I’m not one of those gay men who obsesses about my age. I’m entirely comfortable being 33-and-a-half years old, except that Jesus died at age 33, which can be discomforting to a hypochondriac with a messianic complex.
The only area where I’m cognizant of my age is in the dating scene, which, as a single gay man, occupies no more than a third of my life since I also work and sleep most days. I’ve prided myself on avoiding the mid-life crisis often triggered by a gay man’s 25th birthday or third Pride festival, whichever occurs first.
I’ve been vigilant against the remorse and dread that seeps into one’s mindset upon turning 30. I know that it would only reveal my immaturity to consider myself elderly in any way, but it’s becoming a stretch to consider myself young in many ways.
I’ve become more bruising than a nightclub bouncer when considering hook-ups and dates, mainly because of my own discomfort rather than the merits of any particular demographic. With the dawn of 2014 and the approach of the 33-and-five-eighths milestone, I’m beginning to consider some hardline non-negotiables:
You Must Have Been Born Before This Date in 1993
This is baseline eligibility. My oldest nephew turned 20 years old in December, and even though he’s grown enough to have tattoos on his face, it’s impossible for me to entertain any type of adult relationship with someone who’s the same age as the baby whose diaper I changed.
I Must Not Be In the Same Decade of Life as Your Parents
I had thought this condition would’ve been satisfied by the 1993 threshold, but from this weekend forward it requires specific enumeration.
After several weeks of texting with a guy I met on a geo-social site, we decided to meet up for cocktails and ice skating on the Friday after Christmas. A few hours before our date, I re-visited his online profile and for the first time noticed that he was 25 years old, and only a few weeks removed from being 24.
As unsettling as this was, I fought to not let it negate the maturity of the ideas and expression that he shared in our texting convos. I laughed at myself as the memories of my friends who were on the snowier end of a May-December relationship synched to say, “But he’s really mature for his age. Like, he’s more mature than most of the 40-year-olds I know.”
My date was as grown and seasoned as our earlier conversations had predicted, and while soft and tight, his face had a wisdom and wornness to it that made me comfortable getting to know him more.
And while I was getting to know him more, amid our kisses and pillow talk, he casually mentioned that his mother was in her thirties. In that moment, I realized I was old enough to have a heart attack.
I felt cruel dismissing a stellar young man who had done nothing wrong but be born to a 14-year-old mother (who herself went on to a distinguished military career), but being closer in age to my partner’s parent than I am to him is not a life stage I am ready to enter just yet.
You Must Have Been In High School in the ’90s
This is the principle that has dominated my dating boundaries during the transition into my 30s, but it will likely be the first to erode. Eventually, there will be 50-year-olds who were in the pre-K class of ’00, and if I’m still on the market by then, I’ll be open to intermillenial love.
This restriction is already a bit irrational, but my sensibilities are immature enough to be regulated by young taboos. Chatting with a 27-year-old in a bar felt perfectly appropriate and legal when I was 33-and-two-fifteenths, until he mentioned that his freshman year in high school was post-Y2K. I know it’s empirically prudish to be creeped out by such a brief difference in age, but I did a little quick math and realized that 10 years before our encounter, he was finishing his sophomore year in high school as I was graduating college … on a five-year plan.
We’re less than a decade away from partners-born-in-different-centuries becoming a Census trend, and were I obsessed with age, I might find that prospect terrifying.