Op-ed: Dating Sucks
With all of efforts of the major LGBT organizations being made to legalize same-sex marriage, it leaves some single LGBT people wondering what all the fuss is about. Personally, having 12 years of dating experience under my belt and still being single at the age of 30 makes me question how it is that many of my LGBT contemporaries have managed to form successful partnerships with people they are willing to commit their lives to.
For me, it's always seemed as if I have been playing in the proverbial relationship sandbox — going on dates that never amount to anything serious, dating men who aren't serious about locking things down exclusively or who are interested in nothing more than sex. After years of strings of one-night stands, dating flakes, and a plethora of life experiences that I continue to look back on, I began to wonder if it's really me or is it in fact the LGBT community that is hindering my success at finding true love.
When you look beyond the surface, gays and straights are very similar in their dating style. However, growing up in a major metropolitan area such as New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago can also factor into the situation.
"With the sheer quantity of men in New York City, it can't hurt your chances," says Lucio Abruzzi, a single aspiring modern dancer, originally from Scottsdale, Ariz. "Yet again, that can drive harder into your brain that need to fully experience being young, gay, and available — keeping many from being able to commit."
Many believe some gay men have a "grass is always greener" mentality when it comes to dating. Conversely, straight singles who don't live in more metropolitan areas are more willing to settle down with someone they care about in order to start a family.
"The gay scene in New York can be too intimidating," says Meghann Novinskie, a relationship expert and owner of a completely offline dating agency geared specifically to LGBT people called Mixology. "Whereas in a place such as San Francisco, people are a bit more approachable in terms of where and how to find a partner, because the population there is smaller and easier to navigate."
Regardless of location, there are other factors that play a part in LGBT singles finding love. Novinskie adds, "It is harder for LGBT's to find love in more rural areas, which is why many flock to larger cities. ... But those who stay in more rural areas are more used to the idea of falling in love with and staying with their first love."
Some argue that gay people hinder themselves a bit with their own outlook on love and relationships. "It's all about maturity and how quickly you can be real with yourself," Novinskie says. "For gay people, stereotypically, this might be a longer process. But finding love is challenging, gay or straight." It is not uncommon, however, to see men in their late 30s, 40s, or even 50s out until all hours on a Friday night, where among straight people, this is clearly less prevalent because many men that age have wives or children back home to report to.
"We never grew up with the message that we can be married, until recently," says Alex Ringler, a single gay man who is currently traveling the country performing in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. "We've gotten and still get the message that traditional courtship is not for us. Men also have higher libidos than women, so even when we have a good thing, we might give it up thinking something better, hotter, or more perfect will come along."
Abruzzi is singing a similar tune: "I think a majority of the reason dating is harder for the LGBT community is caused by the LGBT community itself. Since marriage is not something we can fully take part of [in most states] I think we use it as a scapegoat for generally not being able to commit and provide ourselves with that as an excuse to stay bachelors longer."
So, some could argue that the reason that LGBT people don't take relationships seriously is because for the longest time, and still in many places, it's that partnerships are not accepted as equal to a straight partnership. But everyone wants to find love, right?
If the stigma of being denied marriage or adoption rights weren't enough, the ever-growing arsenal of ways to hook up, have anonymous sex, or "date" through a website rises by the day, making it more difficult to find substantial relationships. Facebook and Twitter don't help either. It's also not uncommon to add a potential love interest on Facebook or Twitter after a brief encounter, thus making them privy to all of the personal information you are willing to share with the world readily available to someone you may be interested in.
"Those who mean-tweet and have obnoxious Facebook posts could very well have a harder time establishing a serious connection with someone, especially if they come across as sex- or gossip-obsessed," Novinskie says. "Keep in mind that someone you start dating is probably [not probably — definitely] snooping into your Facebook pictures and late-night tweets. So keep those social media personal outlets clean and true to yourself and who you are."
Both Abruzzi and Ringler agree that these outlets are a hindrance in finding love. "Facebook is a presentation of one's best self," Ringler says. "Your best self is good for the honeymoon phase of a relationship. However, a lasting relationship is built on knowing the ugliest, worst parts of you and loving you anyway."
"[Facebook and Twitter] make is easy to obsess about and know every detail of someone you may have never even met," Abruzzi saiys. "By adding someone as a friend on Facebook after a date or two, you're essentially cutting yourself out of a lot of the experiencing part of dating. It's hard to believe, but people did date and meet before the Internet."
Many believe it's harder for LGBT people to date because of competition between a man and a man or a woman and a woman dating as opposed to two members of the opposite sex. "There is definitely competition in the gay world," Ringler says. "But I feel like since there is always another option around the next corner, or the next website, LGBTs tend to say "Fuck You!" to the other party and move on, embittered."
Abruzzi says he believes this outlook may be due to the development of thick skin.
"We fear [upon coming out] that we are facing a harder life, so we may strive harder for personal success and development. It may lead to success, but also to us being more strong-willed and hard-headed. Those are qualities that don't always help out relationships."
Relationship expert Novinskie disagrees.
"It depends on how serious someone is in a relationship," she says. "It's not a gays versus straights thing. There is always more competition in younger groups of people dating, regardless of them being straight or gay, because of the sheer numbers of singles."
To be frank, there aren't hordes of successful gay long-term couples to look up to. With more and more celebrities coming out of the closet and supporting gay relationships, this definitely helps. Sure, your parents may still be together and your grandparents could have been together for decades before dying, but they were probably straight.
Novinskie agrees but adds, "The most important part of any relationship, gay or straight, is being fully comfortable with who you are and what you have to offer a potential long-term partner, regardless of sexual orientation."
As the charge to legalize same-sex marriage continues nationwide, it seems as though relationships aren't gay and aren't straight — they're human. It matters not whether you live in New York or Santa Fe; it's all about maturity, respect, and confidence in yourself and not whether you like someone of the same sex.
MARK ROSENBERG is an author living in New York.