Our weekly “Ask a Dad” finds our resident dad, Cody, answering questions and doling out advice.
Hey Bearded Fruit! First off, I would like to say that I am a huge fan of your podcast, and it has helped me, (a 19 year old Canadian gay boy that isn’t out to his family yet) learn about gay culture and issues. My question stems from the dating/hookup app Growlr, as I have been curious about the bear subculture for quite some time. I got on the app and to my surprise I was talking to a few guys, one in particular I decided to meet up, grab coffee and hang out with. The guy I met up with is 53 years old and I believe is a genuinely a nice guy, he has expressed his dislike for one-time hookups, and stated that he wanted more of a regular deal without it venturing into “relationship territory”. But when I asked my least judgemental friend about the situation, she said that I “might have a predator on my hands”, and that I need to worry about catching feelings, because it’s not in my best interest to be in a relationship with a 53 year old man. I wanted to know your thoughts on the taboo nature of larger age gaps, and also the fact, ask for your opinions on whether or not this is necessarily the right time and place for someone of my age.
Dear L. —
So… age gaps. My husband is 14 years younger than I am, and for a lot of people that age gap is a pretty big one. But our relationships works like gangbusters. We’re a great fit, and our age gap doesn’t really come into play all that often. I also know couples with even wider age gaps that have successful, thriving relationships. And on the flip side, I know couples close in age who are horrible for each other and have toxic, draining relationships.
Age matters. But not in absolutes. Do you have similar interests? Do you have similar goals for a relationship? Do you have similar values? Do you have similar life goals? Do you have political views that align? Do you have compatible ideas about a healthy sexual relationship? Sharing common or compatible ground on these things make a relationship work, even if you and your partner have a big age gap. Without these points of intersection, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Your relationship won’t work.
Now, let’s talk about this guy. I think your friend is has some valid concerns. The age gap between 53 and 19 is a pretty severe one, and while he indeed may be a really nice guy, this extreme a gap isn’t common, and you should approach with caution. I’m not saying, “Assume he’s a predator,” but you’re 19 and still in the closet. There’s a lot about yourself you still need to discover, and your “Spidey Sense” about when people are behaving in your best interests still needs time to grow.
And what do you have in common with this guy? Do you have similar interests? Do you have similar goals? Do your values line up? Do your sexual expectations line up? If they don’t — and I have a feeling they might not — you should move slowly here, approach with caution, and I’d recommend keeping this relationship in the platonic zone for a while.
Look, when I was your age, I was really into older guys, too. I was attracted to their experience. Their stability. Their maturity. They made me feel safe. But I wasn’t really into them — I was into what they had that I didn’t. Being in the closet and being 19 is a tough place to be. Be kind and cautious with yourself. Ask yourself if you’re into Mr. 53-Years-Old or are you into what he represents?
We’re here for you if you need us.
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