Recently, I was asked to be a guest on the podcast In the Kitchen with Austin Helms and Justin Luke. Okay, fine, I badgered Justin until he relented. Luckily, it was a slow week for them.
I arrived, screwdriver supplies in hand (if I’m nothing else, I’m a good houseguest), and we proceeded to go in on online hookups and dating. The ‘cast mostly centered on my 11 tips for success in online dating and hookups, which I want to share with you guys. It was supposed to be a top-10, but every point was just way to good to discard. And you can trust my expertise because I’ve been doing the online dating thing for close to 10 years now, and I’m one of the most practical people I know. It mostly focuses on my experience as a gay man, but these tips are useful in any online dating/hookup situation.
TheBlackoutBlog’s Top 11 Online Dating and Hookup Tips (in order of importance):
11. Use more than one site/app.
Different sites and different apps have different target audiences. Don’t limit yourself, especially if you’re new to the online dating/hookup scene. Familiarize yourself with what different sites/app have to offer and narrow it down once you find what you like.
10. Keep it positive.
Gay boys love to be exclusive. “No fats, no femmes” is the most popular phrase on Manhunt. Except they spell it “fems,” but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. Anyway, what’s going to make a much cuter first impression is showing your preferences over your prejudices. Try “Looking for…” instead of “not into.” Because you attract more bears with honey than vinegar.
Sidenote: I’ve definitely passed over hot guys who have “no Asians,,,, just a preference” in their profile. It’s so not sexy to discriminate based on race.
9. Learn the value of "no thanks."
It’s so easy to ignore a message from a guy you’re not into. However, nobody likes to be ignored, and any therapist will tell you that closure is preferable. A quick, “Hey, thanks, but I don’t think we’re a match” is a polite response. Most guys will move on or say, “Cool. Have a good night.” And if he tries to take it beyond that, there’s no guilt in ignoring (or blocking).
8. Put thought into your profile text.
When you’re filling out your profile, it’s basically an advertisement. And the guys you want to hit up are the customers. No matter how good the product is, if you’re not presenting it well to those who don’t know about it, it’s not gonna sell. Think about whom you’re trying to attract, and try to read your profile from their perspective as if it’s the first time you’ve seen it. And for god sakes, spell/grammar check! It takes 30 seconds to cut and paste into a word document and look for squiggly lines.
7. Check the boxes.
Certain websites have boxes for you to check off interests (or fetishes). These are important because this is what’s often used when guys do searches on websites. And if you haven’t checked off what it is you’re into, you’re not going to show up in the search. Often, these boxes are at the bottom of the “edit my profile” screen, so they’re easy to miss or skip over. But don’t.
6. Have and expect multiple pictures.
Think about how many takes it took to get that perfect profile picture in the mirror. Especially if it looks better than you look in person. Anyone with experience in online dating will tell you that if a person has only one picture, that’s probably the best they’ve ever looked (even if it was 10 years ago… don’t laugh, I’ve seen it!). So offer multiple pictures, and ask for them from others if you have to. My rule is that the person is most likely to look like their worst picture, even if all the other pictures are consistently better. And if they’re all cropped the same way, they’re hiding something.
5. Consider your grid presentation.
Most of the time on these sites/apps, profiles are presented in a grid or list with limited information, allowing users to see the full profile when it’s clicked on. And you can have the perfect profile text and balance of pictures, but if nobody clicks on it, then it does you no good. So what you have to do is figure out what’s going to make you stick out in a grid of 20 or so profiles on a page. Usually, it has to do with your profile, screenname, and sometimes your heading. But each site’s layout is different, so you’ll have to compose each profile accordingly.
4. You're not obligated.
Just because you said you were into X, Y and Z in your profile or because you said you’d do something in a message doesn’t mean you have to do it (though you should think about why you said it in the first place). When it comes to meeting up, if you’re not comfortable doing something, you shouldn’t do it. Period. If you have a bad feeling about something, listen to your gut. There’s no shame in saying, “Sorry, I’m just not comfortable…” and any rational person will understand. I’m not saying they won’t be upset, try to talk you into it, or never contact you again. And you might look like an ass. But that will pass a lot quicker than the feeling of regret when you do something you really didn’t want to do.
3. Be honest.
Lying just isn’t cool. Don’t say 29 when you’re 36. Don’t say 6’ when you’re 5’9. And don’t claim 8.5” when you’re 5.5” in the summer. Because when you meet up, the truth will likely be obvious, and no one likes to be lied to. And it’s not unheard of for a guy to say, “Oh, that’s definitely not 9 inches… yeah, you have to go.” He probably would have still invited you over if you were honest.
Note: I’ve heard of guys saying that they put their age down to the next decade because they look young for their age, and they don’t want to be filtered out when people search by age. If this is the case, you really need to disclose your true age in the first couple of messages. “Hey, just wanted to let you know that I’m actually 32. Hope that’s not a problem.”
2. Use condoms!
Every time. Guys lie about their age, their size, and their Botox use. It’s very easy to lie about HIV status. And many guys are infected and don’t even know it. So take it upon yourself to actively protect your own health, and insist on condoms.
1. Meet on neutral territory.
I made this the most important because a) it has to do with your immediate safety, and b) it’s something that people who are new to the world of online hookups don’t think about, especially if they’re just looking for a fuck. You don’t have to do a full-blown date, but meet in a public place and get feel for the guy’s vibe before you go to his place or he comes to yours. Because if big, hot muscle daddy turns out to be a sketchball who wants to stab you, there’s not much you can do in an apartment to fend him off (hell, didn’t you hear about that weatherman who got stabbed 50 times by his Craigslist hookup!). Again, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, finding an out is much easier at a bar or a Starbucks than it is at an apartment. If you have to ditch, it’ll be awkward for a few seconds, but refer back to #4.
And for those of you just looking to hook up: if you have trouble pulling the trigger to get him home, remember, you guys met up to hook up, right? You can waste 2 hours on idle chatter, or you can ask him if he wants to leave (once you get a feel for him). And if he turns you down, it’s better to know sooner. If he doesn’t want it, why waste any more time than necessary!
The full podcast is on In the Kitchen’s website (they’re on iTunes, too). It’s hilarious, and the banter between the 3 of us on each of these points makes it a must-listen. Thanks to Austin and Justin for having me as a guest.
Click here to check out my complete Guide to Gay Online Dating and Hookups.