Calum McSwiggan

The Dating Game

In Eat, Gay, Love on February 17, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Gay Piggy Back

‘I hear the birds on the summer breeze, I drive fast, I am alone in the night. Been trying hard not to get into trouble but I’ve got a war in my mind.’

– Lana Del Rey

I stepped out of the blood clinic and made my way across London to meet one of my closest friends. By legally donating blood after a year without sex, I had ticked one item off my list of goals for 2013. The truth, though, was that I had a secondary motive for my short time in England. There was another goal I wanted to accomplish.

Everything was beginning to shape up exactly how I’d planned it would. I’d had to dodge a few curve-balls and make a few last minute decisions but it seemed like I was on the right track to ticking off every item on my list. Lessons were being learned, travel arrangements had been made, and I was making bold steps in terms of my writing and my career.

There was only one goal that was being left in the dust. The pursuit of romance was being forgotten about amidst the other exciting steps I was taking, and it was seeming less and less likely that I would find that man who’d give me butterflies.

Living in Spain, an hour’s drive from the nearest gay bar, makes dating seem almost unfathomable. In England I could open Grindr to find that the nearest suitor was a few metres away, but here it’s a couple of miles. I’d like to be able to go down to one of the local bars and flirt precariously with a hot stranger but my fear holds me back.

The language barrier doesn’t worry me, that never stopped me before, but it’s terrifying to hit on a man knowing that they’re most likely straight and you don’t know how they’ll react. Some gay men have the confidence to do it without first loading up on liquor, but memories of past homophobia prevent me. Even when I catch the eye of a stranger and offer them a friendly smile, I’ve a constant fear that they might react violently to even my most subtle advances. I rarely make a move on anyone outside the safety of gay friendly establishments.

The internet is one way I can pursue boys that I like. There’s hundreds of good looking boys I could taken on a date if only they were on my doorstep. I regularly flirt with gorgeous Italians, cute Scotts, and stunning Americans, but without taking time off work and splashing out on an expensive flight, they’re way out of my reach.

So, knowing that I was flying back to England just before Valentine’s Day, I knew that it would be the best shot I’d have at romance until I finally moved to New York. I decided that I’d donate my pint of blood and then spend an evening wining and dining somebody special to celebrate, and all I had to do was find them.

With time ticking away, I had to act quickly. My fingers tapped on every gay dating app available, scrolling through thousands of gay men’s profiles, trying to find the small handful of people that jumped out at me. Plucking a few London based suitors from the masses, I set about laying the usual groundwork. Finding out about their interests, showering them with compliments, and building myself up to the big question of asking them on a date.

It really highlighted how bizarre the concept of dating really is. If we like somebody, instead of showing them how incredible we are, we bombard them with praise and tell them how incredible they are. It’s so far removed from every other aspect of our lives. Dating should be more like a job interview, that’s something I understand. We should be able to unashamedly boast about our personality and our best traits, exaggerate about what a compassionate partner we would be and how good we are in bed, and then give them a list of references from our ex-partners.

Instead, we do the equivalent of walking into a job interview and showering the interviewer with praise. We tell our potential employer that we think they’re amazing, tell them how gorgeous they are, and then without sharing with them any of our best qualities, we awkwardly ask them for a job.

It’s all backwards. It’s a game where the majority of us end up making complete fools of ourselves and yet we continue to play because we want the end prize so badly. I always make the mistake of coming on too strong, finding a gay man I’m attracted to comes so rarely that I get way ahead of myself and start planning our third date before we’ve had the first.

I played the dating game to the very best of my ability, but when the moment came to strike with my offer of dinner and a show, I was met with tumble-weed on each and every occasion. So I resigned myself to the fact that romance just wasn’t something I could force. I can plan and make arrangements for everything I want to achieve this year, but when it comes to romance, I’m well and truly blind.

I did what I should have done in the first place and offered to take one of my closest friends out instead. I had such a good time that I almost forgot about my search for romance, and when a cute Londoner invited me to come for a drink, I passed up his offer and stuck with my friend. As much as I loathe to admit it, it really is true what they say. You can’t go looking for love, you have to wait for it to find you.

There’s an on going war in my mind between me and my inner control freak, it’s hard to sit by and just let fate guide me towards romance, but I know kicking and screaming won’t help. Sometimes you’ve just got to sit back and enjoy the ride.

  1. I found love as soon as I gave up on it. Nearly 18 years on, we’re as happy as we ever were.

  2. That’s incredible, congratulations! That’s as a good reason to stop *searching* for love as any!

  3. Hope your “person” finds you. Enjoy NYC. Ivan

  4. I put the quote about how backwards dating is from the real world on my blog (with credit to you, of course!). It’s something that I don’t think really occurs to us!

  5. Can you spill on your upcoming writing career?

    • I’m just pursuing all the opportunities, working on getting my first manuscript published, and finally working in an environment relevant to my career. Watch this space 😉

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