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Not too long ago I started dating a guy I met through a rather popular NZ online dating service. We went on about six dates, talked a lot and ultimately I realised that while we were getting on as friends, I had no emotional connection to him.

Cue the awkward discussions and decision to not waste each other’s time any further – it wasn’t a nasty split, but I certainly be awkward talking to him again.

After having taken a bit of time to sort out flats and settle down in the new place, I have been somewhat missing having someone to go out with and talk with. This is compounded by living with a couple who are living together for the first time and have their own cutesy couplespeak – you know the kind where they start talking like three years olds to each other and have new words with far too many “oo” sounds in them.

Yeah it’s adorable, but it is also torture for a single guy to be in the middle of. So I logged back in and started looking at profiles. I had kind of forgotten how bad modem dating is for gay men.

Our subculture has had quite the history of shallow dating practices – the old toilet block cruising, handkerchief signals etc. The gay community has a history of sex first, relationships second. The thing about cruising for sex is that you make a much more conscious focus on physicality over personality. When you’re shagging, who gives a crap about if the other guy like cars or crochet. If he’s hot and good at sex, that’s all that really matters.

Conversely, Internet dating sites have this notion that most people are looking for dates not just sex. And yet the same type of measuring is being applied. The sites even admit “with a photo you will get more than double the responses” with the unstated implication that this will happen as long as you are hot.

I have noted that most gay guys shy away from saying they are looking for a relationship. It’s all about keeping your options open and most times cruising for sex.

People will dismiss someone for things like the age on your profile, whether you reveal too much or too little and whether you don’t quite look like their ideal in a photo.

It occurs to me that unlike real life where we are forced to get to know a person simply by seeing them respond to our comments, online dating becomes more like an iTunes for sex and intimacy.

People seem to browse through the titles, make snap decisions and generally remove the humanity from the experience. Many profiles contain absolutely no information about the person, but demands that you “show an interest in the same things as me.”

Others want genuine guys, but without qualifying what that even means. Apparently it is just the expected thing to say to prove you’re not a douchebag.

Once you have navigated this nightmare of profiles, a guy may then reveal that he’s bigoted, believes in UFOs running the government or that he’s only really interested in guys younger than him. Apparently nobody wants to date people in their age group – everybody wants to be dating a 20 year old. Who is smooth, hot, successful, intelligent (but only in a Hollywood movie way), witty (but only in a repeat south park/Simpsons jokes way) and good in bed.

Navigate through all that and you might just find a person who is willing to chat. Some of these people are even open enough to actually chat back rather than expect you to provide all the conversation.

Then the moment you say “we should meet.” BAM! They disappear and refuse to talk again.

Ultimately the dehumanising element of this process makes everyone involved too nervous and shy to open up. There are probably hundreds of nice guys logging in, but they are so intimidated, and so disillusioned, they don’t realise that the only way to really find out if a person is the right one for them is to break out of their comfort zone, and let that person know something about them.

For myself, there really aren’t any other channels for me at the moment, so I continue to struggle through. I know what I’m looking for – someone who can keep up with me. Age isn’t an issue so much for me, sure he needs to be cute – but I have a pretty broad set of notions regarding what “cute” is. Unfortunately I’m yet to find a guy who can keep up.

Here’s hoping there is such a guy here in Wellington and that I meet him soon. 🙂

Conan

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