Dear Fannie,

I'm a 22 year old gay male and I've never had a serious boyfriend -- I attribute this mostly to the fact that I went to college where dating options for LGBT people were few. But now that I'm in a big city and I'm dating more often, I meet people all the time that have had a number of long term relationships. It's really intimidating. Sometimes I worry that I don't really know HOW to date, because I've never had practice. Pardon my ignorance, but is LTR-oriented dating for LGBT people much different than it is for heteros? If so, do you have any tips for success?


Looking for love

Hi, LFL,
I’m glad you’ve been able to escape the clutches of an unfriendly college environment for us homos. So you’ve fled the dungeon that is homophobic college life to the big gay urban center, and you’re wondering why you feel untrained in this mysterious art of gay dating. (I say gay dating because I want to speak to your specific situation, because the dating codes, mores, and trends vary wildly between the queer clans.) News Flash: You are untrained in dating. But the good news is that it really isn’t all that mysterious. At least no more mysterious than it is for heteros.

I know this may be hard to believe, considering how homo dating can seem virtually non-existent, and how hetero-dating seems to be everywhere. Well, that’s the thing… there are a heck lot more heteros than homos. How many more? I don’t know, and I don’t care to know. But needless to say, by sheer numbers it’s a lot more common to see, hear about, and know hetero dating couples.

Now, of course there are trends amongst gay men that don’t necessarily appear in hetero couples and vice versa. Gay men are more likely to have numerous sexual/romantic relationships running simultaneously. They are also more likely to have anonymous sex than heteros as a whole. But in these trends are by no means hard and fast rules. There are plenty of heteros, especially those young, hip, urban heteros who have more sex than a crystal queen at a circuit party would dream of. In fact, you might say that those young, hip, urban heteros are living the “gay lifestyle” as the religious right has coined and historically used to demonize gay men for their “wanton promiscuity”… of course, those yuppie heteros get all the fun and none of the nifty discrimination that us queers get to bask in.

So, LFL, the long and short of it is that there are plenty of gay men who are new to the dating scene. Whether it’s from just being in a place that makes gay dating possible, or coming out later in life, your situation is by no means exemplary. And relationships are hard. There’s no easy 5 steps to take that will expedite your experience accrual in gay dating. In my gay infancy, new to the world wide gay web, I bought and read a gay dating advice book called The MANdates: 25 Real Rules for Successful Gay Dating. No offense to the author, but it was a lovely, nicely designed, steaming pile of bullshit. Rife with stereotypes and questionable “guides,” like “How to read your Man from his Diva CD collection.” Someone hold my hair while I borch. The only way to learn how to date gay men… is to date gay men.

Things to watch out for:
• Men, whether by socialization, hormonal influence, or some “natural” trait, tend to be reserved with the communication. In fact, men are legendarily uncommunicative and passive aggressive. When you have two (or more) people in a relationship that regularly fail to communicate will sew heapfuls of relationship trouble. So make sure that communication remains high… even if it means breaking out the therapist.
• Men also tend to have higher sex drives (although women tend to have lower sex drives, they often report more intense and more gratifying sexual experiences than men), so sex will likely be an important part of a gay relationship. Many “mainstream” or “homonormativeTM” gays of the HRC variety will want to de-emphasize and devalue gay men’s sex lives in order to make us more palpable to the hetero majority. But the fact of the matter is that sex is an important part of any relationship, and shouldn’t be scapegoated or devalued because it is in some way oppositional to an antiquated judeo-christian “morality.”

I hope all that was helpful, LFL. And good luck and happy hunting. May the rainbow shine upon your gay, faggy, path.


send your questions to

Creative Commons License