Rick Miller LICSW


Man Up to Maturity

Just because you deny your age doesn't mean you're not getting older.

Posted Feb 05, 2015

As it turns out getting older isn’t so bad. I can attest. Knowledge, self-confidence, the development of trust, along with an appreciation for being able to make choices based on what I want rather than what the gay stereotype (or any stereotype) demands … it’s a relief.

There’s a downside too, of course. Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realizing that I am not as young as the picture I have in my head, getting endless ads for “fit men over fifty,” the AARP membership cards that keep coming in the mail. Sheesh! In moments of insecurity I say to myself: “Some day they – the they that the media bombard us with -- will be as old as the rest of us.”

The truth is you have to search far and wide to find images and role models of men over 30 or, heaven forbid, over 40. Gay culture is so obsessed with youth that aging is already a concern at 35 or 40.  (Of course, for women the age is much lower.) Many gay men would benefit from seeing more images of older gay men who are well-adjusted and embracing life. These men could be role models for men of all ages, those who are mature and need reassurance about what is normal and okay, as well as those younger guys who fear that growing older is something to be terrified about.

Ask yourself: Are there are “older” men whom you admire? What is it about them that you notice? Appreciate what it is you respect about them. Perhaps they look great, or you like how they present themselves, how they dress and how they relate to others. 

If you struggle with bridging “older” and “happy,” consider the following suggestions:

  • Appreciate not feeling like you need to be in the scene as much.
  • Embrace the time you spend alone or with close friends or family.
  • Recognize that you actually have more energy when you stop burning the candles at both ends.
  • Acknowledge the ways in which you feel more secure and less in need of external validation.
  • Notice how your achievements have begun to define your success rather than being judged – or judging yourself – based solely on your looks.
  • Take in the ways you look great once you see beyond the image you have in your head from college.
  • Accentuate what you know are your assets, sharing them through the ways you express yourself and relate to the world.

Remember, happiness and confidence are contagious. Others will want to be around you! You will want to be around you!

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