4 Ways Gay Men Worry More About Dating

Do gay men really worry more about their love life than straight men? “Yes”, says a new study developed by dating website, EliteSingles.com. “But it doesn’t seem to make them any less happy overall.” The dating site used data from over 20,000 Americans, in addition to data from individuals in other countries. This is what they found:

– Gay men in the US are 3.5% less confident than straight men.

– The data also shows them 3% less secure, 2% more anxious and 2% more misunderstood.

– Happiness level on par with straight men, however.

– Gay men in the UK showed a similar pattern: -3% confident, -3% secure, +4.5% anxious, +3% misunderstood.

Dating can be tough at times, but how we cope with the knock-backs and dead-ends can define our future successful relationship. Whilst gay men are used to counseling female friends through the woes of dating, is there anything they can learn from their straight brethren? Here are four key ways in which gay men think differently when it comes to dating:

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1. Gay men lack confidence: In the study, gay singles scored themselves a staggering 3.5% lower than straight men on how confident they feel, and there’s no easy explanation for why there’s such a big difference. Lamar Dawson, writing for The Huffington Post, says “Whatever your reason, it’s hard to let others in and it’s hard to accept the love we deserve. The most important thing to know is that you are worthy of love and you have love to give.”

2. Gay men feel more insecure: Gay men also scored themselves 3% lower on the ‘secure’ scale. Why? Feeling insecure can encompass a great number of things – feeling jealous, paranoid and having trust issues are perhaps the most common manifestations, and these can be hangovers from past relationships. But, most often, gay singles actually feel more insecure about themselves, and this has much to do with internal conflict of ‘what you’re meant to be like’ and ‘who you are’.

3. Gay men are more ‘anxious about the future’: Gay respondents were more likely to describe themselves as ‘anxious about the future’ and, when it comes to dating, this can be cumbersome. Whether we’re worried about settling for the wrong person or on the brink of long-term territory, our fears about the future can inhibit us from making a commitment.

4. Gay men feel more misunderstood: There’s nothing more personal than dating – it exposes our true selves to the world, in the hope that we’ll find someone who can accept us for who we are. Feeling self-conscious can really complicate things! Careful cultivation of our own sense of self will always help you feel more prepared for finding ‘the one’.

Though it does seem that gay men may worry more, the same study also asked respondents how ‘happy’ they felt and produced no significant difference between gay and straight men. Less than 1% scored themselves lower, which would suggest that worrying about our love life more actually has little impact on our general happiness.

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Also undertaken in the United Kingdom, the study had remarkably similar results there.

EliteSingles’ resident psychologist Salama Marine had this to say: “Lack of confidence can come from a difficult former relationship, or even stem from childhood,” before adding “this can be a real problem whilst dating.”

To build more confidence when dating, Marine suggests these practical steps:

Make a list of all your qualities and be honest with yourself. Write down everything you have to offer someone in a relationship. For some people, this exercise can be really helpful because they can – literally – see just how valuable they are on the page in front of them.

If you feel that it’s not enough to realize this by yourself, why not talk with your friends? Just by asking simple questions like “Why are you my friend?” and “Why do you like to spend time with me?” you can realize your own value in other people’s eyes and learn to believe that you are a good person to know.

Fix reasonable objectives. When people want to change, they tend to forget that it needs to be done step by step – it’s important to fix doable objectives to avoid any disappointment. For example, it’s not easy for everyone to just walk up to someone they like in a bar and start talking to them. In this scenario, online dating can be really helpful; it can help you to realize that meeting and dating completely new people is not a big deal – you just need the practice!

This data and post was provided by EliteSingles.com. EliteSingles is part of a global network of leading online dating sites, helping more than 2,500 singles find love each month in over 20 countries worldwide.

Why Dating Apps are Prevalent Among Gay Men

Dating applications on smart phones provide a great, convenient way for individuals to find a potential short-term or long-term mate. However, dating apps targeted towards gay men (e.g., Grindr, Jack’d, etc) seem to be used extremely often among gay men; it is difficult to find a single gay guy who has never used these apps. Why might gay men rely on these apps so heavily? There may be more than one reason:

The Difficultly Meeting Gay Men

First, I will mention the primary reason dating apps for gay men (like Grindr) were created: to help gay men locate and contact one another directly. Without Grindr (or the Internet for that matter), gay men would have a much greater difficulty meeting one another. Although many gay men can drive to their local gay bar to meet one another, gay men in smaller towns or areas of the country may not be able to do this as easily.

Let’s keep in mind one particular dating challenge that gay men uniquely face: a limit to their number of dating candidates compared to heterosexuals’ dating candidates. Because gay men make up a smaller portion of the population compared to straight males, it is much less likely for gay men to run into other gay men in person at other establishments (e.g., the grocery store). Additionally, because gay men must also determine whether an attractive guy is gay or straight, this also hinders their confidence to express interest. For example, imagine a gay man going down the aisle in a grocery store and seeing a man they find extremely attractive. The gay man could try to decipher whether the man is gay; however, considering that gay men are roughly 5-10% of the population, it is likely that this man plays on the other team.

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Grindr seems to alleviate these challenges for gay men. Not only are gay men able to view and select from a pool of gay men but they are also able to contact them directly. This seems to bypass the problem of 1) distinguishing gay from straight men, and 2) making gay men more accessible among the general population.

Talking to that Hot Guy

Another benefit that gay men take advantage of on dating apps is being able to talk to men that they otherwise would not in person. When a gay man sees a very attractive man on Grindr, they are likely to send him a message with no problem. However, this is not the case in person. If that same attractive guy appears in at gay bar, it is extremely unlikely that this man would be approached in person in a similar way that he is messaged on Grindr. This is most likely due to a confidence factor. Insecurities are likely not worried about on Grindr, whereas it might be a different ball game when meeting them in person.

Curiosity

Let’s face it – gay men (perhaps men in general) are curious individuals, especially when it comes to their potential dating opportunities. Some gay men can’t help but load Grindr to “see who is around” in places or cities where that they have never been before. Additionally, this curiosity may translate into desire for quick hook ups, especially when gay men are away from their hometown. Because many dating apps for gay men function based on proximity, gay men who desire more short-term flings than average could increase their number of sex partners rapidly. Indeed, recent research has suggested that app users may be more sexually active in general1.

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Dating Ambiguity

Another reason gay men may be less apt to delete applications like Grindr is these applications perpetuate a cycle of dating ambiguity. What do I mean? Well, when gay men end up going on dates with guys that they meet off Grindr, some gay men may worry whether the date went well or not. This anxiety may translate into gay men’s need to line up alternative dating candidates in case their current dating candidate doesn’t pan out. Because Grindr contains a plethora of alternatives for gay men to choose from, it isn’t surprising that gay men are tempted to keep using Grindr even after they go on a few dates with the same guy.

On average, it is hard to find a gay man who has never used a gay dating application like Grindr. Although many gay men pledge to delete Grindr at “some point,” these apps tend to be extremely pervasive in the gay community. The purpose of this post is not to insinuate that Grindr or any other dating application is “bad” – Grindr and other applications that allow gay men to meet one another have their positive qualities (e.g., networking, friendship, etc.). Regardless of the stigma associated with the application, some gay men may “need” to have a go-to source to contact other gay men.

References

1. Lehmiller, J.J., & loerger, M. (2014) Social Networking Smartphone Applications and Sexual Health Outcomes among Men Who Have Sex with Men. PLoS ONE, 9(1), e86603.

She’s no Competition… and He isn’t either!

Straight women share a great friendship with gay men because they do not have to worry about unwanted sexual interest or overtures that regularly impede their relationships with straight men. However, do straight women have to worry about gay men competing with them for other men? One might think so. Because gay men and straight women are both attracted to the same gender (i.e., men), both of them must be in competition for male partners, right?

Not quite!

Although gay men and straight women are mutually attracted to men, this does not mean they are in direct competition with one another for dating partners.

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Consider the following scenario: A gay man could find a straight man very attractive, but there is a 0% chance that the straight man would select a gay man over another straight woman to be his date. Because gay men have a 0% chance anyway, this eliminates any potential for competitiveness because the straight woman will always be selected over a gay man. However, this would be different if both competitors (e.g., straight female vs. straight female) were desired by the straight man. In this case, there would be competition because both female competitors have an above 0% chance of attracting the straight man. The reverse is also true: straight women can’t compete with gay men for other gay men because the potential gay male suitor will always select the gay man to be his mate over the woman.

Depending on the sexual orientation of the male in question, gay men and straight women either have an all or nothing shot in pursuing their dating opportunity. Thus, gay men and straight woman will always stay in their own dating lane, and neither party really has to worry about tension arising from competitive motives. This eliminates any potential competitiveness that we usually see between two women or even two gay men, but it may also contribute to the heightened trust that straight women and gay men share with one another1.

However, just because gay men and straight women do not compete for dating partners, their respective genders and sexual orientations do not preclude them from competing with one another in situations unrelated to dating. For example, gay men and straight women can easily compete with one another for the same jobs (think Project Runway!).

References:

1. Russell, E. M., DelPriore, D. J., Butterfield, M. E., & Hill, S. E. (2013). Friends with benefits, but without the sex: Straight women and gay men exchange trustworthy mating advice. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 132-147.

Do women have better gaydar when ovulating?

Gaydar is an important skill that many gay men possess to determine whether the men they wish to ask out are, in fact, gay. Because gay men have greater sensitivity to specific social behaviors and mannerisms of other homosexual individuals1, it isn’t surprising that some gay men claim their gaydar is always spot on. However, straight women’s gaydar may be just as good if not better than gay men’s gaydar when they are at peak ovulation.

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A team of researchers investigated whether women are better at sniffing out a man’s sexual orientation when they were ovulating2. The researchers presented women with faces of self-identified straight men and gay men, and the women were asked whether the man that they viewed was gay or straight. Based on the results, women were better able to distinguish between gay male faces and straight male faces around peak ovulation. However, women were not able to identify lesbian female faces from straight female faces as well.

In the second part of their study, women were either asked to imagine themselves in a romantic encounter or they were asked to think about something else entirely (control condition). After the women were randomly assigned to these two conditions, they were presented faces of homosexual and heterosexual individuals and asked to indicate whether they were gay or straight. Women who were asked to think about a romantic encounter were significantly more likely to distinguish between gay male faces and straight male faces. Again however, the women were not able to clearly identify lesbian female faces.

Although women are not very good at figuring out other women’s sexual orientation, women appear to be very good at determining whether a man is gay or straight depending on their ovulatory cycle and mating interest. These findings suggest that a woman’s gaydar may function to help her determine whether a potential partner is straight when the probability of a relationship or conception is high.

References:

1. Rule, N. O., Ambady, N., Adams, R. B., & Macrae, C. N. (2007). Us and them: Memory advantages in perceptually ambiguous groups. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 687-692.

2. Rule, N. O., Rosen, K. S., Slepian, M. L., & Ambady, N. (2011). Mating interest improves women’s accuracy in judging male sexual orientation. Psychological Science, 22, 881-886.

Gay Marriage: Supporting and Avoiding?

I want to touch on a topic that has not yet been discussed on Gay-Straight Relationships: marriage. I recently received an email from a reader that raised an interesting question regarding the topic. A gay male, whose name will remain anonymous, emailed me to inquire:

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“Sometimes I do not understand gay men. At one moment, you see them waving a flag for marriage equality, but then the next minute you notice them avoiding the thought of a long-term, committed relationship. It seems gay men enjoy the thought of marriage than actually wanting to pursue it. Why do you think this is?”

Based on my own observations, I have noticed something similar among gay men. This is most certainly not the case for all gay men, but some gay men prefer not to enter into long-term relationships even though many of them may be supporters of marriage equality. I do not necessarily view this as hypocritical; rather, I feel that many gay men want to support gay marriage even though they may not want to get married or pursue long-term relationships themselves.

Although research has not explored the ‘why’ behind this idea, I will offer two perspectives:

The Age Demographic – When I first read this inquiry, the first question that popped into my head was: Are these gay men younger or older? It is likely that age plays a huge role for whether gay men wish to pursue marriage partners. For instance, younger gay men (20s to early 30s) may simply not be ready for such a commitment. Even though some gay men in this age range seek and desire long-term, committed relationships, some gay men may not. Gay men in their mid-20s to early 30s may be still trying to establish their career, connections, and friendships. Thus, it isn’t that surprising that some gay men in this age range casually date rather than committing to something that is longer-term.

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Partial Acceptance – Another explanation that could be driving gay men away from long-term relationships in their own lives is that marriage is not yet 100% accepted. Even though the U.S. has made wonderful progress over the past few years, there are still many states where it is not legal for gay individuals to marry. Additionally, there are many places in the United States (even in the world) where it is frowned upon to have a gay partner at your hip. From a psychological perspective, this may cause gay men to feel ostracized by walking down the street with their partner.  Because of this, some gay men may not want to pursue long-term, committed relationships and may see it easier to casually date other gay men.

(Received reader’s consent to publicly post)

The 3 Dating Challenges for Gay Men

Dating is a subject that all individuals can relate to – gay or straight. Dating can either be perceived as an exciting, fun experience, or it can be perceived as a dreadful necessity in order to pin down a relationship. Even though straight couples have dating challenges of their own, dating in the gay world may have its own unique set of challenges.

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1.    A Smaller Dating Pool

Like I have mentioned in my previous posts, the gay dating world is extremely small compared to the heterosexual dating world. Because gay men represent a smaller percentage of the general population, gay men’s potential dating candidates are very limited. This may create a sense of anxiety for many gay men because the “plenty of fish in the sea” analogy no longer applies. This may be true especially if gay men inhabit a very small city or town where there is a limited amount of homosexual individuals to begin with.  In addition, because the gay dating scene is a small one, gay men may encounter other gay men that they have dated on a regular basis.

2. Distinguishing Gay from Straight Men

Although straight individuals can go up to an attractive member of the opposite-sex and them out on a date, gay men may have a more difficult time doing this.  In general, gay men must distinguish their potential mating partners (gay men) from other men that are only sexually interested in the opposite-sex (straight men). Some gay men may be skilled at doing this, however some gay men may not be. In the latter case, gay men may find it troublesome to approach a man that they find attractive due to the ambiguity of the man’s sexual orientation. This may be why some gay men prefer to frequent the same gay bars instead of venturing to other bars that are seen as “straight.” If there is a greater concentration of gay men in one establishment, there will be a greater likelihood that gay men may meet a potential dating partner.

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3.    A Date is also a Rival

Another unique distinction between the dating worlds of gay and straight is not only are gay men attracted to one another, but gay men are also in direct competition for dating partners. This poses a very unique dating dilemma for a gay man that is completely absent in straight dating. For instance, straight men are obviously sexually attracted to women, however straight men do not compete with women because they both desire mating partners of the opposite-sex. Conversely, because gay men are only attracted to members of the SAME-SEX, gay men can compete with one another because they share the same dating pool. Ultimately, this may create initial barriers and feelings of untrustworthiness between gay men as evidenced by recent research1.

For the most part, straight individuals are completely unaware of the unique set of challenges that gay men face in their dating world (at least in my experience). This is not surprising given that straight and gay individuals usually focus their attention on their own dating issues.

References:

1. Russell, E. M., DelPriore, D. J., Butterfield, M. E., Hill, S. E. (2013). Friends with benefits, but without the sex: Straight women and gay men exchange trustworthy mating advice. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 132-147.

The “Gay or Straight?” Game

One interesting thing about straight women and gay men is their mutual attraction to the same gender. Not do they share an appreciation for attractive men, but they are usually willing to talk about them for hours. When women and gay men get together over coffee, lunch, or dinner, men never seem to get left out of their conversation. While it is true that gay men and straight women can be seen discussing other topics, a great chunk of their time together may be discussing how to snag a guy that they are both checking out.

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The Game. For gay men and straight women, one of the more unique and fun aspects about “playing the field” is deciphering the sexual orientation of a cute guy.  When an attractive guy passes this couple on the street, you can almost always expect them to ask one another: “Whoa, do you think he’s gay or straight?” This simple question may turn into a little game for gay men and straight women. Although it is not uncommon for gay men to hope that the attractive man in question is homosexual, rarely do gay men impinge on their female friend’s romantic opportunity if the male in question is in fact heterosexual. The reverse is also true.  Females usually do not encroach on their gay friend’s romantic opportunity with another gay man. In fact, women may find joy in being able to set up their gay friend with another gay man who is attractive1.

“When we walk down the street together, a gay friend will often say, ‘Oh, that guy was checking you out,’ and I’ll say, ‘No, I think he was looking at you,’ and we’ll both walk away feeling better about ourselves.”  (Hopcke & Rafaty, 1999)

Hating the Player and Not the Game. Even though this game can easily be played between two gay men (which is done pretty frequently), a couple of complications may arise. First, gay men may take the game too competitively with other gay men. Imagine an attractive man walking past two single gay friends at the mall. Naturally, both gay men may lock their eyes on him. However, rather than mutually expressing their attraction to this man to each other, one of them may hold back while the other might insinuate asking him out. This may become problematic if both gay men desire this particular man.

Second, gay men may experience hints of jealousy when they play the game with one another.  Because gay men’s mating opportunities are quite limited compared to straight men’s mating opportunities2, gay men may place exceptionally high value on an attractive guy, especially if they are attractive themselves.  If one gay friend is slightly more attractive than the other, the gay friend that is more attractive may have a better chance at “winning” the game. Ultimately, this may cause a sense of tension and jealousy between these two gay men.

References:

  1. Hopcke, R. H. & Rafaty, L. (1999). Straight women, gay men: Absolutely fabulous friendships. Berkeley, California: Wildcat Canyon Press.
  2. Russell, E.M., DelPriore, D. J., Butterfield, M. E., & Hill, S. E. (2013). Friends with benefits, but without the sex: Straight women and gay men exchange trustworthy mating advice. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 132-147.

Forget Grindr: 3 Ways Women Can Help Gay Men Get Dates

On smartphones, Grindr may provide a useful way for gay men to meet one another, but gay men may also want to consider the help of their female friends. Here’s why:

1) Connection:

One big dating dilemma that gay men have is the difficulty of finding other gay men. Not only must gay men find other gay men who represent a smaller portion of the population, but they also must figure out if a particular man they are interested in is gay or straight. Women may be able to help alleviate this problem. It is very common in this day and age for a woman to have at least one gay friend. Because most straight women love the company of gay men, it wouldn’t be surprising for a gay man to discover that his straight female friend has a connection with another gay man. Thus, gay men may find it valuable to meet other gay men through their female friends1.

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2) No Threat:

One of the most beneficial things for gay men about having female friends is that they are “worry free.” In general, women will not go chasing after their gay male friend’s potential mates, nor will they attempt to sabotage their relationship. Both straight women and lesbian women tend to stay in their own dating lane when it comes to assisting their gay male friends with finding another guy. Even though gay men provide great networking and dating opportunities for other gay men, there is always a hint of competitiveness that may interfere.

3) “Matchmaking Fever”:

It may come at no surprise that straight women love setting up gay men with one another. When women arrive with their single gay friends at a party, gay bar, or special event, they are almost always itching to set each one of them up. Women are not usually shy about approaching an attractive gay stranger to introduce herself and her gay male friend.

“I think it is hilarious when my female friend tries to fix me up with men – particularly since she seems to concentrate solely on looks, ignoring little details like age, intelligence, and employment prospects. But she certainly does know a cute guy when she sees one.” (Hopcke & Rafaty, 1999)

However, many women are more discriminating and have an eye for a gay man her friend might find attractive as a dating partner2.

“I don’t want my gay friends to think I’m just assuming all gay men are compatible with one another. I have introduced larger groups of gay men from different parts of my life to each other, letting my theatre friends meet my other friends at a party, and this has worked better than a one-on-one fix up.” (Hopcke & Rafaty, 1999)

References:

  1. Russell, E.M., DelPriore, D. J., Butterfield, M. E., & Hill, S. E. (2013). Friends with benefits, but without the sex: Straight women and gay men exchange trustworthy mating advice. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 132-147.
  2. Hopcke, R. H. & Rafaty, L. (1999). Straight women, gay men: Absolutely fabulous friendships. Berkeley, California: Wildcat Canyon Press.