Gay dating is hard enough thanks to homophobia and heteronormativity, so why do we make it even harder, asks Motlatsi Motseoile.
I just recently ended my fourth ‘talking stage’ experience of 2021. I have been single for a year since being unceremoniously dumped by a man who I described as the love of my life (you can laugh at me later). Try as I might to get into a new relationship over the past few months, I have failed.
I’ve been asking myself if there is something I’m doing (or not doing) that’s been blocking me from initiating and sustaining a relationship; from elevating a talking stage into an actual relationship?
The dating scene post-30 is a maze of younger men who still want to date for fun and older men who are dealing with issues that affect their commitment.
You might meet a young man and he’s just too involved in the social scene; their friends keep them busy, and you never have time alone. Older men are often caught up in the rat race of work and the issues of the day.
For instance, you go on a date with a man only to find that he is still dealing with internalised homophobia or has no intention of ever coming out, even to himself. Or you meet someone who is good looking, smart and funny – but then the sex is lacklustre.
We all say we want something but when that thing we said we want is presented to us, we run fast in the opposite direction. So do we really want these relationships we say we want?
I went back to chat with some of the men I had these initial interactions with and to establish if I did anything wrong. It was important to me that I find out if there is anything off when it comes to my ‘talking stage etiquette’. And of course, if there is something wrong, perhaps I could change it?
As it happened, none of these men was of much help.
One told me that it was just not the right time for us, whilst another said it was between me and another guy and that the other man stood out more. A third explained that while I am “a great guy”, there just wasn’t a connection.
From these revelations, it appears that I’m not doing anything wrong but there was something wrong with me and them together. And so, there is apparently nothing for me to do to change these realities.
At the end of this failed social experiment, I had to ask myself why I was expecting people to tell me that I am horrible, need fixing or am somehow unlovable – which would therefore explain why none of these situations resulted in a relationship.
But where do we get the idea that to be deserving of love we must be in an ideal state of perfection and therefore eligible to receive love and affection? And why would a man who hardly knows me be qualified to tell me that I need ‘fixing’ – even before he attempts to love me?
Dating and relationships are hard enough for us as gay men. Society’s homophobia and heteronormativity are already stacked against us. We have personal challenges to overcome, and we must deal with the realities of the day, yet we overburden and complicate this one thing that could be very easy. Why is dating for gay men so difficult and why do we make it even harder?
I may be coming across as overly self-indulgent at the moment. Maybe it is the personal disappointment and loneliness talking, and the prospect that I might find myself 43 and alone. Is that what I want? Definitely not. But at the rate things are going, the dating pool, the conditions under which we date and the truths we run from – I would not be surprised or shocked if that were to be my reality 10 years from now.
So, in the meantime, I am re-downloading all the dating apps, finding ways to socialise more, and responding to all incoming DMs. My life partner may be hiding somewhere in there. I just hope he reads this and knows what to say and what to avoid for us to make it work, and maybe make it last.