Dating is difficult in general, but gay dating is even harder.
Being gay adds another level of complexity to the dating process, and because we’re all men, we make this process of looking for a mate all the more difficult. Our walls are high, our hearts are guarded, and we’re still all figuring out exactly what we’re looking for because for many of us, we didn’t see what we’re trying to create growing up.
As someone who longs for love, I’ve tried to really analyze what it is that makes dating as gay men more complex, and this is what my personal history has concluded.
1. We’re all sex monsters.
We are first and foremost men, which means most of our libidos run high, but then add to the equation the fact that we’re dating other men, and bam. I don’t care who you are, or how you identify yourself (Bear, Twink, Jock, Daddy, etc), we’re all constantly horny. It literally is scientifically driven due to the fact that we have testosterone pumping through our bodies.
Add to the fact that our culture is obsessed with imagery and sex, and it becomes almost impossible to escape thoughts of sex. Even if you’re able to find yourself not so wound up, there’s a good chance your gym, your job, your night out, or whatever is going to make you want to do what men are programmed to do, and spill your seed.
As gay men the testosterone levels are doubled in the dating world, and we are constantly playing with fire as we try to think with our brains and not our dicks.
2. Sex is easy.
Going one step deeper into the conversation about gay men and sex, we have to acknowledge how easy it is to find sex.
With “dating” app culture running amok, gay men by far have the easiest outlets to look for sex. Add to the fact that when we go to gay bars, almost everyone in that room is a possible partner in some way, and our chances are doubled. This isn’t the case for our straight counterparts.
Additionally, many of us grew up insecure and full of shame, so part of coming out is feeling sexually liberated. However, we often mistake the ease and casualness of the sex we can, and do have, as something other than what it really is. We’re looking to fulfill a void within ourselves with a physical pleasure that does in fact feel good, but often doesn’t lead to the substance we crave in a juxtapositional way.
Sex is great, but sex with substance is harder and harder to come by the more casual we are about this physical act.
3. We say we want one thing, but really want another.
Continuing the conversation from the last point, we often are beyond indecisive about what it is that we really want.
Being gay is confusing. There’s no right or wrong way to be gay. However, we have to find out what we want on our own because we don’t grow up in a predominantly gay world. Once we break the norm, and find comfortability within our own sexuality, everything else is up for debate.
Who do we want to be? Who do we want to date? Do we want to get married? Do we want kids? Do we want to be monogamous?
All the “normal” expectations of our straight counterparts are a lot less expected, and we find ourselves craving the single life one day, and looking for the love of our life the next. Who, if we do meet, we most likely end up sleeping with, and confusing the relationship further. Revert back to points 1 and 2.
It’s a vicious cycle, and truly causes so many dating problems. Thus it’s beyond difficult to meet someone we’re attracted to in every way, and keep our pants on. It’s totally possible, but the thought always is, “why would we?”
4. We have very deep scars.
As gay men we grow up hiding parts of ourselves because gay still is considered different, and in a lot of places, bad.
We feel like we have to hide a part of ourselves everyday for many formative years, which means we are neglecting other parts of ourselves that should be receiving precious energy. So when we finally do come out, we often confuse this as dealing with our issues, when in fact, this is just the beginning to dealing with what our issues really are.
It’s beyond hard to be vulnerable with someone else, especially when so many of us are uncomfortable with being vulnerable with ourselves. Admitting that life isn’t peaches and cream isn’t fun, but the less honest we are with ourselves, the more guarded we become, and the more we keep our walls up.
Our insecurity is beyond high from all the shame we felt growing up, and even after we’ve dealt with it, it feels all too real when we are hurt again in the dating process.
5. We go through a second adolescence.
Because we held back from being authentically ourselves for most of our adolescence and the beginning of our adult lives, we get a chance to do it all over when we come out. We get to test new waters, try new things, and explore a whole new world full of men, sex, drugs, alcohol, and it’s dangerous.
When we partake in all of these new things, we’re at an age when we have disposable incomes. We aren’t being monitored by our parents, and we have the world at our fingertips. The cherry on top of all of this, is that this usually happens in a big city, or at least some place bigger than the hometown we grew up in, where excess is welcomed.
It’s very easy to get sucked into all the fun, excess, and fabulousness that this new stage offers. The question is, when is enough enough? It’s an age old tale that too many men get sucked into this world, and never come out. This is also why it’s known as the “Peter Pan Syndrome” unofficially.
6. We have unrealistic expectations.
Gay men are beyond picky, and we feel like we can be because with social media the pool of possibilities feels endless. We think that if one guy doesn’t work out than we can just kick him to the curb, and find ourselves an even better version of gentleman X.
We are men with egos, and we strive to be the best at everything we do because it was something we learned as closeted children. If we could be amazing at everything we did, we thought that maybe you wouldn’t be able to tell what was different about us. However, this tends to lead to us having crazy expectations for ourselves, and therefore our mates as well.
Everyone is supposed to look like a model, have an Adonis body, be super successful, like everything we like, and fit the molds we've created that no one can ever actually live up to.
We all expect to have perfect tens for partners even if we aren’t a ten, which no one is, and the quest for this mythical creature ruins our ability to see how amazing the man in front of us truly is.
7. Timing is everything.
If we are lucky enough to find this mythical ten than it’s usually because he was just recently set free from his last relationship. Men like this aren’t single for long.
While this sounds great, it usually means that he’s going to be feeling insecure, and needing to go through his own version of realizing how hard dating is again.
Even if we’re ready to date, and we’ve found ourselves maturing past a lot of these points that doesn’t mean that Mr. Dreamboat is ready. His ego is hurt. He needs to rediscover himself, and prove that he is desirable to not only you, but many men, and unless you’re willing to feel a little hurt and wait, Mr. Dreamboat wasn’t the ten you thought he was.
Add to the fact that gays often date with the seasons, and half the year is either thought of as warm single, and often slutty season, or as a cold cuddling more relationship based time of the year.
We forget that we are still animals, and like our furry friends, our bodies change with the tides and seasons in a very natural way. However, gay men are quick to use the seasons as an excuse to why we are "allowed" to behave in certain ways.
8. There isn’t pressure to be coupled up.
As men we don’t have a ticking biological clock, so being single isn’t as frowned upon as in the straight world. The pressure to partner up isn’t as paramount, and we’re ok being a certain age and single.
We aren't definitely going to have kids, which is why most heterosexual people start to couple up and settle down. And even today straight couples are waiting longer and longer to have children.
However, even when we do couple up, the way in which we operate as couples is quite different than straight couples. The concept of monogamy isn’t a given, and just because you want to be in a relationship in a certain way doesn’t mean your partner is going to want the same things long term.
Add to the fact that a lot of our friends are single, and it becomes almost more normal to be single in the gay world than in a healthy relationship. We even joke that gay years are like dog years for relationships.
And for better or worse, the second something starts to go sour, we have reminders that there are men everywhere. We don’t have a lot of the commitments locking us in to relationships like straight couples do, and our single friends without even realizing it exemplify the lives we could be living.
Our social circles are full of these perpetual bachelors, who appear to enjoy their singledom, and constantly question why we are looking to settle down. We all have a friend or two, who claims to love being single, but through candid conversations it become apparent he isn't addressing his deeper wounds from past loves and life. These single gay friends come with their own baggage, and will often project that we too need to sow our wild oats.
Every where we turn, it almost feels like we have everything telling us not to commit.
9. We are afraid of commitment.
Getting married wasn't an option for our community until very recently, so commitment from a legal standpoint was actually far from a lot of our minds. This in some subconscious way made us less serious when it came to dating. Now that we can get married more and more of us are starting to think longer term, and if something isn’t clicking we jump ship, and don’t even try to see if we can work things out.
It's easier to just keep reverting back to all the other points that making dating hard than it is to try and work on something with someone we thought we really liked. Dating is hard, being in a couple is hard, but it shouldn't be this hard, right? We let our minds drift, we make assumptions, and half the time we aren't even communicating how we are feeling with our partners.
The fact that we also can’t stop looking for the next best thing doesn’t help, and only perpetuates the lack of commitment in the gay community.
10. Jealousy plagues our community.
Yes, not all of us are jealous, or at least to an unhealthy point, but going back to issues of shame and insecurity that stem from our youth, we often have a hard time trusting that we are good enough. From this destructive flaw we then end up projecting our neuroses onto our partners, and find ourselves jealous for no reason.
Again, almost everywhere we go that is gaycentric is filled with men, who could be our lover, or take away our lover, and it’s stressful, plays tricks on our minds, and breeds a jealousy that can kill even the strongest of bonds.
Even if we are lucky enough to find someone special and start dating, jealousy can creep within the relationship. Subconsciously or consciously we have levels of competition that exists between us and our partners because again, we’re both men, and on some levels compare ourselves against each other.
Mix in a lack of communication, which as men we are more likely to be bad at, and it's a recipe for disaster.
While it can feel like dating, and ultimately finding someone amazing is impossible in the gay world, we have to remain optimistic if we really do want to find someone. Now more than ever, strong committed gay couples exist in public spheres, which means there are examples of what we can have.
We need to stop perpetuating the idea that all the good ones are either taken, straight, or live far away. The language we use when talking about dating needs to be positive and upbeat, and we have to stop confusing proper courting with endless casual sex. We need to stop using every excuse in the book, and start working on ourselves because we aren't perfect either.
For every reason listed as to why gay dating is hard, there are even more reasons why we can claim that finding a partner feels impossible, but the truth is, we just have to keep working on ourselves, stay vulnerable, and allow our hearts to stay open even after we’ve experienced hurt and pain.
In a world where our options are open more than ever, we have to remember that the guy we follow on social media is someone we are romanticizing, and just because we think he acts a certain way doesn’t mean he will actually live up to the story we’ve created in our heads. For all the sexy singles out there that we follow, and would like to have sex with, only a few will ever come into our lives, and even then who knows if they’d even look at us the way we look at them.
We need to stop looking past the amazing men that are right in front of our faces, and start understanding that the sex part of a relationship will evolve. In the end, we'll ultimately be looking for a best friend, a companion to build a full life with, and maybe one day move away from all the craziness with.
It’s beyond difficult to meet someone we’re attracted to in every way, and if we do, we have to remember that no one is perfect. If we are lucky enough to meet someone with whom our souls connect in an effortless way, we need to water that relationship because it is rare. If we find someone that treats us well, is kind, and looks at us like we look at them than we’ve found someone special, regardless of all the rules. Relationships are hard work, and nothing comes easy, so keep your head up, and don’t stress if you haven’t found your partner quite yet.
Gay dating is really hard, but nothing worth having comes easy, so lead with love and positivity, and more than anything just be open to what could be.