Thursday, February 3, 2011
Get your dating game on, gay boys....
This afternoon I met a guy, good personality, decent looking, easy to talk to, who was really down in the dumps about his social life. It's been a year, he said, since he's been out on a date and although he is only in his early 40's, he is sure life has passed him by. He has a great career, a good job, plenty of money, but no one to share all this with. And as a result, to him his life is empty and for the most part meaningless.
My heart went out to the guy and I felt absolutely terrible, especially because I had one great date yesterday afternoon and two wonderful dates today (and it's not even the weekend yet.) I couldn't help but wonder why so many normal guys, like my friends and I, date regularly and why so many great guys sit dejectedly at home.
As I pondered this seemingly insoluble question, a few thoughts about dating came to me that I thought I might share.
1. "Dating" needs to be redefined. Dating is not looking for a hook-up or a make-out. To me, dating is the process of sharing. Some of my best dates are with guys with whom I actually have no sexual chemistry--at least not today. We talk. We laugh. We learn about one another and thoroughly enjoy ourselves. No stress, no expectations. At the end of the date our friendship is stronger than it was at the beginning and I walk away feeling refreshed. (And sometimes the "date" is so low key, purists might not even call it a date. But it is. It's these "dates" that often allow simple friendship to evolve into something much deeper.)
2. Date to have fun. When I go out with a guy (despite what I might say to my friends, and what my friends might say about me) I am actually going out to have a great time. I don't let a potential LTR get in the way of enjoying a guy in the moment. Whether we're eating a meal, watching a movie, dancing at a club, or hiking in the mountains, I'm there to have a good time and do what I can to make sure he has a good time, too.
3. Avoid romanticising friendship. In the gay world, this is a hard thing to do. I think nearly every gay guy is initially suspicious of the intentions of someone he just meets. ("Is he hitting on me?" "Why is he staring?" "Is he or isn't he my type.") Instead of trying to determine whether every guy is a potential lover or partner, slow down a little and think of him in terms of friendship. Focus on the deeper questions. Is this someone I'd like to go someplace with, talk deep thoughts with, or even learn something from? Is this someone I'd enjoy being with just because he's here?
4. The best partners are best friends. I learned this as a gay man married to a wonderful straight women. Despite the difficulty of maintaining an MOM over decades, we remained and still remain the best of friends. It was that friendship that sustained us and helped us to forge a bond that transcended the typical marital relationship. Eventually infatuation fades, but for a relationship to continue, honest and meaningful friendship must serve as that relationship's foundation.
5. Date with friends. Some of the best dates I've had are group dates with just friends. Not only do group dates give me the opportunity to meet more people, but they enable me to seem to be more attractive. (Research has found that people who enjoy and are enjoyed by other people, tend to attract more people to them even if they aren't actually attractive--go figure.)
I love to go on "dates" with several of my friends who are tall, broad and very handsome. Inevitably when we walk in a room together people look at them (and me) and I end up with most of the people in the room wanting to meet me as well as the "demigods". Thanks to my friends' charm and good looks, I've gotten a number of great dates and made a whole slew of new friends.
6. Enjoy a little NCMO every once in a while. Contrary to what I was taught as a boy, a little non-committal make-out not only cleanses the mind, it's great for the spirit. A good make-out builds confidence and everyone knows confidence is a very powerful aphrodisiac.
7. Relax. Like many people, I want what I want NOW. For me relaxing and having faith that everything will eventually work out is the hardest part of dating. People love to be around people who have faith and optimism. People don't like to be around people who are caught in the dark world of failed relationships, angry former spouses, and general negativity. As one of my buddies has reminded me many times, "Love will come when you least expect it. Don't push things. Just enjoy the ride."
And that's what I try to do. While I do yearn for a companion and a helpmeet, I have to admit that I love dating, meeting people and learning about what I actually want in the man who will ultimately be my husband and partner. In the end, dating is all part of the gay experience and I candidly admit that I wouldn't pass it up for anything in the world.