Whatever age you are, and whatever your sexuality, dating can be hard work.
You have to find ways to meet someone that you fancy, you have to check whether they’re into you, you have to work through the logistics of arranging some sort of date, and you have to see whether there’s enough chemistry there to take that next step.
Fortunately, there is an increasing number of apps to help us connect with each other, including several for gay and bi guys. One of the most popular of these is an app called Grindr, but there’s lots of similar apps out there all delivering a fairly similar kind of service.
What Is Grindr?
Using the geo-location capability of smart-phones, Grindr can show you the profiles of other gay and bi guys within your area (who are also using the app), it gives you basic information about them, shows whether or not they are online and available for chat, and it shows you how far away they are from your location. It always reminds me a bit of the Cerebro machine used by Professor X on the X-men, finding the other mutants out there.
There’s lots of great benefits to using an app like Grindr -- for one, it immediately shows you that you’re not alone, turn on the app wherever you are and you’ll quickly see that there are plenty of gay guys out there, even in some of the most surprising and remote places. You’ll also quickly realize that most of the guys on apps like Grind are keen to chat, keen to engage, keen to meet-up -- that’s why they’re using the app, just like you.
It can be exciting, fun, and self-affirming to meet other guys with apps, but the first priority is always to be safe.
Proceed with Caution: Tips for Safety & Emotional Well-Being
There are a few areas of caution though with apps like Grindr (that also apply to Internet dating in general), so I want to share some of the things that I’ve learnt (by experience) along the way.
1. Don’t over-share.
You’ll quickly realize that when you start chatting with guys on apps like Grindr, they are likely going to ask you to send some photos. This is one way of making conversation, of seeing if you’re attracted to each other, to see whether you want to take it further.
But, like your profile pic, once you put a photo out there you really don’t have much control over what happens to it -- so be cautious about sending revealing photos or ones that clearly show your face. It’s not ideal if a prospective employer does a Google search on you and what they get is a little more than they bargained for.
While it's fun to chat and get to know someone new -- maybe even meet up for a date -- the reality is, you never know who's on the other end of your convo. Do not give personal information, like your home address, out to anyone you meet online; if you choose to go on a date, do it in a public space and make sure a friend or guardian knows where you are and is able to check in with you. If you can, consider making it a group date.
2. Don’t overthink your profile.
Keep it simple and honest: Be yourself, not someone else. I'd recommend not trying to be too funny or kooky, too cool or sexy -- just write what you’re comfortable in sharing with people you don’t know. Another reason to be yourself when app dating: It reaffirms that being gay or bi is nothing to be ashamed of. However, if you’re not ready to be open about your sexuality with everyone, then you want to be cautious about posting pictures, especially of your face.
3. Don’t take it personally
There’s lots of reasons why a guy might not respond to your message, or may have responded a couple of times and then you don’t hear from him again. Generally it’s because they’re busy, or they’ve gone to work, or their maybe even that their boyfriend has come home(!).
Don’t get upset or become a bit desperate if the guys that you'd like to meet in your area aren’t being particularly responsive. If you feel yourself slipping into these emotions, that's a sign that Grindr isn't contributing to your emotional health, and you should consider taking a break from using it. Self-worth and self-esteem come from within, not from someone else validating your attractiveness.
Apps like Grindr require you to kiss a lot of frogs before you get to the Prince Charmings. Don’t obsess about Grindr -- check your messages occasionally but if there’s no one on there grabbing your interest or returning your messages, then go to the gym, hang with friends, or whatever else makes you feel part of a social space.
There’s a lot of “Don’ts” on this list, but really the main lesson that I’ve learnt from using Grindr is just to relax, be safe, and have some fun -- that’s what dating is all about.
Photo courtesy of dharmasphere / Flickr.