Tell Me About It: I can’t find love in social apps

The dating scene for gay men is as fickle as it is for women seeking men

Illustration: Thinkstock

Illustration: Thinkstock

 

Q As a gay man, I find the dating scene as fickle as it is for women seeking men. I met a guy online and we were intimate for three months, then he disappeared and I was cruelly given the cold shoulder only to find out much later he had run back to his ex. I heard he thought we were moving too fast. His inability to clearly express how he felt and confront the situation was devastating. I’m sure it is not just an Irish trait but a male issue.

The easy alternative to relationships are the quick meets on offer on the internet and social-media apps. Gone are the days of even a one-night stand. There’s an unwillingness to show one’s self from behind the mobile social app in case the reality disappoints, as it frequently does. People seem to lack the willingness or ability to connect and be intimate.

Has the dating game become like a giant supermarket, with so many products to choose from that ultimately we continue to search for the perfect and the unachievable? Is it that our expectations are so great that no one will ever reach our standards?

A Technology is challenging our emotional lives, and we’re at an awkward stage of evolution in dealing with these new matchmaking toys. It’s so easy to become extraordinarily intimate, thanks to Skype, with love objects who aren’t even on the same continent physically, never mind psychologically and romantically. App self-advertising often involves straight-to-the-point, fast-food sex.

Eddie McGuinness, organiser of The Outing, an lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna, says that you, not apps, are the best tool for attracting someone, and that “the more you are yourself, the more you’ll attract someone.”

Out on the scene, where conversation is almost impossible above loud music, we tend to go for looks over personality.

“It’s only the next day, if you go home with them that night, that you get to chat more and see who that person is. Time does tell if two people can make things work, but some people just rush into thinking about marriage, the house, two dogs and even a cat, and that’s only by the second date. This is no different if you’re male or female, gay or straight,” McGuinness says.

“I never called someone my boyfriend until three to six months had passed. That way the pressure isn’t there, but rules do have to be in place (no running off to those dating apps).”

When courting online, instead of going for the tastiest candy in the sweetshop, free your mind enough to read subtle social cues and remain open, especially to someone different from your “type”, he suggests.

Sex-only connection that ends when someone new comes along is sought by gay and straight men alike, says psychotherapist Leonard Hayes.

“For gay men the fundamental need for connection can sometimes be especially acute due to the experience of their sexuality being closeted in their younger years, and, as a consequence, the absence of these fundamental needs being met with another man at certain stages in their development,” he says.

“It seems like your recent dating experience was with just such an individual, and there may have been a mismatch between his expectation and yours. Unfortunately he left you feeling disillusioned not only with social media but also with others’ willingness and ability to connect and be intimate,” he adds.

Your hopelessness about relationships right now is understandable, considering your trust was betrayed. Rather than being angry at what social apps are doing to us, explore your own hurt and anger. “Reflecting on how you meet your own needs for connection and intimacy within yourself may help to reduce some of that anger,” says Hayes.

Broaden your social circles, get involved with one of the many vibrant gay organisations around sports, music, politics, adventure sports, even religion. When you meet someone, be upfront about your expectations, but exercise caution before jumping in with both feet.


Further reading: The Velvet Rage, by Alan Downs, alandowns.com. The next Outing will take place in October 2014.


Email your questions to tellmeaboutit@irishtimes.com or contact Kate
on Twitter, @kateholmquist. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into

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