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Do gay men date in the traditional sense?

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by justaguyinsf, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. smurf

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    I would invite you to explore the fact that you don't think you have rules for dating. Everyone does and there is no right way to do it, but you do have to figure out which rules/guidelines you like. Keep in mind they can change as you learn and explore other guys.

    For example, lets say you tell this guy that you would love to meet up, but you want him to know that you don't enjoy having sex early in a relationship. The next question that a lot of guys will ask you might be. "Awesome, when do you usually fill comfortable having sex?" And as silly as that question might be, its an important one because you have people that follow the "3 date rule", you have people that want to wait until marriage, etc. and your partner also wants to know because one of those might not be compatible with them.

    Its of course tricky because you will have to figure out when you would feel okay having sex. When does it stop being a hook up and when does it start making love. Do you have to be in love first? Do you have to meet his friends? Couple of dates? Do you just have to just feel it?

    Either way, open and straight conversation will always get you there. Invite him for coffee, talk to him about all of this and about how confusing it can be. Give him a chance to help you figure it out. Who knows, maybe he feels the exact same way as you, but he doesn't know how else to approach it.
     
  2. OnTheHighway

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    Isn’t dating, “in the traditional sense”, just a social construct established by heteronormative practices? And if we are embracing our sexuality by putting aside such heteronormative constructs, should we also be doing the same when it comes to dating practices?
     
    #22 OnTheHighway, Jan 10, 2018 at 6:01 AM
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018 at 6:02 AM
  3. justaguyinsf

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    I know there are those who espouse ideas like this but I'm not one of them, nor am I sure I can say "heteronormative" with a straight (no pun intended) face. But I think it's great to hash out these different I so I'm always open to hearing anything.

    I did see the man in question tonight at the gym and we had a pleasant conversation about his twins' birthdays. Seems we will probably be casual acquaintances, which is fine. But I still find it odd that, assuming I read the signs correctly on Saturday and in other encounters, so many gay men are willing to have sex almost immediately or just be casual friends, but that something in between those two seems to be frowned upon.
     
  4. OnTheHighway

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    It’s more than simply being frowned upon. In certain situations, It’s years of baggage and disappointment from prior experiences, concerns about self worth the make guys feel unable to love or be loved, a checklist of prerequisites which are to high of standards for anyone to meet, and an acceptance to live a single life.

    I encounter many guys whom feel like you, your definitely not alone. So If there are so many out there, why can’t everyone find one another. Maybe each person who is looking, and all of them want to date and build a relationship with another as you describe, is doing something wrong? And if so, collectively what needs to change?
     
  5. Choirboy

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    With both my ex-wife and my gay partner, we got to know each other before dating was any kind of an option for us - she was married, and we were simply friends in the same choir who talked a lot and got to know each other; he was an anonymous icon on EC and we developed a mutual attraction based on sharing who we were and what we thought. In both cases, by the time we were available, we were effectively already in the relationship and there was no awkwardness of "is this a date?" because we were well past getting to know one another anyhow.

    My sister's experience with dating was similarly atypical; she used to say she went on "one date a year to remind myself how much I hate dating", and eventually met her future husband through mutual friends at a party, ended up in a full blown relationship almost immediately, and bought a house with the guy before the rest of the family even knew who he was..

    But is it really atypical? Or is it just that people, gay OR straight, get into relationships in their own unique ways, and we ought to stop scolding people for following too much of a "heteronormative script" and just let them get comfortable figuring out who they are, and what kind of a relationship they want? When I was in the process of coming out, I had absolutely no intentions of dating or getting into a relationship for a long time, like years, because of my family situation, but I also had a very clear list in my head of the handful of personality traits a guy would absolutely have to have for me to be interested in him, and a similar list of deal breakers, and it was a short but rather stringent list. I also knew that I'm awkward and shy in person and expected that I'd have more luck meeting someone online where there was less awkwardness. Even so, when he and I met almost immediately, I was probably more shocked than anyone, because it happened before I ever considered myself even remotely on the market, and expected it would take years to find anyone with my "qualifications". Was I lucky? Or did I just have a very clear understanding of who I was and what I wanted, and communicated it to the world in the way I was most comfortable, and as a result someone quickly picked up on it?

    I think we need to focus less on how gay people date (or, on noting how straight people date and then doing something completely different, as if we have to prove to the world how un-hetero we are), and focus on what we are comfortable with, and attracted to. If you're very social and like bars, go for it. If you just want to hook up and see what happens, log on and go for it. If I were less socially awkward in general, I would have been open to trying either, but I know myself too well to think that either option would have ended well for me. But that's really the point. I would focus less on how gay men date, and more on how YOU are comfortable meeting people, getting to know them, making friends and having a good time. Navigating the waters of connecting with a special someone isn't much different in the gay world than the straight world, from what I can see. We just have the added complexity of trying to avoid hitting on someone straight, but realistically, if you're reasonably comfortable about being out, you may have friends willing to help in that respect.

    I firmly believe that we get so obsessed with the fact that we're gay, that we forget that we're really just people first. Rather than figuring out if "gay men" do dinner and a movie, or just hop right into bed, I'd say, what do YOU prefer, and work with your wants and expectations and emotional needs. Think about the kind of guy you'd like to meet, and go where you think he would be. App, bar, library, chat room, whatever, as long as it's a place where YOU are comfortable and can be yourself.
     
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  6. SiennaFire

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    I would not conclude that having sex immediately implies someone is not looking for a relationship. It has been my experience that gay men who are looking for a relationship in many cases also have sex almost immediately when they feel a connection. All of the guys I've dated started with sex on the first date/meeting after chatting online and then develop into an emotional relationship from there, and that was the case for many other contributors to this thread as well.
     
    #26 SiennaFire, Jan 10, 2018 at 1:09 PM
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018 at 1:22 PM
  7. OnTheHighway

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    misleading.
    I also subscribe to this approach with a caveat. Good sex does not necessarily mean good personal chemistry outside of the bedroom. Sometimes physical intimacy can be a bit misleading. So if this is an approach bing taken, have fun but remain diligent as to how the chemistry is outside the bedroom.
     
  8. SiennaFire

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    I feel that your posts are sometimes knee jerk reactions. I never made the conclusion that good sex ==> good chemistry, but rather when there was good chemistry it was preceded by good sex. I've been accused of having an engineer's mind and being overly precise, for which I plead guilty :slight_smile:
     
    #28 SiennaFire, Jan 12, 2018 at 2:21 AM
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018 at 2:24 AM
  9. OnTheHighway

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    Not at all. My comment was not a response to you per se but an additional comment for those reading to also take that into account. I never even suggested you made any conclusion in this regard.
     
  10. justaguyinsf

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    These are good points. Everyone's been burned at one time or another and you take that experience with you when you're trying to connect emotionally with someone new. I guess I see the hook-up culture in some ways as a capitulation to those past bad experiences and thus a cynical statement of "why bother" trying to connect emotionally. And the consensus also seems to be that it is prevalent among gay men because men can more easily separate sexual and emotional intimacy. But there seems to be a huge and life-shortening cost, at least in the form of epidemic loneliness. See, e.g., http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/gay-loneliness/.

    I should also note that my reference to "traditional dating" did not rule out just getting together and hanging out with someone, or connecting with someone through a more casual friendship. I was more contrasting the seeming default expectation of a sexual encounter anytime two people are interested in each other, with a more humane (but not the default mode) desire to get to know someone as a person before having sex that is often seen as a deal-breaker by many gay men.
     
    #30 justaguyinsf, Jan 12, 2018 at 8:06 PM
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018 at 8:21 PM
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  11. justaguyinsf

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    And one more thought on my last post re change: I don't think at this time that gay men as a whole want to change the predominant cultural value of placing sex above everything else. The social and emotional costs are seen as acceptable and necessary "collateral damage." I don't see how anything could change without there first being some recongition that there may be a problem or a better way.
     
  12. Nickw

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    I don't have much experience...maybe 15 meetings and many did not involve any intimacy. But, one of my hookups became a friend. He's a 30 ish guy. He would have been fine with being intimate with me at our first meeting since there was no chance I was relationship material. But, he met a guy he liked who he thought was a possible LTR. With him, they dated many times before intimacy. He wanted to not have the relationship based on sex. He would text "date Friday with A...maybe". Meanwhile proposition me. I am not sure this is uncommon...the ability to separate dating and sex.

    On a side note. My wife and I had sex on our first date. Married 33 years. So, who knows!
     
  13. OnTheHighway

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    I agree, and to me the cause is right in front of us. At the expense of sounding like a bit of a broken record, I believe the underlying issue relates to shame. And without the gay community addressing their own shame, such a dynamic will always be in play.

    I am not at all suggesting this relates to everyone. Many have come to terms and managed their own shame. But for those that have not managed it, sex provides a pacifier effect to such emotions.
     
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  14. greatwhale

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    I have to disagree here with stating that gay sex is a predominant cultural value, if this were the case then gay = sex, and nothing else...This is more a perception, and one that prevails among those who are either indifferent or new to being gay. Sex, in America especially, is seen through a puritanical lens, and, no doubt, it has been the very provocativeness of using sex as a means to counter puritanism that has left most believing that sex is the only thing we care about...

    With this worldview, there is no place for the very real caring, joy, depth, commitment, celebration, community, and everything else, including suffering, that falls under the definitions of fellowship and of relationship.

    All of the above takes place daily, covering the entire spectrum of relationship possibilities. I refuse to let others see me only as all about sex, we are so much more than that!
     
    #34 greatwhale, Jan 13, 2018 at 7:31 PM
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  15. SiennaFire

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    Gay culture is what it is, and I accept that gay culture is largely sex forward. Personally I'm OK becoming intimate with someone as one aspect of getting to know him in addition to chatting and doing things together. A relationship needs to be a complete package for it to work long term.

    I agree with OTH that a lot of the culture is driven by shame. The sex-forward culture is further reinforced when guys become emotionally guarded after being burned by a bad relationship or two.

    Having said that, I disagree that this is a reason for pessimism for any individual. There are plenty of guys out there who want a relationship, and while it takes work to find a great match, the results are well worth the effort.
     
    #35 SiennaFire, Jan 13, 2018 at 9:20 PM
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  16. OGS

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    To be honest I feel sort of bad for people coming out now. The fact of the matter is that a lot of people who could have come out when I did (twenty-five years ago) waited until now because it was supposed to be too hard then and seems so obviously easier now. I'm not sure that really is the case--tbh I'm glad I came out when I did and not just because of the whole wasted time dynamic--I have to say if I could have come out at 21 in 1992 or 21 today I honestly think I would pick in 1992.

    I'm still trying to formulate exactly what I think the difference is so bear with me if it's a bit garbled. I think the strangest thing is that when I came out we were both somehow more sex positive and less sex focused. It seems very strange to me that this could be the case but I think it is--I guess if we take the sex focus today as emblematic of some sort of shame that being more sex positive might alleviate that. I'm not sure but it seems like one way of looking at it.

    It seems to me that what happened is that we decided that what we really wanted in our heart of hearts was to be like everyone else. We started saying and really thinking that the only thing that differentiated us from straight people was sex. Now on the surface I suppose that's true, but it isn't really and frankly back in the day we didn't want it to be. Frankly we thought, I still do, that the world would be a better place if the rest of the world was a little more like us. There was a strength, a resilience, a way of thinking outside conventions, an openness, an artfulness in the face of adversity--think the Quilt, the angels outside Matthew Shepard's funeral--that the rest of the world could really learn from.

    I think to a very sad degree that's largely over. I look at all the comments on here about pride and gay culture in general and the consensus seems to be that none of it makes any sense because all we really have in common is the sex. I obviously don't agree but in the end if that's what enough people think it becomes largely true. Over the years I've read so many talking about how being gay for them is like having brown eyes. Being gay for me isn't like having brown eyes. It's not all of me but it's not like having brown eyes--it's like being raised Mormon or being from the U.S.. It's a whole cultural thing and when I came out all you had to do to get in was be gay. I showed up and said "I'm here, I'm gay, I don't know what to do" and people showed me and befriended me and twenty-five years later I'm literally still friends with several of the people I met the first time I went to a gay bar. But if sex is all it's about well I suppose you can arrange that on your phone.

    It's funny to me because so much of what I read on here doesn't jibe with my experience of being gay. I think a lot of that is because I grew up in a different gay culture. I've sort of lugged it along with me like your grandma brought her traditions from the old country and the fact of the matter is that the people are still here, most of the institutions and we even bring along new people into them, but not most of them apparently. I really do still live in that culture and I'm grateful for it. I can go just about anywhere and find my people and feel at home--we do it all the time in all sorts of places and it's one of the main things I love about being gay. But I feel like with us or maybe the generation after us that may be gone. The world moves on and I'm afraid we may have traded in our community for, well, nothing...
     
  17. justaguyinsf

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    Interesting comments, OGS. If I understand you correctly, you seem to be saying that there was a "higher purpose" and a camaraderie back in the early 90's that is now largely gone, having been replaced by a more assimilative impulse. That makes sense, but perhaps it is a necessary evolution since the community in the early 90's was dealing with AIDS (no effective treatment yet) and the ongoing fight for equal rights. (Btw, I'm reading "Love Undetectable" by Andrew Sullivan at the moment and he addresses many of the same thoughts.) The question then is what will replace that sense of purpose and "specialness" that now seems to be missing. I've seen efforts here in SF to look outward toward and serve the needs of the "community" of all people as a positive development in this direction. I guess this is a little off topic, but still interesting!
     
    #37 justaguyinsf, Jan 13, 2018 at 11:21 PM
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  18. OGS

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    I understand what you are saying but I think the urge to assimilate hasn't actually done us any favors. There's this notion that "the struggle" is over which I can relate to. The problems though are two-fold: one, it's not, but even more importantly, in my mind, if we did all that because it was so awful that we had to sort of huddle together to make it through and that's over so we don't have to any more how come everyone seems so much less happy now, i.e. the study you mentioned. We don't have to band together any more so now we're just... alone. It doesn't seem like a positive evolution to me.
     
  19. OnTheHighway

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    Can I underline and bold this comment, to reflect how important the above notion from Greatwhale is. Being gay is about male attractions towards other males. Such attraction may include physical and sexual attraction for some, but it should also include romantic and emotional connections as well.

    The foundation for a proper romantic and emotional connection is a well adjusted, balanced and emotionslly stable individual.
     
  20. OnTheHighway

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    I think gay culture means different things to different people. Gay culture is not universal. Hopes, desires and insecurities are unique and individual to each of us.

    Sometimes there is significant commonality which brings people together, and other times people feel isolated and alone. If a person has found commonality of inspiration and purpose amongst others, a sense of belonging and security could very well prevail. But while ones journey may benefit from such community, at the same time but located just a few blocks away may be others whom are indeed isolated and alone. These two individuals may be neighbors and they would not be any wiser about the others circumstances.

    But let’s also take a step back and take a broader perspective. The evolving perception and real sense of isolation is not necessarily unique to the gay community. Maybe the gay community is experiencing trends that are happening on a much broader bases.

    As cities get bigger, as social media becomes more deeply embedded in the fabric of society, as one of the main social media sites themselves just admitted, individuals are feeling more alone. Maybe there is less community in western culture, and maybe people are living more isolated lives. So what some perceive as a gay cultural dynamic may very well be a dynamic experienced by society more broadly.