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    I’m Only Attracted to Younger Guys

    tomQ: I’m a 42-year-old man who’s never had a relationship that’s lasted longer than a few months. That’s because I’m only attracted to really good-looking, muscular guys in their early twenties. I hook up with a lot of young guys who like older men, but they all just want to party and have fun. Young guys aren’t interested in settling down with one man. They’ll hang with me for a while and then move on. I don’t blame them. I was the same way when I was their age, but I really want to settle down and find a partner. I know I’d be more likely to succeed if I liked older guys, but if they aren’t a perfect 10 I’m not interested, and unfortunately only guys under 25 are 10’s in my book. Could a sex therapist help me to understand why I only like younger guys and make me start to be more attracted to guys closer to my own age so that I’d have a better chance of finding a partner?

    A: In my experience, fundamental sexual turn-ons usually don’t change much once they’re established. They sometimes evolve over time, but that’s an organic process that happens by itself. It won’t happen because you make a “rational” decision that it would be more convenient if you liked something different. Therapy doesn’t have much effect on your turn-ons: learning “why” may increase self-understanding, but is unlikely to change the sexual attractions themselves. Most of the therapists I know would probably encourage you to work toward acceptance of your sexuality as it is and focus on how to make it work for you, rather than try to change it. If young guys float your boat, you’re probably always going to be attracted to youthfulness.

    I don’t share your pessimism about the possibility of finding a younger partner. I know a number of couples who have been together for some years, with age differences ranging from 19 to 25 years, and as far as I can tell, these relationships are doing well. While most gay men do want to connect with people in their own age group, a minority has always been interested in men who are older or younger, and it just isn’t true that these relationships can’t work. And while many young men (and lots of older ones too, by the way) aren’t interested in settling down with one guy, it’s untrue and ageist to assume that they all feel that way.

    Maybe your real obstacle is something else. Do you actually want a relationship? When you say that you aren’t interested unless someone is a 10 do you mean that your idea of a relationship is hot sex for the rest of your life with someone who is perfect? That’s a great fantasy, but it’s never going to happen. For one thing, your perfect 10 will inevitably get older. Even while he’s young you’ll wake up with him some rainy Tuesday morning when you’re both in a bad mood, and he just won’t look like the fantasy lover of your dreams.

    If you do want to find a real relationship you’ll need maturity, flexibility and realism in your approach. What if you meet someone who’s older than you prefer, but looks youthful, or has youthful energy? What will you do if you meet someone who is “only” a 6 or a 7 but is also loving, relationship-oriented and interested in you? Will you reject him out of hand?

    Finally, is sexual attraction the only criterion that matters to you in considering a potential partner? Unless you go beyond merely being dazzled by good looks, you’re likely to keep just having brief sexual flings; and the reason won’t be the shallowness of your partners but your own lack of depth. How much do you value qualities like loyalty, honesty, kindness, respect, affection, and generosity of spirit? These are some of the character traits that keep a relationship going past the initial sizzle phase. You’ll probably have more luck if you notice these qualities in men as much as you notice their bodies, and if you value them enough to seek to develop them in yourself.

    Next: I’m Only Attracted to Older Guys

    Tom Moon is a psychotherapist in San Francisco. For more information, please check out his website: