Dating apps have revolutionized the way we men meet. They come with quite a few challenges, especially for gay men looking for meaningful connections.
Where about twenty years ago flirting mainly happened in smoky bars, on neon-lit dance floors and remote meeting places, we now endlessly scroll left and right in the hope of finding mister right. This brings along the necessary frustrations and challenges. In this article I describe five frustrations and how you can change the game to increase the chance of a successful match.
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Frustration 1: Emotional fatigue
While swiping, our brain produces endorphins, adrenaline and dopamine. This gives a pleasant feeling and makes you want to keep swiping. With every new profile, the hope that this could be it is awakened. Wait, not yet...
The constant stream of profiles, conversations, and potential matches provides a temporary distraction. But it often falls short of deeper emotional needs and desires when you're looking for real connection. In the long run, it creates a greater sense of loneliness and isolation and the step to step away from real life or someone only increases. And if you are regularly disappointed, you may feel discouraged or cynical about love.
Game changer: Set your intention
Ask yourself with what intention you are on dating apps. Are you looking for sex? Do you want to meet new people? Is it some form of pastime? Or do you long for connection and hope for a new love? Your intention determines where you look and how you profile yourself. Is a dating app even the right place for what you're looking for? Or are you better off looking through a local bar or a platform like Meet-up for activities where you get to know other men.
Frustration 2: Lack of clear intentions
Some men are looking for a sincere connection or potential partner, while others are looking for an exciting chat or confirmation. The lack of clear communication about expectations often leads to misunderstandings and frustration. Conversations that basically have little chance of leading to anything substantial usually feel like a waste of time and emotional energy.
Game changer: Be clear in what you are looking for
Now that you know your intent, it's time to take a critical look at your own profile. What do you share about yourself and what you are looking for? What does your photo radiate? To what extent are you open about your expectations? And what questions do you ask the other person to clarify his expectations? If you want clarity from the other person, it helps if you are also clear about your intentions.
Frustration 3: Short, meaningless talks
Hi! What are you looking for? Are you top, bottom or versa? Many conversations on apps like Scruff, Grinder, and Planet Romeo are short and sexually oriented. If you're looking for more than just a quick sex date, it may feel like these short conversations are pointless and lead nowhere.
Game changer: Stay true to yourself
Such a targeted chat is useful if you are looking for sex. You quickly know whether there is a match in the sexual field. And if not, don't waste time on endless chats. But if you're looking for a connection, you're better off avoiding such a chat. No matter how tempting it is sometimes. The sex-driven focus overshadows other traits, such as shared values and interests. Avoid taking on a role in the hope of meeting what the other person is looking for. And are you open about your expectations? And what questions do you ask the other person to clarify his expectations? If you want clarity from the other person, it helps if you are also clear about your intentions.
Frustration 4: The illusion of the perfect match
Dating apps offer an overwhelming plethora of options, creating the illusion that the perfect match is just a swipe away. This abundance can cause you to fear missing out on your prince charming. Instead of investing in building real connections, you end up in a cycle of endless swiping and superficial conversations.
Game changer: Be realistic
Nobody is perfect. Sometimes we make unrealistic demands on our future partner. In any relationship, there will be traits that you appreciate in each other and things that you might wish were different. By rejecting someone, for example because you are both bottoms and assume in advance that this will not work, you are selling yourself and the other person short. Realize that the other person is so much more than just a profile picture and stats. To really get to know the other person, you have to invest. By asking questions, being genuinely interested and putting aside any judgments.
Frustration 5: To be ghosted
One of the most daunting aspects of online dating is ghosting. Those you interact with suddenly disappeared, leaving you unexplained and perhaps even confused. Being ghosted produces the same brain response as physical pain. You feel spoiled and wonder if you did something wrong. And while the problem is usually with the gosther himself, it can affect your self-esteem.
Game changer: Seek recognition in yourself, not in the other
Don't let your self-worth depend on the number of likes and messages you get. When the other person suddenly disappears without explanation, it says more about the other person than about you. There could be 101 reasons, but don't doubt yourself. Instead, focus your attention on the things you can influence. For example, by telling yourself that you are sorry that contact has ended, but that you deserve to be treated fairly and honestly.
The superficial nature of dating apps, combined with the fear of missing out and the lack of clear intentions, can lead to a cycle of wasted time and emotional fatigue. It's important that you approach dating apps with realistic expectations and a willingness to put quality over quantity. When you are prepared to communicate openly and honestly, you prevent unnecessary frustrations and disappointments. With a good dose of perseverance and a positive attitude, you increase the chance of finding like-minded people.
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