How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘older men’

Lovers: The Older Man as Mentor

Every marriage tends to consist of an aristocrat and a person, of a teacher and a learner.
—John Updike

When you talk to a younger man, you mostly listen. He endlessly tells you about his hopes and dreams about what he is going to be when he grows up and the great things he is going to accomplish. He worries and wonders about whether or not he will be successful and about whether or not he will be as successful as you are or more so or less.

The older man knows what he is going to be when he grows up. His potential is fulfilled, or at least as fulfilled as it is going to be, and he must come to terms with that fact. When he does, then he can help you to fulfill your own potential. The older man needs to play Pygmalion. Let him. Learn from him. Whether he is being magnanimous in sharing his success or is anxious to try and live again vicariously through you, he will be sincere in wanting what is best for you.

First American serialized printing of Bernard ...


All successful people need mentors as well as collaborators. Being a generation older, the older lover is not competing with you as are men of your own age group. The older man will rightly extract some exchange for his help, if only deference to his wisdom, but his help may well be worth it. The role of mentor is not unlike the role of parent or of coach, but those roles can be loving and fulfilling for both parties. Besides, there is some built-in exchange in that you also teach him, if he is wise enough to learn. You share your youth with him, which helps keep him young; and you bring to him a new perspective—the same world, but viewed through the eyes of another generation.

Being independent is very important for women. Some of the lucky ones have had independence training since they were three years old and have learned to manage for themselves very nicely. But always being independent, like always being exactly equal, is both unnecessary and exhausting. Couples need to lean on each other—at least loving couples should. There is nothing wrong with letting yourself be emotionally or psychologically dependent on your lover at least part of the time. If your lover is as young and as inept as you are yourself, then you may find yourselves like two clinging vines with nothing to cling to.

The older man lets you lean on him sometimes and does not mind your weight. If you are lucky, he will even have learned to lean back sometimes and to draw on your strength, a luxury he can afford because he has nothing to prove.

Any woman who is competent enough to fix whatever needs fixing, most of the time, should also be secure enough to sometimes say, “Daddy, fix it!”

The Older Man as Lover: First Love, Last Love

Men always want to be a woman’s first love. Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man’s last romance.
-Oscar Wilde

One advantage of being with an older man is that whatever proclivities he may have had in his youth for sowing wild oats, he is now likely to be past that stage. He may now have become more concerned with the quality of his erotic relationships than with the quantity. While there are no guarantees, he may be more content than a younger man to settle down with one woman and concentrate on one relationship at a time. He is also more likely than a younger man to have come to terms with his work and to be ready to devote more of his time to relationships and to the cultivation of an enjoyable personal life.

The younger man, especially the ambitious young man on the make, has a lot of energy; but he is often too busy trying to be successful to make time for a full private life as well. The older man may have less energy, but he is much more likely to devote his energy to you than to expend it on many other concerns. Young men are great for starting revolutions, given their considerable energy and unbridled ambition; but these traits do not necessarily make them good companions unless, of course, you want to start revolutions too.

An older man has the advantage of perspective. He has the ability, born of experience, to recognize that everything that seems to be important is not, in the long run, really that important. He has seen relationships come and go—perhaps even marriages come and go—and he knows that, in spite of it all, most people survive. A large part of the so-called mellowing process is simply a consequence of his lower energy level: he is too tired to be bothered getting all steamed up over every little thing.

If your older man is past middle age and is approaching what must be faced as old age, he will have a “September Song”; but he is, no doubt, thinking that he does not have time for the waiting game. That in itself can add a certain poignancy which can be romantic. Often, the older man is grateful for what he views as a second (or thirty-second?) chance at a love relationship, and that gratitude can be a welcome contrast from the taken-for-granted attitude often apparent among one’s age mates.

Cover of "The Lover"

Virtually, all May-December marriages, and quite a few May-December relationships, involve an unspoken element of exchange in that they just happen to involve a relatively rich older man and a relatively poor younger woman. A real advantage of the older man is that he is usually willing to play the role of sugar daddy to some degree. His accumulated resources, plus his chauvinistic attitudes, combine to make him quite willing to pick up more than his share of checks. As long as you are having a relationship with him for his own sake and not for whatever money he may spend on you, then that seems like a reasonable exchange. It is not so much a matter of men paying for women as older persons with more resources paying for younger persons with fewer resources.

Remember, however, that if you become involved with an older man for his money rather than for his beautiful gray hair, you are likely to discover what seemed to be a sugar daddy really turns out to be a saccharin patriarch. The older man is, by definition, a man with a past. Do not begrudge him his former lovers or his former wives. Decades ago, some nameless winsome girl began to teach him what he is now showing you. Other women, wiser women, maybe wounded women, have taught him how to love. Out of their experience, their pleasure, and their pain, he may have developed an ability to be tender and a confidence born of maturity.

If you think of the women from his past at all, it should be with gratitude. Peter Ustinov observed that “parents are the bones on which children sharpen their teeth.” The same might well be said of first wives. And of first husbands.

Tag Cloud