Dear Fannie,

I'm just another young gay guy, fairly new to the world of romance. Most of my dating, for the better and for the worse, is done with the aid of the Internet and various online dating web sites. I actually really don't mind it. I think I get to meet a lot of people I wouldn't normally meet in bars or elsewhere. But I always hear everyone's nagging worries in the back of my head. Is it safe?

Sincerely,

iDate

Congratulations, iDate! You're our millionth customer! *cue Price is Right theme and confetti!*

Actually, though you're not our millionth customer, your question has resulted in belowthebelt.org's 100th post! So in honor of this momentous occasion and in an effort to answer your question, I've assembled a top 10 DOs and DON'Ts for internet dating/hooking up etc. (I tried coming up with 100, but it would have been 50 pages!)

[Also, where are all the non-young gay male readers! I'd love to hear from you! Send me your questions to the brand new, super professional email: askfannie@belowthebelt.org]

DOs:

- Know what you're looking for: The wide world of internet dating is inundated with a plethora of niche markets (Is anyone else studying for the GREs?). Everyone is looking for something different: a good fuck, an LTR, a chaste movie date, a "movie date" which ends up in a different kind of dimly lit room… So when you post your ad, profile, or begin chatting with someone make sure you communicate what it is you're looking for.


- Choose your e-venue wisely: There are many ways to getting your e-ass out there. There are your various "social networking" sites like facebook and myspace, the gay-themed profile sites à la manhunt.net or connexion.org, chat rooms of the gay.com variety, and personal ads on sites like craigslist.org. Each site has a different kind of demographic, so it's important to make sure your goals for eDating and the website demographic are congruent. Craigslist is great if all you want is a quick fuck, but finding more personal connections are a little more difficult there. In the same respect, looking for fuck buddy on chemistry.com is a bit counter-intuitive.

- If you're having sex, ALWAYS use protection: I don't care how many times he claims that's he's clean, or that you're the only person he's had sex with a year. Men are exceptionally good LIARS. When in the pursuit of action, half the time they don't even realize their lying. If you need any reminders on why safer sex is important please click here, here, and here [WARNING: these links are very graphic...swallow your food first]. This of course doesn't apply to those bug chasers out there. If so, rest in peace!

- If going out on a "date" date, choose an activity that's appropriate for a first date: For some reason people have a propensity for suggesting very strange first date ideas when communicating online. Good ideas include coffee date, dinner date, movie date… public places are generally a good idea, especially if you need to scream for help. Bad ideas include your cousin's wedding reception, a dinner party with all of your friends, an abandoned warehouse… ok that last one is kind of ridiculous, but the former two are real suggestions that sorry-ass eDaters have given in the past.

- Call him, for chrissake!: Don't be afraid to migrate communication from e-mails or chatting to the good ol' telephone (if you have his number). Too many people waste hours waiting on a chatroom for their boo to reappear because they're uncomfortable making a phone call when it's not a mode of communication that has previously been breeched.

DON'Ts:

- DON'T have sex with a liar: If the "hot twink" you set up a booty call with shows up and turns out to be a cheating old geezer with a wedding band, SLAM the door in his face. Liars abound far and wide on the internet, because it's so easy to lie when you don't have to speak face to face. Put the mofo in his place, and teach him that just because he got his foot in the door by pretending to be something he's not, doesn't mean he'll get away with it.

- DON'T lead people on: If you don't intend on riding his cock tonight, and you’re just faux-cybering… STOP, it's disingenuous. If all you want to do is chat, tell him that up front. Honesty does a body good.

- DON'T do anything you're uncomfortable with. Many times, guys will try and guilt trip you into either hooking up with them for "taking up their time" online or otherwise. In addition, be aware that guys will omit certain sex acts that they may really enjoy when talking with you initially (e.g., people with foot fetishes may not be up front about that in the first word!). If you're uncomfortable with something they suggest or start doing, say so immediately. If they don't respond, well, leave.

- DON'T out coworkers, friends, or acquaintances that you may come across while surfing the web for some hot mens. As sad as it is, closetedness is still widespread and the internet is a favorite means by which closet cases can meet other men discreetly. Respect people's privacy. Especially if you find out someone is in the armed services. Coming out is often a difficult and sometimes traumatic experience for many people. Everyone should be able to decide if and when that happens. NOTE: this rule does not apply if you find a hypocritical public official trolling for some man ass à la Mark Foley or Larry Craig. Out his lying ass for the betterment of society.

- DON'T get depressed if someone ignores your interest. It's a harsh world, and an even harsher online world. It's easy to dismiss a "wink" on manhunt or a message in a chatroom. It's people using discretion, and being indirectly honest. Think of it this way: it's better than someone chatting you up and getting you excited and hopeful, , only to be told later that "you're not his type." Recover and move on, there are better fish out there.


++
fiercely,
fannie

send your questions to askfannie@belowthebelt.org

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