I’m a 55 year-old gay man, basically just feeling empty.
I haven’t had a relationship in a long time. I have a group of friends I hang with, but going out drinking has been feeling old for a while.
Lately I’ve become aware that I feel really sad after I hook up, like I’ve been used. The other guy isn’t interested in anything about me except using me to get off.
I hate that feeling after we come and then one of us gets up to leave. I feel totally alone and wish we could stay and cuddle. But on the rare occasion when that happens, I feel distant and wonder why I’m hugging some stranger.
Does anyone date anymore? I have some friends who have been together forever but the guys I spend time with who are single just are on Grindr or Scruff or whatever, no strings attached.
I worry that after being alone for a while I’m too set in my ways to really share my life with someone else again. Even when I was in relationships we never lived together so I wonder if I just wasn’t meant to ever be really close to someone.
I also think that after you get past a certain age you aren’t that attractive anymore and there’s no chance of getting a partner. So that leaves me stuck with hooking up, which makes me feel bad.
Is it realistic to think I could have a less empty life or is it is just too late for me?
I’m not a fortuneteller, so I can’t say whether or not it’s too late for you to have a more fulfilling life. But I do believe that you can influence how your life goes forward.
For starters, consider challenging your thinking that you aren’t “meant” to be close to someone. If you do indeed want someone in your life in the future, you are far more likely to find him if you make this a goal than if you decide that you are fated to be alone and keep living just as you are. Even if none of your friends date, you can.
Now let’s look at how you’re running your life. You feel really sad after you hook up. So why are you continuing to hook up? If you’re afraid that you won’t have sex if you don’t hook up, you have a choice: continue having sex in a way that leaves you feeling sad, or run the risk of not having sex. Which do you prefer? By the way, I don’t think anyone has ever died from not having sex.
Next point: I am curious why you think that you’re too old and unattractive to find a relationship, while you’re confident in your ability to find partners for hookups.
In a relationship, your face and body would likely be a draw, just as in a hookup. But in addition, who you actually are would be important, from the get go, and especially, going forward.
So I suspect that it isn’t your looks that you’re worried about in terms of finding a relationship. The real problem may well be that you don’t think much of yourself as relationship material, given how empty you describe feeling.
If I’m right, you have a challenge ahead: to start building a meaningful life for yourself. Doing so would increase your likelihood of getting dates. More importantly, you would be striving to make the most of your life.
Toward this goal, here are a few ideas to consider:
You describe yourself as lonely and disconnected. What can you do to find companionship and establish connections based on something more fulfilling than going out drinking? Not incidentally, alcohol is a depressant.
Regarding your lifelong discomfort with closeness: This is common among gay men. We’ve often spent our younger years hiding who we are, for fear of all sorts of consequences. Keeping people at a distance feels safe and letting our guard down is risky. But unless we’re willing to take that risk, we can’t ever be close to another.
These are big, hard-to-tackle issues. If you want to take them on, you’re going to have to be willing to continually challenge your own thinking and push yourself to make moves that feel scary.
Many of us don’t have the internal strength or wisdom to do this on our own. So I want to suggest you find a therapist to work with who knows a lot about gay men, our emotional development and the difficulties we face, with whom you feel a good connection. You really could use support.
Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.