Viraf, a thirty-something brand manager loves plaid, soy lattes and expensive single malt. Like most quintessential gay men that I know, Viraf is on the lookout for ‘shake-me-by-my-shoulders’ love – the one that you find in dog-eared romance novels and prime-time soaps. To further his cause for finding romance, Viraf goes out on a new date every week (while sleeping with twice the number of people in the same time) – and falls in love every month. It’s a tough life, but he survives (and his wallet does too).
Viraf has premium memberships with Grindr Xtra, Scruff Pro and Tinder Plus. That’s three times the boys, a limitless supply of blocks and billboard-style exposure – this way, an unlimited crew of underwear models, high profile fashion photographers, Type A consultants and highflying lawyers can spot him before anyone else does.
Unsurprisingly, Viraf is still looking.
‘It’s just not working out,’ Viraf tells me over a smoke, at a gay shindig in the suburbs. He’s swiped right on boys on Tinder, favourited the nicest profiles on Grindr, Woof’d appropriately at lads on Scruff and even looked around more than once on Happn (although he’s not very happy).
‘How hard is it to find someone you can have a great conversation with?’ he asks me, but doesn’t give me time to respond, ‘… and no, I will not have brunch with someone who’s username is EdgeOfGloryHole89, I just can’t. Tell me, why are all the nice boys not online?’ he blows off steam (and smoke) in my face – I have half a mind to tell him that his online paramour could be a closeted lady Gaga fan, but I don’t. Honestly, who’s to blame, when someone ends his Grindr profile with the classic ‘only 8”+ cocks apply’?
Viraf does, but I don’t bring it up. Instead, what I do tell him is that all the nice boys are online – they are just complaining about the fact that there are no nice boys online.
‘I think I should just go off Grindr, that will solve it,’ Viraf reassures himself, and I wonder why I am even a part of this conversation, ‘Now can you be my wingman at this party?’ he asks.
The internet says that dating apps make romance conveniently fast and easy – you can even express check it out of the supermarket yourself, if you have ten items or less in your cart.
But when has the Internet ever been right? Anyone who says that finding love on dating apps is easy, has never spent hours trying to figure out whether the gorgeous writer from halfway across the city actuals means his emojis or not (side note: when is a smiley face ever a smiley face?).
Nope. I’ve spent months chatting up Mr. Right Now’s in the search for Mr Right – dying a slow, simmering death. But then again, fuckboys, douchebags and dimwits aren’t custom-made at a secret Grindr factory; they’ve been around since eternity. So is Grindr (and all its henchmen) killing romance in the dead of the night, behind locked phone screens and locked doors?
Let’s get it straight. Online dating is not killing romance, you are. You just don’t know it yet.
Technology has been facing the brunt for being the cause of most of our world’s problems – the television stands shamefaced for it’s contribution to the rise in gun violence, the refrigerator regrets its hand in global warming, the microwave has been getting in the neck for obesity and the steam iron might as well have been the single reason for the Great Depression.
“I wish I could meet someone the old-fashioned way,’ Viraf sighs, as I light up another cigarette. What’s the old fashioned way?
Strangers wobbling out of a bar together and into twenty-one months of regrets, slurred voice mails and absinthe-induced arguments? Being set up by friends at a house party just so that they don’t have to listen to your single survival stories over frittatas at brunch anymore? Bumping into someone while waiting in line at a coffee shop just to realize that they like their coffee with milk, weeks later?
If you think your next big love isn’t hidden behind a mesh of profiles on the dating app of your choice, there’s a very big chance he’s not waiting for you at the bar with free drinks (and if he is, there’s a chance he might give you chlamydia). Conventional ways of finding love are dying out and for good reason, because we just don’t have the time (or the hope to leave things on chance).
Sure, Grindr can be that dark dreary place that you’ll be in an on-again, off-again relationship with (because on more than one occasion, you’ll be propositioned for a golden shower at 2 am, that’ll make you want to shower multiple times after), but in this Instagram-obsessed world, it helps you reach out to people like never before - with or without filters. Plus, a relation built on a dating app is no less real than the one forged over mixed-up orders at your neighborhood coffee shop.
As a single gay man, do you still think that the quintessential dating app is the only speed bump on your journey towards finding a fulfilling NSA (no-stress at all) relationship?
Make an effort with your profile. Your vital stats and sexual preferences might get you sex in thirty minutes or less, but a soul mate? Not so much.
Stop using the app only after midnight – you are not fooling anyone when you want to meet for a date in the middle of the night. In your bedroom.
Stop tlking lyk dis 2 ppl online.
Be nice, be charming, be yourself – but most importantly, be kind, rewind.
Still struggling over why you are single? Maybe it’s time to introspect – could it be something to do with your personality? Could it be something to do with your attitude? Or could it be the fact that your profile description says that you are ‘looking for true love’ but you go by ‘BigTool_HoleDriller’?
Maybe, but I feel like my Jane Austen novel is on its way. Now pardon me, while I go block my ten boys for the day on Grindr.
Illustration by Siddha Kannur of Studio Klew.