The truth is that dating as a gay, bi+, or pansexual man can be as messy, unfulfilling, and complicated as “Queer As Folk” makes it seem.
But it doesn’t have to be. These tips can help!
You Need to Define Dating for Yourself
There isn’t a single, agreed upon definition of dating. And the amount of seriousness and commitment implied with the term “dating” varies, depending on who you ask.
Some people use the term loosely, applying it to sex-laden situationships, casual bone buddies, and FWBs. Others reserve it for dynamics with more intimacy or commitment.
Figuring out what dating means to you can help you determine whether dating — or something else altogether — is what you’re wanting.
Next, Figure Out What You Want While Dating
“It’s helpful to know what you’re looking for as you go into dating,” says Jesse Kahn, LCSW-R, CST, the director and sex therapist at The Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in New York City.
It can also be helpful to understand what feels negotiable vs. nonnegotiable in a partner.
“When you’re able to identify what’s negotiable and nonnegotiable, you can continue to be flexible and allow what you’re looking for to evolve and be more specific to the relationship — while staying connected to your wants and needs,” they say.
Here are some prompts that may help you figure out your negotiables and nonnegotiable:
- Close your eyes and visualize where you see your life in 5 years. What do you see?
- Make a list of your own firm values
- If you could abracadabra your dream self into being, what would you be like?
- If you could abracadabra your dream partner(s) into being, what would they be like?
But Don’t Only Date One ‘Type’ of Person
There’s a thin line between dating within your negotiable and overly restricting your dating pool.
Often, people only date people within a specific ‘type,’ which keeps them from exploring a wider variety of partners and relationship dynamics, says Brian Ackerman, a psychotherapist at The Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in New York City.
“By dating just one type of person, you limit the range of insights you can gather about yourself, your needs, and the desired characteristics in prospective partners,” he says. Plus, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Dating a wide variety of people can be helpful, precisely because it gives you an opportunity to learn more about your own likes and dislikes — and maybe even meet your next boo…
If You Want to Start Dating ASAP, Use the Apps
No two dating apps are the same, which is why Zachary Zane, a sex expert, the founder of BoySlut, and a columnist for “Sexplain It“, suggests understanding the purpose of the available apps before using them.
Tailor the Profiles to What (er, Who!) You’re Looking for
If you’re omnisexual, bisexual, or pansexual, Zane recommends listing that on your profile.
Due to the pervasive biphobia in our culture, less people will match with you, he says. “But those who do will be open to dating someone who’s bi or pan.”
Use the Apps
Having the app downloaded isn’t sufficient. You need to actually use them!
Consider FaceTiming Before Meeting Up
Some daters swear by the pre-date get-to-know-you FaceTime.
Play the Long Game by Putting Yourself in Positions to Meet Potential Partners
The name of the (long) game here is meeting as many people as possible, Saynt says. “The more people you meet, the better your chances that you’ll be dating soon.”
There Are No Rules for When You Talk About the (Potential) Seriousness
The good news: “There isn’t a single right or wrong way or time to bring up making things serious,” Ackerman says. The bad news: That means there’s no timeline you can follow.
No, These Tips Don’t Change If You’re Not ‘Out’
“If you’re not ‘out,’ take your time! It’s an individual process with individual timelines,” Ackerman says. “There’s plenty of room for exploration of how you identify before coming out.”
No Matter What, Try to Enjoy It
Societally, people mostly view dating as a means to an end — be that orgasm or marriage.
“But dating itself can be the end,” says Ackerman. “Dating allows us to experience new personalities, perspectives, physical intimacy, and lessons learned about what we do and don’t like.”
So don’t forget to enjoy the ride. Pun absolutely intended.