Thursday, August 12, 2010

Observations of an On-line Gay Dating Voyeur

When most guys get bored at work, they play an on-line game or check out porn. I read gay personal ads.

Sometimes I get so bored that I read ads for all the major cities on Craigslist.

I've been reading ads for years, and I have to say, much of the time I feel like I'm rubber-necking at a bad car accident. There are exceptions, but generally the people who post face pictures on Craigslist romance ads are not doing themselves any favors.

When I see the same person posting repeatedly over a long period of time, I feel really awful for them. It's hard not to feel empathetic when they are so desperate. Little do they realize that their desperation drives potential suitors away.

There's this one guy, early 30s, who's been posting in Minneapolis continuously for at least two years. Objectively, he's not a bad looking guy. But for a long time, the picture he posted made him look like he was in the middle of a hyper fit, jumping around the room. He's got a better picture now, but his message still reeks of desperation. I have a feeling he's a really nice guy, but sorry, no, I wouldn't want to date him either.

Craigslist is the best place to find revolting pictures of potential dates.

I guess I'm a bad fag because I practically want to heave when I flip to an ad and the picture is a full-screen shot of a puckered asshole. Like, a literal asshole. It's not that I am opposed to fucking assholes, however, I really don't want to look at them. Of all the body parts someone could photograph and post, I can't think of one less sexy than an asshole. Even nostrils are way sexier.

Ug. I need to move on. I'm making myself nauseous flashing back to those pictures.

One thing I've noticed more often on Craigslist than other places is an emphasis on age. How to handle age on Craigslist is a puzzle. Isn't there a Craigslist posting rule that requires you to deduct one year per decade off of your real age for every decade after your teens? Well, until your 40. Then you stay 39 until you turn 50, when you become 42. And so on.

Since so many guys lie about their age, I've often wondered what the proper etiquette is to handle age limitations in a Craigslist ad. If I say I'm 39, but I'm really 43, and an ad says 21-40, should I reply? My Craigslist age is 39, after all, so I probably should...

Craig needs to do something to clear up this confusion. He needs to make people specify whether they mean solar years or Craigslist years when they post anything age-related.

The other thing about age on Craigslist is that no one wants to date a guy their own age. "VGL 18yo seeks 15-17 ONLY!!!!!!" Ok, I'm exaggerating. Slightly. There are guys who will date someone their own age, but often, that's the limit. Many a 29 year old will not date anyone 30 or over. "My age or younger!" Maybe the reason so many gay guys are single is because they're all chasing someone younger. The 30 year old is too old for the 29 year old who is too old for the 28 year old, etc.

The most unintentionally hysterical ads to me are the (invariably) old and unattractive guys who want someone young, hot and hung. Dudes...you're taking your porn too seriously. The hot young guy on the screen is not going to be visiting your bedroom any time soon. Trust me.

In recent months, as I have fantasized more about being single and dating, I have spent some time checking out Manhunt and Adam4Adam. Again, these sites are like rubber-necking as you drive past a bad accident.

As near as I can tell, the sites are essentially the same. But for some reason, Adam4Adam consistently has twice as many guys on-line at any time of day compared to Manhunt.

I too have a slight preference for Adam4Adam, but for a silly reason. I like that I can flip from page to page without scrolling; Adam4Adam shows 12 guys on a page whereas Manhunt shows 20. I guess I need a bigger monitor to look for sex on Manhunt.

I find both sites to be more sad than hot or unintentionally funny. These sites represent what gay life is all about??? 20 different pictures of dicks, torsos and asses to pick from? The whole purpose of conversing is to negotiate terms for one fuck?

In fairness, there does appear to be a small percentage of guys on both sites who say they are looking for more than a NSA hook-up. One blogger friend told me that has found a few 'diamonds' on Adam4Adam. I wanted to ask him, "If that's true, why are you still single?" I don't think he would have liked my smart-ass question.

When I contemplate these hook-up sites I have to wonder if I'd be wise or stupid to avoid them if was looking for a relationship. As near as I can tell, Adam4Adam is the most popular gay destination on the web. But then I ask myself, do I really want to hang out with the 'most popular' crowd?

Perhaps it's unfair, but I put Match.com and Gay.com in the same category. To me, they are equally generic dating sites. Posting a profile on either one is akin to posting a flier for a lost dog on the crowded bulletin board at the local laundry mat.

As with Adam4Adam and Manhunt, these sites strike me as a little sad too. The reason is that every time I visit them, which is not often, I see EXACTLY the same guys. For that to happen on Gay.com is not so unexpected, but for Match, the implication is not good. "Sign-up here and you're certain to never find a boyfriend!"

For the better on-line dating options, I'm aware of two sites that are geared toward finding relationships. One is eHarmony's Compatible Partners and the other is MyPartner.com. It's hard not to like MyPartner because they have a special at the moment, $8, full access, for a year. How can you complain about spending $8? Cripes, one trip across the 1.7 miles of the Golden Gate Bridge costs $6!

The downside of MyPartner is that it is not well known and the traffic on the site seems low. Or maybe there aren't many homos looking for love?

One somewhat surprising facet of MyPartner is that they have an option to label yourself as "married or partnered and looking". Compatible Partners definitely does not allow that. I think they force you to certify that you are single when you sign up. They want to prove to guys looking for love that they mean business!

Compatible Partners takes you through several long questionaires when you sign up. It gets a bit tedious. In my opinion, they make a mistake when they don't give you an option to indicate the importance of a particular question. For example, if I had big thing for redheads (which I don't; but they are distinctive) I'd like to be able to say hair color matters WAY more than "I 'mostly like' to travel" vs. "I 'somewhat' like to travel."

I actually think that Compatible Partners doesn't want guys to be too specific. They need to keep as many people as possible in the same buckets so they can continually feed them new leads.

I don't have an informed opinion about the quality of the matches on either MyPartner or Compatible Partners. I'd have to actually meet a few guys for that. I do remember my very first match on Compatible Partners, however. He was a cute 38yo teacher who wrote something intelligent about helping people and enjoying his work with children. BOING! Those words gave me a proverbial hard on. The majority of the matches, however, look to be lame. After the first few, they mostly seem no different than picking a random guy on Match.

All in all, I'd have to say that I don't see much that is appealing about the on-line gay dating world. Yet, as I say that, I have to wonder why I find it so fascinating. Maybe it's the thrill of the (pretend) hunt.

As I imagine what it would be like to be single and dating, the excitement of the possibilities is definitely lessened by the reality of what I see on these dating sites. What's especially depressing is that I hear on-line dating sites are THE best way to meet a gay partner. In that case, I am so fucked - and not in a good way.

Does anyone out there have any first-hand experience with on-line gay dating? Can you dispel some or all of my negative impressions??

I sure hope so.

If the fun of the imaginary chase fades I might be left with little else to do at work, besides...play games and watch porn.

6 comments:

  1. I met an indiviudal online and after a couple of years of trying to figure out what the heck was going on, it surfaced that he had a couple of serious personality disorders.

    Later as I waded thru the personal aftermath of this realtionship, I found out that this was the place many other people were inadvertantly meeting people with serious mental and emotional disorders.

    One article specifically named match.com as a haven for individuals with such disorders. The point being that of course you can be who ever you want to be in an online profile.

    What I cant figure out is why no one has actually created a bi/gay friendly site for indviduals looking simply to meet people and is not geared at hookups.

    I do know of one called: http://www.g-ratedguys.com/

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  2. With all due respect, you won't find anyone if you keep on having this "I'm better than other people" attitude. We all have short-comings: you have your wife and her crazy bf; another person has his wife and his self-righteousness; another person has has religious hang-ups; another person has his long-distance old twink bf; etc...do you list all that in your dating profiles??? NO. Relax. Make your profile truthful first. Be truthful first. Put your real age. Ignore all the other profiles that don't suit you. Don't be too quick in judging. Everyone else has the right to put whatever they want. There will be someone who is attracted to your profile and contact you. Be patient and openminded. Know what you want and what you can offer. Don't ask for too much if you can't offer much. Good luck.

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  3. @Bi_G - That's a frightening story. The article about Match being a haven - do you know where I could find it? I wonder why they'd be more prone to problems than anyone else. I agree without about a non-hook-up site. I guess the demand is not there. I think some of the gay sites have a hard time staying afloat. And Yahoo Personals was sold to Match not long ago. The g-rated site has promise but the traffic seemed very low.

    @Anonymous - I'm not looking for anyone at the moment. I just fantasize about what I would do if I was looking. I'm under no illusion that I'm no prize. 43, 3 kids at home, an estranged wife - there aren't many (any?) guys looking for a partner like that. On the profiles I have posted, they all say I'm married and just imagining what it would be like to be looking. Even on Compatible Partners where they don't have a married option. I think your advice to be 100% truthful is spot on. If the time ever comes and I really am looking, I will be disclosing all my baggage upfront. Lying from minute one is no way to begin a relationship.

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  4. I really don't mean anything negative toward you. I just think that you deserve to find happiness. And by just looking at the negativities, it would be so hard for you. Your situation is hard enough. There are nice people in these dating sites. Don't give up. Wake up and get yourself a nice man. You deserve it. Stop torturing yourself. OK?

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  5. As you know, I have just started this, and at this time will not say which site I am using for a variety of reasons. However, I can say this--
    NO system of trying to meet men is frustration free - bars, discos, coffee houses, blogs, internet sites, hiking clubs etc. However, the more you put yourself out and meet people, the better. The truth is most of us find friendships and love through our own social network, and this is not the way secret bi and gay men can meet one another, so we are stuck with the shot-gun approach. Finding NSA may be easier on these sites, but friendship of love takes lots of trial and error.

    That is the sobering news, but then doing nothing gets nothing, so what is worse? There are assholes living in your neighborhood and having kids at your kid's school and working in the office buildings - they are everywhere and so why would we not find some on the internet? It's society.

    Now the good news. I met two lovingly partnered (for 8 years now) smart, attractive gay men in their late 50's who met on the internet in my rural region. And one of them was a formerly married man who came out as gay only shortly before they met. It can happen to good men.

    You are a good man who prevents himself from getting out of a bad situation by rationalizing that it is not really possible. So now let's blame the internet dating sites. Hey, any good gay book store has half a dozen books on how to find the right guy using the sites, acknowledging the pitfalls but providing some OK advice. Stop taking your own advice too seriously and loosen up, you deserve better.

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  6. Ha! You share some of the same sentiments that I do about all the online gay spots. My gay friends think I'm an absolute prude because I don't hook up enough (or at all) from the sites. I just can't get past the assholes, torsos, armpits, feet, and nipples to make a serious connection. I don't think I'm missing anything.

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