Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kansas City > San Francisco?

So far, my one venue for finding men has been the dating site OKCupid. I've had my profile up for about five weeks which means that I'm no longer 'new'. I've reached the point where, if I want to meet anyone, I need to take the initiative.

The other day I narrowed the field to a few possibilities and started to email one of them. I had this idea that I would begin the conversation by complimenting him on something in one of his profile pictures.

As I was reviewing his pictures, I realized that two of them made me feel uncomfortable, as in, out of place. In one, he had a shoulder bag slung across his chest. The caption said, "Standing on Castro Street." In the other, he had his arm over the shoulder of a girl, his head turned toward her and his lips pursed. The caption read, "Trying to kiss Amanda at the Castro St. Fair."

When I had previously looked at the pictures I had focused on him. Now that I was looking again, I noticed his very urban surroundings and his comfort in them. He's a 41 year old school teacher - that appeals to me - but, he's also an urbanite. That got me thinking...

I live about 10 miles from San Francisco, one of the gayest cities on Earth. Yet as close as I am to Gay Mecca, my proximity disguises the fact that all the homos who reside there live VERY differently than I do. Many of them seldom travel farther than 5 miles from their home. Many of them don't have cars. Most of them DO have a strong network of friends that keeps them busy on a daily basis. Few of them have a realistic idea of what it's like to raise three kids. They're single and free. Outside of their work obligations they're free to do whatever they like, whenever they like. Without the need to be responsible for tedious things like homework and sport practices and packing school lunches and cooking dinner for a family every night, they have the freedom to pamper themselves. Who needs a big house when you're single? You don't. You can rent a small apartment and sock away a ton of money to use to travel the world.

As I sat there looking at pictures of my urban hipster school teacher I realized that, not only do we come from very different worlds, we will continue to inhabit those different worlds. And, because I'm the one with the dull obligations, what about my life would appeal to an urban, single guy?

Absolutely nothing. Why would a single guy who has spent his entire adult life catering to his own desires have any reason to accommodate a sort-of-divorced guy with three kids who lives and works in the suburbs? He wouldn't.

I canceled the email.

The fact is, people can come from different worlds and form a bond, but the chances of forming a bond when you continue to inhabit two different worlds is very low.

If I want to date single gay men in San Francisco then I pretty much have to live as a single gay man in San Francisco. There's plenty of them all over the City, there's no reason why any one of them should ever consider a guy with kids in the suburbs.

Because I don't plan to live as a single gay man in San Francisco any time soon, I've realized that I should forget about urbanites and focus on guys who live in the suburbs. If I do that, I wonder, how big is my prospect pool?

Not big! In fact, the number of total prospects, at least on OKCupid, drops by 90%.

90%!!

After carefully sorting through the 10% who remain, I don't see anyone who instinctively feels like they might be a good match. In fact, when I eliminate the guys who will never, under any circumstances, ever appeal to me, my prospect pool is shockingly tiny - considering I live only a few miles away from one of the gayest cities on Earth.

I haven't done any research but I wonder if I had the same situation and lived in a place like Kansas City, whether I'd have better options than I do in the San Francisco Bay Area? That possibility is extremely jarring.

Because I am unwilling to dump my kids on Gabbie (and she doesn't want them anyway) it's clear that I have to work within the constraints I have accepted. OKCupid might be part of the problem. Maybe it's not mainstream enough to appeal to suburbanites. Whether that's true or not, it's clear that I need to pursue other methods of meeting the right kind of men.

9 comments:

  1. Cameron - we have seen you make so much progress this year in some big areas, but there is one huge part of you that is stuck. You rationalize failure. You have already created this convenient myth that you will have nothing to offer an urban gay man and that his world and yours are too different. What ever happened to your faith that opposites can excite one another? What happened to using sites like Adam4 Adam which as I write you at 5:40 Wednesday night has 236 members just from the North Bay on line and shows 157 new members have joined just in the last few weeks.

    You so much want to prove that finding a mate is impossible that your rational mind is making it impossible. OK, I confess to my own doubts as my current post shows, but I am making progress, have 1 or 2 possible keepers, have gained lots of good experience, and have these strikes against me that are huge compared to self pitying suburban you
    1. I live in a rural county with not one gay bar
    2. I live 230 miles from the Castro or West Hollywood
    3. As you so graciously told me, I am old enough to be your father in a town where 80% of the guys looking are under 25
    4. I can't look on weekends and am not out to my wife
    5. I lack the witty sarcasm and self deprecating gestures you have which if just tweaked a bit would make you the darling of some gay intellectual creative circles - you are smart and cute and can be sassy I know.

    You are so stuck in the past of justifying being trapped and comfortable with statistical conclusions that keep you sitting at home.

    Take my comment as a huge friend to friend shove and smack on your small sexy ass...JUST STOP THINKING AND START ACTING. You and I both need to heed what one of the latest cliches in the field of innovative leadership is: Don't think out to act, if you can act out to think. Learn by doing is the earlier version from none other than Socrates by way of Plato. Give up on Kant.

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  2. Ok, first off, how many of those guys who live within the city of San Francisco, long for the wide open spaces of the suburbs? No, really, I know that their has to be quite a few men your age who would love to settle down and do the domestic dance. And many men would love to be a parent, but see no way of being able to fullfill that desire. Jaysonstreet is 100% correct. You need to stop filling your cup with the negative.

    You and Gabby are over, finished, through. One thing that you honestly need to do is to stop sharing a bed with her. Even if it comes down to sleeping on a cot in the laundry room, it needs to be done.

    Now, get your profile on a whole host of sites. If you have a smart phone, try out Grindr. If you are only 10 miles from the gay mecca of the country, why on earth arent you out and about there at least one day/night a weekend? If nothing else, hire up a babysitter, and head out. Spend the entire day on Castro street, get out there, and get in touch with the part of you that ISNT a father. Yes, its there, somewhere. No, you wont hurt your kids one tiny bit buy spending one day each week away from them.

    Sooner than you can believe your children will be grown and out of the house. And there you will be, alone without a partner/husband. There are always excuses to be found, dont fall prey to them. Get up, get out, and find you a life that doesnt include your kids, Gabby or Mt. Laundry.

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  3. Fucking hell man! Why would anyone on OK cupid need to worry about what they are looking for when YOU have it already figured out for them?

    Hey, maybe you know more about the guys in SF than I do, but it sounds defeatist when you go pinning your predisposed ideas on someone you know almost nothing about.

    Here's another angle.

    It's a numbers game. Most of the people you meet/contact are NOT going to end up being your dream guy.

    Go ahead and give them a chance to get checked off of the list.

    Let's say you connect with one out of 10 guys you talk to. You gotta talk to 9 guys that ultimately don't work out, right. Let this guy be one of the nine.

    Hey, far be it from me to tell you Mr. Shoulder bag is the Ken Doll of your dreams, but give him the opportunity to let you know that him self. Then you can tell me "I told you so."

    I wonder how many urbanites are out there, looking at your profile, and thinking.... "oh, a family man. I'm sure Mr. Suburban family man is only interested in another family man, who has kids, and relates to him."

    I guess what I'm trying to say is...."don't tell me what I'm looking for. Let me figure that out for myself."

    Jack.

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  4. I regularly go to a gay resort in Guerneville, just north of SF, and so a lot of the guys I meet there are from "the city" (which always sounds weird to me, since the city I'm from is about 5x the size of "the city" and we never think of it that way).

    Anyway, most of those guys are *not* the definition you seem to have of SF locals. In fact, I met a couple of really awesome guys in Cancun who invited me to stay at their condo about 30 ft from "the Castro" for gay pride weekend a few years ago (which also happens to be my birthday; yes, I'm a Stonewall baby). One of them was definitely "the type" (and still cool), but the other was a stay-at-home, house and yard and white picket fence type. He just loved SF and had a really nice place there.

    As the others have said, you're doing a very good job of defeating yourself before you even try. I understand that it's "safer" that way because that means no actual rejection, but it also means zero chance of acceptance. You just have to get out there.

    And, really, don't focus on a relationship. You need friends and a support network first - people you can just talk to about things - and while it's nice to dream about the husband, it's likely going to take years to find him. That's not because of you, but simply because of statistics.

    I mean (and this is going to sound wrong, but go with it) I'm 33, 6'2, 170 lbs, pretty well-build, decent looking, making over $100k a year in the second-largest city in the US and I haven't had a "real date" in 7 years. It's just math: most of the people you meet you won't hit it off with; the solution is to meet more people, not lock yourself away. You also might "get lucky" - I've got a friend who is in his 40's, overweight, definitely not "the type", and he's recently found someone who may be "the one".

    Just get out there and meet people. Make friends. Get comfortable with being who you are, without worrying about what other people think of you. Until you do that, you're not going to have much success with anything.

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  5. First, don't always judge a person solely based on the photo.

    Second, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the prince for you, meaning; email guys, chat them up, and sort them out, then spend time with the ones you like. A connection is never going to happen over night or because of one hookup/ meeting, it takes time.

    Third , get your profile onto different site.

    Fourth, don't expect a connection without effort and sweat on your part, and it's going to happen when you least expect it to happen, and in a unexpected way.

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  6. A long time ago, I was working in sales. One of the most import things I learned is you never, NEVER project yourself on the customer. You have no idea what they are about. for example you cannot assume based on the way the customer is dressed what they can afford.

    You don't know until you ask what this guy might or might not be interested in. I think you should reach out to this guy and find out.

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  7. Damn, Cam! Not much to add. I agree with the self-defeating comments, and props for writing it all out for you and others to see. I still favor mingling/mixing/milling around. Frontrunners; gay and mixed folk and square dance groups (many!); support groups galore in the Bay Area; interest groups (The orchid society is loaded with 'em). The new SF center is worth checking out. And, the East Bay! Less citified but not the burbs either.

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  8. To quote a character in a Woody Allen movie: "I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype."

    Listen to what all the previous commenters have said.

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