AdviceColumnsSavage Love

Savage Love: Get Your Head Out of Your Ass and off the Dating Apps

Get Your Head Out of Your Ass (Illustration by Joe Newton)

I’m a 44-year-old gay male and I’ve never been in a serious relationship. I would like to find my way into an LTR, but I have a series of overlapping dating issues that I don’t know how to navigate.

First, due to my career, I move around a lot, and often don’t see the point in dating when I know I am going to be moving again; I have another potential move on the horizon in six months. Second, I find online dating apps to be awful. I have encountered more ghosts on apps than I did in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Last year, one date I arranged through an app turned out to be the setup for either a mugging or a hate crime. I managed to escape physically unharmed, but I did delete all the dating apps after that.

Third, I’m a beefier guy, but I have never really fit into the bear community. I hate wearing leather, I can’t stand growing facial hair, and don’t have any kinks — and leather, beards, and kinks seem to be prerequisites for joining the bear club. Also, most bears are older guys and older guys don’t really do it for me. And younger guys always seem to be looking for a sugar daddy. I’m a Goldilocks who can’t find her “just right.”

Fourth and finally, I’ve lived a big life. Due to a parent in the entertainment industry, I grew up with backlot access. I have literally traveled all over the world. I can tell stories for days. But it makes dating hard when the other guy has only his work or cats to talk about. I’ve gone on more than one date where the guy told me he didn’t have anything interesting to say about himself and that he just wanted to hear about my life. Am I destined to be either a spinster or a sugar daddy?
— Lost And Can’t Keep Investigating New Guys 

1. If you don’t see any point in dating because you’re always on the move, LACKING, it’s not a long-term relationship you should be seeking, but a nice string of fulfilling short-term relationships. STRs can be serious, they can be loving, and with more people working remotely than ever before, a successful-if-geographically-challenging STR has a much better shot at becoming a successful LTR these days.

2. Dating and hookup apps are awful. People on the apps sometimes lie about who they are, they ghost you, and they block you without explanation. But bars are awful, too. People in bars sometimes lie about who they are, they excuse themselves “for a second” and never return, they go home with you one night and eat your ass for hours and then pretend they don’t know you the next time you see them at the same bar. And just as people have been mugged, assaulted and murdered by people they met on dating apps, people have been mugged, assaulted and murdered by people they met in bars — and at work, at church, through friends, etc.

So, wherever we’re meeting people, on dating apps or in person, we need to be careful; we need to have those first meetings in a public place, we need to tell a friend where we’re going and who we’re with, and we need to trust our guts. When someone makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, get out of there and/or ghost them. (And if we find that people are constantly ghosting us… well… then we need ask ourselves if we’re doing something that makes other people feel uncomfortable or unsafe.)

3. Not all bears have beards or kinks or wear leather. At any big event for bears, LACKING, you’re likelier to see guys in jeans, T-shirts and trucker hats than you are to see guys in leather — unless it’s a fetish party, LACKING, where you’ll see a lot of guys in leather. But even at a fetish party, LACKING, you’ll see guys in neoprene, wrestling singlets, diving suits, hand-crocheted harnesses, and on and on. Leather isn’t required.

4. I’d rather listen to a charming guy tell me a funny story about his cat than a conceited guy drone on and on about some famous actor he saw on a backlot pocketing granola bars from the craft services table. I’m not saying you’re conceited or boring, LACKING, but if I were a betting man and only had the last paragraph of your letter to go on, I’d put my chips on conceited and boring. Look, if a guy tells you halfway through a date there’s nothing he wants to share with you about himself and invites you to carry on talking about yourself, that doesn’t mean he’s so enthralled by your stories he just wants to listen. That means he’s bored and/or annoyed and has already made up his mind that you’re not gaining access to his backlot.

Zooming out, LACKING, can you see the pattern in your letter? You say you want a relationship, but you don’t see the point of dating because you’re always moving. You say you want a relationship, but the dating apps are a waste of time because some people are sketchy. You say you want a relationship, but you don’t wanna go to places where people might be buying what you’re selling (bear nights, bear parties) because you don’t wanna wear the kind of clothes you’re required to wear at those events (leather, which you’re not actually required to wear) or grow the kind of facial hair you’re required grow to attend them (beards, which you’re not actually required to grow). You say you want a relationship, but guys who didn’t grow up with wealthy and connected parents bore you — which is going to make finding someone next to impossible.

Gay men are a tiny percentage of the population and finding someone in your preferred age range is going to be hard enough without ruling out guys who can’t match your story about peeing next to Matt LeBlanc in a men’s room on the Warner Bros. lot with a story of their own about some celebrity they peed next to. Or on.

Viewed together, LACKING, the above looks less like “this dude is just unlucky in love” and more like “this dude is engaged in some serious self-sabotage.” So, the problem isn’t the gay dating apps or the job-related moves or leather pants or scratchy beards or guys who insist on boring you with stories about their cats when you’ve got a much better story about Mariska Hargitay’s dog walker. The problem is you. I’m not saying you’re an asshole or that you’re unworthy of love. You’re not an asshole; you’re just a little up your own ass. If love and commitment are what you want, LACKING, then I want you to find them. But you’re going to need to get out of your own ass and out of your own way.

P.S. If you have the kind of career that requires you to move every couple of years, LACKING, you should think twice before rejecting guys who aren’t as career-oriented or privileged as you are. Those are the guys who can easily relocate with you. So, while dismissing every guy with a boring and/or low-paying job means you won’t wind up briefly dating a boy who just wants a sugar daddy, LACKING, never giving a regular guy with a regular job a chance could wind up costing you a lot more in the long run.

Dan Savage
Dan Savage.

I’m a 35-year-old gay guy who’s about to get married. My fiancé and I decided to open our relationship recently and had a wonderful, slutty summer. Not long ago, one of my fiancé’s hookups made me feel jealous. The next time we had sex, just the two of us, I asked my fiancé to worship my body like he worshipped our buddy’s body. My fiancé got impatient, I got frustrated, and then I asked him to stop, which killed the mood. We talked and I asked him to be brutally honest. I asked him if he was attracted to me, and it turns out that he is not. He only has sex with me to make me happy. I died inside.

He insists that he loves me deeply and wants to be with me. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with someone who isn’t physically attracted to me. (Yes, I can get enthusiastic sex outside the relationship, but I want that from the man I love.) We both freaked out and cried. Now, here I am, due to be married in three months. What on Earth should I do?

— Gutting Revelation Overturns Our Marital Schedule

Postpone the wedding, GROOMS. You made a reasonable assumption about your fiancé — that he was attracted to you sexually — and your fiancé allowed you to make that assumption. Now that he’s opted, with your encouragement, to be brutally honest (loves you, but not attracted to you) you’re going to need some time to process that.

Basically, you have to decide if what’s on offer here — a sexless (or soon to be sexless) companionate marriage where your husband is free to seek sex with men he finds attractive and you’re free to seek sex with men who find you attractive — is something you’re willing to accept. As prices of admission go, this one is pretty fucking steep. If paying it sounds no less awful and/or impossible a few months from now than it does right now, GROOMS, call the wedding off.

Follow Dan on Twitter;; check out the Savage Lovecast; read past Savage Love columns here.

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