Headless Torsos: How Smart Phone Apps Have Changed Dating for the Worse

05/22/2013 07:11 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
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Modern technology has led to a virtual fast food line for anything the modern gay man desires. Whether it's take-out, a new pair of shoes or an late night guest we are in search of, all it takes is a few clicks of a finger. Whereas with shoes and take-out, our favorite phone app has only changed the way we order our latest craving. But dating and hook-up apps have all but revolutionized the approach we take with sex and dating in general. Of course, these apps have their rightful place and there are plenty other more "traditional" approaches that gay men can take when dating. But has the culture of stats, nudies and decapitated men begun to spill over into the rest our dating lives and making everything else look a little... cheap?

The gay culture has drifted further away from the values a real relationship make at a time where we are mere inches away from being granted the right walk down the aisle. We have gone so far in de-emphasizing our intellectual traits in mating and dating that we actually cut our heads off in order to attract a mate. This phenomenon may not be as directly apparent in the more traditional approaches of dating, but the culture of "sexual priorities" can still be felt.

Of course, these "social media" apps aren't solely to blame for the over-emphasis of the sexual in lieu of intellectual in gay culture. Unlike our heterosexual counterparts, our "training years" when we are supposed to learn the basics of dating, mating and boundaries are typically truncated. The duration of this relationship limbo depends on how long our closeted period lasts. So, when we finally get the chance to play house with members of the same sex, we typically head straight to the bedroom.

Yet, after decades of many trials and travails of the gay rights movement, we are now recognized as a beautifully diverse and emotionally engaged group of society.
Juxtaposed with this feat of accomplishment that seemed nearly impossible just years earlier is the general regression of the gay man's dating game. The use of hook-up apps are one thing, but the context of leading with the physical in hopes of the emotional has most gay men spinning in circles... and I can't help but to think that that mean little black-and-yellow face on almost every one of our phones (okay, so you just deleted it) is at least partially to blame.

For example, last week a very handsome man that I have known for some time asked me out to dinner. This dinner invite came through a much more respectable medium of communication--Facebook (or, as it seems to be for me, Grindr for gentlemen). I was ecstatic. It had been a while since a handsome, successful and appropriately aged man had asked me on a real date. Not a "let's meet for drinks" or "wanna come watch a movie" date, but a cloth-napkin, pick-you-up-at-eight date.

Unfortunately, it wasn't but a minute before the little hearts that started gathering around my head began to pop, one by one. I had only eliminated half of my closet in search of acceptable first date options when I was asked if I was a top or a bottom. This man had yet to discover my religious affiliation, whether or not I would laugh at his jokes or if I was interested in the same type of movies as he was. Why bother with such trivial things if our percentages of top vs. bottom are a mismatch. Instead of figuring it out by the transgression of each other's idiosyncrasies (and let's face it, you can typically tell in about 20 minutes), we reduce ourselves to cavemen.

"Me, top only. You, bottom?"

I was not afforded the option to establish chemistry based on such trivial traits like personality and humor. How did this happen from a man who was supposedly interested in getting to know me, and not just in the biblical sense? Easy -- he and almost every other single gay man have been de-sensitized by apps like Grindr.

The date never happened.

There is a vast disparity between being able to enjoy sex as just sex and turning yourself into a virtual blow-up doll with a day job. Physical attraction is an important part in the development of relationships past the point of platonic but it has become a grossly overrated value in the gay culture. In order to develop a lasting physical relationship, the most essential characteristics far surpass the size that of your member.

Love and sex are inevitably linked even though sex can appear on the menu á la carte. For too long, love in the gay community was scoffed at, second guessed and considered all together less than those who are in real, heterosexual love. Although we knew better, after a while the opinions of others can start to feel like truth. Maybe we assumed that true love was impossible in our oversexed, grass-is-always-greener communities. It's hard to say whether this belief came from our own conclusions or from the judgments of others. But as we eagerly wait to hear one of the most important U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the history of the gay rights movement, we owe ourselves more than just a parade and a pat on the back. We owe it to ourselves to take the chance and establish a real bond with someone based on our interests, values and whether or not you can tolerate each other's family members. And yes -- even sex.

If sex is just what you are looking for, carry on. But if you are ready for something a little beyond the physical, start with some questions about where he grew up and what kind of movies he is into while you have dinner with all of your clothes on. And try to refrain from pressing send on the cock shots... at least until after you have seen it in person.