According to some, a gay man who has lived for half a century makes a reliable partner. After all, what hasn’t killed him, has perhaps made him stronger. But just how far can a good career, life experience and grey pubic hair take you these days in the complex digital dating scene?
“Gym fit guy into men who look after themselves. No oldies. Under 35 only.”
The 22-year-old headless torso – who penned that strict criteria on his Scruff profile – isn’t alone in thinking that anyone over 40, let alone 50 is ‘old’. Before you pass judgement however, take yourself back to your early 20s. You viewed your parents as old, so it’s reasonable that a young person online today might consider a gay man over 50 looking for love or lust as a relic.
What Gym-Buns-95 has overlooked, however, is that when it comes to good sex, experience counts for something and those so-called relics have had three decades of practice – meaning the young guns may be missing out on the ride of their life.
“The truth is that you’ve earned your age. You really can own it,”
In the dawn before apps and online cruising, a man’s age seemed less of an issue. Perhaps because we didn’t walk in to a bar with our date of birth tattooed across our forehead the way apps seemingly expect via profile stats. “If you put your real age of 52 on your profile, some guys run a mile without bothering to read the rest of your bio,” says Troy, a regular on Scruff. “So I have chosen to remove it and tell a guy only if he asks. It does feel a little disempowering though as I never felt conscious of ageing before I put myself out there online.”
Online dating is indeed a numbers game and it seems there are fewer men online in their 50s than there are those in their 20s, 30s and even 40s. A good match online goes beyond physicality alone. Sure, you may be 50 and fit or 50 and ‘flabulous’ when that message alert notification, that sounds not unlike a robot farting, lets you know a gentleman is calling.
In his microscopic profile pic image, the guy in question looks as good as anyone can at that low resolution rate. However, his opening line sends hope plummeting to the ground in flames. “Feeling generou$ sir?” Instinctively you want to alert him to his typo and ask what he means by generous, when suddenly the penny drops and you save yourself the humiliation.
“While some younger guys are genuinely attracted to older guys, it is often about fulfilling a fantasy, rather than the potential for dating – which I’m totally fine with,” says Roger, who at 54 oscillates between apps and cruising at beats. “My career doesn’t leave much down time for a relationship, so for now, NSA fits me like a glove.” When asked if Roger engages online with men closer to his age or above, he explains that “those guys are usually looking to settle down, and I’m not.”
However, for many mature guys, apps and cruising sites provide the modern day platforms where a potential relationship may be patiently waiting in the wings. Online, we’re often tempted to knock off a few years from our real age – even for those in their thirties – or at least try to edit ourselves to appeal to a younger audience. Young guys sniff this act of fraud from a mile away, especially when someone over 50 drops terms like ‘whatevs’ and ‘bro’ a little too liberally.
“Youthfulness is about how you live not when you were born.”
If you’re currently going through your chat history to see how many times you have hijacked a millenial’s vocabulary then you’ll be relieved to know that the truth will set you free – as Dave Singleton encouragingly points out in his article The Gay Man’s Guide to Dating After 50.
“The truth is that you’ve earned your age. You really can own it,” Singleton writes. “Focus on what you’ve gained — rich experiences, accomplishments, survivor skills and wisdom. Your next romantic partner will benefit from all of that, and from your passions for the life that’s in front of you.”
While digital platforms are where so many of us seek love, lust and laughs, meeting humans in the real world remains as a viable option.
“The best bet is to cast a wider net,” says Singleton. “Get off of the sideline and get involved in your passions and interests. If you like the outdoors, join a gay hiking or walking group, and meet men while you get fresh air and exercise. Focus on smaller parties, events centred on hobbies and interests, and volunteer opportunities.”
Perhaps the final word on ageing should come from an 83-year-old icon who remains at the forefront of a youth driven industry. “Youthfulness is about how you live not when you were born.”
― Karl Lagerfeld.