I am a 55-year-old man, living in Atlanta, Georgia, dating a 27-year-old man. We are both cool with the age difference, and I rarely even think about it. I find him to be very mature for his age. We have amazing conversations, and I never feel he is “too young” to understand the subject matter. Additionally, we are an inter-ethnic couple. Again, we are both consenting adults and haven’t given it a thought.
Last weekend, we were out and having a great time, but kept getting attitude and comments thrown our way about our differences. My question is, why can’t people accept that we are together and happy? Why must I hear, “he wanted a sugar daddy and got one”, and be told I am “feeding my fetish for young, black men”. It is really tiring to be hearing this in 2021 and in Atlanta of all places.
Minding the Gap
Dear Minding the Gap,
The short answer here is: Stop caring what other people think about your relationship! It seems like you’re both happy. And the fact that you don’t think twice about him being young, or him being black, probably means those factors aren’t an issue for you. The concern seems to only have been planted in your brain by outside haters.
Age is different for everyone. It’s more important to evaluate things like how a person makes you feel and if you are able to meet each other’s emotional and physical needs than what songs were playing on the radio the year they were born.
We’ve all seen the 59-year old at the club still going hard on molly, afraid to let the party end. Or, we’ve seen a 21-year old wise beyond his years, giving you the most mature advice about how to not engage with a toxic ex. You can be “young” but connect more to older people, or vice versa, depending on your level of emotional maturity, life experience, and ability to be introspective through things like therapy.
When it comes to ethnic differences, again, it’s about whether or not you can connect that is most important. We are often attracted to certain types of physical characteristics in our partners, for whatever reason, and that’s okay. It’s what you do with it that matters.
If you have a different cultural experience in the world than your partner, it’s up to you to get to know them fully, learn about where they come from, what it’s like facing oppression, etc. If you find all of that isn’t important to you, and you’re only interested in the person sexually, then maybe I’d have some concern that it might be a fetish. But if you’re attracted to them physically and also want to connect with them on a deeper, more emotional level, it moves out of the fetish category, because your partner is not just an object to you. You appreciate the whole person, inside and out.
At the end of the day, you’re content and enjoy being together. So who cares what anyone else thinks? People tend to put judgments on what they see based on broad, generalized stereotypes because it helps them make sense of the world. Next time you’re out and someone makes a rude comment about you guys, I say give your boyfriend a big kiss right then and there. Show them what they’re missing!
Jake Myers is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and the Founder of Gay Therapy Space, the first online therapy platform for and by the LGBTQ community. He has a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles, with a specialization in LGBT Affirmative Psychotherapy.