The gay dating blues (and how to beat them)

There are aspects that make dating as LGBT people simply more difficult than the average heterosexual dating experience.

I have several single clients who often talk about the limited “selection” of potential dating partners, as well as the struggle to actually identify those potentials. One client in particular (who gave me permission to mention him here) often discusses feelings of hopelessness related to finding a spouse, due to his appearance and overall demeanor. He doesn’t necessarily “read” as gay, so unless he self-discloses immediately, most gay men won’t know that he’s even in the running. To make matters worse, he tends to be attracted to other men who also don’t set off the gaydar alarm. In short, gay dating can be challenging, given that approximately 80 percent of the population at large isn’t attracted to members of the same sex, and it only gets harder to successfully date when you, as well as your potential dating partners, don’t fit into many of the common perceptions gay men have about other gay men. It’s a pretty disheartening notion.

So how can the gay dating blues be overcome? There are two pieces to focus on: your internal experience, which encompasses your thoughts, feelings and overall perspective on dating, and your external experience, which includes the choices you make out in the world. We’ll start with the latter, as often it can be easier to change what you do than how you feel about it.

First, if you’re looking to get over the dating blues, it’s an excellent time to start doing new and different things. What’s great is your attention doesn’t have to be focused solely on finding a date as you embark on new activities. Consider it an opportunity to try out a new hobby or take a class in a subject you find interesting — something that includes having fun while also being around new people. You might also benefit by considering the company you keep. If your current social circle includes a group of singles who party a lot but you’re hoping to meet a quieter, more serious guy, it’s likely a good idea to reserve some time for friends with other interests as well.

Next, it’s time to turn off apps like Grindr. Casual sex can negatively affect your dating life by causing feelings of disenchantment regarding available prospects when, in reality, it isn’t a fair representation of single gay men in your area for a couple of reasons: One, not all gay men are using these apps, and two, those who are using such apps likely aren’t putting their best foot forward the way they would in a traditional dating situation.

When it comes to your internal life and dating, it is important to foster feelings of confidence, fearlessness and hopefulness. In my line of work, I certainly know that what I’m suggesting can be very challenging; however, sometimes a little bit of awareness can go a long way. One quick way to access the confidence that’s already within you is to take inventory of what you have to offer someone as well as what you need someone to offer you. When you’re clear on what you want and what you’ve got to give, it becomes easier to feel empowered. Certainly, you know the phrase “knowledge is power,” right?

Speaking of power, fear can be a very powerful emotion. To fight off fear, ask yourself some questions about worst-case scenarios. If your worst-case scenario is extreme awkwardness or getting shot down, this may be a fear worth working through by remembering that those feelings are completely temporary. If, on the other hand, you feel paralyzed by fear and the notion of rejection, it may be a good moment for you to consider talking to a professional that can help you to work through those intense feelings.

Lastly, hopefulness. Hopefulness is hugely important to preparing yourself to successfully date. If you view dating as burdensome and unlikely to produce a good outcome, you will create a sense of dread that ultimately psyches you out, prevents you from ever taking on a date with as much enthusiasm as you otherwise would and, in my opinion, also creates negative energy that a dating prospect will either consciously or unconsciously pick up on.

The great thing about these suggestions is that, by implementing them, you are improving your baseline quality of life, which will not only make you a happier person but will likely make you that much more dateable. So, why not try something new this fall?