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The Dating Game

Room for Squares

When I realized that I was gay, I also realized that there were many obstacles I’d have to face. Things like homophobia, coming out to friends and family, having to change your hairstyle every 6 months…all that regular run of the mill gay stuff that comes with the territory. I thought I had equipped myself well. I joined a Gay Straight Alliance, had a heart to heart with my sister, and found a relatively cheap hairstylist. One thing I hadn’t counted on, however, was the dating game.

Naively, I figured that one day, when I was ready to start dating and the politics of the high school courtyard had faded into obscurity, dating would just go on relatively smoothly and fancy free. I’d go out, meet a guy, get a number, set a date, we’d grab a bite to eat and then spend the next day doing 20 reps and two hours of cardio to work it off. You know, real regular dating stuff. It all looked pretty vanilla to me.

Boy was I wrong. Little did I know that the road to gay dating would be overrun with twists and turns, tricks and treats. It should come with a roadmap. I mean, you need like a rulebook just to get an idea of how to get going, where to start. And once you get going, there’s no promise of it getting any better. The “practice makes perfect” thing? Yeah, that means absolutely nothing when you’re out with a guy who used to date your ex-boyfriend…or who, in some cases, used to date your ex-boyfriend while you were dating him too.

I often imagine what it must be like to be on the outside looking in. As if we were the ants in some really colorful, really big ant farm. It’d be like the start to some big scientific experiment, like when the scientist has just collected us and holed us up in the little glass box. At first, we’re just running around frantically with no destination in sight. And even though it takes us all awhile to get settled down, we eventually find our way and start running into each other in a much more orderly though no less frantic fashion.

It’s about at this time that all the little games start. The lunch time hookups or the after hours one night stands, please, those tricks are for kids. Well, in the sense that they’re just the building blocks for what’s to come. Actual gay dating constitutes a whole lot more. There is perhaps no bigger hurdle for the players of this game to overcome than that initial onee after the exchanging of numbers, or maybe it’s facebook pages nowadays. Who knows?

When your relationship is governed by the traditional roles of male and female, then it can all be rather simple. Okay, maybe not simple, just simpler. But when boy meets boy, how do you figure who’s to make the first move? When you’re struggling to find your footing in the power struggle between top and bottom, it’s a lot harder to answer the question: “Should I call him or wait for him to call me?” At this point, you become locked in a constant power struggle, an invisible battle of wits where the first person who gives in loses.

But it isn’t always a win/lose situation, or at least you can’t always look at it like that. You may have made the first concession but that doesn’t mean that he walks away with the cake. In dating, I guess it’s less “win or lose” than it is “give and take”. So concede the battle but continue the war if you want to keep on playing the game. Without a little giving, there can be no taking. And we all know that’s the funnest part.