By: Brandon Jamil
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Most single gay men spend their time searching for new landscapes to conquer. This can come in the form of a new residence; new city. Some of us are seeking to expand our careers and personal finances. While others are still in hopes to find Mr. Right. It’s not a secret that most of us spend our time on dating apps such as GRINDR or JACK’D. Weather we’re looking to date, hookup, or a relationship—We find ourselves in a cyclical pattern of downloading the gay dating apps, uploading our pictures and bio, and deleting it. Time and time again, we find ourselves annoyed that we’re unable to attract the romantic experiences we’re desiring.
My good friend, psychologist (for his safety we’ll refer to him as Robert) went out with a group of our friends last week. As usual, everyone begins to purge their frustration about the current state of the dating culture (ACTUAL DATING DOESN’T EXIST!)
So, after about fifteen minutes, Robert looks at each of our friends and asked: “what are you truly looking for, and can you actualize it with the dating app’s you’re using?” Simple question, but it carried weight. Robert believes that our mental and emotional health is our personal responsibility. Robert went on to say that if we’re not getting our emotional needs met by online dating, perhaps it’s not the dating app platform’s problem, but it’s ours.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting Robert to be candid with our group of friends. Robert isn’t the type of psychologist who lives his personal life as-a-means to save everyone he encounters. But his point is valid. Once we’ve committed to ourselves, our lives, our needs, our passions, our health, our careers, and so on… We have every right to stand in our truth without feeling as if it’s wrong to demand more from a man than a casual fling. Why would we continue to place ourselves in environments that don’t support our emotional needs? Why would we allow ourselves to feel robbed and emotionally drained?
Each of my friends admitted that they were fully aware that it was time to hang up the dating apps and live their life without the need for a quick fix. Most of my friends have acknowledged that they felt embarrassed and ashamed to profess they desired commitment in the first place. In-fact some of them decided to mask their need for a romantic relationship with friends with benefits and going with the flow; believing that someday they’d have the commitment. All they received was a string a long and marathon sex with no foundation for anything more.
Robert asked them why they’d allow themselves to feel ashamed of wanting to experience a committed, loving relationship. And the truth was chilling. Other gay men flat out told them that love was a waste of time, and they’re not on dating apps for the “love nonsense.”
Having experience with dating apps myself, I’ve decided to eject myself from the entire scenario and purposefully live my own life and allow myself to experience other men without the need to settle on a hook up. But, my experience with online dating is unique. I’ve encountered many dating scenarios, and relationships, as well as hook ups. I credit my personal experience to the amount of traveling I do.
I find it easier to meet people when I am on the go. Mainly, because I am not expecting much from the encounter—when I am traveling. I treat the dating apps like a social network with objectivity in mind. Also, I shy away from apps such as GRINDR and other dating apps that are based on hook ups (from my experience).
Additionally, I’ve found it easier to navigate dating apps with finely defining my boundaries and placing myself in situations that are mutually beneficial for me and the other party. The need to accept scraps or feel isolated and lost in a dating culture that doesn’t add value to my life is something of the past. Though, I completely understand the need to remain on dating apps that attract toxic people within loose-loose situations. Everyone’s life path is painted differently, and not all of us have the luxury to travel whenever we want. Needless-to-say, we accept what is available to us. Which isn’t always negative. But I would make an argument by saying that expansion to our environment allows us the opportunity to meet people that we’d most likely not meet in our day to day lives.
Robert suggested that our friends get out of their comfort zones and try to meet men outside of the dating apps. Perhaps go to the meetup groups, or LGBT networking events, and travel. My friends weren’t completely on board with the suggestion at first. As my friends stated their hang ups with the different avenues to dating, it was clear that they’d have to put in effort that tested and demonstrated their self-esteem. It’s easy to create an online dating profile and puff our egos, and persona. The real demonstration for self esteem is in real life. Are we willing to walk up to a man we find attractive and start a conversation? Are we capable of asking someone out on a date? Are we willing to live outside of the normal and confront our social anxiety? I know that some people don’t patron bars, or social events, so finding gay men may not be easy.
If you’re someone who struggles with having a social life, I recommend starting small and work your way up. You may enjoy nature, the next move you’re going to make is joining a nature group in your city. By integrating yourself with a small network you open the doors to other social events and people you’d probably never set your eyes on—had you just stayed home or in your comfort zone. Who knows you just may find someone that meets your standards and need’s.