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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

SL Letters of the Day: Campsite Rulers

Posted by on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Same exact question as "One Concerned Dad." Except I am 44 and he is 23. Please tell me if this is not OK. Neither of us are out...

Love Your Work

My response—and another letter about OCD—after the jump...


Well, 23 isn't 18, closeted or not. But I'd put some of the same questions to you that I advised OCD to put to his 18-year-old son's 31-year-old boyfriend: How did you two meet? Are you being safe? Are you using condoms? Are you making promises you can't keep?

If you have a sexual connection, if you're being good to each other, if you're both getting something of value out of this relationship—and sexual pleasure is something of value—and no one is being exploited, lied to, manipulated, or abused, then the age difference isn't a problem. It isn't even relevant. Please see my "campsite rule."

The closet, however, is a problem. Dating while closeted is hard, it can lead you to settle for someone who isn't good for you (because when and how are you going to meet someone else?), and I would encourage you—both of you—to come out already.

Another response to my advice for OCD:

At 17, I was outed when my Dad found a note in the car he often lent me.

After I casually explained that what he found was merely directions to my friend's house, he poignantly inquired if I made a habit of recording the cock sizes (and circumcision status) of all my male friends. He had already consulted his office gay. I was encouraged to seek the office gay's counsel, as they both shared concerns about my hooking up with a 24 year old.

I enjoyed the amazing sex I had with that young man. I don't regret it to this day, despite the lack of formation of any emotional bond. Nor do I regret other encounters I had with even older guys when I was even younger.

Today, when I mac the younger gay friends of my straight friends, I am perceived to be "robbing the cradle." Their perception forced me to, yet again, reckon with that ugly question I faced back when I was 17 (now 28): What if he was a girl? Yeah, what if I driven my dad's luxury car into a gated Christian community and fucked a hot 24-year-old blond, religious GIRL? Would my dad have gone to a straight co-worker in a panic?

Only to high-five over the good news would be my guess.

My straight friends don't leave me guessing: older guys who get young chicks do so because they are awesome looking and do the correct number of crunches at the gym. Younger straight guys admire and emulate such achievers.

But gay guys who get younger guys—and I think you may know at least one—are sick pedophiles.

I enjoy the handsomeness and optimism of some young men, Dan. I don't risk breaking the law like some of my old-time hookups did. But younger guys can, have, and do enjoy my company in the same way I enjoyed the company of older guys when I was younger. Certain forces have led to the mathematically incorrect correlation of gayness with pedophilia (most child molesters are straight, despite the salacious headlines we're bombarded with to this day as you know). Our community has responded with an un-natural suspicion of May-December romance and courtship that is virtually non-existent in the straight world.

Why not ask this question: What if he—the gay, older, spends-a-lot-of-time-exercising-and-bettering-himself—were a she?

Would we have reason to sound the alarm of suspicion? If not, maybe "we"—the syndicated national voice of gays everywhere—ought to ask that simple question: What if this were a straight relationship? Would there cause for alarm?

Many teens need the help of your "It Gets Better" Project. Many more are growing up to lead "normal"
lives. But by continuing to help cast a shadow of suspicion, Dan, you further isolate groups of people that could make each other happy. Why maintain artificial barriers to our happiness imposed by the very forces we know to be so wrong and hateful? Why is it that your column never features happy Mays like myself?

Please recall what brings you joy in this world.

Please also recall that fact that your candor and honestly led to your being so popular and mainstream accepted. If you stray from that, to stay cool with the Google-General Electric-Halliburton-NSA crowd, you will have lost what made you so special and beautiful.

Thanks again for all your good work.

Your Loyal Reader

Against May-December romance? Me? P'shaw. Remember my "campsite rule"? I'm not against olds hooking up with youngs—so long as the relationship isn't harming the younger person. (Or the older person—remember my "Tea and Sympathy Rule.")

And I didn't say—I have never said—that older guys who are attracted to younger-but-legal guys are pedophiles, YLR. In fact I've railed against those who would define pedophilia down to include men (and women) who are attracted to young adults. (You think eight year olds are hot? You're a pedo. You think 18 year olds are hot? You're a normo.) And I didn't tell OCD that his son's relationship was abusive or destructive due to the age difference. I said that the relationship, due to this particular age difference (and the fact that OCD's son was still in high school, and still living at home), merits a greater degree of scrutiny.

Reread my response, YLR: I didn't advise OCD to break up his son's relationship; I didn't tell him to murder his son's 31 year old with his bare hands. I advised OCD to talk to his son's boyfriend, to ask him son's boyfriend some pointed questions, to listen to his son's boyfriend, and to communicate with his son about his concerns. I basically advised OCD to be his son's dad. And all of my advice to OCD rests on the premise that this relationship might, in actual fact, be good for OCD's son.

If I made a mistake in my response to OCD, YLR, it was in failing to mention the fact that some young people are attracted to older people. If I had it to do over again—and, hey, I do!—I would add the bolded bit to my response to OCD:

As for your son, OCD, tell him that you realize gay guys his age sometimes date older men because there aren't a lot of boys his own age to choose from. (If you didn't already know that, now you do.) And tell your son you realize, of course, that some young people are attracted to older people. And tell your son that this gay dude you know—that would be me, OCD—told you that something's usually wrong when a 31-year-old is dating a teenager.

As for why you're not seeing letters from happy Mays, YLR, it's for same reason you don't read a lot of letters from the happily GGG: people who are content with their sex lives generally don't write to sex-advice columnists about their non-problems. Lots of happy Mays wrote in way, way back when I codified the campsite rule, though, so I know you're out there. OCD's son, for all we know, is a happy May, just as you and I both were back in the day, YLR.


Comments (44) RSS

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The second LW is missing a key point Dan has made in the past: Advise your gay son like you would your daughter - because they are both dating men. He refers to his relationship with an older man when he was still in high school and that it wouldn't have been a big deal if he had been dating an older woman. I counter that the father would have had similar concerns if it was a straight relationship, where the older partner was a man dating his high school aged daughter. I think of it less about gay vs. straight relationship, but more about the gender of the older person. It might not be gender equality - but older woman are not seen as threatening as older men.
Posted by JustThinking on March 28, 2012 at 4:29 PM · Report this
"Google-General Electric-Halliburton-NSA crowd"? What the fuck is that?
Posted by Tyler Pierce on March 28, 2012 at 4:38 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 3

Here's the thing that interests seems that part of the norms of "cool people", even SLOG readers, stops when it comes to age differences.

That is, for most "young people" race and sex neutrality is a given. But the same person, and it's been demonstrated many times here, will go into a heat stroke if some enumerated age barrier is broken, especially if the younger person is female.

Can someone explain why this is such a taboo (and her I'm strictly speaking about legal adults, not statutory rape or anything like that).

Why is this such a hot button for some otherwise Lib it because it's poaching from "their farm"?

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on March 28, 2012 at 4:43 PM · Report this
@1: I think the truth is somewhere between what you're saying and what YLR is saying. When it's an older woman and a younger man together, the young/old and male/female power dynamics appear to even out at 1-1, so it doesn't seem like much cause for concern. And to a degree that's true- an older woman may well like a big, strong young man who has the self-assurance of youth on his side, whereas rarely does an older man get with a young woman because he likes how she takes charge.

But a younger man is still frequently susceptible to shitty treatment because he doesn't realize behavior A, B, or C is screwed up, and an older woman is perfectly capable of fucking with a younger man's head if she wants to or is herself somehow messed up. So while it may require nominally less caution if your son is dating an older woman as opposed to a daughter dating an older man, if you're the parent it's still wise to keep your eye on the situation.
Posted by Spiffy McBang on March 28, 2012 at 4:44 PM · Report this
@3: Some guys might think that way. And anyone who acts as if a young woman (say, 18-22) dating a substantially older man is inherently bad needs to check themselves. But for those who show initial concern- and I would be one of them- it's because unless you know the woman and know she can extract herself from a problematic situation, or has the wherewithal to find help if it turns out she can't do it alone, those kinds of situations are ripe for some sort of abuse.

Only recently have we begun to give young women any sense of self-empowerment, especially when dealing with either older men or sexual relationships, much less both. Those messages have not exactly been spread universally at this point, either. So if you hear "39 year old man/20 year old woman" and POTENTIAL ISSUES lights up in your head in bright green neon, that's not a personal problem with other people's choices. That's a pretty reasonable reaction.
Posted by Spiffy McBang on March 28, 2012 at 4:50 PM · Report this
seandr 6
@4: and an older woman is perfectly capable of fucking with a younger man's head

You make an interesting point - a crazy or psychopathic woman can certainly devastate a naive young man. But does the potential for this to happen really increase with age difference?

In my experience, young women are more likely to be emotionally abusive and manipulative with a guy. It seems to go hand in hand with immaturity. And young women tend to have just as much power over men as an older women, maybe even more.
Posted by seandr on March 28, 2012 at 5:07 PM · Report this
Haven't we established all over the blog and comment threads the "what if it was a girl" equivalence? Treating gay boys still in high school with the protectiveness you would a daughter, because they're dating people with lots of testosterone?

I find the ongoing application of (x/2) + 7 up through the younger partner's 30s annoying (60 and 30? go for it), but while the younger partner is 18 or under I think it makes a lot of sense. So 20 year olds can date 17 year olds, and 18 year olds can date 16 year olds. 24 year olds can date 19 year olds AND maybe 18 year olds on the legal adult rule, but when they're trolling the high school hang outs, yes, my eyebrows go way up. Regardless of the genders involved, though I imagine M seeks F outnumbers M seeks M outnumbers F seeks M.

And yes, YLR, if it were my 17 year old nephew with the 24 year old female lover, I would think the relationship likely fucked up. No high fives would be exchanged, and just how immature and controlling she was to need to hook up with someone so young would alarm me.

As wisely noted in the SL thread, if a 40 year old is the same emotional age as a 19 year old (i.e. young at heart), the younger lover is likely to mature beyond the older partner. If you went in as adults with campsite rules, well and good. If you were picked up when barely legal by someone who doesn't like the pushback and independence of a partner older than 21, that might be more likely to look quite different in the rearview mirror.
Posted by IPJ on March 28, 2012 at 5:35 PM · Report this
If I had a 17 or 18 year-old, of any gender or orientation, dating a 31 year-old, also of any gender or orientation, I would do as Dan advised OCD. It's just somebody with a bit more life experience asking the questions of the older person that the younger may not even think to ask. It's just making sure the older person has the younger person's best interests in mind. It's just being a good parent.

Oh, and I'm currently dating a guy who is over 20 years my senior. But then again, I'm in my 40's, and have had my fair share of bad partners, so I know what I'm looking for and am delighted in my older lover.
Posted by SherBee on March 28, 2012 at 5:46 PM · Report this
It bummed me out that the LW had a problem with his father going to the "office gay." I thought it was nice that the father realized that this was something outside his realm of experience and sought counsel from someone who might know more. "I don't want to freak out and do the wrong thing, please tell me what the right thing is" is a good thing for a parent to say. Sure, it would have been even better if the father had understood that this was no different than if his son was dating a woman... but I'm still strongly in favor of parents asking for advice instead of trying to wing it.
Posted by smoakes on March 28, 2012 at 5:47 PM · Report this
@9: Yes, I thought it quite sweet and a nice attempt by the dad to try and look at things from a wider perspective.

Also, I don't know what "mac" means as a verb, since I associate it with a sloppyish kiss. Ogle? Hit on with sex in mind? Fuck?

How about this ugly question, instead? If your friends, plural, think your romantic habits are kind of creepy and have brought this up with you, maybe you need to look at this through a frame other than "Ya know teenage boys who fuck older women are viewed as lucky." (I'm reminded of a Prudie letter from a guy whose friend hung out at the local high school spot literally checking IDs to nail girls as close to the right side of legal as he could get. On her birthday being the best. It was, assuming no fake IDs, legal. But creepy.)
Posted by IPJ on March 28, 2012 at 6:01 PM · Report this
One possible point that could favour a same-sex relationship with an age difference is that both parties might well have been out for similiar durations, reducing a common disparity in that sort of life experience and also reducing the chance that an inexperienced older partner is inexperienced because of some flaw.
Posted by vennominon on March 28, 2012 at 6:02 PM · Report this
@4 - Agreed. I don't think the gender of the older person matters as much as conventional wisdom dictates. Women are as capable of manipulation as men; gender-inclusive abuse studies generally find that women are just as likely as men to psychologically abuse their intimate partners. While men apparently commit more violent crime, creeps seem equally distributed across the genders.
Posted by fubarista on March 28, 2012 at 6:23 PM · Report this
30+ year old straight men who go for 18-20 year old girls are often considered pervs and looked down on. Especially by women, but also by many other guys. It is not at all true that all straight people think it is awesome and high five them.

While I may look at an 18 year old girl and think "Holy shit is she hot." I don't think it's appropriate to actually date one, and nobody I know would be OK with me if I did it. (Especially my girlfriend.)
Posted by Dave M on March 28, 2012 at 6:32 PM · Report this
shurenka 14

It's not young women exclusively who can have a touch of the crazy though -- young men are often more possessive, emotionally abusive and sexist, than older guys. ("Negging", in my experience, is more of a problem with younger guys in their early 20s who have nothing positive to attract a partner.) This might be why you experienced young women as being "psychopathic"... crazy breeds crazy. Just sayin'.

IMO younger people are more likely to have difficulty communicating and relating emotionally, thus they can be difficult or abusive that way. Older people are more likely to be cannier and in a better position to take advantage of someone more naive, if they are so inclined. The former situation is sad but unintentional immaturity, the latter is predatory and probably more dangerous.
Posted by shurenka on March 28, 2012 at 6:35 PM · Report this
sirkowski 15
Jeez, 2nd LW, way to stereotype all straight people just to confirm your bias.
Posted by sirkowski on March 28, 2012 at 6:40 PM · Report this
Longtime reader and fan of SL, Dan's blog, and comments; first time commenting. The age difference conundrum is one I've been wrestling with myself at the moment. I'm a 37-year-old lesbian and have recently gotten involved online with an 18-year-old girl who is a senior in high school. (I've written to Dan about this twice, but I'm sure my e-mails were buried amid the billion or so he must get every day.) Some background: Every woman I've been involved with before has been either my age or older. This girl was already 18 when I "met" her (i.e., I didn't meet her as a 14-year-old and bide my time). We found each other in a relatively innocent manner (through the Facebook fandom of our mutual favorite singer/lesbian crush). She lives in another state 1000 miles away, and we have not yet met in person. We're planning to meet in June or July, when I'll be visiting friends who live an hour from her.

She was the one who friended me on Facebook; she was the one who first sent me an instant message; and she was the one who first expressed an interest in me. I never imagined that she would ever look at someone my age that way; I only wanted to be an older lesbian friend with more life experience who could possibly offer her some guidance. I was shocked when she told me she had a crush on me. I'd developed a little infatuation with her, but was treating it in my mind as a harmless fantasy that I would never pursue. Once we both expressed our interest, I looked up everything I could find that Dan has written about the "campsite rule" and studied it carefully. I read accounts from happy and unhappy Mays, and made careful note of what the happy ones appreciated about their December partners and what the unhappy ones were hurt by. I have gone out of my way to give her as much control as possible and to never pressure her for anything she's not comfortable with. I told her I won't meet her until she graduates high school, because I feel that would be too much of a power imbalance. I've let her know that if we meet and all she wants to do is sit in a hotel room and listen to music and watch movies all night, that's fine with me. I've discussed with her the fact that the odds are against anything long term coming out of it, and we've agreed to take it one day at a time. In short, I've tried everything I can to do my due diligence. I just want to give her the most amazing experience I can when we meet.

I'm concerned, though. I know, as Dan said, that 18 and living at home and still in high school is different from 23 and out on one's own. Most of my friends have been supportive, though some with reservations and warnings to be cautious. But my closest friend for the past six years went ballistic on me and said that what I was doing was "immoral," and that I was "violating" and "exploiting" this girl, and that just because she's 18 and a couple months old doesn't mean it's ok for her to be involved with someone my age. However, this friend was brutally raped by a pedophile at age four, and is also my ex-girlfriend, so I'm not sure she's coming from the most objective place. She has completely ended our friendship over my refusal to break it off with this girl.

My other friends say she's just reacting out of jealousy. But I'm not sure what to think. If I can't get Dan's personal input, I'm curious if anyone else here can offer theirs. Is my angry friend right? Is there something inherently wrong with our age difference (37/18), even if I want what's best for her and am trying my best to follow the campsite rule diligently?
Posted by Snoopy The Cat on March 28, 2012 at 6:42 PM · Report this
@16--Maybe not inherently wrong, and it sounds like your ex is bringing a lot of her own stuff into it. I do have to say, if I knew a guy who was 37 and wanted to meet up with an 18 year old kid . . . I'd wonder about them.

I've worked with a lot of 18-year-olds, and I'm 40 now. Some of them are very sharp, and mature, and funny kids--but they live in a different world. What in heaven's name are you going to talk about? Have you talked on the phone or Skype? And do her parents know--if so, what do they think? Is she even out to them?

Meet her in public first. Spend time in public--coffee shop, movie, bookstore, take her bowling even. If you kiss, kiss in public first. This will keep some of the pressure off both of you, and you'll have some time to see how you feel about each other when you're there in person. You can always go back to your hotel room later if that's what you both want; I'm just saying, don't start your date there.
Posted by clashfan on March 28, 2012 at 7:37 PM · Report this
16 I'm kind of stuck on the internet aspect of all this, as I met my spouse when the internet was dial-up. I think clashfan's advice about meeting in public, doing things in public, first kissing in public, is wise. It takes the pressure off.

If she was an 18 year old college student this wouldn't raise my eyebrows at all. (Or an 18 year old living some sort of fairly independent life, say bookstore clerk with roommates.) I do wonder if she is inexperienced and is imbuing you with powerful layers of safety, off 1000 miles away. If she has had a few girlfriends and has now decided you might be worth exploring even if nothing serious can come of it, that's very different from someone who hasn't managed to ever make it work (I mean 'it' in numerous senses) in flesh-and-blood life.

Impressions in person are famously different than those formed online. Both of you need to go into that first meeting with much lower expectations than giving each other the most amazing experience possible. Meet for coffee and a follow-up at some activity where you can chat about what you're doing. See where it goes. This should be about coffee for friends meeting in real life for the first time to chat, yay! Take the pressure off for where coffee goes.
Posted by IPJ on March 28, 2012 at 8:10 PM · Report this
@17: I don't have a mic or webcam for Skype, and we haven't spoken on the phone yet because she says she's very phone shy. It's one of those areas where I try not to pressure her even though I really want to talk on the phone. So far it's consisted entirely of hours-long IM chats. Her mother does not know, and I don't see any way to tell her without upsetting her. She's not overly accepting of the fact that her daughter is gay, and I don't think throwing the age difference into the mix will help. Her father lives an hour away and she only sees him sporadically, and I'm quite sure she's not out to him.

#18: I have considered and brought up to her the possibility that the reality of meeting me in person could be nothing like the fantasy. I've also pointed out that sometimes a person can subconsciously be attracted to someone "unattainable" precisely BECAUSE the person is unattainable. She swears that's not what's going on here. Of course, I also realize that she's at a different level of emotional maturity than I am and may not be entirely in touch with her feelings or the reasons for them, so I've tried to take that into consideration. She is experienced (far more than I was at her age), has had sex/messed around with both boys and girls, and has been in love with a girl before. If she were a virgin, I would not even consider this.

The plan when we meet is to go to the beach with my friends whom I'll be visiting, who are a married couple around my age with a four-year-old son and a newborn daughter. They're very nice, open-minded people, and the four-year-old is a real sweetie, and I'm hoping she'll feel relaxed enough in the group of us. I'll probably spend some time alone in public with her after my friends leave us, and it will be entirely up to her if she wants to come back to the hotel with me. And even if she does come to the hotel, I have made it clear and will continue to make it clear that we do not have to do anything she is not comfortable with. Considering my initial in-person encounter with the ex-girlfriend I mentioned, whom I also found online, ended up with her having a massive PTSD attack and freaking out as soon as things started to get intimate, I think I can handle whatever curveballs this situation might throw at me. And I feel buffered somewhat by the fact that I'm visiting friends in her state, not just going there with the sole purpose of seeing her.

This really is a situation I never imagined being in. In the past, I've had the odd thought about what it would be like to date a younger woman, but I was thinking more like mid-twenties--certainly not someone still in high school! And I honestly wish she were 25 so this wouldn't be such an ethical conundrum, but I can't change the dates on our birth certificates. I just know that I'm really drawn to her and want to see where this could go, and I hope I'll be someone she remembers fondly ten years from now.
Posted by Snoopy The Cat on March 28, 2012 at 8:49 PM · Report this
@19 "we haven't spoken on the phone yet because she says she's very phone shy"

Is it possible she's not who she says she is? As they say:…
Posted by EricaP on March 28, 2012 at 9:16 PM · Report this
Snoopy, I second @20. I urge you to make an effort to speak with her as soon as you can, before you are even more emotionally invested and definitely before you take a trip to see her. Cheap webcams are, as the saying goes, cheap. I'm looking at an ad for one for $28 (just Google it). I think that needs to be your very next step. Best of luck.
Posted by Catastrophe on March 28, 2012 at 9:38 PM · Report this
Good point, @20 and @21. I have heard her voice, on a recording she made that she gave me the link to. And she does have a writing style consistent with her age, and has taken a few recent photos and uploaded them to FB. And I've seen photos posted by others (her relatives and best friend) where she's tagged, so if she's lying, she has other people involved in the lie. I guess it hasn't really occurred to me to worry that she's lying because we didn't meet in the context of a dating site or some such place where there's incentive to misrepresent yourself. Or am I being completely naive here?
Posted by Snoopy The Cat on March 28, 2012 at 10:32 PM · Report this
Incidentally, I forgot to say it, but thanks to everyone who's offered their input.
Posted by Snoopy The Cat on March 28, 2012 at 10:33 PM · Report this
@22, Is it possible the person you've been corresponding with is the father or brother of the 18 year old whose pictures you have seen?
Posted by EricaP on March 28, 2012 at 11:57 PM · Report this
@EricaP: First of all, thanks for responding, as you're one of my favorite commenters on here and I always specifically look for what you have to say in reply to the SLLotD. As far as I know, she lives only with her mother and has no brothers, but that's taking her word for it. The only things I know for sure are that she writes very much in the style of an 18-year-old girl and that the context in which I met her wasn't one that would invite deception. She saw my Facebook profile pic of me standing next to our mutual favorite singer/lesbian crush and friended me because she wanted to know how I got to meet this person. I almost didn't even accept the request, but when I looked at her profile I was able to ascertain that she came from the fandom. I would be more suspicious about the phone thing, but she's not the first person I've encountered online who was shy about the phone at first. She has promised that we'll talk on the phone before we meet in person.

There's one important detail I forgot to include, though. She told me she was sexually abused at age 13/14 by a male family friend. She doesn't want to discuss it in any further detail (I have no idea what exactly happened or if it was more than one time), and says she just wants to put it in the past and forget it. The only reason I know about it at all is that I asked her at one point if anyone had ever forced any sexual activity upon her against her will. This was the detail that led my friend to go ballistic. She says the girl is acting out by pursuing someone my age (even though as far as she's told me, she has no history of pursuing older people of either gender), that to be involved with her is to exploit a girl who has been sexually damaged, and that I should just encourage her to get therapy and remove myself from her life. I'm not sure how to feel about that, because I know that girls can be affected by sexual abuse in ways that they don't realize until many years later, but she insists that she's fine. And I've seen discussion on here about the varied range of responses sexual abuse victims can have, so I don't want to assume that every single survivor ends up horrifically scarred for life like my friend did. My friend fancies herself an expert on childhood sexual abuse and has had a particularly horrible time, to the point where she is unable to work because her PTSD is so bad. I think she sincerely believes what she is saying, but I don't know if she has a subconscious need to pathologize everyone who has experienced sexual abuse so that she doesn't feel so different. I'm just so damn confused about this whole situation.
Posted by Snoopy The Cat on March 29, 2012 at 12:14 AM · Report this
@19 Snoopy,

Is there a reason to rush? My dating was last at the dawn of the Internet age, so I am stuck in face-time mode. I've written previously that long distance relationships suck at best, and aren't worth it if there isn't some end with close proximity to endure till. On that alone I wouldn't suggest getting too invested. If you can stand a correspondence only relationship, then why not just calm down and lose the "edge" you seem to be carrying. Providing someone you love support and comfort is best done when you're not freaking out.

Sorry to get cheesy on you, but try to remember that an LTR isn't a destination, it's a journey. If you can live with the status quo, then keep going. Someday when your partner is older, and preferably on her own, you can move to her side. If you can't wait, then there is your answer.

Posted by Married in MA on March 29, 2012 at 12:39 AM · Report this
I would greatly appreciate advice as well. I posted a comment to WASTED for this week about being happy and productive and a single virgin at 20. I'm doing well for the most part but man a boyfriend of 20-25 would sure be nice.

My BGLAD seems to be a front for an anime club and I haven't gone since last semester. I'm transferring schools to go for a technical degree and fear I'll have to go back in the closet considering the types of people who attend the program I going into. The community college campus is actually still within the university for my program but I fear my chances of meeting other guys will be diminished more than now. My own cowardice and lack of any interest in local events and hanging out with people isn't helping either.

I'm well dressed and get noticed but lack any confidence as far as actually talking to a hot guy. Any tips on finding friends outside of college? In a year I can begin going to bars but I don't think this will necessarily go anywhere.
Posted by arachnar on March 29, 2012 at 1:09 AM · Report this
Alanmt 28
arachnar: grindr

snoopy: I greatly appreciate the soulsearching you are doing. But honestly, at 1000 miles away, how can a real and natural relationship ever even develop? How can you have a period of actual dating? If you click, them she moves out of her mom's house and 1000 miles away to you? And when it ends, what then? Is the lesson you really want to teach this girl that cyberrelationship is properly followed by living together and moving across the country to do it? How will that affect her future ability to establish a good relationship? 18 year olds can and do have casual sex, but is it really in their emotional best interest to do it the first time they meet a romantic interest in person, even if they want to? I just don't see under these circumstances with the distance between you, how the campsite rule can be met.

I can believe "I didn't intend for this to happen." But I didn't expect for this to happen? Come on, that's pretty naive. Young people are impressionable and hormonal. Of course they are going to develop feelings for an older mentor type who happens to be cool and established in adulthood.
Posted by Alanmt on March 29, 2012 at 5:34 AM · Report this
In New Zealand, the campsite rule is "take only photographs, leave only footprints".
Posted by Optimal Cynic on March 29, 2012 at 5:45 AM · Report this
Snoopy: I'm with Erica. Pretend that 20 year old arachnar up there had written the following:

"We haven't spoken on the phone yet because he says he's very phone shy. ... So far it's consisted entirely of hours-long IM chats."

There are a lot more 18 year old lesbians on the internet than there are out there in the physical world, I know that much. Now, it's conceivable this is to hide you from her mother. In that case you two are meeting on the DL, she tells mom she's going to spend the night at Monica's... the secret relationship would alarm me if you had actually met her in physical form and were helping her sneak around on her parents. In this case every one of Dan's concerns about a kid still living at home having a Sekrit Relationship with someone two decades older come out. I think your friend is right that the potential relationship has a lot of seriously mucked up emotional currents that suggest taking a step back.

Do your open-minded parent friends know that your HS intimate is sneaking out on her parents and lying about where she's going for this beach jaunt, which you seem to expect to finish in your hotel room? Or have you presented it as an above-board meeting with a FB friend?

@arachnar: This is your problem, not just something that isn't helping.
"My own cowardice and lack of any interest in local events and hanging out with people isn't helping either."

You're apparently on a college campus: there should be half a zillion culturey things going on. I have a hard time believing there are majors wherein you have to pretend to be straight--college is the easiest spot to be out. How about friends? That stands out to me in your post: do you have a lot of friends but no one romantic? Or do you have trouble connecting to people in general?
Posted by IPJ on March 29, 2012 at 5:49 AM · Report this
I remember watching a documentary about Heidi Fleiss, who was know for dating only men who were significantly older than her.
When the guy who made the doc tried to get her to say that she dated them for money, she calmly explained to him: "I can't tell the difference between a 40 year old and 60 year old man. They all look the right age to me. After 40, they all look the right age."
I believe that. Even as a teenager, I never was interested in teenage boys or guys in their 20s.
30 and up looked good to me, and I don't regret hooking up with a 36 year old when I was 16.
Looking back 10 years later, knowing what I know now about people in general, I can say he was a bit of a douche, but that doesn't make the fun that I had with him back then invalid.
Yeah he had a stupid soul patch, but at least he didn't bitch and moan like your average 16 year old when I said I didn't want to try anal, and never complained about condoms.
Posted by Chaka mad. Chaka real mad. on March 29, 2012 at 6:04 AM · Report this
I'll say this for screwing someone outside the "+ or - 10 year range", older guys got mad skills. I'm 30, so no spring chicken. And I've been with men who aren't able to drink legally, and I've been with men who are considering retirement in the near future. The former are fun, but the latter are phenominal. Maybe it's that they appreciate a younger man hitting on them or maybe it's that they've had sufficient time to hone their skills, but whatever the reason I'd gladly turn down an equally hot 20 year old for a 50 year old. On that note, I gotta make an AARP booty sext.

Happy humping ya'll.
Posted by The fag on March 29, 2012 at 6:41 AM · Report this
I met my husband 23 years ago, when he was 23 and I was 37. At the time I thought he would out grow our relationship. But here we are 23 years later, very much in love, and happy. I didn't go looking for a younger man, we just met and clicked. He is a wonderful man, and in someways more mature than I will ever be. He was wise beyond his years at 23. That is what attracted me to him more that his tossed blond hair that is all gone now.
Posted by on March 29, 2012 at 7:59 AM · Report this
My two cents as a woman--big difference between 18 and 22. And while I would have no problem with a 60-year-old banging a 30-year-old (no matter the genders), I do have a problem with a 48-year-old banging an 18-year-old.
Posted by Marrena on March 29, 2012 at 8:02 AM · Report this
@25 "She has promised that we'll talk on the phone before we meet in person." Sounds good. Like the other commentators, I just urge you to keep your expectations as low as you can. Until you've met in person, you don't really know much about her, and vice versa.

And I urge you to consider two questions: What do you have to lose by encouraging this young woman to talk to a therapist about what happened to her? What do you have to lose by treating her as a young friend rather than as a possible sex partner?
Posted by EricaP on March 29, 2012 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Since when is a twenty-four-year-old in the “December” of their life? My father is seventy and his fiancée is thirty. I think of this as more of a June-December romance because at thirty she is hardly inexperienced. She’s a woman in her prime, not stepping/bursting out of adolescence.

Regarding sexes and genders: men who hear of my father’s relationship admire his chutzpah. You only live once and if you can be happy you should be. Women scrunch up their faces and look pained. They don’t think she’s too immature to make her own decisions, they think it’s sad and gross if that’s the best decision available to her.
Posted by AJC on March 29, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
Thanks for your responses IPJ and alanmt.

I would have to go with trouble connecting with people beyond school. I am social in the classroom and have many acquaintances I may see regularly and speak with but it's never a let's go hang out after school type of thing. The few friends from high school I have are all girls and even then we rarely get together, though this is mostly due to different schedules.

I'm going for a machining degree and many people who go into the program like my farther did are in their 30-50 and conservative considering what my dad says they talk about at work. I guess I'm really projecting here in thinking I'll be denied a job or fired but this kind of anxiousness is probably easily translating to school and hampering any social life.

Grindr is certainly a possibility, as one of my classmates has suggested, though that would require a new phone and plan.

These are all barriers I've set up around myself. If I can change my outlook and habits I might have more luck but my current routine of driving to school and back home is asking for single-hood.

Thanks Again, I'll refrain from any further complaining until I've tried what's has been suggested.
Posted by arachnar on March 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
This reminds me of a recent conversation with my partner/GF/primary SO, who is 5 years younger than me.

When she was 22, she went out for a while with a guy who was 48. When I was 48, I lived for a year with a woman who was 23. In our cases, Campsite Rules and Tea and Sympathy all well-followed and successfully observed. These are rich experiences that helped make us who we are today. No regrets.

We were tickled that, collectively, there is more than a 50-year age spread between the youngest and oldest people we had each fucked.

Hey, "May/December" relationships are part of the rich past of characters as diverse as Prudie and Karen Santorum.

Oh, and as for YLR, my first instinct is that she's over-thinking everything and maybe over-sexualizing the potential relationship. She should just see if she wants to be friends with the 18-yo first ... and trust her instincts.
Posted by Krunch on March 29, 2012 at 1:13 PM · Report this
As a 22 y/o I can absolutely say I am a much different person than I was at 18, even 19! If you want to date young, don't go for kids who can't even legally drink with you (most of the places you'll want to go or most of the things you'll want to do involve being in settings that are 21 and older, and you don't want your boyfriend/girlfriend to have to get left behind. And chances are, they won't like your friends either, nor will you have anything in common with them. I grew up in the Harry Potter generation with Lady Gaga and Hanna Montana.... Do you even know who that is?lol Granted i'd rather listen to Billy Holiday, but music can't be the only thing that saves the relationship. You experience a lot in those years following 18 and at 22, i can barely relate to 18 y/o's let alone date them.
Posted by dakoneko on March 29, 2012 at 7:33 PM · Report this
@3, to respond to your original question:

We idealize relationships in this era as (1) egalitarian (meaning power is equally shared); (2) symetrical (meaning not only equal, but roughly equal terms - not "you make the money and I'll sleep with you", or "I'll marry four wives so long as I can provide for them all," or similar; and (3) all-purpose (meaning if you are my wife, you are also my partner in crime and best friend).

Seeing a "may-december" relationship calls visibly into question the existence of one ore more of those ideals and makes us think it may be more transactional for both parties. Of course exceptions exist and are well represented on these pages, but judgement is typically reached before the details are known.
Posted by Suicide King on March 30, 2012 at 10:05 AM · Report this
For example, few people's best friend is 30 years older or younger than they are, and those who are will be thought of as a bit weird.
Posted by Suicide King on March 30, 2012 at 10:09 AM · Report this
geoz 42
Dating/sex is such a wonderful and risk-laden adventure. I'm glad to be where I am in that journey, but I wouldn't trade the journey for the world.

I'm often amazed at how exciting it was for me to go through and yet, it is rare when someone wants to hear much about another person's journey. It is... perhaps even too personal to share sometimes. My time of tea and sympathy have to arrive I suppose.
Posted by geoz on March 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM · Report this
John Horstman 43
@3: Nice bait, you got LOTS of bites this time.
Posted by John Horstman on March 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Report this
duckgirlie 44
YLR, there's every chance your friends think you're being skeezy and are trying to subtly hint at it without stating it outright.

There's nothing wrong with being concerned about people you care about, and there are certain situations where that concern is more pronounced. I've known quite a few people with minor to moderate age gaps that have had successful relationships, but I've known far more of those relationships to be awkward at best, and downright destructive at worst.

There are a lot of people out there who will use any advantage they have to "win" relationship battles. And while these people aren't necessarily all dating younger people, the less romantic experience an individual has, the more likely they are to be unable to notice those negative patterns.
Posted by duckgirlie on March 31, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Report this

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