Queer Shift

Dating Shift

Is dating a lost art or skill? Over the entire Utah Pride week I kept bringing up the topic of dating with individuals as well as groups. I got some very interesting responses across a spectrum, which were largely different based on age. I personally think dating is essential for a queer couple to have any chance of it going any further than a couple of sexual encounters — and then back to looking. I also found there is what some would call old-fashioned dating, and pretty much shun old ways that gay men met and found a quality relationship.Hunting is something that all gay men have done; there are the hunters and those who prefer to be hunted, it’s the methods that both use that have changed drastically. It’s instinctual, male, historical and full of testosterone. It can be extroverted, shy and subtle, blatant and full of bravado. But it exists.

Regardless of the generation, there are some general very good tips everyone should use to raise the bar beyond a life of baseless encounters, loss of self-esteem, ongoing loneliness, and creating a habit of being unable to commit and make an important dating period possibly end in a satisfying and enduring manner.

  1. When setting a time and place for your date, be sure to make it a short meeting (1–2 hours) for the first time and select a place that is either activity-oriented or allows for a lot of conversation.
  2. Take the emphasis off of it being a date and instead view it as a chance to meet a potential new friend. This can help “take the edge off” and allow you to relax without focusing on the outcome of the date.
  3. If you’re worried about what to talk about, generate a list of possible ideas beforehand and practice in front of a mirror. Be cool and be yourself. This isn’t about performance.
  4. Dress comfortably and in clothing that makes you feel good about yourself. Make sure you and your date are on the same page about the style of dress for your date.
  5. Be punctual and relax. No matter how attracted you may be to the man sitting across from you, it is your responsibility to be yourself. Avoid putting up a facade.
  6. Be attentive. Show respect with good eye contact and don’t stray if there are other attractive men in the room. Have an open posture and let your nonverbal communication and body language convey interest.
  7. Avoid controversial topics of discussion as these may be offensive to your date. You can ease into these the more you get to know him. If you get sloppy, avoid alcohol. Unless sex is the motivation for your date, introducing sexual talk into your first date can set the tone in an inappropriate direction.
  8. Whether your date was a smash hit or a disaster, exercise good manners and thank your new acquaintance for the date. If you’d like to see him again, state this and call him in a day or so. Don’t get caught up in the whole dating game of “How many days should I hold off to call him to avoid looking desperate?”
  9. Turn off your Grindr profile before the date begins, even if that’s where you found him. That little “pop” sound is a romantic buzz kill.
  10. You’re “Checking In” at the restaurant where you’ve made dinner reservations? Seriously? Nothing like telling 5,000 Facebook friends the location of your intimate rendezvous.
  11. Even though gay men love to label everyone, they despise being labeled. So whether he’s a Bear, Twink, Twunk, Cub, Daddy, Dilf, Otter, Chub, Gym Rat, Gym Bunny, or any of the other zillion names we give one another, only address him in generic terms, like handsome, funny, smart, etc.
  12. If you’re over 30 and at least four years older than your date, don’t be surprised if he calls you Daddy. Take it as a compliment; do not take it as a reason to pick up the check.
  13. In the old days, it was common, and common sense, to say that if you sleep with someone, you are also sleeping with everyone he’s slept with. Nowadays it’s common sense to remember that if you sleep with someone who’s in a 12-step program, you are also sleeping with everyone in his Home Group. This information is good to know early. Compatibility is essential to a long-lasting relationship.
  14. While it’s nice to have a grasp of current events and knowledge of local culture, it’s no longer a first-date prerequisite. However, if you don’t have an immediate answer for “Do you want to get married?” and “How many kids would you like to have?” the date has just ended; don’t even bother to take your coat off.
  15. If you like the guy and want things to go well early on, put everything on the table: HIV status, views on monogamy, etc.

Ready, set, go for some healthy and improved dating that works for you!

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