I think I’m more or less your age, or maybe I’m a bit older than you, I read some of your very melancholic post. You did a lot, you could have done something wrong, but only those who do nothing make no mistakes. I have never had online sites, such things are not things for me, but somehow I have also spent some very melancholic periods and I have thought several times I had done everything wrong, as you say, that I “have done damage” but then I have realized that it was not like that.
I would like to tell you a story of a relationship, as you call it, intergenerational and I tell you why. Looking for things that talk about intergenerational relationships I came across the forum, I discovered your manual Being Gay and I read the chapter dealing with these things and I was very impressed. However there is an aspect that is practically lacking at all and is that of the evolution of these relationships over time, you speak of the inevitable anticipated widowhood, and you’re right, however, you forget the fact that before you get to that point there are years to live, there is not only the phase of falling in love and that of widowhood but there is a phase of progressive maturation of the relationship and it is precisely on this that I would like to draw your attention, perhaps to exchange with you some ideas and to induce you to expand the discussion on “Being Gay”. This is not a reproach but you, Project, tend to see things with the eye of the younger partner, but a manual dealing with being gay can make sense even for an elder.
I start from my personal experience, which follows quite well the progresses of these relationships as you have outlined them. Between me and Leo (this is not his true name, but he would have liked to be called so) there is a huge age difference, 38 years. We met when he still had to get out of the school, I was an old man even then, and I was counting down on when I would retire, I had my friends, obviously I had never had sexual relations with anyone and I had practically archived the problem. My peers did not like me very much, the guys between the ages of 20 and 30 fascinated me but I strongly perceived the generational gap, I practically lived only for my job. I had some friends, work colleagues, actually just a couple, I esteemed them a lot, but they didn’t know anything about me, they had children and grandchildren and sure not enough time to spend for me.
My story with Leo started in an absolutely unexpected way, I was in the car and I stopped at a traffic light when I heard a bang. Leo had crashed with his bicycle into my car, he had also made a little damage on my car but with the blow he had fallen to the ground. I went down and pulled him up from the ground and sat him in the car. He told me that he would pay me all the damage, but I told him: “Meanwhile let’s go to the hospital, let’s see if there’s something broken” He admitted that the fault had been his, but my damage was really minimal. I loaded the bike in the car and went to the hospital, he asked me not to say that it was a car accident but only that he had fallen from the bicycle, when he arrived at the hospital he thanked me, asked me the phone number and gave me his and told me he would call me for the damage. Then he entered the emergency room. I waited for him outside.
He came out after almost 5 hours, I asked him if he had traumas or something broken and he said that there X-rays showed nothing. I told him that I would have liked to take him home, he started talking about the damage and I told him it was a minimal thing and that an extra scratch on my car (an old car) wouldn’t change anything. In the car he asked me if I knew someone who could fix his bicycle and I told him I’d have found someone able to fix the bicycle and I would have brought it back to him. He didn’t know whether to accept, then he told me: “Ok! Thank you.”
Three days later I bought a new bicycle, because it was impossible to fix the old one and I brought it to him. When he saw the new bicycle he immediately told me he couldn’t pay it and I told him that he did not have to pay anything, I thought he would be happy and instead he told me. “No, I cannot pay for it and I don’t want a gift like that.” I felt uncomfortable and didn’t know what to say. I just replied: “Ok, sorry, I didn’t really want to offend.” I reloaded the bike in the car and left. I thought it was all over. After almost a month he calls me, he asks me how much I had paid the bike, I tell him how much, he replies: “Ok, if you like, take it to the pyramid when you can” I took the bike to the pyramid and he gave me the money and told me: “You made me work for a month, but maybe it was worth it.” After the story of the bike we started to hear from each other often.
Then the sexual phase began very gradually, which lasted a little over three years, in practice, I feared that sex could destabilize our relationship, on the contrary I learned from him how much it can be important when it is something really desired by both partners. Then the thing went to fade, it was not completely lost and here began my scruples and the idea that Leo was wasting time because of me. During the university period he lived his stories, he spoke very little to me about such things but none of those stories ended up supplanting our story.
He was in crisis with his family, he spent critical moments with his studies and he has been very close to the idea of abandoning everything, he lost a lot of time, especially at the beginning, then he started to lengthen his pace, he concluded very well his studies and now works in a field that keeps him in tension, in short, he works and earns money but the work is certainly not his realization. He doesn’t have a partner, he has many friends and occasionally, when he can, he goes to visit them in various parts of Italy. Between us we are in a phase that I would call familiar, the relationship between us has nothing to do with a classic gay couple relationship, we are like father and son and it is really a beautiful thing.
Among us sex is a possibility left theoretically open, which in some rare cases is realized, but increasingly rarely and is in practice only a way that he uses to make me understand that he doesn’t feel repulsed by me, but now certainly sex is no longer what sustains our relationship. We often talk on the phone, we also tell each other the deepest melancholies, when he sends me text messages, sometimes (not always) he concludes with “I love you!” And it is not just an expression of courtesy. Now Leo is 32 and I’m really an old man, I turned 70 recently, Leo is quiet, he calls me, he comes to see me, he doesn’t have a stable boyfriend but I see him serene. I can’t deny that I still have a thousand scruples because I think that perhaps I have moved him away from a couple life with a peer and I could even have ruined his life, not by my choice but because I offered him an easy affective reference.
He has never seen things this way, what he tells me about it is more or less this: “I didn’t feel bound by you, I tried to build other stories and a couple of times even with guys I was in love with, but then it did not work with them, while so many years have passed with you and nothing has ever collapsed. You didn’t stop me, you haven’t conditioned me!” In essence, now, Leo considers me a father, when we go around together people always take him for my son. I can say that I like this phase of our relationship very much. It is suitable for my age, it is not a renunciation, it is not at all, I feel in the right dimension. I see him often but not every day, because we don’t live together and also because he must have its freedom, because he could find tomorrow the boyfriend he hasn’t found up until now (and in a sense I hope it happens),
but I feel him close to me all the same, we no longer ask each other questions, everything is spontaneous, there is no longer the risk of making mistakes.
Of course we are no longer a couple for a long time but we love each other. Leo, who is always very serious and almost professional with others, is affectionate, tender, I would say also happy when he is with me, and he seems to me quite serene and I think he feels completely at ease. Seeing Leo serene is a dream that has come true, maybe I would like better to see him happy with a guy who loves him. I think that now I can calmly leave this world too, because I see happy the only guy I really loved and who loved me. I believe that an intergenerational relationship that arrives at this stage gives the best of itself. There will also be widowhood, of course I hope as late as possible, but I somehow realized my dream of being father and Leo found a dad who loves him unconditionally! In practice we have built a family. I am grateful to Leo because he gave a radical change to my life and led me to be a happy man.
Since he was a guy, Leo has sought love and this has not only happened with me. Often people have tried to ask him or rather to impose him some conditions, to create obligations beforehand, to bring Leo back to the more or less classic rules of the couple and it all ended before starting because you cannot take him on a leash, he was born free, he cannot depend on anyone, to love you he needs to feel free. Now I feel a bit like an old dad and I start trusting him more than me, if I have to make a serious decision I consult with him, and he, instead of immediately giving me an answer, makes me speak to understand what I would do, and then, in practice, he always tells me that I’m right. Only on one thing he is a despot, on my health, I spontaneously tend to stay away from the doctors and take a somewhat fatalistic attitude, that’s why he books my visits and takes me to the doctors. I know that these are the attentions usually reserved to an old man, but to an old beloved man. I’ve never fixed the scratch that Leo made with his bicycle on the trunk of my car, when I see that scratch I smile and I feel like a happy old dad.
If you want, you can participate in the discussion of this post open on the Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-evolution-of-an-intergenerational-gay-couple