, and your life expectancy is at least fifteen years, possibly much longer. Your age and sexual history should not discourage you from seeking a satisfying sexual relationship with a partner. So let’s talk about your other concerns. 

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Love Affair between an Arab and a Jew

My name is A, and I am a twenty-eight-year-old Arab Muslim Palestinian. I come from a society that will never accept I am  gay. I am well educated, successful, and I speak four languages. Social media has made it easier for me to chat with friends from all over the world. A few months ago, I met a sixty-five-year-old Jewish man from Israel online, which further complicates our relationship. I have fallen in love with him. I have never felt toward another man the way I feel toward him. We have managed to meet a few times, but it is very hard. I don’t want to get married to a woman.

I have three problems: (1) I am from Palestine and he is from Israel; (2) I cannot tell my family about this relationship, and it would be difficult to meet him in another country without some explanation to them; and (3) I have been thinking of ending my business to move somewhere so I can be with this man. I would like to hear your opinion on my situation.

Thank you for sharing your story with me. I know that even telling me this involves some risk to you. I frequently hear from others who live in cultures hostile to homosexuality, particularly Muslims and Arabs from the Middle East; however, your situation has some unique circumstances. Even here in the United States, where same-sex marriage is legal, some men are caught in the crucible with the volatile elements of culture, religion, and sexuality.

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All Relationships Are U-Shaped

Hi, Loren.

Thank you for your article on age discrepancy in gay relationships. I am in my mid-forties, and until recently I had a partner who is twenty years younger. For most of our relationship, the age difference was never an issue; we accepted each other and were bound by love. Some of our friends and family commented on and questioned our relationship, but eventually they felt the love. Unfortunately, our relationship ended. He asked me to let him go so that he could take charge of his life. We still care for each other and will support each other, but being in a relationship now is not going to happen. I am seeing a therapist, meditating, eating well, exercising, throwing myself into my work, and leaning on my friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

All relationships are U-shaped and go through difficult times. I believe that fidelity is based on trust and loyalty rather than sex, so I would ask, If loyalty and trust are still there, can other things be done to save it? Don’t let go of it too soon.

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Age Differences in Gay Couples

I’m a twenty-five-year-old openly gay man, and I’ve always liked older men. Many of my gay friends who are close to my age are critical of me and suspicious of my motives. My gay friends don’t understand it, but I don’t understand it myself, so I can’t explain it to them. I feel like I’m the only one who has this problem. I’d like to understand this better. Can you refer me to anything I might read about this?

A young man once said to me, “If I see a handsome gay man my age, he might as well have a vagina. I feel nothing.” Another said, “I don’t get aroused if I see some hot young man, but if he’s with his grandpa, I get excited.” This phenomenon is more common than most people realize, but it is rarely talked about and almost never researched. You are not alone. Continue reading

Despair and Loneliness after Coming Out

Dr. Olson,

I grew up in the 1950’s – 60’s. FINALLY OUT resonated with me because I grew up in the insularity of a rural environment. I was ignorant of homosexuality also. I am now in my sixties and I feel lonely and in despair.  After 30 years of marriage, I came out to my wife. I have struggled to find a good therapist who can understand what I’ve been going through. 

Most of the gay literature focuses on the coming out process for young gay men and women.  Are there any that describe the trials of coming out as an older man?

I am concerned about your “lonely despair.”  Even at your age, it is possible to successfully get through this process of coming out.  In my research, the oldest man I came across was in his nineties when he came out, and he was living with his gay lover when I met him.  The most important thing for you to do today, however, isn’t to be seeking a lover, but finding friends, gay or straight, who accept you as you now have revealed yourself to your wife, but also, more importantly, to yourself. Continue reading

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