11/13/2013 05:28 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Doin' the Online Thang

Early last month I had dinner with my good buddies Denis and Jason. True romantics, they're both in enduring monogamous relationships. The meal was going rather well until, in unison, they asked, "So when are you gonna find a man?"

Then Jason added, "Your days of being a spring chicken is ovah!"

I was so flabbergasted that I almost spit out the water I was drinking! Recovering, I snapped, "I am not that old! Besides, I look damned good for my age."

Denis shook his head. "Answer the question. How many times have you claimed that you want that special someone?"

Now, all of this was getting under my skin! "Look," I said. "With everything I'm involved in, I really don't have time to date! And I've been writing RAGE!" (RAGE! is the next installment in my Nothing Can Tear Us Apart series.)

Denis countered, "But you've finished it!"

Then Jason blurted out, "Let us fix you up! It'll be fun."

"Uh-uh!" I protested. "No way, José!"

"Do online dating, then," Denis offered. "That's how I met Derrick!"

All of this struck a nerve, because on occasion, opening up and exposing myself to someone (and no, I'm not referring to my birthday suit!) can make me a wee bit skittish. And I don't look forward to the possibility of getting hurt. But at some point, I'd certainly like to be in a committed relationship.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist who works with individuals and gay couples, states in "Intimacy barrier," a recent Washington Blade column:

While closeness can feel great, especially at the start of a relationship, closeness can also feel dangerous. ... But if you try to protect yourself by keeping your partner at a distance, you'll wind up with a limited relationship. You can't let your partner really know you unless you are willing to get up close and open your heart to him.

Sage advice! So, being proactive and courageous, I decided to give online dating a shot. But first I did my research. I came across Ramon Johnson's "How to Be Safe Dating Online," from's Gay Life section, which was full of great, common-sense tips.

Now I was ready! And guess what? I found an ad that really intrigued me -- and actually answered it! And after putting Johnson's suggestions in play, I met the guy, and I can report that we both had an exceptional dinner date. So what's been the result? Well, it's turning out to be a rather satisfying work in progress!