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According to an article published last week by Gay Star News, a reported 80% of gay men met their partners on dating or hook up apps.
Quoting statistics and reports from Star Observer, it detailed how research published in ‘AIDS and Behaviour’ backed by the National Health and Medical Research Council and LaTrobe University showed an increase from 14% to 80% between 2001 and 2014.
We can’t comment on the research itself, but despite that, the findings are compelling as they don’t have much applicability outside of the gender, sexual orientation or geographic bias (studies on gay men in Australia don’t necessarily apply to bisexual women in the UK, for example) yet there is a grain of inherent truth in them.
While discussing it with other writers for Vada Magazine, there was an inherent sharing of stories of different occurrences of personal relationships, which is ironic considering most couples shy away from the fact that they met online, through hook up or genuine dating app (or anything in between). Discussions of dates from Grindr, Plenty of Fish, Hornet and Fitlads quickly appeared in the thread and I realised we all had something in common – we were all applicable in this scenario.
Personally I met the guy I am currently dating (Alastair) through Scruff. He isn’t the first partner I have met online, but the most significant in my mind because of the unique position he is in (and he already knows most of this anyway so reading it in black and white isn’t going to make much difference) in that if it wasn’t for Scruff I doubt we would have met.
OK so here is the backstory – I have been in four relationships, all for approximately the same amount of time from beginning to end (if you include flirtation to destruction), and only one I met online about a decade ago on Gaydar. They are split quite evenly into ‘willing to talk to/see again’ and ‘if I see crossing the street whilst driving I am going to be in prison for 25-to-life’. And they all share the trait of ‘met online’ or ‘met offline’ – can you guess how it splits? I’ll give you a hint – Orange is the New Black.
The first two when I was young and immature were met through dating websites, and whilst the first wasn’t precisely online (coz I technically stole him from my best friend at the time) we did get to know each other better as a result of chatting online which I put down to us still being in contact today, but all my friends said at the ensuing pursuit of adulthood, ‘you need to meet guys offline in clubs and bars – it’s the only way to do it’.
Attempting to find ‘The One’ (tall, funny, geek, great in the sack – you know the drill), I ended up being set-up by my brother with one of his friends (which turned into a relationship), and ended up in another relationship with a guy I hooked up with from a club.
The former decided to message me on the first Mother’s Day after my mum passed away to call me a cunt (he knew she was dead – he offered my brother condolences), and the latter decided to dump me after calling him out for being a bigot whilst he quoted more incorrect anti-Islamic quotes than the Daily Mail, UKIP and the BNP combined.
So back to Alastair. We met through the newly updated ‘Match’ feature on Scruff, where in a Tinder-like fashion you swipe yes or no on profiles and see who you match with and you mutually get a message if you do. Now usually if I match with a bloke and I actually like him I go with ‘Hey, you ok? :)’ and see what occurs, with a generally lukewarm response rate, but this time I thought I would answer some of the features he mentioned in his profile more directly and just be honest.
Being my usual pessimistic self I ignored the fact he didn’t reply right away and just left my phone to it and going back to Netflix. But an hour later he replied and a week or so later we met up for the first time (delayed by me having food poisoning) and we are still dating two months later.
I am hopeful that it will turn into a long-term relationship, and currently have the occasional far off (minimum two years) daydream of moving in together or something akin.
The unusual thing is even though we live relatively close by (approximately five mins walking time, and two as the crow flies) we would never have met otherwise. Not because we are such wildly different people, although I do go clubbing more than him just as he goes to dinner parties and cinema nights more than me, but because there was no reason for us to meet and chat.
We claim to have spotted each other at Cardiff Pride, in the local gay bars or in coffee shops, but that didn’t lead to a conversation so without this app that had been created by a guy in America to off-set the twink factor of Grindr, we would never have spoken. Genuinely I owe Johnny Scruff a pint at the least.
So if these connections are being created by online/app-based dating, we all know about it, and we are all doing it, why is there still a need to be embarrassed by it? And more importantly, why isn’t this phenomena being recorded by sociologists instead of those tracking STIs?
Until these questions are answered, I have another date tomorrow which involves stir fried tofu and RuPaul’s Drag Race.