In fact, however, many of the younger men are more independent and financially secure than their older partners, and they resent the implications that surround their motivations.
Another part of the curse is that these relationships are endlessly analyzed for “daddy issues.” The older man, particularly if he was in a heterosexual marriage previously and came out later in life, is apt to hear, “You must have spent many years cruising and picking up men behind your wife’s back,” or “You couldn’t possibly have loved your wife sexually.” While true for some, it is definitely not true for all.
After recovering from his grief, he found love again with a man 18 years older but endured another tragic loss when his second partner died of pancreatic cancer after they had spent 17 years together.
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The younger men have more interest in sports than their partners and their gay peers who are attracted to men their own age. The younger men tend to be more masculine than their gay peers who are attracted to men their own age. The younger men prefer older men with endomorphic bodies (belly fat, strong bones, and sturdy thighs). A young man once said to me, “I like men with rounded corners; they have all their sharp edges worn off.” It struck me as being true, both literally and metaphorically.
While these observations are purely anecdotal and subjective, the comments resonated with some of my own observations. Another younger man commented, “I like a man with a bit of a belly so I have somewhere to lay my head.” This parallels the same fascination that many heterosexual men have for women's breasts.
Although atypical, are these relationships abnormal? Senator Wofford wrote that although some people are skeptical about his relationship, “most soon see the strength of our feelings and our devotion to each other.” For the younger partner, one characteristic of “the curse” is that these relationships often end too soon.
In many cases, the relationship involves dedicated caregiving, as so poignantly described in “In Sickness and in Health: A Couple’s Final Journey,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning story about Chris Mac Lellan’s caring for his partner, Richard Schiffer (26-year difference,) who died slowly of esophageal cancer.
Thomas Gass, a dentist in California, has survived the curse—twice. Gass is a gay man whose only sexual attraction is to men significantly older than he is.