Friday, August 5, 2011

The Age Gap and Self Doubt

Today I want to talk about something that has been bugging me for a long while now, and then I want to hear what you all think. I'm talking about the perceived age and body issues I've noticed a lot in the community. And I don't really mean just the gay community; there are plenty of problems with age gaps and weight loss for straights. When I talk about the community I am talking about those of us who are consenting sexual adults, and for the most part I'm talking about Americans. I'm not being down on America (I love this place!), I just don't want to talk about this situation in countries I've never lived in.

As any reader of my blog knows, I've been having sex and relationships with guys drastically older than me for years now. It isn't a fetish for me, I don't have a "thing for daddies" like some might suggest. For me, age is simply not an issue. If you are attractive (which is also a vague term for me) and are sexually attracted to me, then there is a good chance that I'll at least give sex with you a shot. I've never turned a guy down for being too old, and I don't recall ever feeling that a man's age was a hindrance to good sex.

But I hear men talking about it all the time. They're all too old for guys my age to show interest in them. They're all too old for guys THEIR AGE to show interest in them. They've all hit this mysterious thing known as The Gay Death because they're all over thirty. Don't get me wrong, some of the guys I've slept with have been much older than me. A forty year age difference is not something to simply ignore when starting a relationship. But a guy being in his sixties does not stop him from being an attractive sexual being. And for the most part, that's all many of us are looking for. We want to sleep with people who are attractive to us.

A lot of guys reading this might think to themselves, "Well that's great, but I'm no forty-five year old muscle daddy with a huge cock. I'm just an average guy."

What makes you so sure that guys my age or even guys your age are looking for anything other than an average guy? I find muscle-heads to be a bit of a turn off, actually. If you can't put more effort into a relationship than you do into your strength training, then I'm not that interested. Sure, I like a healthy guy. It makes things easier when cold and flu season comes along. But take it from a guy who has done competitive sports all his life: Healthy and strong does not mean six pack abs and bulging biceps. Those are what my personal trainer would call "Hollywood Muscles," muscles that don't actually do anything except show off. I don't want a guy with Hollywood Muscles. I'd rather be with a man who has a bit of a gut and knows how to carry his size in bed than a man who is constantly clenching to keep his abs tight.

As many of you have seen me say before, I don't really have a type. I can find smooth, chubby, young men just as attractive as hairy, muscled, daddies. Maybe that means I'm a bit biased and confused about the situation. I understand that not everyone can be as open as I am when it comes to sexual partners. But I think a lot of people are. I've met men who have had sex with, started relationships with, even married other men who are not close to the ideal body type. I know men in their fifties who have started deep and loving relationships with men in their sixties. And with all of this opposing information challenging the given idea that we all want relationships with young jocks, I can't help but wonder if maybe the assumption is more wrong than right.

When I talk to men who (like me) have body image issues and a bit of dysmorphia, I commonly will ask them why they feel that they are not good enough. It is a question I ask myself every time I feel that way, and I think it is a healthy question to ask. From listening to stories and thinking back on my own experience (which, I know, is not a great survey group for making generalizations) I've noticed something that really seems to be causing issues with some men who are less confident in their bodies. It has to do with getting rejected on dating/hookup sites.

Sure, we've all been rejected or ignored while on a dating site. There have been plenty of times when I was on Adam4Adam for hours talking to one person in a totally different state that I happened to know because neither of us was getting and play. Since moving to Maine I've noticed that I can frequently spend an entire day logged on to BBRT and not get a single message from another man, even the ones I message first. Sure, when that happens we all get aggravated, that's natural. But sometimes for me and other men who already have body issues, that anger at rejection can turn inward. Instead of bitching about the asshole who posts that he's looking for a guy to suck him off ASAP but never replies to a single message, we start thinking, "Why wasn't I good enough for him?" Or even worse, we can think, "Why did I even bother to message him? I should have known I wasn't good enough." That is the kind of thought that will really ruin you.

I've begun to wonder if that thought, that evil little voice that whispers your failures, is part of the problem. I hear guys tell me that no one will date them because they're too old/fat/hairy/etc., and when I ask them if they've tried, I find out that they are not really putting much effort into finding a partner at all. It is one thing to log off in anger after spending two hours online. It is an entire other thing to log off after one rejection, or before messaging anyone.

Because, no matter how big or how old you are, the one thing you really need to attract people to you in confidence. Really, that's a huge step. But it is also a hard step. Confidence isn't easy to find, especially when you have so much doubt in yourself. Trust me, I know. I grew up with every failure being rubbed in my face by both my parents (though mostly just my father) and told that I was ugly and stupid. I have confidence, but it is hard-won confidence born from my need to rebel and go against everything my parents told me. My confidence comes from working a job at a young age and then safely getting home in a city, and it comes from years of learning that I am sexually attractive to men, not just an object they use for sex. My confidence came from a long, lonely fight against the outside doubts, one I almost didn't win.

It isn't easy, and I can't imagine how hard it would be to try to win that confidence at the age of forty or fifty. I mean, it was hard enough for me to feel this confident as I near the age of twenty-two and I still doubt myself. I can't imagine trying to win my confidence alone, the way I did as a teen. And that is why I have this to say to all you men older than me (or even the same age as me) who are struggling with doubts: You are not alone and you do not have to fight alone. We all have people who support us and help us, and those people can help us gain confidence too. You don't have to fight alone.

That's not all I have to say on the issue of body image and age, but I am going to stop now because I want to hear from you, my readers. I've said a large chunk of my piece, but I want to hear what you all think. And you might learn more about yourselves and your thoughts from reading each other's comments. So please, give me a response letting me know how you feel about this stuff.

14 comments:

  1. Ace

    Just back from some extended travel and was glad to see your post as it is a fascinating issue facing any and all -- gay, straight and bi of every age.no agree with you, it is a about self-confidence- being comfortable with what you like also means being comfortable with what you don't like and I think guys from all ages seem to get this confused. I am not attracted to a physical type exclusively and openly love bears, geeks, muscle heads etc., -- my blood races when I meet a guy who knows who he is naked and clothed. As such, age is not an issue with me -- older or younger and never has. I am 48, 6'5 and 235 lbs and my dick is 9x7. Hiding behind a desire for a thinner waist,less furry, being younger etc is such a waist of energy. This shit ain't changing. I've never understood guys when they say to me things like, "I wish I were younger, richeretc.," my response is always the same-- if you can change it and choose not to, stop bitching about it. If you can't change it -- fucking embrace it and deal. It is like a guy who apologizes for cumming. What the fuck are you apologizing for? If you need to cum and want to cum -- squirt it man. Life can be really hard sometimes. I want physical and emotional connection to make me feel whole and better. Carrying self-doubt as baggage gets in the way. One last thing -- guys get too tripped up on rejection. No chemistry doesn't mean anything more than for a moment in time things aren't in alignment. Nothing more. Not a life sentence. So don't be a pussy and don't be a flake. Man up and enjoy shit while you can.

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  2. Loki,

    I agree with a lot of what you've said. There is a head-strong and almost angrily cheerful voice in the back of my head that loves to say things exactly like what you're saying. When I think I'm in a bad place, that is the voice that jumps up and screams, "Then fix it you whiner!" Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your own personal information.

    -Ace

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  3. I tried to leave a comment on Paid, and failed, so I'll try again here. Once again my response centers around the fact that I think you have quite extraordinary insights for such a young man. LOVE. This. As a person with ladybits, I have hit the invisible age. Luckily I'm not looking for a partner, but it's amazing how many people just don't see me. The freeing thing is that they're not judging me and that frees me up to see them. Confidence is the gold ring that we all search for (except for the lucky few born with it in their grasp) and it's a constant process. Those questions you ask yourself can only help. Love your blog, your sense of adventure and your writing. You go, kid. ciel

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  4. As always, everything you write makes me respect you more and care for you more. Your intelligence, common sense, gentle concern for others, and hard-won wisdom are so wonderful - and you touch the hearts of those of us who are lucky enough to know you, even if just through a computer screen. I only have a couple of ideas to add. First, expanding on that topic of doubt, I think at least two types of doubt are in play here. All of us, I think, doubt ourselves to some degree - and there will always be things we can doubt if we allow ourselves to. As a teenager I thought I was too skinny with no muscles, so I was ashamed to walk around without a shirt on. Now, I'm ashamed of the extra weight I carry - so I avoid walking around without a shirt on. I don't like that in myself - but I understand to some degree WHY it's happening. I feel like I'm partly "myself," living inside my own body, and I'm partly "the watching other," the generic eye-of-society looking at and judging me. So if I can't look at myself without superimposing the cultural eye over my own, how can I expect others to do that? In other words - Problem one: I doubt myself. Problem two: I doubt the other person looking at me. I imagine that BOTH of us are looking at me through the lens of that cultural ideal that society holds up. Thus, the "answer," I guess, requires me to develop confidence on at least two levels: I need to have confidence in myself, AND I need to have confidence in others. The strange part is that I have no hesitation in recognizing that I myself find men of all sorts attractive - heavy, thin, tall, short, older, younger, pretty, rough - I think almost all men are beautiful in one way or another. When I see a man, whatever man, I see something beautiful in him that draws me to him and makes me want him. So why can't I fully embrace the fact that other men feel the same way? As you said, I have to - we all have to - remember that other men (not all, but many or maybe even most) start with the urge to connect rather than the urge to reject.
    ----jonking

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  5. Ciel,

    Well, I would encourage you to try again with Paid. I would love to here your thoughts on that too.

    And I think you're right. Once we are no longer the objects of the gaze, then we are free to gaze as we like. I enjoy blending in and people watching, being almost entirely unnoticed. But I would also say that there are ways to make oneself the object of gaze, even if we might no think we should be.

    -Ace

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  6. JonKing,

    Thank you very much for your kind words. They mean a lot to me.

    I think you bring up an interesting point with the idea of doubting the one watching you. I think that may actually be a big part of the issue for many people. We don't trust the viewer to like what they see, so we do them and ourselves a disservice by assuming they won't. Very interesting and something to think about.

    -Ace

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  7. Hey Ace,

    I'm a big bottom bear (5'11", 380 lbs) and you would be amazed at some of the nasty things that people have said to me. The gay world is as mean to fat people as the Church is to gay people. Yet somehow, it's acceptable to be mean to fat people. I've even had escorts tell me that they wouldn't mean up with me because "fat people are too much work."

    I work out 4x a week with a trainer, and have for a few years now. I'm struggling like all hell to lose the weight. I just started seeing a shrink who specializes in weight issues. But after hearing "no fatties wanted" or "hwp only" time after time, I've had to accept the fact that I will not start getting laid until I've lost a significant amount of weight. Do I like it? No. But it's the way it is. And for those those who think all fat people are lazy and unhealthy, my BP is 110/70, cholesterol is 143 and all my A1C is 5.6. The only number that is unhealthy for me is my weight. And I'm working like hell to change that.

    Just remember, I may be fat, but they're mean. And I can l lose weight.

    Erie Bear

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  8. Ace my dear friend,

    I am a 55 yr old man, 5'6" and weight 157lbs with a little tummy. I don't find myself very attractive and i think because i've been bullied a lot when i was younger and me too, my father didn't help me on that. When your father told you that he would kill you if you are gay put my self-estime very low and it was there a long time and maaybe still in my mind even today. People finds me attractive but sometimes i don't believe them when i look at myself in the mirror. I find myself fat, short and ugly. I know that i'm a big harsh on myself by saying that but that is how i see myself. Always love to say to people how nice they look and everything but i'm having a hard time accepting it when they say that to me. I know that i'm a kind man and generous but that is it for me. Soemtimes people are asking me why i never go out and i always tell them that i don't have money to go out, it's true but in my mind, it's always the apperance that comes to mind.
    I don't like going out with people my age cause i'm to cheerful and always have a good time but not too young either, there is some exception to that. Thank you for letting me express myself and i appreciate it a lot my friend.

    Yves

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  9. Erie Bear,

    You have brought up a very good point that I didn't have space/time to get to in my post. There are a lot of people online who really will just rip into people terribly. I think some of it has to do with the anonymity of the internet, but on some basic level those people are also just mean. There are some who I think will go online just to be rude to others, with no intention of ever actually hooking up.

    And you're right about one other thing: Even comedians have pointed out (satirically) that while these days it is not OK to make fun of blacks, Jews, and gays, it is still OK to make fat jokes. Which isn't fair at all.

    -Ace

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  10. Yves,

    Sorry that you are feeling low on self-confidence, man. I really hope that you are able to work past that. I understand where you are coming from and I know that it is hard, but like I said, there are people around you who can help you and give you support.

    -Ace

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  11. There's always someone for everyone.

    If you could see the guys I've had sex with over the year as they and I looked during those years you would see they were older, younger, thinner, heavier, bigger weenie, smaller weenie, nice looking, really nice looking, porn star (when I lived in L.A.), not close to being nice looking, etc then me.

    For me there is just that click in your brain that your are attracted to the guy no matter what.

    But I have known guys if you saw all the men they have had sex with you would think they were a clone of each other since they all looked alike.

    Now if you want to see gay men putting youth and looks above everything else, hang out in West Hollywood where 24 is considered old age, and not having a gym body and good looks is taboo.

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  12. I had to come back and leave another thought. With the excessive attention on body image that most celebs sell, we have made abnormal attractiveness into the norm and berate ourselves when we can’t live up to it. Facing the fact that the genetic pool isn’t fair, some of us are just not gifted in that area, and aging well is hit or miss, granting that you live a healthy life. I think the best thing I ever read was on another sex blog where the author said his hookups didn’t have to be perfect, that he could find something sexy about men of any age or shape. Okay, I know you prob hate Katy Perry, but her song Firework does have a good message. Being yourself as fully as you can be is sexy. There’s enough haters, you don’t have to hate yourself. And now I’m blathering.

    ciel

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  13. Ciel,

    I agree with you on almost everything: I do like Katy Perry. Though I am getting pretty sick of hearing Last Friday Night every time I turn on the radio and on three of my favorite stations.

    -Ace

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