Advice and Insights for Modern Daters

Down but Not Out

Justin counsels a letter writer who wants a relationship, but consistently meets men using dating apps to “experiment” with their sexuality.  

Q. I’m a gay man in my late twenties, and I am having issues meeting guys who are fully comfortable with their sexuality. I live in a fairly conservative city, and a lot of the guys I’ve met on dating apps are either “experimenting,” or they’re not out to members of their family, their coworkers, etc. This makes ACTUAL dating really, really tough. Hooking up is fine — we can meet at a bar, late, and keep it low-key — but actual relationships where you go in public? It’s been tough. How do I weed out the experimenters and people who don’t want to be seen with me BEFORE I waste time meeting them in person? 

Chris, 28, Charleston, SC

 A. Your question reminds me of Bebe Rexha’s new song “F.F.F.” or, spelled out, “Fuck Fake Friends.” You probably don’t consider any of these guys “friends” (especially after they’ve strung you along and wasted your time on one or more dates), but the overall sentiment of her song applies. In the pre-chorus, Bebe asks “Is there anybody real out here?” It sounds like you’re asking yourself the same question.

We all hide behind digital profiles that feature our best photos, exaggerated descriptions and clever statuses. I’m guilty. You’re guilty. We’re all guilty. It’s part of the digital society we live in today, which makes it nearly impossible to know someone’s true intentions on dating services. 

Dating isn’t easy. It isn’t always fun. And it isn’t quick. It can sometimes feel like a full-time job. As I respond to your question, I’m having vivid flashbacks to some of the horrible dates I went on several years ago. There were guys who lied about their height, didn’t look like their pictures, were mind-numbingly boring, or simply didn’t even show up. Similar to you, I often felt like I was wasting my time. It was damn frustrating. 

It’s probably even more frustrating to go on dates with someone that’s not accepting of his or her sexuality. It makes you wonder why they’re on a dating app identifying as “gay” in the first place. It may also make you feel like you’re being pushed back into the closet. And that’s not okay. The only closet I want to be in at this point in my life is a walk-in filled with designer jeans, tailored suits, and leather loafers.

Like you and me, all gay men and women have gone through the experience of coming out to family, friends, and loved ones. That’s why I think it is normal and appropriate for you to ask when and how someone came out. I wouldn’t recommend opening with these types of questions, but they should help weed out anyone that’s not out. Consider them icebreakers. No one should be offended.

94 percent of gay Hinge users say they’re “looking for a relationship.”

Once you’ve gotten your answer and are ready to schedule a date, make sure you suggest date ideas that force your date to be seen in public with you, in daylight hours — no late-night bars where you two can “hide”. This should help in better identifying guys who are looking for a serious relationship. This will also make you stand out among others. It’s common for someone to suggest dinner and drinks, but it’s unique to suggest Frisbee and drinks.                                               

On that note, you said meeting guys at bars for a nightcap and then hooking up is “fine.” If you agree to arrangements like this, the chances you’ll meet Mr. Right are relatively low. Anyone suggesting a late-night date probably has a sex-driven agenda. No shame in that, but keep this in mind when scheduling dates, and consider using dating apps that are specifically for people looking for relationships. Swiping apps tend to be more hook-up driven. 

“I’ve had it up to the ceiling,” Bebe sings on “F.F.F.” And it’s obvious you feel the same about guys who aren’t fully accepting of their sexuality. Ultimately, being comfortable with who you are and with who you are dating is one of the most important aspects in the development of any relationship. 

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JUSTIN BRETON

Justin Jean Breton is a marketing professional living in New York City. When he’s not listening to Britney Spears, he’s eating, drinking or traveling with his boyfriend of nearly four years. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @justinbreton. Send Justin questions at advice@hinge.co

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