Don’t do it!
Just kidding. I mean, you’ll most likely have to do it if you don’t want to die alone. Otherwise it’s a life of staring out the window of your decaying bachelor while your personal care worker changes your dialysis machine and tends to the cat you only smell but never see anymore. I mean, wouldn’t you rather have YOUR PARTNER do that?
(Even my version of true love is still grounded in the reality that we’re all going to die alone. Munch on that, suckers.)
But here are some hot tips to enjoy in the years before your body starts to betray you. It addresses dating, but also starts to venture into relationships. I may add to this list in time, or I may never look at it again. And while I’ve geared it to the gay male community, most of it is universal. Maybe it’ll have something that will resonate with you. Or maybe you’ll read this and say, “So that’s why he’s single.”
In any case, here you go:
- Avoid any man with a conflicted sexual identity. What does that mean? Maybe he’s a straight guy, and he’s had trouble finding love with women, but he appreciates your attention. Or maybe he’s bisexual and in a committed relationship with a woman, but misses the companionship of a gay relationship. Or maybe he’s closeted, and looking for the right time to come out, but just hasn’t done it yet. In all of these scenarios, you’re getting used, and will end up getting burned.
- Avoid married men. He’s not leaving his husband or wife for you. And if they’re in an open relationship and sex with you starts to transform into something else and the rules aren’t clear, it’s not up to you to figure them out. Also, you’re not to blame. Get out.
- Avoid any man recently out of a long-term relationship. He thinks he’s ready, but he’s not, and you’ll have two or three good dates before the guilt will set in and you’ll be more of a therapist than a date.
- Avoid any man who is really close to his same-sex best friend. Like, really close. Maybe too close. Like brings up his best friend in every single conversation, and takes photos with his best friend that keep getting confused as couple shots. Extra points if the best friend is an ex. You’re not going to compete with that, and chances are they’re not being honest with each other.
- Avoid the serial monogamist. Flirtation turns to immediate conversations about long-term relationships, or your thoughts on having children, or your relationship with your parents, or your genetic viability as a host organism. You’ll probably also notice that he has a type, and that you physically resemble his exes. There are also tons of couple selfies. This dude is conducting dates that are basically thinly-veiled job interviews. Avoid.
- Avoid the lost soul. He doesn’t really have a lot going on in his life, and probably has a very different personality type from you. Nonetheless, you’re his rock, and he slowly builds every aspect of his life around you. He may even start to change his appearance and begin to look like you. Be careful with this one. I mean, maybe you’re into being the center of a person’s universe or taking care of someone else, but there’s a lot of self-deception going on that could backfire when this person starts to feel the pull of a different alpha.
- Avoid the “progressive” racist/fetishist. This rule mostly impacts men of colour, but it can also apply to really any man who falls into an unique identity category. This other individual has a type, but the way in which they go about pursuing that type feels… problematic. A huge tell is that perhaps all of their exes are this type, or that they go to specific parties or cultural events geared to a type. They occupy the position of an ally, but there is sort of a cultural imperialism to their vibe. They’re appropriating, or maybe they seem more hung up on the superficial trappings of the culture. Really, there is always a focus on otherness and the exotic. Now, this is a tough one, because lots of guys will say, “So what if I like Middle-Eastern men or gingers or plus-sized men? It’s just who I’m attracted to!” Okay, fair. But does the person’s otherness define your attraction? Is this more of a fetish? Are you asking them dumb questions about what their favourite Bollywood movie or if they like curry just because they’re brown? Because that is equally dehumanizing. I mean, not all forms of bigotry are insults shouted in the street. Some are stereotypes masquerading as compliments.
- Avoid the mid-life crisis. Some folks are attracted to older men. Hey, I’m attracted to older men. And some of those men are attracted to younger men, and that’s totally fine. That being said, some men of a certain age go through a crisis and will often attempt to recapture lost youth by dating someone younger than them. And much like the fetishist above, this is a situation where you’re ultimately representing a type more than actually existing as a real person in their mind. You’re arm candy, or you’re representative of their continued sexual viability, or you connect them to a social scene that their closest friends no longer inhabit because they aged out. Be careful, because this is often a phase, and you’ll either run your course as their object of affection and they’ll pick someone else, or they’ll wise up and dump you because they were never really interested in you in the first place.
- Avoid toxic men. Now, this might seem like a broad no-brainer. “Duh, JP. Of course I’ll avoid people who are mean to me!” Except this is actually really hard and never clean cut. Maybe he’s an addict, but he’s still fairly functional. Nonetheless, he puts his addictions over you and his physical/emotional well-being. Maybe he’s a narcissist who puts himself first and refuses to take blame for any of his actions. Maybe he’s physically or emotionally abusive. Or maybe he’s a depressive who refuses to seek professional help and who puts immense pressure on you to solve his problems. There are usually small tells early on that something like this could be a problem, and it’s really important to listen to your gut. Every relationship comes with challenges and every individual has their share of problems, but when you find that you’re doing all the heavy lifting or that the relationship is negatively impacting your sense of self, you need to put yourself first.
- Apps are stupid, go outside. It’s 2017. I get it. And it’s where most people are these days. But I can confidently say that dating apps bring out the worst in humanity by reducing people to their component parts and fundamentally ignoring the mechanics of human attraction. If you’re looking to get laid, fine. Maybe just a photo and some stats will do. But I recently started going to a gay slow-dancing event (I sense your eye roll) and I found it transformative. You’d be surprised who you approach in a crowded room. Or how standing close to someone new and just talking to them teaches you so much about a person in small and almost intangible ways. There’s so much more to human attraction and the human brain than we even know, and yet we think that statistics and buttons are going to help us make meaningful connections. Let’s all be nostalgic for real human connection instead of battling the demogorgon in the Upside Down. Maybe we all like the show because we miss the way people used to connect. Analogue forever! (Like the slick way I included that cultural reference? #trends)
And, to be clear, no one is perfect. There are times in my life when I have thrown up red flags on dates, or have not been in the best emotional place, so I’m not trying to shit on anyone or present myself as some ideal catch. We live, we learn. This is more of a “general things to avoid if you’re looking for something meaningful and drama-free” list.
Now back to hugging my cat and looking outside. I hope maybe some of this helped you. Be kind to each other.