Dating for the modern man: The do’s and don’ts of dating apps

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ame three dating or hook-up apps. Most of you will be able to name at least three, if not more, which just goes to show how much of an impact they’re making on our sex and dating life. Gay men are logging on and being greeted by a plethora of profiles — a veritable dating catalogue. But as you flick through the pages of this never-ending catalogue of men, have you ever considered the potential for things to go wrong? The pizza you ordered last night isn’t the same as the guy who you met online. He’s coming over in five minutes and you can’t simply return him if he’s not what you thought you’d ordered.

Before he does come knocking on your door, let’s just get to grips with some common things to think about when using our favourite apps. First of all, there’s nothing wrong with using apps. You’re probably aware of this, but the judgement of others can sometimes make us reluctant to talk about our experiences (good or bad) that we’ve had whilst using them. Equally, if something does go wrong, it may not always be easy to go to the Police, out of fear of being judged.

Location, location, location! Just like when you’re looking for the perfect pied-à-tère, which in London is a cupboard under somebody’s stairs for £800pcm, the location of your off-line meeting is also important. If you’re meeting somebody for a date and you’ve never met them before, it’s best to do it somewhere that’s busy. That way if you don’t like the look of them, you can walk off into the crowd. It might sound like an obvious thing, but arranging to meet somebody in a poorly-lit ally way, at midnight, is basically the opening to a horror movie. And there won’t be any scary music to warn you of what’s about to happen next.

Make a plan and stick to it. Set a place and time, preferably in an area that you’re familiar with. Tell a friend that you’re meeting somebody and tell them what your plan is. Don’t then text them throughout the date with every little detail, but send them a quick message when you make it home. Just so that somebody knows you’re home safe and sound, with hopefully an interesting story to tell in the morning…

If you’re planning to have sex (you never know, it might happen), stock up. There’s no point him arriving at your place for you then to realise you don’t have any condoms or lube. Of course, he hasn’t brought any, because he assumed you’d have some. It doesn’t matter if he tells you he’s been tested last week and he’s been given a full bill of health, it’s important to make sure you protect yourself and him. Go out to the shop and buy rubber hats together, if you wish — and they say romance is dead.

No means no, didn’t you know? The word ‘no’ forms part of everybody’s vocabulary, so we should all really understand what it means. Remember that you’re in control of what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. If you say you don’t want to do something, the other person should respect that. This can become more challenging once you’ve had a few gin and tonics, so go easy on the alcohol! And if you feel as though something has happened that’s gone against your consent, don’t be afraid to come forward and say something. There are a number of charities who work with people who have been sexually assaulted and there are specialist Police Officers who are trained to investigate these types of incidents.

But once you’ve taken all that in, smile, and don’t forget to have a great time!