It goes without saying that finding people you really click with can be tough enough on its own these days. Then you have to worry about being on the same page as far as values, goals, and reasons for dating in the first place. Add in the way dating as a gay man in particular comes alongside its own share of unique obstacles and it’s not hard to see why so many of us feel so frustrated.
The good news is you’re not alone. You’re not doomed to a love life characterized by frustration and dissatisfaction either. The following are just a few of the most common dating dilemmas gay men today are facing, as well as some solid advice on what to do about them. Which ones are most familiar to you?
1. Judging Dating Success by the Wrong Criteria
Most heterosexual people had the advantage of seeing relationships just like the ones they wanted to be in represented in movies and on TV when they were growing up. This naturally isn’t the case for most gay men, but they still grew up watching the same romantic comedies and coming-of-age stories everyone else did, not to mention wanting the same happy endings they saw playing out on-screen.
The fact of the matter is the dating dynamic between two men is different from the dynamic between a man and a woman. However, many gay men still get into the dating dilemma of applying heteronormative conventions to their own love and sex lives regardless. Make it a point to check in with yourself once in a while to ensure you’re not doing the same thing, possibly in ways you don’t realize.
2. Differing Relationship Goals
Once upon a time, there was pretty much only one way to approach relationships, gay or straight. You dated exclusively in search of “the one”. Once you found a likely candidate, you settled down and built a life together with the understanding that what you had was “forever” – full stop. However, these days you’re free to pursue romantic connections for whatever reasons feel right to you.
Sure, lots of gay men are still looking for a traditional monogamous relationship. However, plenty would rather have polyamorous or open relationships. Still more aren’t really interested in relationships at all. Give yourself permission to pursue what you want from dating, as well as permission to change your mind. The type of relationship you want with one guy may not be what you want with another and that’s perfectly OK.
3. Guys That Are Still Closeted
Yes, it’s increasingly socially acceptable to be out and proud these days. However, that hardly means every single gay man out there is actually living his life that way. There are plenty of guys that still won’t hold your hand in public because they’re just not there yet or that otherwise make you feel like a dirty little secret even though you’re both single and available.
Even here in 2017, it’s important to understand that one gay man may not be at the same place in the “coming out” process as another, especially if he’s still relatively young. Prioritize finding someone that’s occupying the same space you are in that regard. Otherwise, you can wind up feeling a lot more like a babysitter than a lover.
4. Relatively Small Dating Pools
Dating is a lot simpler for gay men in this day and age than it used to be, but let’s face it. Gays in general still don’t enjoy the same large dating pool heterosexuals do. Just think of how many straight bars and clubs there are as opposed to gay or queer alternatives! To say the least, meeting someone new to date or sleep with is a dilemma best exercised with caution a lot of the time.
Apps and websites geared specifically toward gay men can really help with this dating dilemma, especially if you’re mostly interested in a way to get to know lots of new people quickly. Just make sure you choose options that are also geared toward the type of connection you’re looking for.
5. Dealing with HIV Stigma
HIV is still a huge hot-button issue when it comes to the gay dating scene. For that reason, one’s status can come attached to a stigma in certain circles, especially when it comes to younger gay men that may be less informed in regards to the disease and what it means to live with it.
If rejection due to your HIV status is something you’re personally struggling with, understand that it’s not really about you. It’s about the other guy and his own preferences as far as how he wants to handle safety. Whatever side of the equation you may fall on, always be clear and communicative about your status and what you’re looking for from the dating experience. Last but not least, always be respectful and clear with others, the better to avoid any confusion or frustration.
6. Thinking with the Wrong Head
To be fair, thinking with one’s little head is hardly just a dating dilemma limited to gay men. All men tend to do their thinking with theirs once in a while whether they realize it or not. Just be aware that you do it and that other guys you might be interested in are doing it too.
If you’re hot, you’re going to deal with men that are more interested in your almighty package than they are in the fact that you’re a great conversationalist or have a wicked sense of humor. If you’re not as hot, it’ll be the opposite. Just hang in there and realize that people are only human. Also, make sure you yourself aren’t missing out on someone really awesome yourself simply because they’re not the spitting image of Ryan Gosling.
7. Thinking the Grass Is Always Greener
This is another dating dilemma that is hardly limited to gay men. It’s the most human thing in the world to worry that there’s something better just around the corner. The key to success here is not to let this mentality get so out of hand that you miss out on something that really does have the power to deliver exactly what you want.
Naturally, no one’s saying you should settle for a person or a situation that truly isn’t really fulfilling you. Just make sure you’re not playing the “what if” game with yourself too often. Instead of asking “what if”, try asking “what am I really looking for” instead. Remember – even if the grass really is greener on the other side, you still have to mow it.
8. Your “Group” Getting in the Way
Lots of gay men also tend to let the gay “tribe” they fall into have too much influence over who they date and they really shouldn’t. There’s absolutely no rule out there that says gay guys have to date within their group or that you can’t simply choose to break the unspoken rules if you feel like it.
Don’t be afraid to go after the type of guy that actually gets your motor running. It’s easier to find someone that’s into you for exactly who you are than you might think. After all, the worst thing someone can actually say to you is “no thanks, not interested”.
9. Lack of Mystery
The prevalence and convenience of gay dating apps these days definitely comes alongside its share of advantages. Not only do you have lots of different candidates to choose from, but you can interact as much as you want beforehand instead of wasting too much time in person on someone that isn’t right for you. However, that can sometimes mean there’s something lacking in the mystery department later on.
Try chatting and interacting with other guys online just enough to weed out the duds you wouldn’t be interested in anyway. Then enjoy the fun that comes with learning the rest in person through good old-fashioned interaction.
10. Lack of Honesty
Another issue that’s becoming more and more prevalent here in the age of the dating app is a lack of honesty on the part of lots of guys. It’s just so easy for someone to hide behind a computer screen, a fake image, or pictures that are actually many years old. Some guys may not even be completely aware they’re doing it or to what extent.
Be careful of falling for statements or claims that seem too good to be true, because they probably are. Also, make sure you’re being as honest as possible yourself. There’s nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward or wanting to make a good impression. Just make sure the impression you’re going for is also an honest one. Otherwise you’re ultimately just wasting your time, as well as theirs, not to mention cheating yourself out of connections that are potentially really great.
At the end of the day, dating as a gay man is challenging to be sure. However, it’s far from impossible. Just be patient with yourself, not to mention other people, and it’s sure to pay off.