“Your cock is bigger than my boyfriend’s”: Why Grindr is killing gay relationships

“I’d like to introduce you to my boyfriend,” opened an unknown and entirely unsolicited contact to me via popular gay dating app Scruff last week. “I could invite you round to our place, get the two of you talking, and then leave. I really like the idea of my boyfriend cheating on me, you see.”

This was just the start of an especially confusing conversation that, I have to admit, I entertained for the best part of an afternoon. I pointed out to my new friend – whose username, oddly enough, suggested he was the one looking to play away from home – that if he set up an amorous encounter between me and his other half, it wouldn’t exactly be cheating. What’s more, I added, I wasn’t especially up for playing the rather slutty role he wanted to cast me in, and I was a little perplexed as to why he thought I would be up for it in the first place, given he didn’t know me from Adam.

Do I look like the kind of guy who wants to be the pawn in a couple’s bizarre little sex game? Actually, don’t answer that.

Half hour or so passed and my new friend got back in contact. The whole previous conversation had been a ruse, he revealed. He’d actually got in touch to see if his boyfriend was cheating on him – more specifically, cheating on him with me, someone who had never actually met either of them. He explained that he’s incredibly insecure when it comes to relationships and he suspects his man is fooling around with other folk. “I messaged you because you look like the kind of guy he’d go for,” he continued, explaining he’s been doing this as a matter of routine in recent days in order to try and catch his partner out.

After I pointed out that this was a little bizarre and unlikely to end well for him, I was blocked. In the space of an hour or so, I’d been treated to the rather intimate insecurities of a complete stranger before then being entirely removed from his life in the blink of an eye. It was an amusing anecdote I immediately relayed on Twitter, but there was one part of the conversation that actually touched a nerve. Before I’d cutting me out, he asked a rather sobering question: “Are there any guys out there that I can trust not to cheat on me?”

Perhaps the saddest part of the whole encounter was that the only unusual facet of the story was the way this guy was going about trying to find out if his other half was cheating. The fact that both he, and his boyfriend, had profiles on a gay ‘dating’ app wasn’t in any way unusual. Indeed, if I sit and think about it, I struggle to think of all too many gay couples that I know in Manchester that don’t have individual profiles on Grindr, Scruff et al.

grindr_scruff

I’m not talking open relationships, here: Though that’s not an area where I have all too much knowledge or experience, I’m actually comfortable with the idea that it works for a lot of people and, as such, using dating apps to find potential match ups is entirely logical. Indeed, it’s fairly common to see couples in open relationships have a joint account on these apps – I’d say it was actually quite touching (if I was in a particularly emotional mood).

Rather, what’s a little odd if you come from a ‘traditional’ background is that gay men in monogamous relationships will quite often have a presence on Grindr and Scruff, and it won’t even occur to them that this is, perhaps, not the best of ideas. Admittedly, most of these accounts will have been set up before they met their current partner, yet they remain undeleted (and, indeed, positively active) long after the relationship has been cemented. I’ve had conversations about how this depresses me with numerous friends in recent weeks, and even those who agree that it’s all a little sad have openly scoffed when I’ve suggested that I’d be upset if my next boyfriend doesn’t take himself off these apps after a reasonable amount of time. One even said that the mere suggestion of it could be enough to end the relationship right there and then.

This isn’t actually a case of chaps looking to dip their wick in other waters, however. What makes this trend even more interesting is that, if pressed, most of these men say they’re on Grindr and Scruff for “friends”. Many openly make this claim on their profile.

For those reading this not familiar with how these dating apps work, it’s a topic I’ve covered before, but basically they list people in a grid formation in order of who is closest to you in that particular moment. In the case of Grindr, it even gives you a rough estimation of how long it would take you to walk/run/drive to the person in question. Without being explicit, it’s a way of enabling casual ‘hook ups’, almost at a moment’s notice. Though both apps can be used for dating and, indeed, the starting of friendships, their primary function is to allow people to engage in casual sexual encounters in quick time.

So why are men in monogamous relationships only “seeking friends” using these apps to do so? Are their gay men in the world who will only start friendships with people within a 100 foot radius at any given time? Do they block out friends who don’t also list themselves as “daddy chasers” or only have a mediocre level of body hair? Are there people who really think an app where you’re inclined to state just what kind of sex you’re into and with whom is the ideal place to make new buds?

My guess is that, though few of these are actively looking to cheat, they’re not especially looking for friends (in the traditional sense) either. What seems to happen is, gay men on Scruff and Grindr are window shopping. Constantly window shopping. They may never engage in anything beyond a flirty conversation with those they converse with (and we can have a separate debate about whether showing another man the odd nipple shot over direct message actually constitutes “cheating”), but at the same time they don’t want to miss out.

What if there’s another guy in the area they like? What if that handsome bearded guy they spotted in the coffee shop is gay, is on Grindr, and would be the man of their dreams? Unless they’re on these apps, they’ll never know.

For the record, I’m not suggesting that these chaps looking for ‘friends’ will ever act on these impulses, but I don’t think it’s any great claim to suggest it likely has an unsettling impact on their relationships. It’s almost as if there is a reluctance to ever fully commit to another person. You might be with that man for years, go through scores of highs and lows, but always in the background there’s Grindr and Scruff, keeping you abreast of the new men in town just in case someone catches your eye. By doing so, without even realising it, you’re undermining the relationship you’re supposedly wrapped up in – you’re playing safe, you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket, you’re still on the radar.

And you’re still alive. I don’t think it’s embellishing the truth to note that, in cities like Manchester, many of the gay bars exist as physical versions of Grindr and Scruff. Yes, it’s entirely possible to go to The Eagle – one of the city’s underground, ‘darkroom’ bars – and not exchange bodily fluids with someone, but there’s a definite edge to the place. An atmosphere. An atmosphere that bleeds out from the bars and spreads throughout the gay community. It’s almost as if, in the land of the gays, you cease to exist if you stop going out.

Therefore, if it’s deemed perfectly fine to visit gay bars when you have a long term boyfriend – even bars like The Eagle – suddenly it then doesn’t seem any great leap to carry on using the dating apps, either. Hell, maybe you can even engage with the people on these apps, exchange the odd flirty conversation or even send the odd compromising photo. What’s wrong with it? What harm does it do?

I’m in no way attempting to tell people how to live their lives, or making any judgement on those in open, or more fluid relationships. Everyone must do what suits them, and in 2015 no-one has the right to tell you your ‘lifestyle’ is in any way wrong or an unhealthy break from the norm. However, I do think when it comes to monogamous relationships, you’re either with someone or you’re not, and that we need to get to the stage where we understand why apps like Grindr exist: it’s not for making friends. If you’re not in an open relationship, you have a boyfriend that you love and yet you’re still using Grindr and Scruff, I think you need to take a look at just why you’re doing that.

Homosexuals should never look to ape their heterosexual counterparts simply for the sake of it. Being equal in the law doesn’t mean that we have to subscribe to the notion that our relationships also have to mirror the ‘heteronormative’ model. Nevertheless, writing this days after a report came out claiming depression and low self-esteem are both on the rise amongst gay men, I can’t help but think something is wrong with this picture. I’m not clever enough to suggest there’s a direct link between the issues I’ve laid out here and mental health issues, but it can’t hardly help. My gut tells me it’s not a coincidence.

So, in conclusion: Hello. My name is Keith. I love Kylie, coffee, and Manchester City, and if we date, I’m going take myself off the dating apps and give what we have a proper go.

Unless, of course, I think you’re having an affair. In which case, be prepared for me to hop on Scruff and to go all Miss Marple on your arse.

12 thoughts on ““Your cock is bigger than my boyfriend’s”: Why Grindr is killing gay relationships

  1. I feel the same about these apps. For the most part they are only useful if you are looking for a convenient hookup.

    For me I have narrowed it down to using Planetromeo where more people seem to look for traditional dates. There is also a looking for friendship status on planetromeo, but I guess that is only a byproduct for most people to consider when they meet someone nice they are not sexually attracted to.

    Apparently there is no portal for hopeless romantics. 🙂

    Good article, I enjoyed reading it. Found it through your post in the GGP group.

  2. Keith:

    I want to thank you for writing this post. To me it has a very personal connection as I found out few months back, my partner who has been with me for 14 years, ended up cheating with someone he found on similar app.

    I have never used such apps. Of course it should be taken as a red flag if anyone currently in a partnership is using it.

    It hurts to read this post but somehow at the very end I appreciate you address the problems with these apps and the potential behaviors which may arise.

    Thank you Keith, thank you.

  3. I wrote an article recently on how apps are killing the scene too (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-smartphone-killing-gay-scene-jon-haywood?trk=pulse_spock-articles).

    But on the aspect or relationships, and gay apps, just read Alain de Botton’s “Essays in Love” (http://alaindebotton.com/essays-in-love/). He takes you on the journey from the first time you meet, courtship and beyond and talks about all the keys stages we should go through in order to set the foundation for a solid relationship. You’ll very quickly see that apps remove a lot of these key psychological milestones, making the foundation rocky to say the least!

  4. Gays have so many problem’s in there daily lives lol. I’m so glad to be a woman. I think it would be to hard to be a gay man js

  5. I’ve just started seeing a guy off Grindr, and since it’s become serious I’ve completely deleted my profile… Cos hey, I’m with him. Problem is, his is very active still and although I’ve told him it makes me feel a little insecure (because not realising my mate messaged him and asked if he wanted to meet, he didn’t know I had started seeing this guy, his reply was yes!). It came about because I was arranging to go out on the Saturday. My mate said no I’m meetin a guy off Grindr, so obviously my mate sent me a picture. I was less than impressed and confronted him immediately. He tried to deny it at first but I’d caught him red handed. Anyway, he now thinks that I should trust him…and he’s still on Grindr. What do you think his game is ? He keeps saying how much he likes me and he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t. Then he makes me think well I should trust him it was just a slip up.

    1. Dude, he was going to meet your mate off Grindr. There’s no way around that. It would be goodbye if it was me.

  6. Nicely written article and approaches a delicate topic well. I found out my partner was on Grindr using a faceless profile, and the tagline ‘Bottom for fun. Can accom’ whilst I was away for the weekend visiting my family. Its broken my trust of him and after kicking him out I found myself quietly pondering over everything he had ever told me. Ive given up so much of my life for him, so for this reason I feel the need to try to make it work one last time. Its even hard to think that this is the ‘last chance’ and, I hate to say it, but a part of me feels he will do it again, but be more careful about it. Sadly, for him i guess, I would have considered intorucing another partner to the bedroom to add a different dynamic. However, i feel different about this as it was done behind my back. I will never know the truth. But I shall always assume the worst until proven otherwise. Is there any hope?

  7. Dr_mack@)yahoo. com is a wonderful spell caster. Very trustworthy, My husband cheated on me for Almost for three years. he ignore me for several months and left me with nothing, but i am happy today that Dr Mack brought my husband back, I am so happy, Now my husband is all mine again. he is a professional. I really enjoyed the result which i got, his love spell is marvelous, he is truly gifted, his love spell has brought me happiness, I am extremely pleased, he has the most powerful love spell, I recommend his love spell to anyone who is ready to get his or her lover back.

    1. Ur husband did it before so he will do it again js

      Men are pigs and all they want is to stick there things into some warm hole literally

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