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8 Dating Tips for Gay Men from a Gay Psychotherapist

Originally published on hivplusmag.com

Looking for a long term relationship?

Here are some tips based on my eighteen years as a psychotherapist working exclusively with gay men, and as Founder of the Gay Therapy Center. These suggestions are also informed by clinical research on relationships as well as my personal research as a recent dater.

Men Are Avoidant

Generally speaking, women are socialized to connect. Men, not so much. That’s why they are so lonely.

So you’ll increase your chances of success if you take a chance on opening up, being real, and a just little more vulnerable than your average gay male dater. That doesn’t mean spilling your guts on the first date. But can you stretch a little and be the first to be more authentic?

Yes, it’s risky and scary. Successful dating is defined by risk. That’s why so many people avoid it.

Dick Size

If you read and watch social media targeted to gay men you get the sense that all we care about is big dicks and pecs. While these posts may get our attention in the digital age, and make good money for advertisers, they do not correlate as primary features of a lasting relationship.

Here are some better indicators of a relationship that will last: does your guy’s eyes light up when he sees you after a few days away? Do you feel like you can be yourself with him? Is he showing you kindness?

Some gay men focus solely on beauty when they date. In therapy we sometimes find this is driven by low self-esteem. The equation looks like this: Beautiful boyfriend = I am worthy.

Dating App Tips

At some point every dater will hate the dating apps. You’ll find criminals and liars on the apps. You’ll get ghosted.

However they are a very useful tool for making dates.

Gay men are a minority which means we’ve got fewer potential mates. You will run out of potential matches if you limit yourself to one app. So try a few.

In my opinion, the best apps for serious gay daters are:

  • Match
  • OK Cupid
  • Hinge

If your focus is hook ups then it’s better to spend time on:

  • Grindr
  • Sniffies
  • Scruff

Tinder is somewhere in between a hook up app and a dating app.

If you limit the time you spend texting by moving as quickly as possible to a brief in-person date, you’ll avoid wasting a lot of your life texting people with whom you will never meet.

The Myth of Immediate Chemistry

The film industry has convinced us that we should feel an immediate desire for our partner. However research tells us that only 11% of couples have a “love at first sight” moment.

Most successful couples start with mild attraction that builds over time.

Many gay men make the mistake of dropping someone if their first sexual encounter is “meh.” The truth is, for most men it takes time to build sexual confidence and creativity with a new partner.

Finding Gay Men Who Want to Date

The internet comment section will tell you that gay men don’t want commitment. This is false.

Gay men who are in the party scene may be more interested in sex than in relationships. You can increase your chances for long term relationships if you spend some time outside of the clubs and bars.

Gay men who are members of LGBTQ organizations have already shown they have some capacity to commit to something since they have made a commitment to participate in the organization. This is fertile hunting ground for a long term partner. Check out LGBTQ political, athletic, charitable, artistic, hobby, meetup.com and social groups in your area. Keep going even if they are boring and awkward at first. You will make friends and even perhaps boyfriends.

And, by the way, most research shows that 50% of gay men are in monogamous relationships, even though “everyone” tells you that all gay men are open. If you want monogamy, it is available.

Marketing Mindset

Do you have friends who do marketing for a living? They’ll tell you that you can’t just do one thing to be successful. To expand exposure marketers and daters need to post ads, go to events, and talk to strangers. Simply relying on a dating app may not be enough to achieve your goals. Is finding a partner a lot of work? Yes it is. But what could be more important?

The good news is that everyone likes to talk about dating. Bring up the topic with friends, acquaintances, and people at parties. They will immediately tell you their own dating stories. Let them know you are available if they know a good man. This worked for me.

Hope and Action

Finding a partner takes a ready supply of hope, coupled with real life action. You will experience burn out and rejection. It is a normal part of the process. Take regular breaks from dating whenever you need to. Remind yourself that although dating is difficult, each time you try you are learning and growing.

It Takes A Village

Dating is an emotional journey. Don’t do it alone. Find a friend, dating coach, or a therapist you can share the highs and lows with. You’ll need support when there is rejection, you’ll want a second opinion when you are confused, and it feels great to share the excitement when a dates go well.


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