Q: I’m a 42 year old guy who’s never had a relationship that’s lasted longer than a few months. That’s because I’m only attracted to really hot, muscular guys (especially Italian or Middle Eastern), in their early twenties. I hook up with a lot of young guys who like older men, but they all just want to party and have fun. Young guys aren’t interested in settling down with one man. They’ll hang with me for a while and then move on. I don’t blame them. I was the same way when I was their age, but I really want to stop fucking around and find a lover. I know I’d be more likely to succeed if I liked older guys, but ifn they aren’t a perfect 10 I’m not interested, and unfortunately only guys under 25 are 10’s in my book. Could a sex therapist help me understand why I only like younger guys and make me start to be more attracted to guys closer to my own age so that I’d have a better chance of finding a partner?
A: In my experience, fundamental sexual turn-ons usually don’t change much once they’re established. Sometimes they evolve over time with life experience, but that’s an organic process that happens by itself. It doesn’t happen because you make a “rational” decision that it would be more convenient if you liked something different. Therapy also doesn’t have much effect on your turn-ons: learning “why” may increase self-understanding, but rarely changes the turn-ons themselves. Most of the therapists I know would probably encourage you to work toward acceptance of your sexuality as it is and focus on how to make it work for you, rather than try to change it. If young guys float your boat, you’re probably always going to be attracted to youthfulness. You’re hardly the lone ranger, by the way. The majority of us find young guys hotter than older guys, regardless of what we think we “should” want.
I don’t share your pessimism about finding a younger partner. I know a number of couples who have been together for some years, with age differences ranging from 19 to 25 years, and as far as I can tell, these relationships are going concerns. While most gay men do want to connect with people in their own age group, a minority has always been interested in men who are older or younger, and it just isn’t true that these relationships can’t work. One famous example of such a pair were Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, who met when Isherwood was 49, and Bachardy was 18, and who lived as devoted lovers and artistic collaborators until Isherwood’s death 33 years later. While lots of young guys (and lots of older guys, too, by the way) aren’t interested in settling down with one guy, it’s untrue and ageist to assume that they all feel that way.
Maybe your real obstacle is something else. Do you actually want a relationship? When you say that you aren’t interested unless someone is a 10 do you mean that your idea of a relationship is hot sex for the rest of your life with a guy who’s perfect? That’s a great fantasy, but it’s never going to happen. For one thing, your perfect 10 will inevitably get older. Even while he’s young you’ll wake up with him some rainy Tuesday morning when you’re both in a bad mood, and he just won’t look like the fantasy lover of your dreams. You can have eternal sexual perfection in your masturbation fantasies, but not in real life, at least not for long. In my experience, one of the most common obstacles that gay men face in trying to find a partner is this expectation that a “committed relationship” is supposed to be a kind of never-ending three dimensional porn movie.
If you do want to find a real relationship you’ll need maturity, flexibility and realism in your approach. What if you meet someone who’s older than you prefer, but looks youthful, or is young at heart? What will you do if you meet someone who is “only” a 6 or a 7 but is also loving, relationship-oriented and interested in you? Will you reject him out of hand? Is “hotness” the only criterion that matters to you in considering a potential partner? Of course sexual attraction is important, but unless you go beyond merely being dazzled by good looks you’re likely to keep just having brief sexual flings. How much do you value qualities like loyalty, honesty, kindness, respect, affection, and generosity of spirit? These are some of the things that keep a relationship going past the initial sizzle phase. You’ll probably have more luck if you start paying attention as much to the presence or absence of these other qualities as you do to how their bodies look. Next: I’m only Attracted to Older Guys.