I used to be twenty-two. I had a Grindr, hooked up with strangers, and gave zero fu*ks. This is the best part about being young, skinny, and new to the world of sex and the gay culture. It’s a lifestyle that is too precious to give up, which is why countless of guys choose not to.
It’s a crazy time we’re living in. Finding sex is like online shopping – one swipe, one click, one text, and he’s at our front doorstep. What’s worse is that there’s hardly anyone around to tell you it’s time to get your shit together. Friends might insinuate it, parents may hold mini-interventions, but for whatever reason they’re never strong enough to convince you to grow up.
It takes balls asking someone out on a date. You are the one who is risking humiliation and embarrassment in doing so. You’re basically throwing yourself at the mercy of their judgment – whether it’s good or bad. But convenient sex has made our dating habits so toxic lately that we’re hardly given an opportunity to sweep someone off their feet.
How do gay men date when there are so many of us wobbling to the rhythms of a hookup culture? A lot of gay guys have been spoiled, especially the young ones. They will never know a time without cell phones, social media or Grindr. Everything is convenient, and, it seems, anything that requires a bit of work is too strenuous – dating being one of them.
To date inside our hookup culture, you need to make the decision to do it. But a long habit is hard to break. Last month I asked a really cute guy out on a date. He said yes. We went out and had a great time. When we got back to his place, we flipped on a movie and started drinking wine – we kissed, cuddled, and eventually made our way to the bedroom. After we hooked up, he looked in my eyes and asked politely for me to leave. We did the routine of searching for our underwear on the floor (with little words spoken) and said our goodbyes – it was awkward. In my opinion, this is a perfect example of how the hookup culture affects our dating constructs. Even if we have a great time together, we somehow get back into a routine of one-night stand etiquette.
So what do we have to do – make a vow not to have sex on the first date? Throw away Grindr and start updating our OkCupid? How can we change the structure? If you ask me, it’s an individual journey. We all need to take a step back and ask ourselves what we really want. Not only that, but be HONEST with the guys who come into our lives. If all you want is sex, that’s fine. But let him know so he’ll be aware to keep emotions on the backburner. If you’re looking to date, then stop treating him like a hookup! It’s that simple.
It starts with communication and consistency. Being consistent with the things you want is mandatory if you want to be taken seriously in anything. People are always going to remember the way you made them feel over the things you say or do. Get a clear head and know what it is you want, and make them aware by showing it.
It doesn’t matter if all your friends are hooking up with strangers – we’ve all had a go at it. For years it was all I knew because, at the time, it was all I wanted. I didn’t want to have a serious boyfriend at twenty-years old. I needed to be free and have a good time. But for many gay guys who spend their youth searching for sex, the dating scene is a scary and unfamiliar place filled with new rules and awkward moments. We’d much rather jump back into what’s comfortable.
It’s time to build a new habit. The reason why a lot of promiscuous people find dating hard is because we don’t like change. In order to be comfortable with intimacy, we must turn it into a new habit. The more we focus our energy and patience in that realm, the more it will become part of our lifestyle. Pretty soon, casual sex will be as uncomfortable as dating used to feel.
Don’t talk to me about how much you want a boyfriend when you’re on Grindr all day. I want to know how often you put yourself out there without a “Free Sex” sign on your forehead. I want to know how you’re portraying yourself to the world, because, after all, that’s exactly the kind of treatment you’re going to get.
It’s time to start reading people exactly how they’re showing themselves. Guys show their true colors by the way they respond. We’re all at different levels of maturity and we all want different things. Start getting a sense of what men want, so you can make healthier decisions. Dating is hard enough, but in a culture where casually hooking up ain’t exactly frowned upon, you’re going to need a wider brain to map your route.