Survey shows gay men dont know where to look for dates, but a proliferation of online resources is trying to change that
According to a survey by Stagg, a dating app launched in December, 77 per cent of gay men do not know how to find men like themselves to date. The same survey showed that while gay men face barriers when it comes to meeting other men to date, apps are becoming increasingly important in the hunt for long-term romantic relationships.
Apps are relatively new on the dating scene. GayDatingSites.net, an online resource that regularly updates information about dating sites gay men can use, has yet to include information about dating apps. The website ranks the top 20 dating sites for gay men, offers tips on staying safe and posts coupons. Stagg’s survey showed that dating sites are ranked as being friendlier than apps, but some users lump them in the same category as being useful for finding hook-ups, not relationships.
“Any dates I find are usually from talking online to other gay men via the Internet or dating apps,” said Brandon Luner, a student at George Brown College in Toronto, who has yet to have a long-term relationship. “The apps work great often if you are just looking for a quick hook-up… Some conversations and dates can come from it but the underlying constant goal is to get into the others’ pants as soon as possible.”
As a guest on Gwissues’ “Finding Love Online” episode, documentarian Chase Whiteside said that most people on dating websites and apps are actually just looking for a hook-up, not a long-term romantic relationship.
“They take away from a lot of the things that we used to experience when we met people in the flesh one on one,” said Whiteside, who thinks that human complexities are too great to be simplified into an online profile. “We’re people. We’re not online profiles. Were not cell phones.”
Stagg tries to distinguish itself from other dating apps by telling more about members than just location. Participants are regularly quizzed, and the app uses these answers to create collections of words about members personality traits, likes and interests, replacing traditional self-made profiles. The app also rates the compatibility of members.
The Power of Social Networks
Joseph F. Moynham lives with his long-term partner Andr in Montreal. “We actually met in the place you shouldnt meet someone for a long-term relationship – we met in a bar,” said Moynham. Previously Moynham had found dates through friends, but said that the best way to find guys is to be involved in something, like an activity or a group. There are many groups for single gay men and women to get together, including bowling and breakfast get-togethers.
Matchmakers can help those seeking love find partners interested in the same type of relationship. A matchmaker will help a person break bad dating patterns and find people with similar intentions. Some professionals work with private investigators and do criminal record checks, which helps ensure clients’ safety. However, there are no matchmakers in Winnipeg who will work with LGBT people.
So clearly professional matchmakers are not accessible to everyone, but friends and family can work just as well. Dr. Mike Dow, another guest on Gwissues’ “Finding Love Online” episode, said that telling loved ones that you are looking for a long-term romantic relationship will encourage them to seek out potential partners with similar intentions for you. Your family and friends will begin acting as your own personal matchmakers – and as people who know you better than a stranger taking your cheque, they may be able to do a better job.
The Whole Package
So whats one to do? With so many options of finding a gay lover, what is the best?
“Pull out all the stops… Do everything it takes,” was Dow’s advice.
Try out dating apps and websites with good reputations – they will connect you with people you may never meet otherwise. The Stagg survey found that 66 per cent of men using apps now are actually looking for long-term relationships, and 64 per cent are interested in making friends, so the reputation they have may be misleading.
Instead of using the apps in public or when hanging out with friends, actually stay engaged in your surroundings and actively look for dateable partners. Mr. or Ms. Right could walk right out the door when youre flipping through your phone. Go to places where people with similar interests like you will be, such as clubs or groups, and put yourself out there.
Tell friends and family you are seriously interested in a long-term romantic relationship and ask if they know anyone who might be suited for you. Make it clear to everyone you know that this is what you want. If you live somewhere with professional matchmakers who cater to the LGBT community, you might want to consider using their services.
There isnt one perfect, magic path to your special someone. The road can be rocky, painful and sometimes dangerous. So be safe. But also remember to have some fun.
– Meg Crane is the sports, books and movies editor for OutWords.