Dear Leather and Lace: How would you recommend a genuine, honest, decent, attractive gay male who is looking for a real relationship, and not a one-night stand, go about finding decent, genuine gay men who might also be relationship-minded? Where might you advise this person to look and go, besides bars? I’m 37 and open to meeting someone younger or older than I am. But, it seems that men say they want a relationship and intimacy, but their actions speak louder than words and the opposite of most everything they say.
Signed, Darryl, looking for love
Lace’s Take on This: Darryl, In life, love and career, actions speak louder than words, But before you go racing to find someone special, regardless of sexual preference, your first act should be a solitary one. By that I mean, if you’re seeking lasting love, the first thing you need to do is consider what’s really important to you in a relationship. What must you have in a relationship to be happy, and what things would be an absolute deal-breaker? What qualities must a partner have, and which things would be a turn-off? If you haven’t really gotten a hold on these things in your own mind, Prince Charming may walk right past you, and you’ll never recognize him because you don’t know who he is.
In your letter you say that you want a real relationship but that the people you meet don’t turn out to want what you want. So I’m thinking that you’re sending mixed signals about your own goals, as well as about what you want. To send a clear message, start by asking yourself: “what do I have to offer someone and what might someone else consider to be my liabilities?” Ask yourself: “What’s my lifestyle now and am I happy with it, or would I want to make major changes in my goals?” The answers to these sorts of things will help you focus and broadcast your message to people. Do you say you want someone but then go after the party boy who is the center of attention?
Gay or straight, It pays to be clear about what you want, and it is wise to be selective. For example, if you meet someone who says he is desperate to settle down and add children to his life, and you loathe kids, moving a relationship forward with this person is probably a waste of time that will cost you plenty of tears. If you love an urban lifestyle but you meet a Wall Street lawyer who then tells you he really want to chuck it all and become a farmer, this could cause plenty of tension down the relationship road. Getting involved with someone who doesn’t share your vision and goals, can only lead to problems.
No matter what your sexual preference, real relationships take time and patience to find and nurture. You can meet people in bars, of course, but you already know how most of those connections end up. I’m not a gay man, obviously, but whether you are gay or straight, I still think the best place to meet someone for lasting love is doing things you enjoy and making connections through friends. Take a class, learn a new sport, volunteer,etc. It’s much more likely that you’ll naturally meet eligible gay men who really want to get to know you (and possibly make a love connection with you) if you are working together at a new hobby or a cause, than at a bar or club. Even if the men you meet aren’t your “type” you may find yourself with dinner and party invitations that could open up a new range of people. Also, new friends have friends – and one might be just perfect for you!
You can also try some of the dating web sites that cater to your interests and the gay community, and see how that works for you (but find the right sites that feel comfortable to you). What you say in your profile must make it clear that you are looking for a serious relationship, and that you aren’t interested in “fun and games.” Make sure that your profile includes include things that will strike a chord with like-minded others and stand out in their minds. In other words, avoid trite comments such as how you like long walks on the beach as the sun is setting (you might love that, but so does everyone else –it’s too generic to mean anything). Most of all, realize that online dating is a numbers game. You’ve got to kiss some toads to find that handsome prince. If an online dating site isn’t giving you the results you want, it is either not the right site for you, or your profile needs adjusting, or both. Finally, keep in mind that people do stretch the truth or outright lie on the net. Until you meet someone in person and get to know them, you can’t really understand who they are. If you meet someone in person after a few exchanges and they’re not as advertised, accept that this percentage of people is just part of the process (this is true for everyone online).
Most of all, don’t get discouraged. Dating is a process of elimination, not of selection. That means you’re going to face some disappointement and rejection until you find the person who wants what you have to offer, and you, what they have to offer. On your journey, you’ll meet other people who seem like possibilities at first, but you will eliminate them because you can’t see a future with them (and some will eliminate you for the same reason). But the good news is that the power of elimination and selection is in your hands as well as the hands of those you meet,. The more clear you are about what you want and where those types of people are likely to be most often and in the highest quantities, is your best insurance against those who would waste your time. Stay positive and focused, you will find what you are seeking. Even better, you will know it when you find it.
Leather’s Take on This: Although I am the leather side of this equation my knowledge is mostly about gay women not gay men, but many of the same principals apply so here goes: On the positive side you are mature enough that a relationship goes beyond the physical and that we all need someone who we can love and cherish and who needs someone to love and cherish in return. You have also realized that fascination is more than just beauty, life’s greatest struggle is against boredom and without someone who is a good friend and companion to help keep it at bay we will slide into depression.
In finding someone certain rules apply, the first is you must be happy with yourself because happiness is the best attractant. If we are not happy with ourselves it is expressed in how we act, how we dress, whether we can approach a person we are interested in and whether we feel comfortable talking to them. We are most happy about ourselves when we consistently try to do those things which are good for us, go to the gym, eat properly, etc. Most of us think our own lives are boring never realizing many people have more boring lives than we do. There is value, humor, and life lessons in what each of us do every day, it is up to us to extract them and make them interesting to others. Under all circumstances your mind is your own and the experiences and thoughts you get from reading, going to museums or galleries, going on trips or camping, all contribute to your being an interesting person.
One major problem is our own unrealistic expectations. If you are attracted to younger men because they are less jaded and full of life, you must ask yourself where are they in their life, what do they want and need. For the most part they are exploring the world around them, having different partners so that they can experience a wide range of different relationships. In ten years they will be ready for the relationship you really want. We may desire someone one who is “buff” or “hot” without being the same ourselves. One issue with being a part of a group that as a whole has excellent fashion sense and an appreciation for physical development and beauty is that the group has no mercy for those who do not try to look their best. You have to up your game on the physical level while closing the deal by being an interesting, caring, a good listener and a great friend.
The way to meet a person for a relationship is to be around people who are candidates. Try to find a group of friends that organize brunches, a great way to meet new people and to get to know ones you might be interested in. One gay male friend of mine goes to “Gay Camp”, a regular camping experience for gay men (all year around) where they can meet and react with others in a low stress situation. He stays in the bunkhouse because unlike the cabins, there is less stress about immediate intimacy and more camaraderie. Another method is gay oriented dating sites. Yes there are a lot of duds there and posers and liars but if you start with a good exchange of emails and then agree on a “coffee” date before sharing any personal information, you can find an occasional jewel in the dross.
One of the key hints is to look for yourself in any group situation, the one on the edge looking in, the one who is a bit more serious, the one that smiles less often but genuinely, the one who is not going to attract the attentions of the young and the beautiful. Go over and just talk to the person, all people are interesting and occasionally they surprise you.
Lace’s Comments on Leather’s Answer: I loved Leather’s comment that: “Most of us think our own lives are boring never realizing many people have more boring lives than we do.” I personally don’t think I am boring nor am I bored. As someone who writes about all sorts of things and gives advice, how could life ever be boring? No matter, Leather and I both agree that there are tactics for targeting the right kinds of people. However, Leather is suggesting that you look for someone who might appear to be like you, when you’re out there socializing. That is good advice, but only if that’s what you want. And, even if it is what you want, you will only be clear on that after you also know what other inner and outer qualities in a partner you want and need, to make you happy in the long term. The more reserved person, and even men who aren’t so young and beautiful, might surprise you by thinking and acting like they’re hot commodities, even if they really are not. Go after what you want, just know what that is, inside as well as in appearance.