I like to think of myself as being a relatively upstanding gay man. I never lie to get lucky, never dump anyone without cause, never knowingly go after somebody else’s guy. I even try to practice good Grindr etiquette, though I’m frequently reminded by boys on the grid that my insistence on keeping things classy there is not only futile but annoying.
Which brings me to my latest Grindr situation, one that involves two guys I didn’t even meet on the grid....
In the absence of etiquette standards in the world of hook-up apps, is it fair to slut shame a guy who scores with someone he met through a Grindr date – say, the date’s friend? If Grindr connections are indeed “transactional” (according to what one unapologetic user once told me... sigh), then consumer rules must apply. We wouldn’t penalize a man who goes into a store to buy oranges and leaves with apples, so we probably shouldn’t be too hard on him if he goes on a Grindr date with one person and leaves with another.
Thankfully, I’ve never been either bachelor No. 1 or No. 2 (the ones on the Grindr date) in the above scenario. But I now know what it’s like to be bachelor No. 3, the one who stole his friend’s Grindr date and may have doomed the friendship. Well, technically, it wasn’t stealing. Have you actually stolen something if you didn’t realize it belonged to someone?
What if your mate called you over after spotting you from a distance and invited you to join him and his “friend,” without any hint of sexual tension or lusty body language to suggest you’d be crashing a date?
Not for one second did I feel like a third wheel. I thought we were just three guys bonding and doing tequila shots on Silom Soi 4, aka the gayest street in Bangkok. The platonic vibe didn’t immediately shift when my buddy went home early, leaving me alone with his “friend,” whom we’ll call Liam. We laughed. We chatted. I’m sure we even pointed out a few hot guys to each other.
I can’t remember what song was playing or what was going on right before we started kissing. There was no lingering look, no sexy banter to signal a change in direction. Cliche as it might sound, it just happened. It felt natural and easy and old-school: two guys, introduced by a mutual friend, forming a connection over the course of several hours.
The next morning, I was surprised by our ongoing rapport. We spent a couple of hours on the couch talking about whatever popped into our heads before he left to do the walk of shame through my hotel lobby.
For me, there was no shame until later in the afternoon when I was speaking on the phone to the friend who’d introduced me to Liam. Before I could tell him what had happened, he asked if I went home with his “friend.” Yes, he was still playing the “friend” card. He said he suspected we’d get together, and ended the conversation.
A few minutes later, he texted me to cancel our Saturday night plans. Then he gave me a dose of enlightenment: Actually i am a bit disappointed that my grindr date had to sleep with my friend but what am i thinking? He is a typical tourist and so are you.
My heart skipped several beats. “Typical tourist”? Ugh. “Grindr date”? Double ugh. I called him out on the “typical tourist” dig (locals hook up with each other all the time), and he took it back. But he didn’t back down from his anger, which he claimed was directed at Liam. If he had to go home with someone, couldn’t he have picked some random stranger?
Although he supposedly absolved me of any conscious wrongdoing, his passive-aggressive indignation said otherwise, and it fueled my guilt. I wondered when karma would put me in his shoes. I went over my defense in my head. Had I known I had interrupted a date, I would have made my excuses and left before the tequila shots. I’d always rolled my eyes on the inside when someone I met through a mutual friend asked, “So how do you two know each other?” – as Liam had. It’s such a B.S. conversation starter, but I finally understood why it’s wise to ask.
Belatedly armed with that knowledge, I apologized for my part in my friend’s disappointment. Still, I had so many questions. Why did he tell me he was having dinner with a “friend” and not that he was on a date when I texted him early in the evening? Why was he even responding to my texts during a date?
Had they already entered the friend zone when I arrived? Was that why they’d gone to the gayest street in Bangkok after dinner rather than to a more private one-on-one location? This was a Grindr date with a local and someone who was only in town for a few days. Surely they weren’t planning on taking things slowly.
Instead of potentially making the situation more flammable by seeking answers from him, I reached out to Liam. He’d given me his phone number within five minutes of meeting me (yet another reason to assume he wasn’t on a date at the time).
I didn’t realize you were on a Grindr date last night. I thought you were just friends.
Liam’s response came immediately.
I mean I should have mentioned that, for some reason I thought it was understood. I had a great time with both of you and as he left I was with you.
It was not my intention to hurt his feelings, and I hope this does not come between you two.
Despite the absolution my friend had granted me, I knew it would, possibly permanently. He’d probably never again be able to look at me without thinking of the failings of bachelors Nos. 1, 2, and 3 that night. I hated that I’d inadvertently caused emotional grief. Even more, I hated that I didn’t share his disappointment in Liam for being, as Liam himself jokingly put it, “a whore and a heartbreaker.” Damn. I hated that my strict adherence to the bro code meant I couldn’t see Liam again.
But more than anything, I hated Grindr. It may work for some people, but once again, it had worked against me. Even when I meet a guy off the grid, it can still end up ruining everything.