The child in the grown man

As an elegant followup to the previous article, let me tell you about a man who called, late at night, to ask about his father's new relationship. He didn't like her. Two minutes into the call, I didn't like him.

The man's father had found a new girlfriend a couple of months ago. As the son tells me, the father has a rather closed off personality, and they haven't been getting along very well for years. The mother died a year and a half ago, and now at the respectable age of seventy-two, her husband had found new love.

First off, wow! That's really nice! I talk to so many people who are alone after a death or a divorce, and who are having a really hard time finding and maintaining a new relationship, even at age fourty or fifty. To manage it a seventy-two, when most people get out of the house much less and have relatively small social circles, is very impressive. When I scanned the situation, he felt to me mostly lonely, and she felt like a warm hearted woman who enjoyed paying attention to him and caring for him. As far as relationships go, it was the best one I'd scanned all day.

Ok, so what was this boy's problem? I asked a couple of questions to get some more insight into him. He said that his mother's death had been so short ago, and when I pointed out that a year and a half is really quite reasonable, he said the other woman's husband had died but half a year ago, "And now she's jumping into bed with my father." Ah, I see. The child in him was upset that his dad was having sex with someone, and that someone was not his mother. His dad had a life. He was seeking out happiness. He was trying to fill an emptiness with comfort. And the son, already frustrated with dad, couldn't handle seeing his dad accept someone else into his life. He was upset, and jealous, and resentful.

While I understand that in an eight year old, I really didn't feel it was helpful in this case. So I put on my best wise-woman voice, and said, "Listen up. You need to understand something. When people are in their seventies, they know they don't have very long left. They could be dead tomorrow, or next week, or next year. They know they probably don't have another ten years. And in that short span, with a definite, let's say, deadline ...  most don't have a lot to live for. They can't do all the things they did when they were young. They're not going to have another career. Their children are all grown and have their own lives. It gets empty. Many sit alone in their house until they die. So when somewhere in there, you find someone who makes your days easier and who makes you laugh and makes you feel alive, you're not going to spend a couple of years going on dates, being shy, taking it slow. You embrace it. Your dad isn't doing anything wrong. He's an adult making very reasonable decisions about his own life, and even if it's uncomfortable for you - you really don't get a say in it."

Deciding the topic was closed, he wants to know if he's going to find a boyfriend in the coming year. After answering that question for him, I added: "Wait a minute. You said you're looking for a man?" He seemed confused. What of it? But it seems to me that gay men, even in today's world, get to deal with an unfair share of judgement and prejudice from the people around them. As such, given that he's not a kid, he's probably had to deal with people judging him on his sexual life and trying to tell him who he is and is not allowed to sleep with. He didn't seem to understand that he was judging his dad in the same way that people have been judging him. "If she were to move in with them and they would live together ... I couldn't handle that," he spits out. "That's just, no." If it had not been a phonecall, I might have seen him stomping his foot.

Look, folks. It a little strange to think of your parents and their friends as sexual people, I get that. But they are. And it is nothing for them to be ashamed of or embarassed about. If your (grand) parents are finding love and having hot passionate sex, they are doing it right. If you have a problem with it, you are doing something wrong. You have no business sticking your nose into other people's sexual choices, preferences, or kinks. As long as they are consenting adults and no one is getting harmed in the process, it's fair game. You probably agree that it's not ok to judge someone's sex life because they are gay. But then why is it ok to judge someone's sex life because they are old?


The boy realised he wasn't going to find spiritual approval of his resentment with me, and said goodbye. Total call duration: 6:30 minutes.




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