As a bisexual woman, I might not be the person you’d expect to be dishing out dating advice for gay men. However, the scarce LGBT scene of Northern England and Scotland where I grew up has taught me a thing or two about gay relationships of every orientation, and I’ve relied on my closest gay friends to compile the strongest gay dating advice for you here – in the hopes you never have to make the same mistakes we did!
Gay Dating Advice
Where I’m from, the LGBT community is small – real small. In fact, the entire pride parade for that small town in England was one half of a village pub beer garden for a single afternoon in July (that’s right, we couldn’t even secure a spot in June). In that setting, it’s pretty hard to imagine finding anyone, never mind The One.
Growing up as one angsty seventh of the entire LGBT community, it was natural to believe that finding The One – that uppercase T, uppercase O, end of the line, forever and always kind of love – was just something that happened to city girls. (Yes, as a millennial teenager I got all my gay dating advice from The L Word – and that one weird season of Sex and The City where Samantha dates a woman.)
Talking over cheap cider at our local park – as is the custom for gay youth in all small northern British towns – I discovered that my gay male counterparts felt the same way: that there was no hope of finding our first gay relationships.
It’s now over a decade later, and I’m happy to report that every single one of us has found love in long-term gay relationships. So I’ve teamed up with the gay friends of my past to put our experiences to good use. Here’s our advice to anyone who’s in the same lonely boat we found ourselves in during the early 00s.
They call it pride for a reason
The first person I spoke to was Daniel*, one of the gay boys from my early teenage years. Daniel was a Polish immigrant and warehouse worker when we were 16, and while I eventually moved to London, Daniel still lives in the same northern town where we grew up.
“No one is ever going to date you if they don’t know you’re gay”, says Daniel. He says that growing up, his biggest problem was his need to hide his sexual orientation from everyone. No one outside of his closest circle of friends even knew he was gay. As you can imagine, that made it pretty hard to date other men.
Daniel also says he didn’t like being gay, and felt ashamed of his sexual orientation. “Shame is a huge turn off” he says, explaining that you’ll never find The One if you make all of your partners feel like a dirty little secret.
So, while you’re welcome to stay in the closet as long as you need, coming out – and shedding any shame you feel – will open up your dating possibilities more than anything else we can suggest here. For some gay inspo, check out these tips from LGBT icons.
You miss all the shots you don’t take
We all know the problem – you have a crush on a straight guy (or girl). It’s a dilemma that will plague every generation of confused teenagers for millennia. However, Beth* – a lesbian from Yorkshire tells me that she learned to stop treating heterosexuality as the default.
“We’ve all been in the closet – we know that not everyone who appears to be straight is straight,” says Beth. “Straight people don’t ask for someone’s orientation before asking them on a date and neither should we.”
So here’s our second piece of advice: If you fancy someone, ask them on a date! Fear of rejection will hold you back in your quest to find The One more than homosexuality will. (For a bit of hope – Beth is now married to a formerly hetero woman she met at a hen party for her best friend.)
Tinder: It’s for straight hookups and gay LTRs
The gay community and the straight community don’t necessarily play to the same rules, so we can’t go getting our gay dating advice from hetero culture. At least, that’s the gay dating advice from Kyle*, a bisexual man I went to school with in England, who is now in a long-distance gay relationship with a man in Seattle.
Take Tinder, for example – home to practically every hetero hookup in the world. This same app is used by gay men and lesbian women alike to find long-term relationships (LTRs). “The same app is used in completely different ways by gay men vs. straight men”, Kyle explains.
Gay people enjoy using dating apps and sites because it allows you to filter down to gay people only, thus avoiding all that “is he? Isn’t he?” malarkey. So if you’re wondering where to meet gay men for long term relationships, Tinder is a surprisingly reliable source.
However, if you’re a little bored of dating, and want to take a break to have some casual fun – Grindr is the app for you. ?
Don’t knock long-distance
Many gay couples begin as long-distance relationships, so don’t knock it! You might be far away from your loved one for now, but if things go well there’s nothing in the world stopping one of you from moving closer so you can be together.
When you start out as a gay long-distance relationship, you know the hardest part of keeping your flame alive is easy, so the rest of the relationship should fall into place. If you can make it work with someone you can’t see every day, or even every week, then you really do have something special. (Just think of Vita Sackville-West’s dreamy lesbian love letters to Virginia Woolf to see how romantic long-distance same-sex relationships can be.)
Don’t force it
Sometimes, we spend so long looking for The One that we cause our own little gay mirage. You’ve got a nice guy, you’ve gone on a couple of dates, and you’re forcing yourself to imagine a spark where there isn’t one, just so you don’t have to start all over again.
This was definitely behaviour I was guilty of in my very first gay relationship; I was so desperate for it to work out that I saw a blossoming romance where there wasn’t one. I know now that instead we should have cut the relationship off there and then, and stayed friends instead.
That said, having gay friends is super important when it comes to finding a gay relationship, as they make the perfect wingman and will be there for you when your attempts at gay dating don’t work out.
Trying to force a relationship with someone you don’t want, or someone that doesn’t want you, will just cause some serious gay relationship problems down the line. Gay or straight, unhappy couples cheat, have poor sex lives, fight more, or just get bored of each other. Don’t let your dream of finding The One cloud your judgement.
Miingle’s LGBT Dating Advice
*Not their real names