In an effort to showcase the different mind-sets and approaches when it comes to dating, I decided to create a feature that would spotlight LGBT singles.
Today’s profiled single is a gay father who recently turned 50 and is trying to figure out how to go about dating after a long hiatus. If this sounds familiar to those of you who read my Gay.net advice column, yes this is “Dad but not a Daddy.” I contacted him and asked if he would be interested in sharing his thoughts and feelings about being single. Here’s what he had to say:
I’ve never really paid much attention to anyone’s age. For me, it’s always been more about how they act and how they treat others. When it came to dating in my 20s, it was about how they acted and how hot they were. In my 30s, it was how they acted and what kind of job they had. In my 40s, well, let’s stop there for a moment.
In 2008, having come out of a painfully unhealthy, almost 10-year-long relationship, I was naturally reticent to get back into another. But now I had the added burden of being in my early 40s, making me virtually invisible in the gay community. On top of that, I had decided to adopt a child on my own. So I decided to spend my 40s raising my son by myself. Now I’m 50. It sounds so strange to say, because I still see myself as the fun, fit, active 30-year-old I used to be. I mean, I’m still fun, fit, and active, but I now carry around the gay albatross of being 50.
It was so easy in my 20s. The answer was always amazing sex. I spent a large chunk of my 20s thinking I wanted to be in a relationship, but not knowing exactly how to do it. If the sex wasn’t mind-blowing, then the relationship wasn’t going to work.
In my 30s, I began to feel my nesting instinct kick in and that drove what I was looking for — is this someone I can bring home to meet the family? My 30s were spent mostly as a serial monogamist. I would go on one date with a guy and decide that he was the one. By the third or fourth date, I would realize I made a huge mistake and move on to my next “relationship.” I was always in a “relationship.” Thank god Facebook wasn’t around, because my entire wall would be relationship status updates of “it’s complicated.”
Until recently, I figured dating was out of the question. I’m 50 years old with an 8-year-old son. Who is going to want that? Then I began to realize I had needs too, both emotional and physical. I want someone to come home to and snuggle with. I want someone to share things with. How to go about finding that someone is the challenge.
What am I really looking for in a relationship? How do I bring someone into my and my son’s life? When do I bring someone in? Better still, how do I date? It’s been so long since I’ve dated that I don’t know how to answer any of these questions. At this point in my life, based on past experiences, I can certainly look back and glean what I’m not looking for. I feel like I have a much clearer idea of what I will and will not tolerate in a relationship, and what exactly it is I bring to the table. What I want and what I need now are sort of an amalgam of the things I looked for in my 20s and 30s. It would be nice to have a kick-ass sex life with someone who is also on a pretty clear path to their goals and aspirations … and someone who knows how to kiss really, really well.
I don’t feel like I’m setting my expectations too high, and as a lifelong, hopeless romantic, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before I meet “him.”
JUSTIN HERNANDEZ writes about sex, dating, and relationships for The Advocate and Gay.net. Follow him on Twitter @HernandezJustin.