By Sean Hampson-Tindale
Hey, you. Yeah, you trying to read this, discreetly in the corner. How’d you feel like taking a walk down Grindr’s yellow brick road? For the purposes of this story, you’re gonna be Dorothy, or one of her close friends.
I’m likening this little story to Oz because it’s gotta be the gayest reference to ever grace this Earth, and what’s funny is how many parallels there are between it and online dating, including how at the end of it all, Dorothy discovers that she’s looking for something she already has. Fair warning, this story will definitely be anecdotal, and hey, that’s OK. Hopefully you can compare it against your own experience.
The first thing I’m gonna do is let you in on a secret. Grindr, land of power bottoms, catfishes, discreet cheats, hung tops and size queens, is only, and will ever only be good, for casual sex. And even then, it’s not that great.
A lot of guys used to offer me money. Some were surprisingly decent looking too, and I always found that strange. Why would they even need to? Well, the fact is, Grindr’s a pain in the ass. Why spend a couple days chatting to someone when you can slip them $50?
Another fun fact, the most these guys are prepared to pay is $150 if you’re lucky. I once got offered $20 to fart on a guy’s face… hmmm, hard pass. Then he also asked if he could “sniff my boy hole”. I wouldn’t do that for $20,000, so $20, kind of insulted there. Isn’t my ‘boy hole’ worth more than that? It’s also hilarious, saying boy hole makes me want to laugh. It’s a better boner killer than calling me ‘daddy’ which has also happened to me.
Another guy, Guy*, who still occasionally texts me, he’s a bit of a pig. Seriously, that’s what he calls it. Pig play is a literally gross fetish that’s all about piss and spit and scat (see Urban Dictionary). He offered me $250 plus gas money to defecate on his face, and let him smell my toes. That’s not strange at all, is it?
Nor is it rare. Pretty much everyone on Grindr’s talked to guys like him. Guy’s still a more extreme example though, so let me tell you about some of the more normal behaviours. I hardly ever have casual sex because it’s just not my thing. Unfeeling, mechanical sex with a stranger, versus someone you like and care about. This guy though. He caught me on a boring day, so I thought screw it. I met him at his hotel, and we took a quiet ride up the elevator while an elderly couple stared at me. We get to his room, and we’ve barely started talking before he sticks his tongue in my mouth.
We made out for a bit, and fooled around. It was OK. Then he pulls his undies down and tries to have unprotected sex with me. That’s a definite no. I grab a condom in the dark and as I’m fumbling, I put it round the wrong way. So, when he feels around for me and slips it off, it came off so easily that I didn’t notice.
When we finished and turned the lights on I nearly threw up. Then it got worse. Much worse. He tried to reassure me.
“Oh don’t worry,” he said.
“I’m not single. I actually have a girlfriend back in Australia and she’s the only person I have sex with.”
Oh, you have a girlfriend? So, not only was I at risk of STI’s and even HIV, I also helped this guy cheat on his girlfriend. I nearly cried on the way home.
Here’s the best part though. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Not my parents, not my friends. I also had to wait eight weeks before I could get tested, and the entire time I had to worry that I was infected with something. The very average sex I had with that guy was so not worth it.
Moving on, let’s talk about friends. What’s amazing about Grindr is how dynamic it is. One side is focused on casual sex with randos, which as I explained is always a mixed bag. Often disappointing, sometimes decent, but never amazing. The other, significantly smaller side focuses on dates. And then another big part is looking for friends.
Being lonely and having a hard time making friends at uni I thought, ok, cool. Let’s give that a whirl. Find some rainbow friends and do cool gay things like window shop at Peaches and Cream. Maybe hang out with the drag queens at Family, stuff that takes most straight people out of their depth. This also didn’t happen as planned.
I actually made my best friend off Grindr. In fact, I made all my friends off Grindr. None of them were that great though, and I’ve dropped most of them. There are also guys, and the occasional girl, who are happy just chatting. That’s really interesting to me. I’m not sure if they’re super introverts or something, but to find an online-only friendship satisfying is lost on me. The number of times I’ve met someone and, they’re nothing like I expected I’ve lost count.
I’ve met creepy guys, weird guys, guys with zero social skills, guys who were ridiculously cool but so, so different to how they came across online. It’s kind of amazing. So to think you actually know the person texting you, when you’ve never met. Yeah, I don’t think so.
I’ve been using this app for two years now, and I can say with absolute certainty that the success you’ll find dating or making friends probably rounds out at less than two per cent. Rewind six months, and I was hoping I could beat the odds. I worked really hard on it actually. For a couple hours every night, I’d have simultaneous conversations with three or as many as 15 people. Keeping track of details was difficult. Making boring conversations interesting proved harder.
It got to the point where I’d often copy and paste my responses. Some would be really engaging, and funny, and make the effort to ask questions like I did. Others would give one word replies. Or would only talk about themselves – great convo skills dude. At first I worried that it was up to me, and maybe I wasn’t asking the right questions, but they were just boring. Unfortunately, I wasted a lot of effort realising this. Nowadays, if someone does anything I mentioned, I simply stop replying.
Another problem with Grindr is meeting people face to face. “Now gurl, y’all gone be finding d’is so dayum difficult, lol”. You can go from having a great convo, exchanging numbers, snapping on snap chat to radio silence. The magic words being, “hey, feel like getting a drink?” What you need to remember is that talking online empowers people. It gives them the confidence they lack in real life. Granted, yes it is nerve-wracking, meeting a complete stranger, but hey. Are you interested or not? If not, you’ve gotta be up front about what you want.
If you know you’ll never pull the finger out, what’s the point in wasting someone’s time? It happened to me so often it got to the point where I felt rejected. I blamed myself. I thought maybe if I’d done something differently. Or, I analysed and re-analysed what I did wrong to make them stop talking to me. The truth is though, I didn’t do anything wrong. They did. They wasted both my time and theirs. I was better off not meeting them. In other instances, they were simply too lazy to meet. One guy I talked to for a week, and when I found a good time to ask, he said, “maybe sometime next week. I hate making plans and only wanna make them the day of”.
I don’t know what dream land this guy was living in, but finding a time that worked for both of us could take weeks, and he said he didn’t mind. This guy was a tool. Another I talked to on and off for a couple weeks. He said he couldn’t make a definite plan but. Maybe he could meet me on the weekend? He called it a ‘pencilled in plan’. If anyone says pencilled in plan to you, find the nearest eraser.
So Dorothy, what’s the moral of the story here? Don’t waste your time on Grindr. It’s useful for casual sex, and if that’s your thing, good for you. Have fun! If you’re like me though meet people through friends. And if, like me, you find it’s hard at uni, just spend time at the library, volunteer, go to every event you can and try to put yourself out there. I know it’s hard. But hey, anything’s better than Grindr.