I am a 58-year-old gay guy who became single two years ago after my relationship of 18 years came to an abrupt end. At first, the idea of a new serious relationship was the farthest thing from my mind. But for the past year, I’ve been hoping to find love once again. The trouble is that I feel invisible in the gay scene—I walk into a bar and feel like a wrinkled dinosaur who is not remotely interesting to the guys hanging there. I’m a relatively handsome and fit guy, but I’ve gone on only one (really bad) date since the breakup. Sometimes I wonder if men around my age are already settled down or if they’re only on the hunt for fresh-faced young guys. How do I successfully find guys in a community that sees me as expired goods?
“Expired goods” and “wrinkled dinosaur”—there’s no doubt that you’re aging yourself more than others ever could. I’m not going to pretend that certain aspects of gay culture aren’t desperately youth-obsessed, but the reality is that there are men who are finding love and sex successfully at all ages.
Remember: what you tend to focus on will have a great impact on the quality of your overall life and outlook. Sure, you could obsess over all the gay-themed ads featuring 24 year olds, but doing so will keep reinforcing a false notion that only those gay-bies born in the 1990s are romantically viable as gay adults.
Navigating the dating waters can feel treacherous for almost everyone. Clubs and bars can be especially intimidating as the only thing connecting people is that they are in the same space together; this makes it that much easier to feel alone and falsely assume that everyone else feels so much more comfortable than you do. So, if going to bars makes you especially jittery, you’d be better off exploring the myriad other ways to make connections. That could be online, social groups, classes, volunteering—all venues where it’s easier to meet guys with the added bonus of an activity to focus on.
As we age, our worlds can become smaller and we are less likely to meet new people. Consider chilling out on your hunt for a life-mate and focus on your social skills as much as possible. What about the ageism toward and invisibility of more mature gay guys? Just like other forms of discrimination, you will need to acknowledge it and fight for what you want. Finding ways to boost a sagging self-image (no pun intended!) will be your best tool for stepping into the world and shining brightly so you get seen in a way you deserve.