GAY DATING Q&A FROM OUR EXPERT

Our dating coach, Jaye Sassieni, author of the ‘Gay Dating Guide’ and voted one of the top 10 dating  bloggers of 2014 is ready to answer your questions regarding gay dating, finding a partner and more.

Email him at info@urbanconnections.co.uk  with ‘Q&A column’ in the header.

Q: I don’t really know where to begin here. I “met” a guy and we messaged back and forth, the messages were super cute, they were funny and full of banter. So we arranged to meet up, which was fantastic.The first date on Thursday was amazing, prior to that the texting was equally amazing. They were funny, they were cute, they were a little flirty, but they felt natural. He added kisses to the texts, after I did. The date however was just amazing, we went for lunch and had a fantastic laugh, we went around the shops and again had a fantastic laugh, then went for drinks and it just felt so good. We sat, we laughed, he abused me whilst I pretended to be upset by it. He then put his legs under my chair, meaning I had to put mine to the side, until I decided to put mine between his, at which point he put his legs closer together, meaning they were right against my leg. At one point I was going to go to the bar for a drink and said I couldn’t be bothered. He then used his legs to drag my leg back under the table. At the end of the date, we stood up and looked in the mirror because I was joking about him clearly being a little shorter than me. We walked to the train station, and he sent me a text while I was on the train saying “I like you” and was expecting me to kiss him, I told him I didn’t assume he was interested, and he said he was and playing with my leg wasn’t something someone did it they weren’t interested.

The second date, was a lot more casual, which we had planned anyway. We went to Starbucks for a drink, then walked to his flat for lunch and to watch tv shows. We lay on his bed, and watched the show. Then he snuggled up beside me and it just felt so right, eventually he was going for a sleep and slept on my shoulder, and eventually his head was on my chest, with his arm around my neck as he stroked the back of my neck. I kept annoying him about food and kept trying to keep him awake playfully, until we were both laying there together him holding me and me holding him. But it truly felt so comfortable. He got up and made the food which was essentially more of a dinner than it was a lunch by the time it was made. He walked me to the train station, and I gave him a hug. However he later text saying he was thinking about thought it would be best to just be friends, and he says it has nothing to do with me. But I can’t quite get things to connect properly.

Reasons I can think of:

Age gap: on the first date he thought I was only 2-3 years older than him. But when I corrected him he said it was fine, however on the second date he mentioned something about wearing a kilt when I decide to get married. As if he was trying to suss out my intentions.

Demons: he hinted on the first date about his father being abusive, and how he was kicked out the house at 18. Perhaps he is worried about getting involved due to situations in the past.

His feelings: perhaps he does have strong feelings for me, but he didn’t expect them and suddenly he feels unsure how to deal with them.

A: You didn’t say exactly what the age gap was. Sometimes it doesn’t matter and sometimes it’s glaringly obvious for either the older or younger partner that this could never work. While some gay men are looking exclusively for younger partners and this is what floats their boat, others will not want to be with someone who earns less than them or who doesn’t have their own place etc.

Any jokes about height are not a good idea as it’s something that can often touch a nerve and offend, even if it seems it was taken as a joke. Who knows why he said that, you will probably never know as he probably doesn’t want to hurt you by telling you.

The text messages you received may have seemed cute and funny but how much sentiment really goes into a text message and can you really tell what someone thinks or feels from reading a text? Unlike hearing their voice or talking face to face, you cannot tell if the other person is messaging you out of boredom, if they are texting you on the sofa next to their husband or if they are playing some twisted game. So my advice is not to get too excited about sms and chats. Same thing with a first date – even if you think it went amazingly well, don’t get too excited as we can easily misconstrue others intentions and actions. Did he press his legs against you because he felt it was love at first sight? Was he just horny? Did that actually mean anything at all to him? You can’t tell the first time you meet him.

Your second date with someone, who is still essentially a stranger, should not involve you laying on his bed hugging! It’s too much. You still don’t know each other enough for intimacy. You have rushed it! The first few dates should be drinks/ dinner but not hugging in bed- no matter how attractive you find each other. There may be a great connection but, as you said, you don’t know about his past issues. You cannot be sure you want to be with someone you don’t even know. That second meeting should have been talking, conversation, asking questions to get to know and understand each other a bit more.

It’s not your fault , in an age where both straight and gay people are meeting through their smart phones after a brief chat, nobody knows how to ‘date’ anymore, its almost like a lost language. Especially gay men, where there is so much emphasis on sex and body image being bombarded at us from the gay media and phone apps. If you had just met on that second time for a walk in the park or a drink in Starbucks, then he sent that text – you would not be feeling so down now. All the hugging and false intimacy, which felt so right yet was not real has made the comedown worse for you.

Of course you can learn from this. Next time, don’t rush to his bedroom, either for sex or hugging. Don’t read too much into sms messages and actions such as him pressing his leg against you. At the end of the day they don’t mean anything as your experience has proved – you’re now sitting there alone wondering why this and why that, just chill out. Enjoy the moment with someone and make sure you meet them a few times before making any decisions about wanting to be with them. And if it doesn’t work out? Move on, there is no point in analysing everything he said. You will drive yourself mad. There are plenty other guys out there who do want to go out with you, so (with my advice in mind) go and find ’em!

Q: I am a 37 year old gay male.My issue stems from the dating scene.I am three years out of a relationship with a very emotionally abusive partner,a time in my life that it took me considerable time to rebuild after.Over the past couple of years I have been going on to dating apps in the hope of meeting somebody for something substantial.

However what I have noticed on these apps is virtually every time I message a guy on them I am met with rejection.I have been told that I am a very attractive guy and I got a lot of attention when I was younger and it has also been said of me that I am very confident and charismatic,with a presence that fills a room.But on these apps there is pretty much nothing but rejection.It genuinely has affected my confidence and has me questioning my attractiveness,as shallow as that may sound.

I really am at a loss as to what to do.I generally don’t go out and I don’t frequent the scene,partly because I find that it’s not for me and partly for fear of bumping into my ex.I am something of a workhorse in terms of what I do and despite my confidence and apparent charisma I have never met anybody through work either,which is the area of my life that I would primarily occupy.Do you have any advice to offer?

A: After a couple of years back on the singles market, you’ve probably realised that gay men are meeting each other primarilly on mobile phone apps. The age of physicaly going out to search for a mate in a gay venue seem to be long gone. So, I would not worry about feeling that the gay scene is not for you. On the other hand, don’t avoid it because of fear of bumping into your ex either – it’s always good to have another avenue to try. At some stage you will probably bump into him somewhere, so you need to find a way to deal with that and get on with your life.

So like it or loathe it, we are stuck with apps. You didn’t say whether the rejection you faced was through others
messaging you or real life meetings? If its the former, then you could get better photos of yourself to make you come accross better. If this rejection from others was in real life, that’s harder to deal with but as a 37 year old it’s something else you need to come to terms with. You will not be everyone’s type and so what? Think about how you deal with rejection in your work life? Is it the same issue there or could you use techniques from work in your personal life to deal with these feelings? Also, what is the negative feedback you are receiving? Is there anything you could learn from or improve? For example if several guys told you that you needed a haircut or you looked scruffy or old fashioned – that would be easy to fix.

There are also different types of gay dating aps. There’s no point trying to find a non-sex date on Grindr, you would be wasting your time as that’s the whole point of that particular app. There are more non-sexual
date apps like Tindr, Planet Romeo, OKcupid or even Scruff where people are not necessarily out for a quick shag.
So try some different apps.

The problem with typing into a mobile app is that you cannot show your charisma – it’s just text. You can’t even
see the expression of the person you are communicating with. So you may want to consider an organised dating event where you could meet like minded men. A quick Google search will show you what’s on offer in your area.

Q: I am 22 year old and have been seeing a guy who I find interesting, witty and smart. He is not that type of person that I would normally be attracted to, but his first line on Grindr was good so we developed from there.

We had couple of dates, which I realise that my feeling grows stronger and stronger each time. The problem is, when he messaged me on Grindr, his profile showed that his age was 31, and I thought that’s he’s got the 31 year old look, but when I finally asked about his age, he said he’s 41. I was really shocked, though none of us expressed any intention to be in a long-term relationship, I am genuinely looking for one. If that’s the case, I then cannot picture myself in the next 20 years, as we all will end up in different stages of our lives.

Do you think that age disparity matters? My friends (gay, bi-, straight) all said that it could be difficult, some even suggested me to pull off. But again, none of them are experienced with relationships (they are around my age group). So, I am not really sure. Also, he’s got his own business, and financially well-off, and I am only a student, when we hanged out, I intended to pay for my share most of the times, but I fear that in the long term, our financial imbalance could be a problem as well.

He’s definitely like me, he remembers every single detail of our conversations (whether it’s online or offline), and we shared some very personal detail with others (career, life and sexual experience). But he also vaguely mentioned that he was not sure about commitment, he is very experienced, in terms of sex and relationships. We did have some intimate actions (e.g. sharing food) but no further during our third date. So am I just happened to be in one of the stereotypical situations – sugar daddies are looking for young partner or ‘mates’? Though he’s physically fit (his body type is toned and relatively good-looking and very popular in Asia.

As we both based in Leeds, but his business requires him to travel to other countries quite a lot, and my university will be ended in one year, after that I am not sure whether I wanted to stay in the UK.

Sometimes we will have conversations in a flirty way, but still, nothing happened between beyond that. So my question is: should I just distant myself from this, just be friends with him? I am really not sure about this as this is my first serious dating experience. I am afraid that if I let the opportunity slips away, then I will not be able to find another in the future.

A: Sometimes it’s good to get an outsider’s opinion on a situation you are closely involved in. So you have told me:

• You met on an app which is for sex.
• You both agreed to meet for fun – a relationship was not even mentioned.
• He lied about his age.
• He is not sure about commitment with you.
• He is not the type you go for.
• You are having doubts about being with him in 20 years.
• You are not sure you will both be in the same county in the future.

Even without considering the age gap, you have 7 big issues staring you right in the face there. Age differences are not always a problem when two individuals both want the same thing and are clear from the start. The situation would be easier if you had a profile on the app saying you were looking for a bf (possibly older than you) and he had a profile saying he was looking for a younger bf and wanted to commit. When you met for a date (not sex), the situation would have been clear and there would be no confusion. You would both know what the other one is looking for, so it would just be a case of seeing if you fit. The situation you find yourself in now is one of uncertainty and confusion and that is not a place you can build anything on.

I can’t tell you what to do. If you want to have fun with this person, then go along for the ride. Explain to him your financial concerns and see what he says. But it may be difficult for you to not become attached if you’re already starting to like him. One thing I will say is don’t be with him because you are scared of not being able to find someone else in the future – that’s not the right reason. You are young and I am sure you will have other opportunities to meet potential mates. Maybe you could work on your self confidence and make lists of all your positive traits and qualities.

However, I would advise you to be clear about what you are looking for when you use any dating app – if you want a bf, then be true to yourself so you don’t stumble into a half-hearted relationship with someone who is not really looking for one. Although it’s possible to meet a bf on Grindr, most people are on that app for sex, so consider using Tinder or looking around at other apps and websites so you don’t waste time or get disappointed. You met him without any intention of forming a relationship so it’s not really fair to suddenly spring that on him – that was never part of the deal from the very start. Good luck.

Q: Hi, I have been in a long distance relation with a guy for more than five years. We rarely meet each other. Whenever we meet we make love for hours and things go really sweet and lovely. But when I reach climax and ejaculate I move away from him to a corner and sleep. He says he is upset about it and he wants to sleep closer and cuddle with me after climax. I could not do as per his wish. I always feel sorry and promise him that I will do so next time. It is still not happening and he is not really satisfied with it. Please give me some tip on this.

A: On one hand, the chemicals released in the brain during orgasm make men feel sleepy, the penis can become hypersensitive and interest in sex dissapears (moreso as men age.) So, although it seems harsh, science does back up your desire to avoid contact after sex.

On the other hand, you are not being attentive to your partner – putting an arm around him is not a huge effort, which would lead me to suggest that the issue here is intimacy. You are in a long distance relationship: is this consious so you can avoid everyday kisses and cuddles? Do you have any problems with intimacy (and by that I dont mean sex, rather closeness, affection and being comfortable with someone else). If you rarely meet and when you do meet, it is just sex; this seems more of an arrangement than a relationship. It seems that the sex with this person is good, but how about outside of bed? Do you like/ love him as a person and enjoy spending time with him? A relationship entails more than having sex for hours a couple of times a year. So I would ask you to examine why you are in a long distance relationship in the first place. Have you been in other relationships before and did your partners complain about the same behaviour?

You mentioned you feel sorry for not showing any affection after sex but you persist in doing the same thing again and again, so I would ask how you actually see this person. You obviously don’t feel sorry enough to try to please him or make him feel better about this. Lots of questions to ask yourslef in order to get some clarity about what is happening here. Good luck.

Q: Hello, i recently got to know this guy at a gathering.. i have a very good feeling and i really like him, the way he talks just sweeps me off the ground etc.. but he said this to me when i asked if there was a chance between us. “Actually, i dont know, we haven’t hung out enough yet. There is still stuff i need to figure out on my own, whether i wanna date now or what not, so IF i’m not ready, i hope you understand’. But in the meantime we can be friends”.. Do you think there is still a chance? Although he said this, we have been talking everyday for a week and so on.. Much thanks!
A: When you like someone, your heart skips a beat, you feel excited, nervous and if they show any interest back then you jump at the chance to go for a drink or to go on a date etc. When someone says to you: I don’t know, there’s stuff I need to figure out etc, this is not a good sign. They don’t want to be direct and hurtful by telling you that you are not their type, but in this case it seems he would like to be friends with you as you are talking everyday.

The other point I want to mention is when you do meet someone you like, saying something like: is there any chance between us sounds a bit heavy and may scare him away, even if he is interested in you. It’s good that you want to clarify the situation but he is right to say you haven’t hung out enough to even ask that question. You are effectively putting him on the spot and demanding an anwer right there and then when a better approach would be to laugh, joke around, have fun and mention that you’d really like to exchange phone numbers as you would love to catch up some time. Do you feel how different that sounds? It’s more casual, relaxed and less demanding. If he agrees, then you partly have your answer: yes there is a chance. But even on those second and third dates, keep the atmosphere fun and don’t try to get any specific response from him. Dating is about having fun with someone, so just let it flow and see what happens.

So become friends with this guy and, although you don’t want to live in false hope, who knows what may happen? Good luck.

Q: Hi, I recently met a guy on a night out. He’s a fair bit younger than me (18 to my 26) and I actually met him on his 18th birthday. He was out with a group of friends, and one of them encouraged me to go for it and buy him a drink. So I did, and we ended up having a really great night. His friends all seemed to like me, and said how much he was into me – that I was exactly his type. While he’s been on holiday for 3 weeks since then, we have been messaging non-stop and seemed to be getting on really well.

However, the other day he invited me to a house party and me trying to be more sociable and taking up opportunities when they present themselves went along. I knew from when we met that he was a shy and sensitive guy, and I liked that about him. But it was very hard to get more than a few words out of him, although I managed to have conversations with his friends. Eventually I spent some of the night talking to his straight male friend who suggested I go back and speak to my ‘date’ and that he was really into me (I expressed how I wasn’t sure), and so I did. We ended up kissing in front of his friends and eventually we did spent the night together, kissing and cuddling (among other things). I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but the next day my date just seemed distant. Again it was hard to get much of a conversation going, even though we spent the morning kissing and cuddling too… When I asked, he just kept saying he was OK but just tired. Eventually I resorted to messaging him on facebook and asking if he really was ok and that I was starting to wonder if I’d upset him at all. He reassured me that wasn’t the case. I spent the whole day with him and the few of his friends that stayed over, and I even helped tidy up from the night before.

Now, a day later, when I try to strike up a conversation on facebook (and when we parted and I suggested doing something together again), I get a half-hearted response and I really don’t know what to do. I know that there is an age gap, and that I have my own issues to deal with (such as depression from begin in the closet for so long – I only came out 2 years ago) and so I don’t know how much any of this actually means or if I’m just being insecure again? Please help.

I don’t like to generalise and say that age gaps don’t work, it depends on the individuals and how big the gap is. But a gap of 8 years between, say, a 30 year old and a 38 year old is a whole different ball game from a gap of 8 years between an 18 year old and a 26 year old. He is a teenager trying to work out where he fits in; I’m sure you can remember how that felt (shyness and awkwardness were certainly no stranger to me at that age) and that’s without adding his sexuality into the mix. While you have much more life (and relationship) experience and are more equipped to deal with intimacy, arguments and communicating your feelings openly. Think about when you came out two years ago and all the feelings and situations you had to deal with. Now imagine rather than being 26, you just turned 18; without the experience of an adult or the support of long term friends. You are both at different stages in life and although I don’t doubt there is strong attraction and I’m sure you could have great fun together, relationship wise, this will be hard to navigate.

When you have to chase someone to get any kind of response (especially on a social media site) and you even need to ask the question ‘have I upset you’, the writing is really on the wall. Who knows why, but he is not into you. But rather than taking this as a rejection, try to see this as a learning curve. It’s great that you have a ‘shy, sensitive’ type that you go for (it’s good to be sure of what you like); but, you are making life more difficult by choosing to be with introverted people as they often have trouble expressing themselves. Also think about what age group you are going for and whether someone who just turned 18 will actually be able to give you what you need in a relationship. Or, do you actually know, somewhere deep down inside you, that this will never work. Did you subconsciously choose someone unsuitable? That may not be the case, it’s just a thought I want to throw in.
This boy not wanting to be with you should not make you feel insecure or cause any depression, quite the opposite! As you stated, you take up opportunities when they present themselves rather than missing out. So, feel proud of yourself for living life to the full and really going for what you want – keep up that spirit.
Finally, who cares that you came out 2 years ago? Some gay men don’t come out until mid-life and that’s when they really feel that they have missed out, while you are still a young man in his prime.

Q: My name is Mike. I am a 21 year old who has a long dating history for 8 years and I am totally comfortable with my sexuality. I had long relationships before but I realised my last ex-boyfriend was the one I want to be with. He is 25 years old. I met him back in December 2013, and we ended in bad terms. He recently starts to date someone else but I would do anything to win him back.

I really need your sincere advice on dealing with this subject. Normally I am the one who left in a relationship. But this time is just another story. I am looking foward to hearing from you. thanks,

A: The first thing that springs to mind (and I truly do not want to sound patronising) is that you are still only 21 years old. You don’t have to make any decisions about who is ‘the one’ and (although you probably heard this before) you have many years in front of you where you will change your ideas many times about this ‘one’ person. What you find attractive now will not be the same as what you find attractive in 5 or 10 years time; our perspectives change due to our life experiences. You may even look back at this man and think ‘wow, lucky escape because if I hadn’t broken up with him then I never would have got to meet X who is even better! It’s great that you have been dating for 8 years though, that’s great experience which will enable you to build strong relationships and have a mature outlook.

So what are you options here? Firstly you could try to ‘win’ him back. But, this is going to be difficult if he is a) already with someone new and b) you ended on bad terms. So you could try to send a heartfelt letter, serenade him under his balcony or sweep him off his feet. What you want to avoid doing is looking desperate because that is a big turn off. You have to give him the impression that life is going great, you are satisfied and successful and it would be cool to hang out but you are not desperately waiting for him to come back to you. You also want to avoid standing there waiting for him, showing you are forever available in case he wants to come back. One of the main things you need to do (as you say it ended badly) is too completely forgive him whatever you think he did and 100% take the blame yourself. You have to put the arguments to bed once and for all or you will never be able to move forward. You have to be the bigger, more mature person here but I mean really forgive him; you may need to spend some time on that, there is no point just pretending. That may be the best chance you have to get back with him. Of course, the decision is his; maybe he just doesn’t want to get back with you and that is something you need to come to terms with even before you attempt this. Your life will not be over if that’s the case. You said you are the one who normally finishes your relationships so maybe you have to learn to deal with this kind of rejection for the first time, which will be good for you. Another thought, would you still want him back if he hadn’t already met someone else? Do you think part of the reason is that he is with someone else? Is there any jealousy fuelling your desires here?

So the second option (my preferred way) is to get out and enjoy your life to the full, do the stuff you enjoy and meet as many people as possible. Go on dates, sign up for Tindr, go to parties; have fun! Have you thought of going travelling? Getting away from the situation for a while to get some perspective? Many more guys will come along and you will forget him in a couple of months; I promise. Forget the idea of ‘the one’ as there are many suitable partners for you who have many different qualities and characteristics. And you know what else? When you are completely over him, he may well show up in your life again all by himself and if not, you may be with someone even better.

Q: I read I’ve your book as well as a few others on gay dating/ wellbeing. I’m a 32 year old guy and I’ve been single for 10 years, and when I say single I mean ‘single’ as in no sex either. The reason for this is anxiety, and its become more of an issue over time. When I was having ‘sex’ and relationships in my late teens and early 20’s I never enjoyed it, always had erectile failure and basically just had a string of very embarrassing, awkward and sometimes scary experiences. I’m certainly not asexual and have managed my own sexuality well over the years through masturbation/porn/fantasy etc which I always found preferable to real sex anyway (I can get erect on my own with no problem).

The thing is I crave a relationship so much, and feel starved of body contact, I just want to feel romance, hold hands, kiss, cuddle, feel special etc. My heart is ready (and has been for years) – but my head and dick just aren’t.
There are many layers to my anxiety, I have performance anxiety over my erectile dysfunction, I don’t have great body confidence (although I am slim/handsome), I was brought up in a very sex negative household – and still feel like ‘i shouldn’t be doing this’ (its what grown-ups do), I’m terrified of STD’s (I convinced myself i had HIV in my early 20’s – to the point i almost had a breakdown.

I would also need to be attracted to the guy and I’ve found it hard to find anyone who I’m attracted to who is attracted to me back (and I don’t go for perfection). I can’t deal with the rejection or judgement, and am scared of difficult conversations like expressing what i do and don’t want, and so I just avoid. I feel that no gay man will take a risk on a guy who is sexually broken, I may need months to get to know someone before even considering anything sexually.

I continue to have therapy about the above issues – but things are moving very slowly there. I just don’t know when to start dating – and if i should? When will I know I’m ready? I feel so left behind and disconnected already I just don’t know what to do, sex is everywhere and seems so easy for other gay guys, it makes me uncomfortable, I feel very disconnected and alone.

A: I think many of the points you raised are best dealt with by a trained professional. I have the following advice but please continue with your therapist as they have the whole picture.

Sexually broken seems a very harsh term: don’t be so hard on yourself. You may have some issues but you can overcome them! It’s not unthinkable that you can find ways of getting over this and having a healthy sex life or a great relationship. So what if you have been single for 10 years? You are now working on improving that situation so try to foster some hopeful feelings, imagine what it would feel like to feel the affection you crave rather than focusing on the absence of it. Maybe you needed those years to get over this? You need to get into a place where you truly believe that a loving relationship is possible. Our brains can only deal with one thought at a time so when you start getting those hopeless feelings, you need to replace them with a more positive thought. Start to train your brain, filter all those unhelpful thoughts and you will move forward.

Although gay men are very sex focused; those who are looking for a relationship will be looking beyond the bedroom . I am sure you have many qualities you can offer. Try to focus on these positive points about yourself when you feel low or tense. Take a deep breath and think about how wonderful you are! You said you are handsome, so what else? intelligent? Good at conversation? Kind? Make lists of all the wonderful aspects about yourself. Do this regularly. Give your confidence a boost. Stop thinking about what other people might be thinking or doing. It doesn’t matter if sex is easy for other guys: don’t compare yourself to anyone else and focus on feeling better about enjoying sex.

Meeting potential partners for a coffee or a drink is a good way to start, make it clear that there will be no sex, its just a chat to get to know each other. If you do feel attracted to them then be honest, if they are interested in you as a person then they may well wait for you and try to help. If they don’t then its not the end of the world. The main thing is to get into the habit of meeting new guys, going on dates, don’t think about sex, just focus on the social aspect. You need to stop seeing dating as such an impossibly difficult task. In fact don’t even use the term dating, just meeting new people, going for a coffee, socialising are less pressurised words. You could even try a dating event? Everyone has to come to terms with rejection regardless of any other issues they have, that’s just part of life. There are plenty of guys out there; if someone doesn’t think you are the one for them, move on.

I hope this helps, let me know how you get on.

Q: I wrote to you initially after the speed dating I went on but my current crisis is detailed in what I sent you 2 days ago. I am having great difficulty in accepting constant rejection in my internet dating ‘career’, and my speed dating made me feel intensely self-conscious of my age and my value of myself as someone who may look ridiculous in my hope for meeting someone who could eventually form an intimate relationship with. I’m really quite depressed at the moment. I’ve been through this so many times. If I had the strength of will, I would accept my singleness and put all romantic thoughts out of my head. I don’t know what to do. I’m 58 and single.

A: From your short email there are a few things which stand out to me.
So you are looking for a mate, which is fine, but making a ‘career’ out of it (I know that’s just your choice of words but I think may point to something deeper) sounds like it’s no longer enjoyable or serving you very well. The way you are currently approaching this is not working, so it’s time to look at this in a different way. Try to think of dating as just having fun with new people now and then: some drinks, a meal, conversation, let it flow and enjoy the moment with that person. Why? Because you will come across as a relaxed, fun, chilled out person who is great to spend time with rather than someone who is desperately searching. And what is a relationship? What’s at the heart of a good relationship? Fun! Enjoying the presence/ company/ humour/ conversation of another person. You don’t have to label anything as a relationship or a date etc etc just keep coming back to the moment and making sure it’s fun. Will you see this person again? Doesn’t matter as long as I’m having fun now. Will this be the love of my life? Doesn’t matter just enjoy the moment.

I also see you used words such as crisis, difficulty, depression: none of this is helping you to attract a mate, in fact it’s probably projecting the wrong image to potential mates and scaring them off. From this moment on, amend the vocabulary you are using: no more crisis/ desperation/ depression to describe your love life. Stop beating yourself up! Everyone goes through rough patches from time to time. Take it easy on yourself. Can you put this into context? You are a successful man, I am sure. You are healthy. You say you have wonderful friends. What else is wonderful in your life? You need to see the whole picture here and not focus on the one thing that is not going to plan in your experience. What I want to say is that when you are happy as a single man leading a satisfying, fulfilling, interesting, fun life then you are a much more attractive proposition than in your current state to any potential suitors. Imagine you meet a guy who wants to start a relationship with you because he feels you will fill a gap he has, fill a void and act as a plaster to pull things together. Imagine this person says they are so unhappy and really need someone to correct that and make them happy. How would you feel about that? It’s a tall order and would put pressure on you as well as possibly making you want to run a mile because he sounds a bit desperate. That is what you want to avoid. People want to be with happy, balanced people/ partners Be a happy person (or a happy dater) who wants to meet people and have fun but you don’t need anyone to complete you or your life as this is what could trip you up. You need to find a way to be happy and single before dating anyone else. Stop dating people until you truly feel content about your life and you don’t need anyone to make you happy because you are already happy. That is the perfect situation: if you do meet someone then they will compliment your wonderful life rather than fill any voids.

Saying you feel like you may look ridiculous and that you feel self-conscious demonstrates a lack of self-confidence. There are many self-help books which will help you with that but, again, whatever you feel on the inside often gets projected when you meet others. I very much doubt that anyone you meet sees you as ridiculous and you need to find a way to get those unhelpful voices out of your head. Men and women over the age of 50 don’t just curl up and die. Divorce rates have never been higher than today; thousands of older people are forced to pick themselves up and get out there to meet new people. You don’t have to put romance out of your head. How you are looking for men to date may have to be revisited, ie what sites/ apps you are using to ensure you are connecting with the age range you want to meet. I hope this helps.

Q: Over 5 years ago I was seeing a guy who I ended up dating on/off for a few months, although we only slept together once. After that night though, he sent me a text message that was about me, but not intended for me, and it was not good!

Since then, I’ve found myself terrified to get physically close to a guy, even when the closeness is non-sexual (my straight male friends have commented on this, which isn’t a good sign). Yet, consciously, I really want to be able to get close to a guy again and trust him.

I’ve been to bars which doesn’t help, as I can never pluck up the courage to approach guys that I like, and I don’t like casual hook-ups either. I feel if I’m honest about my trust issues, it’ll scare the guy away, yet I don’t think a more casual encounter would be good for me, and is definitely not what I want.In other aspects of my life I’m fine though – I can socialise easily (although I can be shy). How can I move forward from my trust issues?

A: So I am assuming that the text said something about you being overweight or too skinny or having bad breath? I can understand how that could have been devastating to receive, but now it’s happened, it’s up to you to choose your reaction.

The first option is to hide under a stone waiting to die. The other option is to get over this. Tell yourself that this was a fairly casual on/ off relationship and you obviously didn’t know him as well as you thought you did. So why let his one text have such an effect on you? If it came from someone who knew you for years or a member of your family who you love and trust then that would be something different. But who is this guy? You haven’t even seen him for 5 years. Life is too short. Screw him. Move on.

Although you said you don’t want casual sexual encounters, I feel that by getting out there and getting naked with different men, it will boost your confidence. There are guys who will consider you attractive and want to have sex with you (regardless of the opinion of that guy 5 years ago). So my advice is to experiment a little, get used to being close to another man and just being naked. You need to be comfortable with sex before meeting an ideal partner (then there will be no need to confess any fears) and you can only get that ease by practising! At the end of the day, anyone who does run off because of a personal confession of vunerablility isn’t really worth knowing anyway. Expressing yourself and being honest is an admiral quality.

If the message insinuated that you are overweight or anything else about your body then is there something you could work on to build your confidence? Could you join a gym and get fitter? Feeling better about your body will surely help to get over this. But I do feel that trust and closeness (or intimacy) are two seperate issues here, although you may have linked them. You used the word ‘terrified’ to get close to someone else; I do not think this stems from that text message, so it may be time to examine any other issues you may have lurking (maybe even with a therapist).

Don’t feel bad about not being able to pluck up the courage to approach guys in bars as, in the age of twitter and grindr, most guys under the age of 30 don’t have the social skills to do that; texting intimate messages to a complete stranger is easy though. If you are shy (which many people are – and this can be an attractive quality), then use these aps and websites to your advantage. This is how people meet today; forget bars and clubs.

You have spent 5 years feeling bad about what happened; it’s really time for you to start to find ways to feel better now. You could continue feeling bad but life is too short and you have demonstrated how you have the desire to change your life. This email was the first step. So how can you make yourself feel better? Treat yourself to some new clothes that flatter you, get a good haircut, a massage, try meditation or other relaxation tecniques to help when you do feel anxious or uncomfortable. Now get out there and live. Good luck!

Q: Seven months ago I started chatting to this guy on grindr. As you would expect, I was simply looking for some no strings fun with him. Our differing schedules though, meant we never got round to it. Instead, we found ourselves regularly chatting on grindr and eventually skype. Despite a failed attempt to meet up a couple of weeks ago, we finally got to see each in the flesh last week. This was at a local bar, where we spent the evening just chatting and flirting. Nothing more came of it though, as we each went home alone. That very same evening, he messaged me on grindr asking me what I honestly thought of him. I was honest and told him I still liked him a lot and was therefore keen to meet up again. His view of me was the same and we are now arranging to spend some time together at the next available opportunity. On the one hand, we have both expressed an interest in taking things to a sexual level. On the other hand though, we have also talked about doing other things together. He does a lot swimming, for instance, and has said several times that I should join him. This excites me a lot, as I feel it suggests he’s potentially seeing me as more than a random guy from grindr. I couldn’t be happier at thinking this may be the case, as I like him a lot and want to get to know him better. This is with the view of starting a relationship with him should things go well. However, there two dilemmas that I need to get my head around. This is where you come in…

1) Since chatting to him, he has started a relationship with someone else.
2) He has often stated that nothing more than friendship/ fun can happen between us because he feels the age gap is too large; he is currently 32, whilst I am 21. This though, is always followed with him fantasising about what would be if I was older. This always involves a relationship with me.

Any advice on how best to deal with this situation would be greatly appreciated.

A: So you say that you want to get to know him with a view to staring a relationship but this man has clearly told you that you are too young for him and he is already with somebody else. They are two flashing red lights which are a sign for you not to take this any further. The fact that you say he ‘fantasizes’ about being with you is another sign that this notion has no place in his reality; it is nothing more than a fantasy. When we really want someone and we are convinced that they are the one for us, we often pretend we don’t see these warning signs, or pretend that they are small issues, easily overcome. Save yourself a lot of time and trouble and move on.

The fact he invited you swimming doesn’t really mean that much; don’t try to read too much into that. It could either be that he would like to start a friendship with you or he would like to have sex with you – which would mean him cheating on his new partner, which in turn would lead to you not being able to trust him if something did develop, (which is probably won’t) and if you see him as a potential partner and he sees you as a f*** buddy then this will end up with you getting hurt.

You deserve to be with a man who wants to be with you and get to know you! Not some guy who needs convincing that that you are old enough for him or that he should dump someone else for you.
There are plenty of guys who would like to start something serious with you out there, regardless of your age or anything else for that matter; this person is not one of them though.

Now get back on grindr (which doesn’t not necessarily have to be about looking for sex; remember there are ‘relationship/ friendship’ options on the profile) or whatever other site you use and forget this guy.
Good luck!

Q: I recently started talking to this guy that my friend kind of hooked me up with. I thought he was really cute! So I was kind of excited when my friend arranged for us to meet. We only hung out for an hour or so. I ended up being pretty quiet, because I was nervous and shy, and I really regret that. Anyways, we hugged afterwards, and as we were about to get in our cars, he looked at me and told me to hug him again. Cutest thing ever! Later that night he texted me saying he liked meeting me. I thought everything was good, but the next day or two later he sent me this txt: “You’re such a sweetie, you really are. & I want to like you but I honestly just don’t think I’m ever gonna be ready for a relationship… It’s hard to understand but I was physically and so mentally & emotionally abused by my ex. I just have a lot of things I need help on. I’m scared to get hurt its just UGH It’s so frustrating cause I wish you could just see what happened but it always holds me back and I don’t want to hurt you because you DO NOT deserve it. I really want you a part of my life though, and I want to remain talking, I’ve been going to counselling lately and my counsellor even told me that a relationship right now wouldn’t be good for my mental health. I always ignore her but then I meet the guy and I just freak out because I know you are WAY too good for me. And I don’t deserve you. Please don’t be mad and I really am trying my hardest to make you understand without being confused about it but I just need a lot of time to become mentally healthy again and I love being with gay guys because it makes me feel like I belong but I never ever want to commit and I just have to figure it out (but please don’t stop talking to me because I want you to be here for me and I want to be here for you too).”
With this, I was so entirely confused. I guess what I’m getting to asking is, what you think this txt means. Is he not interested in me, and this is his way of saying that, or is he trying to get me to “fight for him”? It’s been driving me crazy to know, and I’m in dire need to know. I really like this guy, his advice about coming out lead me to come out like 8 people in a span of 4 days. So please let me know what you think!
A: No, he is not trying to get you to fight for him. In fact for someone you met just for an hour, he is being remarkably open and honest with you (maybe too much). This is one of those situations where warning lights should start going off in your head. The guy has big problems; he can’t commit, his councillor says he is not ready for a relationship, he lacks self-worth and he has confirmed all that in writing! So there is no chance of anything happening here and, even if it did, it would not work out. The writing is literally on the wall here, so don’t try to read anything else into it; any hope of a potential relationship with this person should be extinguished now. When we really like somebody, sometimes we pretend not to see the reality right under our nose.
It seems you made a good impression on him (but again, one hour is not enough to know somebody) and he wants to remain friends with you but you have to think about whether this would work for you or not. If you are attracted to him and want to be with him as a lover then it will take a long time to adjust to friendship and the process may be a bitter pill to swallow.

So my advice is to see the positive in this situation. This guy did like you; you are obviously attractive/ charming/ intelligent enough to impress a stranger in one hour. He may not be the one for you but don’t feel rejected or let that affect your self-confidence; in fact it should give you a boost. Secondly, if this person gave you the confidence to come out to 8 people, then that’s also great. Lastly, I would say learn from this and don’t get so excited about someone you have met for just an hour, no matter how attractive or perfect you think they are. During such a short time you would be judging each other’s looks, body language and engaging in fairly superficial conversation. One hour does not tell you anything about long term compatibility. You would have to see someone for at least a few weeks to know whether you want to start anything serious with them. Running in too fast to a relationship will end in tears. You said you felt nervous and shy at this meeting, so there’s something you can focus on next time; trying to get your head in a calm place before your next date. Feeling shy is normal and dating is like anything else in life; the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Good luck!

Q: So I am a 18 year old bi-male (maybe gay not sure really which is a whole nother thing haha) but either way i had never dated or had any experiences with other men. Recently I have gone on dating/hookup sites to try and find somebody since a) im not out and b) i wouldnt even know where to look in my area. At first i was surprised certain people messaged me and after meeting people and discovering they lied became a pattern. After numerous letdowns my now boyfriend (which he has said we are but i am unsure of as of late) messages me. He seemed to be exactly what i was looking for( close in age, common interests, fit,nice etc) but i was cautiously optimistic.

Eventually we texted more and more and then finally planned to meet up. He invited me over to his place (due to unforseen car issues we didnt have time to go get dinner together once i arrived) but i was so happy that he was truly honest in describing himself and his personality with the pictures and messages he sent me. He had to pick his brother up from the airport later so we only had a few hours together but we started off talking some more and he knew that i was a virgin to the entire gay dating scene and only had minimal experience dating in general. So before he did anything he always asked to make sure i was comfortable which was even more reassuring. Eventually after talking and some hand holding we cuddled together and chatted while watching a movie. We also kissed a little but i kept him as long as he could so i said goodbye and went home.

Next time we met up at his house again and blah blah blah then we started makin out which he walked me through and then a little later i had too leave an hour early. Now it has been two week since then and it doesnt look like we will be able to meet up again very soon. He says his work schedule is crazy which i understand with construction jobs but the past few week he has texted me less and less. Sometimes going days without hearing anything from him but ” sleeping” or “working”. He reassures me that he does want to see me just as much but really needs his paychecks but im confused. He is an awesome guy but comes off recently and not trying very hard to meet up again. Of course as my first boyfriend everything is so new to me and theres a million places we could go or things we could goto but it seems like i have to push to get anything started. When he texts me and i dont notice after awhile he will text me again until i respond but when i try to reach him almost never available. Any help and sorry for the novel of text.

A: Firstly, I would say you cannot be boyfriends after texting and meeting each other just twice. That seems a bit premature and that label may build up expectations that could come crashing down if this relationship doesn’t work out. So keep in mind that you are both getting to know each other or dating, but that’s all for the moment. I’m not sure where you live, but a quick internet search will show you any gay youth groups in your area which may be a good place for you to start meeting other bi or gay guys in the same boat as you. You don’t need to rush into any relationship, especially with the first person you meet; as you are probably aware there are millions of gay men out there and this is just the start of your dating journey, so chill out, have fun, enjoy meeting new people and sharing good times.

Whatever his job is; there is never really an excuse for not keeping in contact with someone you really like. When you want to see someone again and you keep thinking about them, it’s hard to keep your fingers off your phone keys and whatever his living situation, there is always time to grab a coffee together. With all the technology we have today to keep in touch (Skype, messenger, BBM, video calling etc) what you are saying just doesn’t wash. But it seems when you ignore him, that gets his attention. So you could try holding back and playing hard to get, but how long will that game have to go on for before he’s tired of playing? You have only just met each other so his behaviour doesn’t bode well for the future. On a personal note, if somebody sent me a text saying ‘working’ or ‘sleeping’, I would delete their number and move on asap; it comes across as arrogant and rude.

You say that your experience leads you to believe that many gay men are liars, so take a look at all the different type of websites where you can meet other guys; some are much more sexual than others. Try okcupid.com; which is based on compatibility rather than naked photos. Above all, as this is all so new to you, you don’t want to build any negative perceptions about gay guys or your sexuality which may stay with you for life. That’s why it’s good just to take it easy with all of this. Make sure you have plenty of friends around you and make sure you are enjoying your life, your hobbies, sport of whatever. Meeting a partner is just a part of your life; not the be all and end all.

Q: I had so much fun reading your book THANK YOU!! A bit about myself I’m 31 years old ,gay single guy living in NYC. I started reading ur book ,cause I was looking for some insight and maybe guide .just a different perspective from my friends which I love!
I have dated a guy recently and we were really into each other ,texting every day , meeting few times a week ,and I have noticed a pattern in me . that when he is not texting me , I’m constantly looking at my phone, to see if he txt or not and etc. anyway I’ve noticed that it affects me in a way that it affects my mood , if I don’t hear from him . and the minute I see a txt from him I become happier . so I was trying to stay cool and show him interest but not too much . Then I decided to not txt him ,and see if he wants to txt me and see me . which he did a week after our last chat .I responded 3 hours later and I never heard back I guess we lost the momentum. I moved on…

I went on Grinder trying to meet guys for dates ,and I’ve noticed that it takes all my attention away I always log in even from work , and see if I got any msgs .and if I didn’t I feel bad and my self esteem goes down .
Even at my free time at home I’ve noticed I was reading less and doing lessthings I love . and just going on grinder on the search for dates ,or shall I say attention. Guys always tried to talk to me but it was always felt like a chase and shook my self esteem big time.

I decided to delete Grinder and start reading books again and found my peace and balance is back . and I’m the happiest when I’m not chasing anything and not rushing anything. I’m much more focused now ,and much more relaxed and thanks to your book which was a great read . I feel like I’m not alone in the gay dating world , and I know that only when I’m in this state of happiness ,balance and relaxation I can be available to offer more of myself.

Thank you so much and I would love to hear your feedback

Jonas, NYC, USA

A: What an amazing email to find on a Monday night! I’m so glad that the book has been able to help you.
What you mention all comes down to leading a fulfilling, happy life as a single person before you even think about dating anyone.
By being a happy, rounded individual you are more attractive to others and less likely to obsess over text messages.
Also, the self confidence issue ties in with this too; if you are busy and happy with your life and what you are doing, then the fact that he didn’t get in contact or you didn’t receive any text from him matters a whole lot less. When you are feeling unconfident about yourself it can also be like a downward spiral, you get stuck in that trap and you can end up projecting the wrong image to potential mates too.

Grindr is huge is Europe but it’s more focused on sex. I’m sure there are other websites where you could meet guys looking for something longer term and where you don’t feel a constant pressure to interrupt your work or life to make sure you haven’t missed anything. But that’s just my personal opinion!

I would say don’t beat yourself up about getting excited about hearing from someone you really like and maybe being disappointed if you don’t hear from them. It’s the same story for everyone, straight or gay all over the world. That’s what makes falling in love so exciting. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and you have to take that ride to meet that special person.

Q: Thanks for the advice on finding men. I really found your book (Gay Dating: your guide to finding love.) I came out just last year (I’m 17), and have been living in Nebraska; the people are internally and externally homophobic. Your book encouraged me to not give up, so that when I move back to my hometown, which has a fairly strong gay community – I can look for, as you referred to it as, “a mate.” (Americans like me never talk like this)

I have some questions for you:

1 You described the “cruisy look” and its strange contrast to the subtle methods seen in “straight” (I hate this term) dating. I’m looking for an affectionate, emotionally open, nice guy. I’m okay with giving camp dudes a try, but I’m not really looking for that. I’ve seen and done the whole, oops-I-dropped-my-pencil act. What would you suggest that’s more…. original?

2. I’m wondering what, perhaps, the differences in dating are between gay teens who have come out and are hanging out in youth groups and the gay guy who comes out later after a childhood/adolescence of rejection and fear?

3. In Kentucky, homophobia is a huge factor in society; Kentucky has a lot of what my straight friends and I call “marriage martyrs.” Here in Idaho, I face less crap because I’m not actually dating anybody here. How, as somebody brought up in the UK, deal with discrimination while dating?

A: I’m glad you like the book. So, to answer your questions;

1) When you are trying to attract someone’s attention you could try to do something ‘original’, ie tap-dance or jump out of a plane with a message on your parachute for him but, generaly the old tried and trusted methods work best; ie eye contact, smiling, compliments and giving the right body
language. You also need to learn to read the signs right from him so you can tell if he is interested or not. If you think he is interested then go in for the kill and say ‘it would be cool to hang out one evening/ afternoon/ weekend’ and see what he says.

2) Guys who come out very early tend to be happier with who they are. If their parents are ok with them then they go to school and don’t try to hide anything; there’s nothing to hide after all and they are confident and happy. Their colleagues get used to seeing gay kids and this opens their minds too. By the time they are adults they demand equal treatment from society as they know that they are just like everybody else and refuse to be treated
differently. The younger gay generations in the UK are very visible, very vocal and they are pushing society forward. They feel they don’t have to fight or go or parades to assert their role in the world.

Guys who come out later in life can also have the same attitude (it’s just been hiding) but they can also sometimes have issues accepting themselves. Guys that come out mid 20’s or later are or who have been pretending to be straight and trying to fit in by going out with girls and these are the ones that will have the most problems; with both relationships (ie expressing themselves with another guy) and accepting themselves, they are the guys you will
see online describing themselves as ‘very straight acting guy looking for straight acting, non camp bla bla bla I hate feminine guys bla bla.’ What they are really saying is that they hate themselves.

3) Regarding your geographic location and the people surrounding you, I would say don’t be mad at them for their attitudes or how they view things. That’s not your problem; don’t focus on them as this will mean you ultimately become angry and bitter about something over which you have no control.
So focus on what you do have control over, ie your own thoughts and attitudes. You may decide to move to a different place in the future and remember that things are improving all the time; think about the feminist movement or the gay movement fifteen years ago and how things have improved. Gay marriage is being debated by your politicians right now. That’s a good thing. Kentucky may well become a more gay friendly place to live, who knows?

Without wanting to sound patronising, 17 is still very young. Take it easy on yourself, do things you enjoy, make friends, focus on your studies or what work you want to do and if the right guy shows up, then that’s perfect. Above all NEVER GIVE UP.

I hope this helps,
All the best

Q: I wanted to ask you something if you don’t mind. I read your book and it was really great, I just wish you went into more depth in some chapters. Hence the question, I am really into black and mixed guys; where do you think my interest in black guys comes from. I don’t mind it of course but it happened after I dated one black guy and since then everything changed! I really don’t get it but I am kind of limiting myself, aren;t ? Anyway, I don’t find white guys attractive anymore.

A: a lot of the time our physical preferences and what we find attractive in others (ie skin colour, hair colour etc) is influenced by our first love/ crush or our first romantic encounter as it can form such a deep impression which stays with us. It could be that this guy really left a big impression on you (even if he wasn’t your first love) and you are subconsciously seeking a mate that will remind you of him and enable you to re-live that great experience. If you feel that you are limiting yourself and missing out on opportunities with other guys then maybe that is an issue and it could be time to force yourself to get out there and meet different types of guys (or maybe you need to come to terms with the end of that relationship), but if not then just go with the flow and enjoy the pursuit of whatever type of man appeals to you. London has a great mix of guys from all over the world so you’re in the right place. Now get out there and have fun.

Q: Jaye, I am fascinated of your book GAY DATING. I have it on my IPHONE and read abit each day. I have a question or if you can refer to me a good source for advice.
What do you define the word “DATING”. I met this guy online in the PLATONIC section of an online notice board. WE have been developing a good friendship for less than 2 months. The times we do meet I’m not sure to consider it a “date”. Seems we both are not ready for a serious relationship. WE both have trust issues due to our former partners, so developing a good friendship is the key just like you noted in your book. If you saw us together we can talk up a storm to each other without any silence. We can talk serious and joke and bust each other. I LOVE IT. I realize I need to work on myself and he too. So I am trying sooooooooo hard to be patient and just not obssess over this guy. Be busy!!! As I read your book, the word “date” is used. So would you consier our gatherings “dates”?
THANKS,
James
KINGSTON, PA
USA

A: Thanks for your feedback and I’m glad you like the book.

Well the difference between dating and a friendship is sexual attraction. I don’t know if you guys have talked about taking it further or even if you know for sure he is interested in you for more than friendship, especially if you met under the platonic section. If you two are flirting and giving each other lots of eye contact and subtle looks when you meet then I would say you are already unofficially dating. If it’s just humour and companionship then it would be more of a great friendship that sounds a lot of fun. We all have an inner voice which is telling us how it is, you don’t need anyone’s advice, deep down you know the score.

If you’re happy for things to continue as they are then relax and go with the flow, but the tone of your email suggests that you are not. Rather than getting obsessed and tense about the whole situation, why not just talk to him? It could save you a whole lot of disappointment and building castles in the sky. On the other hand, it could be the start of something great. But trust issues are just an excuse for fear, which should never hold anyone back. Being vulnerable and putting your heart on the line is what happens when you like someone, no matter how many times you’ve been hurt in the past. Nobody has ever died from rejection or a broken heart and in order to find your ideal mate you need to stop holding back. So get out there and live, love and express yourself. If he’s not the one for you there are plenty more. Good luck

Q: Hi there, I am 23 years old guy and I have just come out to my parents 3 months ago. I have been chatting to this guy from a dating site for a few weeks he sounds genuine and I am going on my first date/ meet with him on Friday for the very first time. Any tips on the do’s and don’ts e.g. When When I meet him should I shake his hand or give him a hug?. I really could use all the help.

A: It really depends on your personality and how intimate you have become over the time you have been chatting, but generally, a handshake would be the best option for two reasons. Firstly, you may feel awkward if you try to kiss him and he doesn’t want to or is not ready to and secondly, it depends how you feel in that moment. You may not be physically attracted to him when you meet so hugging him could just feel wrong. Some men are very uncomfortable with public displays of affection full stop, let alone with someone they have only just met for the first time. When meeting someone for the first time after chatting online, my advice would be not to have high expectations; even though you may have spent weeks chatting about the most intimate areas of your life and you may feel you know each other so well, chat screens are devoid of the visual, emotional and physical factors which lead to attraction, rapport and sparks. You cannot see the expression on his face as he is typing; is he joking? Is he being ironic? Is he serious? Does he have one eye on the TV screen while chatting to you? Shy people are able to come accross as very confident online and it is easy to exagerate or lie when you are not face-to-face with the person you are communicating with. Don’t make too much of this first meeting and keep it in perspective; if you end up falling in love, that’s great. It could also be the start of a new friendship, but if you are sure that he is your dream man and he turns out not to be, then you could end up feeling disapointed. As for ‘do’s and don’ts’; just be yourself, don’t try to be anything that you are not. Make sure you listen as well as talk and don’t fidget if you tend to get nervous. Last, but not least, remember that a short silence in the conversation every now and then is natural so don’t try to read anything into them. Good luck!

Q: In one month I will be 35 years old and single. I always thought I would have found the perfect mate by this age. I do go out on the scene, I use internet dating sites and I consider myself good looking but I am just so tired of this game. Is there something I’m missing with this whole gay dating thing?

A: So what happens at 35; you turn into a pumpkin? What’s the difference between 32 and 35? Why are you putting pressure on yourself? Try to chill out as this pressure could make you come accross as desperate or it could be hindering you finding a mate in other ways. It’s also better to be 35 and single and happy than 35 and in a relationship with the wrong person. Lots of gay guys feel as you do, that’s why my book has sold so many copies! But why not consider taking a break from your search? Even that word ‘search’ has a heavy, hard-work connotation to it. Just focus on something else for a few weeks or go on holiday. If you are feeling tired of it all then you are probably not giving the right impression to other potential mates when you meet them. In the mean time, make sure that your life has plenty of other, interesting, enjoyable stuff going on too and that finding this ideal man is not your sole focus. Try to make new friends or start new hobbies. Could you maybe revamp your online dating profile if it isn’t attracting the kind of guys you want? Without talking to you or knowing exactly what you are doing, that’s the best advice I can give. Hope it helps!

Q: I have been kind of dating a guy for the last 4 months. He made it clear that he doesn’t want to be tied down and that’s fine with me. I like him a lot and I am hoping something will develop between us. There are just a couple of issues that I need to clear up with him and I don’t know how to approach him without scaring him off. My friend spotted him kissing another guy in a bar a few weeks back. My heart nearly stopped when I found out. The other thing is that we only see each other when he wants to. Whenever I try to plan anything he is never around. How should I bring this up? Jaques.

A: Imagine you were hearing that sorry tale from one of your friends over a teary tequilla binge. What would be the first thing that went through your head? You would probably say ‘what a b****d, he is just using you and you are too good for him’. That’s what friends are for, to point out things when you are so emotionaly attached and involved that you can’t see the wood from the trees. So be your own best friend and try to see the light in this situation. Four months is long enough to know whether something will develop. It obviously hasn’t so you need to cut the ties and move on. Also, I don’t think you are ‘fine’ with him not wanting to be tied down or you wouldn’t be writing to me. This man cannot provide what you are looking for. Let me just underline that again this man cannot provide what you are looking for. If you continue with this one sided affair (which is NOT dating) you can expect more shock revelations from friends seeing him with other men but, ultimately, more heartache for you. He has laid the rules and you have so far followed and accepted them so there is nothing to bring up or discuss with him. I understand you like him but one day you will look back when you are happilly married and think to yourself ‘what a loser, why did I waste so long with that guy?’. Delete his number, distract yourself, go out with your friends, keep busy, get out and meet new people; be firm with yourself and you will get over him. You deserve better. Good luck.

Q: Whenever I’m a couple of months into a relationship, the same thing always happens; I get this urge to go out every night, clubbing, drinking, seeing my friends, having fun. I feel like I’m missing all the fun by being stuck with one guy. This keeps happening every time I meet someone so I guess I have to sort this out or forever remain a short term boyfriend! Help! Paul

A: My initial reaction is that you are not really ready to have a relationship. Underneath, you still want to enjoy your footloose and fancy free status. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. At some stage (this could be months or years) you may well find your feelings change and the prospect of settling down with a partner will no longer seem so boring and you won’t feel stuck, as you say. It’s not fair on your partners either, if you are not really commiting to them. Release any idea that you should be in a relationship or fears that you will never be able to have a long term relationship and enjoy life. Nobody is forcing you to start a relationship; being single and having fun is fine. Another issue could be that you are not sharing your social life with your partner. Have you tried bringing your boyfriend out with your friends when you go clubbing or drinking? There is no need to separate your man and your friends; try to involve hiim in your crazy nights out too. Or are you choosing guys who don’t share those same interests? If that’s the case, ask yourself why. Another possibility may be that you are deliberately sabotaging your relationships, always using the same reason to end them. Is there some issue that is preventing you from staying with someone for more than a couple of months? Is this clubbing etc just a pretext for something happening deeper down? I’ve given you plenty to think about so let me know how you get on.

Q: Speaking as a 37 year old gay man who’s been around, I have to say that I don’t understand your whole ‘gay dating’ website. My experience has shown me that gay men primarily want sex (that’s why there are so many gay sexual websites,clubs, bars etc etc). Try going to a Vauxhall club and trying to convince the leather men that they should be ‘dating’. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing what you are trying to introduce but I think a little realism wouldn’t go amiss.I gave up trying to settle down with a partner some years back and I have never regretted that.

A: Leathermen want to feel love, affection and companionship like every other human being. Their sexual persuasion or behaviour does not alter a basic human need (although they may well have other things on their mind on a Saturday night!) Of course there are many gay men (as well as straight/ bi men and women) who are not looking for anything more than sex, everyone is free to choose their own lifestyle. Gay culture is very sexualised but it’s important not to make any generalisations about such a broad range of ages, races, backgrounds and beliefs. Our website receives hundreds of hits every day, our dating events have been consistently busy for five years – this is not a one off fluke, thousands of gay men want to ‘date’ as opposed to just having sex. We are addressing a need, rather than trying to ‘introduce’ anything, as you say. I get the impression from your email that you seem slightly jaded about the whole situation. Have you developed your perceptions after spending many nights in cruisy bars or on those type of websites? If so, then it is not surprising. If you had maybe spend the same amount of time on different websites, where gay men are primarily focused on friendship or if you had attended any one of a number of non-sexual gay events (or even – shock horror- speed dating) which take place up and down the country (gay bowling groups or choirs etc), then it is probable that your outlook would be different and you would have met enough gay men who are looking for more than sex to convince you. The fact you logged on to our website and took the trouble of sending this message also shows that you have not given up, as you say. So, lighten up with your fixed ideas of how you think gay men are and look around you a bit more; you may even want to get back in the dating ring again?

Q: I consider myself to be a great catch; I have a great job, I’m clever, I have a great body (I used to model swimware) but I am not meeting the kind of guys that I want to meet. Over the past couple of years I must have met and gone out with over 100 potential boyfriends but they never seem to live up to what I am looking for. I suppose the million dollar question is; WHERE do I go to meet smart, handsome, successful gay men? Marcus

Our speed dating events of course! Just kidding. Well it’s great to see that you are a confident man, sure of what he is looking for. But (and this is a big but) I think you need to turn the spotlight away from the perceived failings of your potential boyfriends and examine what (or who) you are looking for. There are plenty of smart, handsome, successful gay men in London and you don’t have to go too far to meet them, but, this depends on your idea of ‘smart and handsome’. Does that mean a male-model look alike with the career of Donald Trump? Are your expectations set too high? I can confidently say that a clever, solvent, swimware model who wants to find a partner in this town does not stay single for long! Are you honestly saying that not one of those 100 men you dated could make you happy? Not one? Be honest with yourself and see if you can see what the real issue is. Why are you turning away so many potential partners? Is there any fear of commitment lurking around? Is this endless quest for a ‘smart, handsome, successful mate’ just a front to hide something else that’s going on in your subconscious? I realise this may not have been the response you were hoping for but the answer to your million dollar question lies within you.

Q: I am 36 years old and I have just come out. I realise this is late and I have spent a long time in denial but that’s life. I have mustered up the courage to visit a couple of bars in Soho on two occasions and I felt like an OAP. All the guys seemed to be teenagers. I feel anxious about having ‘missed the boat’ and, as I don’t have any gay friends, I don’t know who to turn to really. I do want to find a partner but I just don’t know how gay men go about that. Any advice would be of great help! Darren

A: Darren, first of all, don’t beat yourself up about having come out late or wasted time in denial. Wherever you are in your own personal journey is fine. What matters is that you feel good about now and the decisions you have made. Be proud that you have had the courage to come out and forget this misinformed notion that you have missed the boat somehow. You are 36, not 86! Soho can be a daunting place for guys who have just come out and I think you may have been to a couple of the bars which are aimed at the younger gay crowd. Soho reflects London’s gay diversity and there are bars for bears, the older crowd, City guys, trendies and more. You can view Boyz Magazine or QX magazine online; they have listings for all the gay venues and this will help you to plan your next night out better. You can contact the gay and lesbian switchboard for advice and support, but I would also suggest that you don’t rely on bars in Soho for making new friends and dates. Gay men are not confined to Soho; we are everywhere! As well as online sites where you can make new friends, there are numerous gay sports, music and charity groups where you can meet new friends.

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