I Am Responsible and My Younger Boyfriend Doesn’t Have His Act Together


First off I am a gay male. I am 37 and my boyfriend is 21. We have been together for 2 years. I have always been in the horrible position of being both a father and boyfriend to him. When we are boyfriends it is amazing and he is my best friend.

But he has not held up anything on his end about going to school or working. I have 100% taken care of him. To make a long story short the day finally came that I had to kick him out. Not because I didn’t love him or no longer wanted to be with him, but because he was just wasting his life away. I felt like the parent who finally kicks his kid out of the house so they can learn how to make it on their own.

It’s been 3 months and we both are still in love with each other. He has finally gotten his life together but can’t understand why I did what I did. This was pretty much our last issue in a long string of problems. Now how do I get him to see what I did was for him. And now that he has pulled himself together we can finally go forward as partners? —Chris


You sound sweet, so forgive me when I don’t sound as sweet back.

“I have always been in the horrible position of being both a father and boyfriend to him.”

Um, and who put you in that horrible position?

You did. It’s not HIS fault he’s only 21. It’s YOUR fault that you chose to date a kid who was born in the goddamn 1990’s. Seriously, man, I have ties older than your boyfriend!

So for you to complain that you’re his father figure when you chose a kid 16 years younger than you would be like me complaining that the pay at McDonald’s is crap.

Perhaps if I didn’t take the job, I wouldn’t be dissatisfied with it.

Perhaps if you considered what 21-year-olds are actually capable of, you would have considered whether he was mature enough to date a man like you.

Perhaps if you considered what 21-year-olds are actually capable of, you would have considered whether he was mature enough to date a man like you.

Next, you’ve been dating for 3 months and you’re not only “in love” with him, but are “kicking him out” of your house?

When exactly did he move IN to your house, Chris? Week 1? Month 1?

Whatever your answer, it’s pretty clear to me that this relationship is based on the excitement and blindness of chemistry — not on the principles that allow people to build successful long-term relationships.

This doesn’t mean that you DON’T love your boyfriend or that you CAN’T have a relationship with him. It simply means that you were driving 95 mph and are shocked to see that you missed your exit.

Slow down to 65 and you may see things a little bit more clearly.

As for whether you can have a successful relationship with him?

I guess it depends on your level of tolerance for being a father.

Because you’ve got SIXTEEN YEARS of adult life experience over him. He has no wisdom about love. He has no wisdom about work. He has nothing to offer you except for his body and his blank-slate mind.

I’ve written this before and I’ll repeat it because it’s relevant:

If you look back five years, I can almost promise you’ll wonder what you knew at that age.

I knew INFINITELY more at 24 than 19.

As for whether you can have a successful relationship with him?
I guess it depends on your level of tolerance for being a father.

I knew INFINITELY more at 29 than 24.
I knew INFINITELY more at 34 than 29.
I knew INFINITELY more at 39 than 34.

Okay, so maybe you shouldn’t take the word INFINITELY all that literally. But the point is that there’s no substitute for life experience. A 21-year-old kid is all raw potential — just as you were, just as I was. But my 21-year-old self doesn’t hold a candle to the man I am today.

When I was 21, I had the same curious mind and a better body, but I hadn’t failed in Hollywood, I hadn’t been fired from jobs, I hadn’t lost my father, I hadn’t taken care of my mother and sister, I hadn’t tried online dating, I hadn’t loved and lost and loved again, I hadn’t learned how to be an entrepreneur, I hadn’t done self-help, I hadn’t learned to be happy, I hadn’t learned to find my own humility and accept the world as it is, I hadn’t been married, I hadn’t bought a house, I hadn’t had a child, I hadn’t realized all of my dreams.

I don’t know where you’re at in life — and whether a nice kid with a warm heart and a high sex drive is enough for you.

But presuming that it’s not, you should probably find a man who is your equal and brings something more to the table, instead of complaining that your young buck hasn’t yet figured out how to be an adult.

Because any further issues between you two are as predictable as a failure to support a family after a year of toiling at Mickey D’s.

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  1. 1

    Whoa! He said they’ve been together for 2 years, and he kicked his boyfriend out, and now — 3 months after the kicking-out — they’re still in love.

    So it sounds like you should take another look at that statement “you’ve been dating for 3 months . . . When exactly did he move IN to your house, Chris? Week 1?”

    Yikes! Unless I’m missing something here.

    (No – I made a mistake – EMK)

  2. 2

    I agree with Christine. Better rewrite your answer to the OP about the timing thing, Evan.

    Also, you havnt pointed out the fact that the OP said that his boyfriend has got his act together. Also, he wanted to know how he can explain clearly to his boyfriend that the kicking out thing was for his own good, as they are trying to move forward from here.

    In terms of differences in age & life experience, i dont think it matters if it’s not an issue for both the OP and his boyfriend. I know some couples who love the fact that their relationship is a mentor-mentee type of relationship, rather than an “equal” type of relationship. The older person loves to share wisdom & knowledge gained from life experience and the younger person admires & loves learning from the older one. So saying that the OP’s boyfriend has nothing to offer to the table in terms of life experience may not be relevant if they enjoy a mentor-mentee type of romantic relationship.

  3. 3

    @Daisy #2   – I agree with your point… except the OP isn’t happy with his “mentee” role! 🙂 I have a cousin who is very happy dating someone 2 years younger than her father. Her bf loves having a young, active, busy girlfriend who challenges him. This OP feels like he is carrying the burden and wants his 21-yo to grow up.
    Chris – I agree with Evan’s point.   21 is really young.   While some people are all grown up by this point, that is a slim percentage of people.

  4. 4

    Look at the odds for May-December relationships working.   Look at what is happening to Demi Moore and Kushton Ashter.     I rest my case.

    The ego trip of these relationships is a  short  ride!   The young guys who chase me on line  clearly see me as an easy mark  for sex, money or both.   I am neither.

    You can’t go wrong dating people within 5 years of your age.   Anything else causes problems.   Stop the drama and like people your own age…..lot less  drama!          

  5. 5


    Opps….. I meant to say Ashton  Kuschter.   Anyway…..What makes  you think that the BF leaves and in  3months  has his act together?   Sounds like magical thinking.     STill in LOVE????   Sounds like a  major case of hot pants!    

  6. 6

    I sure hope you’re not a statistician, valleyforgelady.

  7. 7

    Hey Joe………
    I hope you have given up chasing much younger women who only see you for how much money you can spend on them!  

  8. 8
    Karl R

    valleyforgelady said: (#4)
    “You can’t go wrong dating people within 5 years of your age.   Anything else causes problems.”

    Would you care to back that up with some factual data? Based on a couple minutes of research, it seems that the data is inconclusive.

    There is tons of census data indicating that people who marry young (under the age of 25) have substantially higher divorce rates … even if they’re marrying someone the same age. Given that Chris’ boyfriend is 21 (and was 19 when they started dating), I’d say that’s a lot more relevant.

    I’ve dated women who are  significantly younger (up to 11 years) and significantly older (up to 16 years). Sometimes the person is  at the same maturity level despite the age gap; other times  the maturity gap is an issue.  If relative maturity is an issue, then you can’t force it. Break up and find someone who is more of an equal partner.

    I don’t know your life story, but I didn’t have my shit together at 21. At 37 I did. But looking past over the past two decades, I can see one thing in common with all the people who tried to push me in one direction or another “for my own good.”

    I’m not friends with those people.

    I don’t think you two are going to live happily ever after. I think you have to learn what you can from this relationship and apply it to you next one.

  9. 9

    valleyforgelady said: (#4)
    “Look at what is happening to Demi Moore and Kushton Ashter.     I rest my case.”
    There are probably 100 times as many marriages where the husband is 15+ years older than the wife than there are where the wife is 15+ years older than the husband.   I find it curious that you would choose that example to make your case.

  10. 10

    Simply put: he’s too young for you. And I would say the same thing if this was a hetero relationship. As the “father figure” in this relationship, it’s up to you to encourage him to spread his wings and find himself someone closer to his age to partner with.   You’re attracted to each other for very different reasons — for you, possibly it’s the thrill (and ego pumper) of having the much younger man on your arm; and he’s attracted to the beautiful laziness afforded him by having someone more mature and together pampering him so he can bask in arrested development. He’s not doing anything wrong — he’s just young!

    I’ve been very flattered when much younger men have shown an interest in me, and it’s tempting sometimes (we all have our desires) but it’s nothing I would/could ever take seriously. There is just too much disparity, too much life-on-Earth separating us.

    Three months is not enough time for a 21-year old to get his act together. Not even close. My son is 25, and it takes him 3 months just to find his cell phone. Why should your young lover have to get his act together just to please you? Again, he’s young! I believe you love him, but this is one of those situations where you — the one with more life experience and wisdom — needs to take the higher road and encourage him to seek elsewhere and wish him well.   No drama, just sound advice.  

  11. 11

    Seriously, it’s really unfair to get mad at a 21 year old that you met when he was all of 18-19 for being 21.

    It would have been really unfair 16 years ago for someone to treat you like that.

    Maturity comes with time.   Sometimes b/c of circumstance or choice, people find themselves burdened with a lot of responsibility at an early age, but this isn’t really one of those cases.   Plus, that still isn’t really a substitute for actual life experience.   

    I mean, if this kid had started college on a regular schedule, he’d be a senior in college right now.   You GRADUATED from college when he was in first grade.

    You want a 37 year old in a 21 year old wrapper and that isn’t likely to happen.   Even a 21 year old college grad with a good job would still need to grow up, and that process will take YEARS.

    Either let him be 21 or pick someone over 30 who has had a fair shot at being what you want but who comes in a slightly older wrapper.   

  12. 12

    Chris’ boyfriend doesn’t seem very responsible or mature even for a 21 year old. At 19-21, my friends and I were going to college and/or working so we could eventually become independent from our parents. Sure, we partied too, but none of us would have considered being “100% taken care of” by a partner 16 years older. I’m sure the younger man is really cute and fun and an ego boost, but the balance of power in this relationship isn’t equitable.

  13. 13

    WOW. Evan said it all. Stop complaining and man up to date a man, not a child.

  14. 14

    From my opinion maybe the relationship went way too fast. Truthfully when you chose someone younger than you should have realized there will be consequences and one thing is for sure he might never understand why you threw him out.

  15. 15
    Christie Hartman

    @Lance2012: According to US Census data from 2007:
    Husband 10+ years older: 7.5% of marriages, decreasing every year
    Wife 10+ years older: 1.3% of marriages, increasing every year

    1. 15.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Thanks for that, Christie. Men seem to want to believe that women LOOOOOOVE older men due to their power, wealth, and life experience. Fact is: MOST women want men who are PEERS. A vast minority are open to men who were in college when she was in grade school.

  16. 16
    Saint Stephen

    But the US census data still makes lance case, that there are far more marriages where the men are 10+ older.

  17. 17

    @Christie, I will assume that is correct (there is no 2007 census data, so I wonder if that is some separate survey that was graphed onto some census data, link?). So assuming a 5.7-1 ratio at a 10+ year differential, it is not so hard for me to believe that the ratio at the 15+ year differential that I cited and that is that subject of the thread is many times that because the ratio increases at a nonlinear accelerated rate toward the edge of the curve. Assuming that data, 100-1 was probably an exaggeration, but I don’t think 25-1 is an exaggeration.

  18. 18
    Christie Hartman

    @Saint Stephen: Not quite. There are more marriages where the man is older, but nowhere near “100 times” more. And he said 15 years older, which is even rarer than 10 years older.

  19. 19
    Christie Hartman

    In general, when there is a large age difference between two people in a relationship, regardless of gender, it’s important to abide by a few rules. One of them is for the older one to avoid taking on the parental role. You   have to be equals who happen to be in different life stages. It’s not easy. A 15-year age difference is tough, and a 15-year age difference where one is only 21 is even tougher.

  20. 20
    Christie Hartman

    Sorry for the multiple posts, Evan. Lance’s comment came in after my response.
    Lance, those stats come from a larger study that looked at Census data back to 1960, with the most recent being 2005-2007. I could probably hunt down the article… I see your more recent point. My rough paper-pencil estimates for the 10+ age difference come out at about 6:1, but that would be greater with the 15+ age difference. But such age differences are pretty rare these days.

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