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Dirty Old Man Syndrome: How Not To Be A Creepy Old Guy

How can an older man, who still appreciates beautiful young women, not be perceived as a creepy old guy?

When you’re a young man and you get caught checking out a pretty young girl, you might get a flirty look back. But when you’re over 60 and you get caught checking out a pretty young girl, she’ll probably shoot you a look that says, “What are you looking at, grandpa?” The day you realize you’ve crossed that line from potential suitor to lecherous senior is a very sad day indeed.

As we grow older, we don’t stop noticing attractive women and we still lust after the things we did when we were younger. Even if our bodies can’t keep up anymore, our minds are still thinking things like, “Reverse Cowgirl sounds like fun!” That doesn’t make us perverts. That just makes us men.

But society isn’t comfortable with us having active libidos after a certain age. We’re supposed to hang them up and never show them in public again, just like our skinny jeans. But it doesn’t work that way. We can’t help it! Our sex drive is on autopilot. If we could have controlled it, we wouldn’t have gotten into so much trouble when we were young. But now that we’re old, we’re expected to hide our sexual desires like a priest conducting a boys choir.

We have a socially accepted word for older women who date younger men, which is “cougar.” It even sounds sexy. But we don’t have a commonly accepted or sexy sounding term for older men who date younger women. We just get called “creepy old guy” or “dirty old man.”

I have a friend in his 60s who was dating a woman in her 30s. They weren’t in love or anything. They were just having fun. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Some guys I know were envious of him, but most people judged him harshly. When a man dates a woman who is younger than his daughter, people usually assume he’s desperately trying to cling to his youth and she’s got some serious “daddy issues.”

I suppose there are young women who generally love men who are old enough to be their fathers, or grandfathers, and the fact that those men are always wealthy is just a coincidence. But I understand why people might be a little grossed out when they think about the two of them having sex. Of course, we shouldn’t think about that because it’s none of our business. But it’s really difficult for that image not to pop into our heads, and to get it out after it does.

There are times when most guys will feel conflicted and uncomfortable with their own reflexive thoughts. Like when a little girl they’ve known her whole life, seemingly overnight, becomes a full grown woman and sprouts boobs. What? Are we not supposed to notice? Suddenly it’s uncomfortable when we hug them and we become self-conscious about just kissing them on the cheek. Should we stop doing that? Are we in danger of turning into “The Creepy Uncle”?

There’s a beautiful old song from the ’50s called This Is All I Ask. It’s sung from the point of view of a sweet old man who is appreciating his life in a whole new way. One of the lyrics is, “Beautiful girls, walk a little slower when you walk by me.” Nobody thought that was creepy when Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett sang it. But these days, it has a completely different connotation. Now this sweet old man would be the object of scorn and would probably get sued for sexual harassment.

So how can an older man, who still has an active libido and appreciation for beautiful young women, not be perceived as a dirty old man? Hide it. Really well.

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Richard Basis
Richard Basis
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