Not everyone is a fan of dating sites and apps, but a lot of gay men do use them as they offer an efficient way to meet people. The contact tends to be fleeting and you will only end up meeting a few of the people you chat with. Even so, the digital hunting grounds are often used to set up dates, whether they lead to a one-night stand, a steady fuckbuddy, friendship or a relationship.
Dating sites have lost a lot of ground to dating apps over the years. Therefore, a lot of sites now also have their own app, or at least a version of their site optimized for use on mobile phones. There are a lot of gay dating apps available on iTunes and Google Play. Some of these target a specific subset of the gay scene, like hairy men, older men and so on. The basic idea behind all the apps is the same: you log in and can see which other gay men are online nearby and may be available for chatting and possibly dating. Most of the remaining sites have also adopted this cruising by distance approach.
Photos and profile texts are more civilized on apps, compared to sites, because the apps would be thrown out of the iTunes and Google Play stores otherwise. No below-the-belt nudity therefore, though you are free to exchange xxx-pictures during chats within the apps. Your text will have to be very succinct; after the first virtual contact you can get to know each other by sending messages back and forth. Be sure to read every dating app’s user agreement beforehand, to avoid getting bounced or banned. Sites will not have this restraint, but if a site also has an app version, xxx pictures will not be visible on there.
If you are frequently on the hunt from the same spot, like your work or your home address, most of the faces you find will start to look familiar fast. While travelling, mobile cruising can be an easy way to get in touch spontaneously with a nice local. Some men seem to be on every single dating app out there, but the various apps each tend to attract their own particular kind of crowd: a relatively young one or a kinky one, for instance. In any case, it’s not a bad idea to do some fishing in this particular dating pool, sampling a few of the sites and apps that appeal to you most, to see who bites. See the list of links for some suggestions. A basic membership is unlikely to cost you anything; you just have to come up with an enticing nickname, pick a password and present yourself to suitors. This chapter will help you create an effective profile.
As the saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words. Men are visual creatures, so their first judgement about whether you are interesting, will come from a quick look at your face and body, much as in real life. Shallow? Well, yes, but also a fact. You can protest it all you want, but it won’t do you much good. And you’ll probably have to admit that even you pay a bit more attention to men who look good (whatever your personal definition is for that), leaving their personality aside, at first.
If the person who reads your profile is not impressed by the pictures, odds are he won’t stick around to read your profile text. If you have a low opinion of your own looks, just keep in mind that people have wildly different tastes and that you will fit some of those tastes. If you have a wonderful personality, that’s great! It will be important when it comes time to reel somebody in for the long term. However, in the beginning , without a presentable exterior to catch someone’s eye, you will be screwed — or not, as the case may be.
Now that we are firmly into the 21st century, having digital images of yourself is essential. Failing a decent digital camera, webcams are cheap and can do the job if handled properly. The ‘properly’ part is important though; fuzzy pictures made by the light of a candle will make anyone look like Frankenstein. If you’re not sure if a picture you are planning to use accurately portrays you in a good way, get a second opinion from a friend.
“The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting.”
– Gloria Leonard, pornstar/publisher
Look like you
The trick is to present yourself positively, without straying too far from what you actually look like at this moment. Pictures from ten years ago, when you were much cuter, are only allowed if they come with a time machine. And if, by the use of various kinds of direct and indirect lighting, you can make yourself look like a sex god, it is going to disappoint when, in real life, you look like Mr. Joe Average from Blandsville in comparison. A couple of clear shots that literally and figuratively show different sides of you, will be the most effective.
Avoid pictures that look to have been taken with a satellite, with you as a dot in the distance, or pictures that obscure your face with sunglasses, hats, bandanas, boas and/or other accessories. Coy equals irritating. Also annoying are the ‘not me but what I like’ pictures in profiles; you are asking the guys who are visiting your profile to compare themselves to a likely unattainable beauty-ideal. And if there is a picture of you on the profile as well, think about how you will look in close proximity to Mr. Dreamy.
Include at least one picture that shows pretty much all of you, clothing optional. Parts not seen, such as face, chest or stomach, may be assumed to have hidden flaws. However, your level of nakedness will influence how seriously people take you. If you are looking for just friends or a serious relationship and want to screen out those cruising for sex, keep your clothes on. Should you feel frisky on some nights and want something more ‘now’ and less ‘forever’, you could keep a shirtless (or even more naked) picture ready to send to your suitors.
If you are just looking for sex and have a particularly impressive chest, dick or ass, you could of course present this to the public, since it is your selling point. However, most people, including those looking for one-offs, will want to see your face as well before committing to a real meeting. And if you won’t show your face in your profile, together with your naked parts, to keep your reputation somewhat intact, your naked bits had better be pretty impressive to grab the attention. There are plenty of faceless torso’s out there on the net.
Also be aware that there are different levels of nakedness. Having your ass spread open to the viewer will be a turn-off to a lot of people, possibly even to hot tops who would happily have shagged you if you’d kept it a bit more classy. On the other hand, if you are looking for a sleazy top from the fisting crowd, ‘classy’ might be a turn-off. Consider your audience: who do you want to attract, and what would they find attractive?
When considering all this, keep in mind that any pictures you send out onto the net will theoretically be circulating there forever and ever. You will no longer have control over them. Someone can easily save them, despite the measures some sites take to try to stop that. They will exist on the hard drives of men you may have lost touch with ages ago. The chance of anyone ever actually using them against you is minimal, but it can’t be completely ruled out. Set your own boundaries: showing your face on the same picture as your dick or butt, has the most potential for embarrassment. You may want to consider just showing your face as a portrait and making separate photo’s of anything below the belt, should you want to share those parts with the world. By the way, images from a cam conversation can also be easily captured and stored, so be a bit careful if you’re getting undressed in front of one.
“I don’t show my face in my profile. I’m not all that shy, but just don’t want to be recognized out on the street by strangers, from a profile with some fairly personal information. When I see someone I like online, I always sends them a few face-pictures. I may miss out on some contacts because I am a little bit hidden, but I will happily accept that in exchange for a bit more anonymity.”
If you are not willing to show your face online or don’t have any pictures at all, don’t expect much patience and understanding from those who have laid it all out there. Some people don’t like to chat or exchange e-mails without seeing a clear picture first. And it can be very painful if someone — once you’re on Whatsapp, Snapchat or the like — takes a quick look at you and comes out with a polite or not-so polite version of “Ah, no way in hell. Bye.”
In your profile text, be clear, to the point and focus on what you want rather than on what you don’t want. Giving a list of things you dislike or hate will make you come across as bitter or cynical. Nobody will be running a spell-check on your profile, but full sentences will gain you intelligence points. Lengthy poems in your profile or endless, incoherent rambles in punctuation-less chat-speak will make you come across as a goofball. Unless you happen to be a funny goofball, this is generally not considered a plus.
The more specific you are about what you are looking for, the more people you will lose, but you will also have to sift through fewer non-matching responses. Be succinct; most visitors to your profile will bail if there is too much text, or at least not read it properly before dropping you a line. It’s okay to ignore such responses, but also okay to forgive the sender for just going by the pictures and to reply to him anyway, if he seems interesting. If you do not have any text in your profile at all, people will probably assume that you can’t be taken seriously. Do not give out any concrete information on yourself that would allow potential stalkers to find you.
Try to be somewhat politically correct and respectful. If you state that you like big, hairy men, you do not need to explicitly state that you are generally not attracted to Asian men. And who knows, you could run into the big, hairy Asian man of your dreams. Just because certain types of men aren’t to your taste, that doesn’t mean you have to be nasty about it. People have only limited control about their turn-ons and turn-offs, but try to focus on the ‘ons’ and don’t be insulting. Stating that you like masculine men — if you must — comes across friendlier than saying ‘no sissies’. And saying you like in-shape guys is friendlier than saying ‘no fatties’. In short, even if you are an amazingly handsome guy with a great body and a huge dick, remember that big dicks are only fun when they don’t come attached to a big asshole.
Hobbies, interests, beliefs
If you are looking just for sex, you might not care what you write down here and too much honest information can even work against you. If you’re trying to project the image of a dominant top, for example, going into great detail about your My Little Pony collection is a bad idea. But if you’re looking for anything more — from a friend to a boyfriend or just a regular fuckbuddy — sharing information here is a good way to see if you have anything in common with your prospective visitor, something that will make you bond for longer than a round or two of hide-the-salami. It will also give someone who is interested in your profile a good way to contact you and give him something to start a conversation with.
Being honest about this would save everybody a lot of hassle. It sucks to be looking for a relationship, to have a great dinner with a great guy and to be told afterwards; “Oh, by the way, I actually have a boyfriend.” If you have an open relationship, make clear that it is indeed all out in the open, because some people might feel bad about being party to cheating and skip your profile. Regardless, a lot of single men who are looking for a partner will only want to meet up with other singles, otherwise they would risk falling in love and getting their heart broken. To avoid any confusion, you should specify your current status in the text of your profile and let people know whether you are open to a relationship, just want sex or are looking only for friendship.
“Good sex is like good bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.”
– Mae West, writer/actrice
There is a lot of lying about age, sometimes to avoid the chop of a search engine, but most often because of vanity and insecurity. If someone who visits your profile fancies you because of the text or pictures, despite your being an older gentleman, then an extra year or two won’t make a difference to him. There’s no point in fibbing. It will, however, look a bit sad should he find out about your little grey lie, which is pretty much unavoidable if you’re looking for more than a one-night stand. Subtracting more than a year or two will increase chances of being ‘caught’ and pitied. A secure older man can be hot; an insecure older man who wants to be a boy cannot. And filling in a random number to protest against ageism, accompanied by a rant in your profile text, is not going to make you a hero or win you any respect. Just accept and own the age you are.
Don’t oversell yourself in this area, since your build tends to be obvious from the photos in the profile. If you claim that you are ‘muscled’ while your pictures show you to be ‘stocky’ or ‘heavy’, you will come off as deluded, and you will be fooling no-one. A ‘normal’ body looks different to an ‘athletic’ one, at least to people who work out. This is one aspect you have at least some influence on. If you feel embarrassed about the category you fall into, don’t tell an obvious lie, but work on yourself.
It can be hard to tell someone’s overall size without a frame of reference and it’s not always easy to estimate it from someone’s pictures. There tends to be less lying about this, because not many people will care about an inch more or less, and tall tales are very easily disproved, even before the bed comes into view. Just be honest, since there is nothing much you can change about it. Those interested in your profile should accept you as you are or move on to pastures taller or shorter, depending on their taste.
“It’s tough to see yourself as a product. You have to put yourself out in the meat market and try to define yourself in just a few words. Something always gets lost in the translation. And you want to show yourself at your best but also don’t want to brag too much. Disappointment is not a good opener.”
It’s interesting to note that quite a few of the gay guys online claim to have a ‘large’ dick. As ‘medium’ means ‘average’, and statistically speaking most men should be around that size, this is a puzzling phenomenon. Also note that there are virtually no ‘small’ dicks to speak of. So in interpreting a profile, be aware that guys who have XXL, XL and L in their profile may have to be taken down one notch, possibly two. When you see M in a profile, it might be an S in disguise, or just someone who has a realistic image of himself in that area. So, what should you fill in here? Well, all things considered, it’s best to go with the truth. If you feel you are in the grey area between sizes, it is okay to flatter yourself a little. But you definitely do not want a look of disappointment when the pants come down. For comparison, statistical averages can be found here.
Of course, you can also choose to leave this information off your profile. That tends to be interpreted as a flaw being hidden, but somebody who doesn’t fill in his ‘size’ doesn’t necessarily have a small dick, he might just think it none of your business. In some cases, guys with XXL dicks consciously leave that titbit out because they do not want their main selling point to be that they have a huge schlong. This is something that ‘size queens’ (people who love themselves a substantial penis) need to keep in mind. Ultimately, if someone is going to reject you over something that is totally out of your control, you may as well get rid of him sooner rather than later.
In the gay scene, being top (he who fucks) generally carries more status than being bottom (he who gets fucked), because a top is assumed to be more masculine and powerful. This isn’t always the case, of course, but it does mean that men tend to err on the side of top-ness when they indicate their ‘position’. This means that a ‘top’ might well be a bit versatile, a ‘versatile/top’ is probably just versatile, a ‘versatile’ more bottom and a ‘bottom’ is likely to be a BOTTOM. But ultimately a lot of people go with the flow when the going gets sexy. Don’t worry too much about which role you should pick for your profile, you can always change it later, depending on your mood.
“I think that every sexual position is fundamentally comic.”
– Judith Butler, philosopher
Fetishes & kinks
In declaring your kinkiness to the world, please note that the more unusual your particular kink, the less likely a particular reader is to share it. You might be willing to go ‘vanilla’ (kink-free) for someone, but he could be turned off by you being a bit kinky in that way; it may make him feel like he won’t be able to truly satisfy needs that are important to you. More kinks mentioned, means less people interested but more chance of meeting like-minded perverts.
Not all sites offer the option to state your preference for this, but it can come in handy when doing a search. However, be aware that most people who ‘slip up now and then’ will still be filling in ‘always’ here. There is a tendency to lie since ‘always’ is what a lot of people want to hear, though with the arrival of PrEP, ‘safe’ has become more of a grey area. (This is a pill that protects against HIV, though not against most other STD’s – look here for more information.)
Opinions differ on what ‘safer sex’ is. Some people let guys come in their mouth and/or swallow and think that this is safe enough. Some guys in relationships have condomless (‘bare’) sex with their boyfriend but safe with others and still claim they ‘always’ have safer sex. A couple can be fairly certain that they are both STD-free and are sticking to their rules about safer sex, but you as an outsider can’t make that assumption. So ‘always’ in a profile does not mean you can stop watching your ass: in principle, always use a condom in combination with an ample amount of lube. Even if you are HIV-positive, there are plenty of other STDs doing the rounds.
As for those for whom safer sex ‘needs discussion’ or who ‘never’ have safer sex, keep in mind that not only are they more likely to have picked up an STD since their last test, they are apparently also not fans of condoms or not particularly experienced with them. So you will need to make sure they respect you and your health. Look here for more information about safer sex.
Not many sites ask you to give your ‘status’, but some do, meaning specifically HIV. Understandably, a lot of HIV-positive men will not want to be open about their status, for fear of rejection. Especially if a profile is geared only towards sex, don’t put too much stock in what people fill in, unless someone indicates that he is positive; that’s not likely to be a lie. If you’re having safer sex, the status of the person you’re doing it with isn’t actually all that important, which is just as well, as you will rarely know for sure that someone does not have HIV.
If you have HIV and are open about that on your profile, you will be making a clear statement. You will scare some men off but won’t have to come out about your HIV further down the line. It also makes it easier to find someone else who has HIV. In the view of some people, having the same status may put less stress on a couple than being in a relationship in which only one of the two has HIV. Though with the coming of PrEP and the knowledge that someone who is responding to medication and is ‘undetectable’ cannot transmit HIV, this has become less of an issue.
Regardless of someone’s supposed status and your own, be safe. Look here for more information about HIV.
Dutch version here. Final edit: 11-09-2018