Ask Dave-Beyond The Hookup

One man asks: Is anybody else looking for a real relationship these days?

By Dave Singleton

ear Dave,
For once in my life, I am focusing more on my personal life rather than my career or school. I am a 25-year-old graduate student from conservative San Antonio, TX, now studying in the Midwest. About two years ago, I decided to put myself out there in the
What people say and what they do are often two different things.
dating world. I have attended social activities within the gay community, gone out bar-hopping, and have done online dating. While I have gone out on dates, it has been an extreme challenge for me to find the right type of guy. All of the guys I go out on dates with say that they are looking for something stable, substantial and, especially, someone who is mature. Ironically, after the dinner bill is paid by either me or them, they lean over and ask if I would like go home with them!

I have come to a point where dating has been very disheartening for me as my values and standards are not acknowledged or appreciated. Is it only a hookup world? Is there any guy out there looking for anything beyond sex?

Dear Roy,
Yes, there's hope for a meaningful relationship in a hookup world. It sounds like you have no trouble meeting guys from a variety of venues, which is good. And you probably know that dating is often a numbers game. But I know it's disheartening when winning the numbers game sounds as feasible as snagging the Powerball jackpot.

What people say and what they do are often two different things. With online dating, you know so much — or think you do — that it's hard to reconcile a romantic profile, full of yearning for long walks on the beach and a LTR, with the lusty man whose premature come-ons make your momentous meeting feel like a no-strings hookup.

You are not alone. Many gay men and lesbians are also tired of the "say one thing, but do another" dating approach you've described.

"I am so annoyed by guys who falsely claim to be sincere, honest and 'not interested in playing games,'" says Washingtonian Richard, 37. "Out of fear or ego, they're dishonest about the amount of time and/or energy they're willing to spend on getting to know me. If guys would just say 'I want to hookup only,' or 'I thought I had the time/energy to devote to this, but it turns out, I don't,' I could handle it. It's just so much simpler than wasting everyone's time."

Now, are all guys like this? No. Is it possible that you've hit a bad patch? Maybe. Is it possible that our sex-drenched culture blurs the lines between hookups and courtship more than ever? I think so. Do we live in a world of diverse dating behavior norms? Definitely!

The Washington Blade conducted a survey on gay dating practices, noting that, "In a still-evolving era of activism, gay men and lesbians have more freedom than ever to define their own sexual code of conduct, but the interpretations of that freedom are as widely varied as the people who make the choices." Michael Hendricks, a psychologist and sex therapist at the Washington, D.C. Psychological Center, summed up the findings by noting that "The hardest part of this is making generalizations as if the LGBT community is one community—because it's not."

So in this world of many options, my advice to you is this: Be true to your own
Depict yourself truthfully in all ways and expect others to do the same.

There's no foolproof way to guard against men who are either deceptive or wishy-washy. But consider tweaking your approach. If you're searching for Mr. Right, these tips can help you avoid ending up with Mr. Hookup by mistake:

Update your online profile.
Online profiles give you the chance to state what you are looking for upfront before you meet, and provide a more targeted forum for you to find men who share your standards. Review your profile and make sure it spells out who you are and what you want. Be clear that you don't want to waste anyone's time, including your own.

Choose your dates carefully.
I admire your clarity. At 25, my selection process for dates was admittedly simple. Is he hot? Is there a spark? Not that looks and sparks aren't important. They are. But as I learned, there's more to a successful relationship. Based on my research with other single, gay men, dates fizzle quickly when there's a lack of common interests and no true connection. Along with the initial flirty banter, find out more about each prospect before you invest your time and energy.

Just say no to false advertising.
Depict yourself truthfully in all ways and expect others to do the same. It's a double standard when we gripe about men who present physical characteristics dishonestly, yet excuse those who aren't emotionally honest. If you've stated what you're interested in, and your date doesn't respect that, move on.

Try a little behavior modification.
Consider not getting too disappointed when a guy prematurely "busts a move," as they say. Unless his behavior is offensive, try deflecting his come-on by telling him what you're looking for, then gauge his reaction. Is he dismissive of anything less than instant fire? Or, is he open and accepting to the idea of a slow burn? Many guys are so used to hooking up that they act or react out of "default" learned behavior or perceived peer pressure. Maybe one of these dinnertime Lotharios might actually appreciate a man who holds his romantic ground.

Bottom line: It doesn't matter if hookup culture predominates. The gay community is diverse and there are plenty of men interested in developing real relationships. Stick to your standards, be more proactive in stating what you want/don't want, and stay optimistically cautious as you meet and date.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at
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