Posts Tagged stereotype

Match.com: Singles in America

Continuing with this week’s Valentine’s theme, I want to highlight a study I had the privilege of learning about this weekend while attending Sweets in the City, an event hosted by Single Edition.

107 million Americans are single, and match.com is trying to understand them. Under the guidance of Dr. Helen Fisher for the third year in-a-row, match.com has commissioned a national relationship study, Singles in America. After asking 200 questions to a perfect cross-section of the U.S., they learned fascinating new things you may or may not have heard in the news as of late.

I was shocked to learn both men and women judge each other first by their teeth, followed by grammar. It’s refreshing to know that in this day and age, communication is still important. Still, I’m surprised to see teeth topped the list (as well as proud of my pearly whites).

As a gay man who wants to one day get married, it was also refreshing to hear that commitment is back in style — 90% of those open to marriage believe they can stay married to the same person forever.

As Dr. Fisher reported the results, she was most-surprised by the increased emergence of friends with benefits. As a 28-year-old, I didn’t find this particularly surprising, having had my own FWB relationships.

In related results, virginity is no longer a core value in the dating world — If anything, it’s an obstacle. Gone are the days where the first instance of intercourse between couples occurs on the night marital consummation. I think it’s only natural that people want to test-drive the car before they buy it these days, even though women are less likely to admit it.

Sexting was a particularly interesting territory in the digital age. Although most singles believe sexting could jeopardize their careers or privacy, they still partook in this social taboo, proving love conquers all (including reason).

JustMarriedGayMenMy favorite statistic was that gay men fell in love more often than anyone else. We were more romantic, more experienced in “love at first sight” and more likely to be “deeply in love” with a long-term partner. Lastly, we had sex with the same frequency as other singles, finally proving the stereotypical perception of gay promiscuity is outdated.

I’m curious if this is due to wider acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage, or if this has evolved naturally. Dr. Fisher made a point about not making a point of discussing homosexual responses as a separate entity because there are very few differences from the heterosexual responses. We’re not all that different after all.

The most shocking results were that women desired independence and men sought commitment. Single men fall in love faster and want to “move in” together sooner, while women still want to hold onto their girls’ night out.

Hear Dr. Helen Fisher’s own interpretation of the facts from Saturday’s event below:

This post was sponsored by the fine folks at match.com. Be sure to check out all the fun, fresh video clips at Singles in America.

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Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself

It had arrived. Although this would be my third year “participating,” I was legitimately scared. I wasn’t sure why it was so scary, but honestly, I was petrified for so many reasons.

My first interaction with Pride Weekend was a mistake. I was making my way to Governor’s Island for a polo match with my family when we found ourselves “stuck” in the parade route. The following year was the first year I was out when the weekend came around. It wasn’t pleasant as I witnessed my relationship crumble before my eyes like an out-of-body experience. I missed the parade that year, but I got a sampling of the other aspects of the festivities.

My fear was grounded mainly in the unknown. While I am a gay man, I do not participate in the typical gay culture. I’ve never been a big fan of gay clubs and what goes on there. I come from a background of a traditional relationship. In the gay world, that is like finding a diamond in the rough. The clubs seem to be the antithesis of this. They are a hot-bed of drugs, promiscuity and raunchy behavior. I know all gay men who go to bars don’t fit into this stereotype, but this stereotype is founded in truth. While I’ve been to a handful of gay clubs, and my comfort level was rising, I still had no idea what to expect. Never before had I been to a circuit party. I was venturing into the abyss, and this caused me incredible anxiety.

While I have learned to let go of the men in my past, I still carry the scars of my relationship with them. They’ve all hurt or used me in some way, shape or form. My biggest fear in life is being alone, and this fear is fed by thoughts of cheating, which is birthed from my baggage. The idea of CK with another man broke my heart. I had clear definitions of cheating, but there were worse things floating through my imagination — Like cheating in a form I feel is unfaithful, but the offender does not.

My relationship with CK was building a great foundation, however, the cement was still wet. We were only dating two months and ten days — Very young for any relationship. In the first month, I had strong suspicions I wasn’t the only man entering his bed. Things didn’t always line up and some of the clear indications were there, however, our relationship was still just forming. I knew there would be a transition period. While he told me he was only interested in me, and I was the only man entering his bed, I was aware how we met. I was also aware of his intentions before we even met through his first major slip-up on Grindr. I couldn’t expect monogamy from the first night — That wasn’t realistic.

While I was fairly understanding and looked the other way early on, I was not going to tolerate infidelity as our relationship progressed and strengthened. For starters, my heart wouldn’t be able to handle the pain, and lastly, it wasn’t safe for my health. I needed to trust him to be faithful. Outside the heartbreak, frankly, we were having unprotected sex. We’d been tested, but there are no guarantees. I trusted him with my life, literally, and if he was sleeping with other men, he was treating my life carelessly.

I sincerely had a feeling his intentions had evolved, but I couldn’t be sure how he would react when faced with temptation. I hoped I was the only man for him. As a result, I was petrified for the life of our relationship. I’d watched my relationship with N publicly combust the previous year, and I didn’t want a repeat.

I’m sure many of you reading think I am overreacting. It’s just a party… It’s just a parade… It’s just a weekend… Well, not to me. To me, it was a litmus test for the strength of my love for CK. I didn’t want that love to be tested, and I didn’t want to have to make a decision that could end my relationship with CK. He was my Superman. He was my world. If I lost him, my world would come crumbling down.

We had plans to go to a huge party at XL Friday night, Matinée circuit party Saturday, and the parade Sunday afternoon. I was venturing into this unknown abyss with faith and hope I could persevere. The thought of CK dropping X and losing control of his inhibitions with some other guy caused me great pain and panic attacks. The idea of another man’s hand groping his package caused me panic attacks. Picturing him dancing shirtless against another shirtless man caused me panic attacks. Every time these scenarios and many others entered my brain, my heart rate would increase drastically, I would start to sweat, and I would get light-headed.

All this added up to me being petrified and frustrated. When I asked CK what clothes I should pack to bring to his apartment for the weekend, and I didn’t get any cooperation or help. It all became overwhelming. To begin with, this wasn’t something I was looking forward to, and his lack of cooperation made me lose my sh*t. “Okay Babe. I’ll talk to you in the morning. Have fun tonight!” I said on the verge of tears as I hung up the phone on him.

I think that was the wake-up call CK needed. I don’t think he fully understood how much anxiety this all created for me. I voiced my frustrations for weeks leading up to Pride Weekend. I told him I was going out of my comfort zone, but I was willing to do it as long as I got some hand-holding. I needed help to get over this. It was just another fun weekend for him, but it was a big deal to me.

After a few minutes, he called me back. We discussed things a little more rationally, and CK’s tone changed. He finally realized I was struggling and tossed out the life-preserver. Now that I knew I had him in my corner, I was a little more relaxed, however, I still wasn’t completely comfortable. It was going to be a long, stressful and exhausting weekend both physically and emotionally. I bit down then and there, and braced for impact as I packed my bag and walked out the door.

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Two Hours

After coming to the realization Middle Eastern was not dating material, I began my search for a boyfriend once again. I thought I’d give him a second chance, and he proved to me he wasn’t worthy of that.

I went back to my matchmaker once again – Grindr. I was a little addicted. I found myself spending hours out of my day on the app. I was searching with great fervor. When I woke in the morning, the first thing I did was reach for my phone and fire up Grindr. The next thing I did was grab my tablet and fire up Grindr on that. It was even better on my tablet. The pictures were bigger, I could multitask with my phone, etc. I fully realized how much time I was spending searching for a man. I saw how much of my day was stolen from me. It was like a second job.

On a few occasions, I would strike up a conversation with a guy I thought worthy of my time. One such man lived nearby in Jersey City. We started chatting on Grindr, and I did what I always do. I asked him for his number so I could take things out of the Grindr app and start a conversation over text. I always asked for a picture from the start so I could keep the guys straight in my phone contact list. I kid you not when I tell you I have around 100 contacts from Grindr, Adam4adam.com, ManHunt and OKCupid. I had a system in place as well. Everyone’s name began with where I met them. I was cataloging these guys in theory. Some I never spoke to on the phone, let alone met them in person, but they were saved no less.

After getting this guy’s number, We texted about chatting on the phone some night. He picked up the phone and called me. This earned him a lot of brownie points in my book.

We started with the superficial things – Where we lived. He told me all about his building. I was quite familiar with it. I’d run past it on many occasions. This morphed into a discussion about where we grew up. He was fascinated to learn I grew up out in the country on a farm. Through texting, I’d already learned he was from Canada. I told him how surprised I was he didn’t have a Canadian accent. It popped up a few times, but quite infrequently for someone who grew up there.

I quickly learned he certainly fit the Canadian nice guy stereotype. Everything he said was sweet and polite.

I learned he was slightly older than me. This wasn’t an issue for either of us. I had always liked slightly older men, but I am always leery that older men aren’t thrilled with dating a younger man. I’m quite mature for my age, so I hope my personality can make up for the age gap.

We chatted about our jobs, and I learned he worked in the travel industry. He jetted around the country and internationally quite frequently. He even mentioned the possibility of taking someone like me with him on said trips. I wasn’t getting ahead of myself, but I did enjoy the idea of traveling with my boyfriend to far off locations. He detailed many of the perks, which I really enjoyed, but I didn’t want to let that cloud my perception of him. On the flip side, I told him one of my most embarrassing secrets. I told him I’d never left the country with the exception of Windsor Canada from Detroit. He told me it wasn’t a big deal, and he would help me remedy that issue.

Somehow we got on to the topic of dating and being single and previous lovers. He wasn’t very forthcoming with the information of his major heartbreak, but all it took was one question for him to tell me the overarching story. It seemed it was a sensitive subject, but he was willing to tell me the story. He was dating a man for seven years. This was before he was traveling for work. He was scheduled to go away for work, and at the last-minute, his trip was cancelled. He came home to their shared residence to find his boyfriend in their bed with another man. I expressed my grave sympathy. After seven years with someone he must have been crushed. My heart broke for him. He told me he simply told his boyfriend he needed to move out and that was the end of them.

I tried to lighten the mood and asked him what he likes to drink. Ironically, our lists shared a lot of the same drinks. It was uncanny how similar our pallets are. I learned he too is a fan of Malbec. We discussed how it would need to be present on our first date. I was happy we were on the topic of meeting for a date. He seemed like a great guy. Maybe he was the ship I was searching for in the storm.

I asked him what he was looking for, and he described his ideal situation. Amazingly, our perfect pictures lined up quite impressively. I was really excited to meet him. I only had one picture, and he appeared to be an attractive man. I was more excited to meet him to see how strong the chemistry would be. It was already pretty strong considering we spoke on the phone for two hours.

Only time would tell, and we made tentative plans to grab a drink or dinner in the near future.

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