The Grindr Dilemma

Why Dating for Gay Men is Impossible

I want you, the reader, to honestly think about a go-to place for meeting potential romantic partners. Not even necessarily the place where you met your current boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife, but anywhere in the world that you could meet someone who is interested in your romantically and sexually.

If your answer is essentially “anywhere,” then I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that you’re heterosexual. I know there’s this tired narrative that all gay people are misunderstood and long to be accepted and like their straight peers, but I reject that. I don’t think I’m misunderstood, and I’m not so ashamed of my sexuality that I want to be straight; I pine to no longer be disadvantaged, sure, but I like to think that I’m pretty well understood both by myself and those around me. Still, I can’t help but be jealous of how heterosexual people can just go out and meet someone anywhere. The grocery store, the gym, or even just on the street somewhere at a bus stop.

Of course, I’m not trying to say that gay people don’t shop for groceries, or work out, or take public transportation, because we do. However, the chance of us meeting a potential romantic partner at these places is fractional when compared to a straight person’s. Consider thinking about any space where gay men like myself can meet each other.

The only answers that I’ve been able to come up with are gay bars, or on dating apps. That’s fine and dandy, but the overall vibe and social climate of a gay bar is a far cry from that of any grocery store that I’ve ever been to. In addition, calling an app like Grindr a “dating app” is basically a joke. I don’t think anyone on that app has long term dating in mind. For the uninitiated, here are a few examples of what a typical conversation on Grindr looks like:

You might argue that these particular examples are a parody. My reply to that would be “not by much.” All of these are just a drop in the ocean of the general interactions that gay men have on these “dating” apps (and yes, I’m including things like Tinder and OkCupid under that umbrella; two apps that straight people utilize all of the time with a whole lot of success, I imagine).

What I’m getting at is that there are limited outlets available for gay men to meet each other when compared to their straight counterparts. I’m sure it would be fine to accept normally considering we are a statistical minority, but the problem for me personally and others like me is the hypersexualization of these outlets. Not to bash anyone looking to hook up. By all means, if that is your thing, then go for it. I don’t mean to put some sex-negative rant out into the world.

The thing is, if you’re a gay man looking for a long term relationship, to commit to one person, to fall in love and be married and find someone to retire to Florida with, it’s going to be disappointing. Maybe I’m being slightly bitter, but I can’t just be speaking for myself when I say that it’s ridiculous to open a conversation with a nude photo, right?

So what is the solution? Does this situation even call for a solution? From my viewpoint, yes. I’d like to be able to meet others like me in an environment that doesn’t encourage sex with its every element. I’d like to connect with another dude on a level that goes beyond the hook up level. Ultimately, I wanna meet someone special. That’s saccharine, but true, and near impossible in the current gay dating climate.

I’d argue for the introduction of neutral, but gay spaces. Again, not saying there should be gay grocery stores, or gay gyms, or gay bus stops, but somewhere for us to congregate and meet each other without having to worry about how to politely decline heading to their home afterwards for casual sex.

Is that possible? I don’t know, but I hope so. In the meantime, I’ll just keep blocking anyone on Grindr who sends me an unsolicited picture of their penis.