Hey, Single Queer Men, Let’s Bring Back Dating
“Everyone wants to just have sex. No one’s looking for a boyfriend.” It’s a complaint I’ve heard from almost all my single queer friends in New York City. Many have been single for at least a year.
I’m not. I just think it can send a misleading message. Guys are going to think you’re solely interested in sex. (This is why I send nudes, because often I am only interested in sex.) My friends then invite a guy over to their apartment. Less than 100 words are said between them. Within seconds, underwear is around ankles. Within minutes, both men have orgasmed. Then the guy leaves, the entire exchange lasting no longer than 20 minutes from start to finish.
That’s all good, but then they’re hurt when the guy doesn’t want to see them again. Don’t get me wrong, a one-night stand can absolutely turn into something more serious, but that can’t be the expected outcome. With that type of quickie, the goal should be to get off, not to somehow make this person fall in love with you.
As the old saying goes, my friends are looking for love in all the wrong places.
And what happens when they find a man they do like — one who treats them with respect, like more than a piece of meat? They fall head over heels instantaneously.
This has happened to me a few times.
I was dating a man a few months ago. (Let’s call him Jed.) Jed and I met at a restaurant, where he was my server. Later we saw each other at a Pride event, after which he found me on Facebook and sent me a message asking to hang out. I really liked Jed, and I texted him often. But within three weeks of seeing one another he wanted to be monogamous.
I found that absolutely ridiculous.
I don’t know Jed, and he doesn’t know me. It had been three weeks. Jed just liked the idea of me — or rather the idea of having a boyfriend. And since his past encounters with men had been so mediocre (as with so many of us), he clung to the idea that I would be a perfect boyfriend.
Let me tell you something: I’m definitely not the perfect boyfriend, something he would have figured out much sooner than later.
It seems like a number of us hate hookup culture so much that we immediately want to U-haul with someone we like right away. This isn’t any better a way to find a sustaining, long-term relationship. U-hauling usually leads to a passionate short-term relationship that becomes increasingly volatile, until it explodes like a powder keg, often within a year — more often within six months.
You have to get to know someone prior to settling down. But queer men often don’t want to do that anymore.
What gay men need to do, in my opinion, is bring back dating.
We need to get to know someone over the course of weeks, maybe even months, before rushing into a relationship. We need to go to events together. Meet each other’s friends. Enjoy different activities. See if we have the same values. To bring back dating, all of that stuff is required before committing to monogamy (or calling one another “boyfriend”).
We need to do this because it’s incredibly difficult to decipher whether we like him or the idea of him. And as we all know, we often hide the less flattering parts of ourselves initially in a relationship. I don’t think of this as being two-faced (although sometimes it can be). I think of this as putting our best foot forward, something we want to do when we meet someone we like.
But in order to bring back dating, we need to be more secure in ourselves. We also need to be happy being single. For years I used to think that all of my problems would vanish if I had a man to call my own: “If only I had a boyfriend, I’d be much happier.”
This is absolutely terrible thinking.
Now, a boyfriend can bring so much joy and fulfillment into your life. And if you want to have a boyfriend, you should strive to have one. But if you think someone else is going to solve all your problems, you’re in for a rude awakening. You should be able to be single, and you should like being single, too. Sure, you may not like it as much as having a boyfriend, but you shouldn’t consider being single a fate worse than death, as I’ve noticed it is for so many gay men.
So queer folks, can we do this? Can we bring back dating? Can we get to know one another over an extended period of time?
Guys, let’s just see what happens when our relationships don’t fall on either side of the spectrum — the one-night stand or the U-haul — and embrace that exciting in-between.