One of the most common concerns that come through my service from gay singles is the difficulty they speak of securing dates with quality and compatible men; and sometimes it’s even just landing a date of any kind! Invitations for sex seem more readily accessible and the frustration and disappointment is the predominant emotion experienced by these relationship-minded singles who have good heads on their shoulders and are ready and available for love, but just can’t seem to find others who mirror their desire for substance and depth in their involvements.
After a series of let-downs, it can really start messing with your sense of optimism and positive outlook. You might begin to feel jaded and develop resentments toward the whole institution of dating and the gay community, questioning whether gay relationships really can work. Worse yet, you might begin turning these attacking feelings against yourself in the form of developing beliefs that there’s something wrong or defective with you in the face of so much perceived rejection.
Ouch! Stop the madness! You cannot allow all the hard work it took for you to develop and grow yourself into the solid man that you’ve become to be tampered with by the inherent challenges of dating.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
So why is it so hard for gay men to meet and participate in the courtship process? What follows here is a list of reasons (and there’s probably more!) that might be contributory factors to the obstacles we encounter in our efforts to find quality partners.
This list isn’t intended to further reinforce hopelessness or to make you give up on your quest and go running for the hills, but instead is offered to showcase the reality that gay dating CAN be difficult (but not insurmountable!). So before you start beating up on yourself for your absent dating life, recognize that the system of gay dating itself as it now stands holds many dysfunctional politics that make this situation more difficult for us.
* Gays supposedly make up only 10% of the total population, thereby decreasing our dating pool.
* We don’t wear the word “GAY” stamped on our foreheads; therefore, it makes things much more difficult compared to our heterosexual counterparts to determine who “plays ball on our field” when you’re out in public and can inhibit us from approaching men we find interesting.
* Due to our homophobic society, gays grow up with the threat of discrimination, ridicule, harassment, and abuse and violence. This wreaks havoc on our self-esteem, confidence, and identity. As such, our dating pool tends to possess proportionately more men struggling with mental health issues, substance abuse and other addictions, and those unable or unwilling to “come out” and achieve a sense of gay pride that would have them be more visible in the community.
* There is an absence of positive role models to emulate what healthy gay relationships look like or how they function. Unlike our heterosexual counterparts, there are no ascribed developmental tasks or rites-of-passage in adolescence to teach us how to date or honor our same-sex involvements. As such, many men feel directionless in dating and can sabotage potential relationships. Combined with internalized homophobia, fears of intimacy, and conflicts around masculinity, sexual orientation, and identity…it’s no wonder it’s so hard!
* The gay community tends to sexualize gay men, their bodies, and their relationships. Coupled with glamorizing youth, objectification is rampant and sex seems to take center stage. Until the community as a whole makes some radical changes in our views toward and portrayals of sexuality and gay eroticism, healthy dating and relationship development and maintenance will likely be challenged and overshadowed.
So while these systemic challenges due pose potential barriers to your dating life, they only have to have power if you allow them to do so. We are not victims; growing up gay requires significant courage, perseverance, and resilience. To survive and prosper through this means we can handle anything.
Step one requires taking back personal control and refusing to allow these dating challenges and disappointments to have emotional power over you.
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, contributing author to GAYTWOGETHER, is one of the leading love coaches for the gay community. As a licensed dating and relationship coach, Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW has over 18 years experience as a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping GLBT individuals and couples develop and maintain successful and fulfilling intimate relationships. He holds a doctorate degree in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Western Michigan University. He also runs a successful private therapy practice, Personal Victory Counseling, Inc. http://thegaylovecoach.com