These days, online dating is no longer just a popular alternative to traditional options. It’s increasingly becoming the preferred way for eager singles from all walks of life to connect with potential partners and gay men are definitely no exception. Lots of guys just like you are logging on to dating platforms of all types as a convenient way to meet other guys to date and have fun with, but even the most experienced online dater has to start somewhere.
Whether you’re newly out of the closet or have been out and proud for a while, online dating as a gay man is definitely something it’s possible to become good at with a little knowledge and practice. Keep the following tips in mind as you explore the possibilities to ensure a positive experience you’re sure to be happy with and continue coming back for more.
- Choose the right platform.
If you’ve spent any amount of time assessing your options at this point, then you probably don’t need to be told that online gay dating interfaces aren’t all the same. Every available community from OKCupid, to Grindr, to GuyHop brings something different to the table, so it’s important to know what you’re really looking for before you get started.
Lots of gay guys maintain profiles on different sites, but others are more comfortable sticking to just one. It all depends on what you’re open to. If you’re ultimately looking for a serious relationship, go with a more traditional platform that’s mostly about helping people find long-term matches and traditional companionship. If you’re really just interested in sex right now, an interface strictly for hookups (like GuyHop) is probably a better fit.
- Know what type of guy you’re looking for.
Successfully marketing yourself is only part of the battle when it comes to online gay dating. The rest of it is all about knowing what type of guy you’re ultimately looking to attract. Far too many guys make the mistake of logging on, jumping right in, and browsing websites aimlessly without really thinking about what they’re looking for first, yet can’t understand why they’re never happy with any of their matches.
What’s your ideal guy like? Is he slim, ultra-buff, or something in between? Are you looking for someone that shares your interests or are you more interested in exploring new territory with someone different from yourself? How old is he? What does he do for a living? Visualize your dream man, limit your search efforts to exactly what you want, and craft your own profile with what you’re looking to attract in mind.
- Choose a screen name that showcases your personality.
If you’re like most people, you’ve definitely wondered where on earth some people come up with their seemingly random screen names. You’ve also probably had someone else’s screen name either inspire you to connect with them or to steer completely clear as well. That’s because screen names are a lot like billboards. They matter in that they tell onlookers something about you. It’s your job to make sure it’s something you want them to know.
How you decide on your name is up to you, but it should sum up a key piece of information about you. Abstract or unusual screen names can be great conversation starters, but straightforward options that express a serious interest you might have can convey more important tidbits of information. You’ll want to make sure your screen name is in line with what you’re looking for as well – romance, versus hookups, versus serious relationships.
- Understand that your picture is even more important.
The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been more true than it is on a gay dating site. People actually do judge books by their covers, so it’s important to make sure your profile picture is sending the message you want potential matches to have. To begin with, skip shots that are dark, outdated, or taken from extreme angles. It’s fine to choose a flattering shot that you like, but it should also accurately reflect your everyday appearance.
Make sure your pic is something that will appeal to that dream man you visualized as well. If you’re just looking to get laid, feel free to show off those goods you’ve been working hard for at the gym, but leave something to the imagination if you’re actually looking for love. Racy profile pics may get you more initial attention, but probably won’t attract men interested in more substantial connections.
- Use your headline and bio to expand on everything else.
Your screen name and profile pics are the bait designed to draw the right type of guy in your general direction. Your headline and bio are your chance to really peak their interest now that you’ve got their attention. Again, you’ll want to prioritize quality over quantity here. It’s not about getting the most attention from just anyone. It’s about selling yourself to the type of guy you really want.
Use your headline to give matches a short intro to what you consider most important about yourself (e.g. interests, profession, or background). If you’re not sure what to put, you can use it to state what kind of man you’re looking for instead. Try to make it eye-catching and unique so that guys will want to click through to see more. Then use your bio section to finish what you started and flesh out who are, who you’re into, and what you’re hoping to get out of being on the platform.
- Be honest about your basic stats.
While pictures are definitely a good start as far as advertising what you have to offer, they can only really tell someone so much about what they’re actually getting when they decide they want to get to know you better. Details like hair color, body type, ethnicity, and height may not seem like they should matter, but they definitely do. That said, it really pays to be as specific and as honest as possible.
Think of it as being similar to ordering something online or from a catalog. The item isn’t right there in front of you, so you can’t touch it or try it on first to see if it’s the right fit before you buy it. The more detailed and accurate the product description, the better your chances of actually being happy with your purchase. Chances are you’d see it as a breach of trust if someone you met online turned out to be way shorter or heavier than they said they were, right? Other people would feel the same, so never lie about your basic stats.
- Consider declaring your HIV status as well.
If you’re brand new to gay dating online, you might be surprised the first time a platform invites you to list your HIV status. You’ll almost certainly ask yourself whether that’s really anyone else’s business, as well as wonder whether you should actually declare yours or not. A lot of guys go through that when filling out a profile for the first time, so you’re definitely not alone.
Know that a positive HIV status isn’t necessarily the deal breaker it might have been years ago. Thanks to countless medical advances in recent years, HIV is no longer an automatic death sentence, nor is it as easy for someone that’s taking care of themselves to spread it. Plenty of HIV-positive guys have happy, fulfilling relationships and sex lives as well, so letting people know your own status won’t necessarily make or break your online dating experience. It’s fine to elect not to list this piece of information on your profile, but never lie about it if asked outright by someone you’re potentially dating.
- Be open about your sexual desires.
As is the case with HIV status, you might question whether or not you really want to put it all out there as far as what you like in bed or what you’re looking for sexually by being on a site in the first place. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which pieces of information may be “too much too soon” for a given guy, but it might be to your benefit to lay things on the line right up front.
You may not think your dream man will be as into sex parties or penetrative sex as you are, but you could also be wrong. Also, you’d be surprised how open some guys are to new experiences, especially when those experiences come attached to the right guy. Don’t list anything you’re not comfortable putting out there like that, but do be as honest as possible. Ultimately, your sexual desires are nothing to be ashamed of and there’s nothing wrong with letting potential partners know what you like right out of the gate. It’s a time saver if nothing else!
Once you successfully navigate your first few matches, you’ll find that online gay dating gets a lot easier (not to mention more fun). Just be yourself, relax, and embrace all these new possibilities for the exciting experiences that they are and it’s hard to go wrong.