You’re on (insert dating/hookup app or site of your choosing) and you’re about to close the deal!
That’s right. You are about to get fucked… or fuck… or whatever it is that you like to do with someone in the privacy of the bedroom… or amongst the trees down in Victoria Park.
[You go girl! Get yours!]
But maybe, along with all of that excitement, there are a few questions swirling around that head of yours. The truth is, hooking up, like most things in life, isn’t always simple. So we’ve put together a few questions that you might want to ask yourself before you take it from online to a real-life skin and bone connection.
How do you want to present yourself?
There was a time that you had to visit a gay bar, the bathhouse, or an outdoor cruising space to meet other guys for sex. Now you can do it from… well, anywhere really. But just because you’re not face to face with the people whose profiles you’re scrolling through, doesn’t mean that you’re not in a social setting.
Online space is social space. You are a member of the community who is sharing a common space with other members of the community. Therefore, the social “guidelines” that we generally follow in face-to-face settings – in order to protect one another from harm and to build up our community – should carry over. So, If you wouldn’t make a fat-shaming comment to someone’s face at Evolution, then don’t do it on Scruff. If you wouldn’t proclaim that you’re “only into white guys” from the stage at Fruit Loop, then don’t put it in the headline of your Grindr profile.
We get that you’re not into everyone. And although we encourage challenging people to challenge their sexual preferences to try and understand what has shaped them, you’re not expected to engage with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. There are ways, though, to indicate that you are not interested in someone in a manner that is less damaging to them, your reputation, and the fabric of the community.
Consider telling someone that you’re not interested more politely, like, “Hi. I’m sure you’re a really great person. But right now I’m not looking for _____,” or simply, “Hi. Really not trying to be rude but I’m not interested. Sorry.” That’s sounds a lot nicer than [insert something terrible]. And if you’re not comfortable doing that or if someone does not leave you alone after being asked, most sites or apps have a way for you to block people.
Just remember, at the end of the day, the community is pretty small here in Edmonton. You could be sharing that online grid with your current or future boss, friends of friends, or even future romantic or sexual partners. By being a little more intentional about the way you engage with other people online, you can protect your representation AND be a positive force within the community.
What are you looking for?
Do you tend to get all googly-eyed and weak in the knees after a first kiss in the wee hours of a Sunday morning? Yeah, me too. I once booked a flight to San Francisco for the sole purpose of meeting some boy I met on OKCupid who sent me a box of artisan chocolates. Why? Because “love”! Duh.
But sometimes the person on the other side of that early Sunday morning kiss (or on the other side of the border) has different things in mind. And that’s okay! But you can save yourself a lot of heartache by taking the time to consider what you’re looking for.
Are you looking for love everlasting? A regular fuck buddy? Or just a dick to sit on? There is no wrong answer. But you might want to consider the following:
Does the app or site you’re using match up with what you’re looking for?
If you’re looking to create “The Night of 100 Loads: The Threequel” and you’re on OKCupid, that might not be a great fit.
The same thing goes if you’re looking for love on BBRT. It’s “Bare Back Real Time” not “Real Love Long Time”. So, again, you might want to consider a change of venue.
Does your profile match what you’re looking for?
Regardless of what your profile photo looks like – whether it’s a shirtless torso or you’re in a turtleneck – no one has the right to sexually harass you. Period. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, the block button was created for a reason.
That said, on dating and hookup apps or sites, your profile can provide a key opportunity for you to indicate what you are or are not looking for. Check to see if the platform you’re using allows you to make selections that indicate what you’re interested in. By creating a clearer picture of the type of communication you’re interested in, you might encourage conversations that you do want to participate in, while discouraging some that you don’t wish to participate in.
Do you even know what you’re looking for – and are you ready for it?
Life is complicated. Thankfully, you don’t need to have all of the answers before you find someone to meet for a beer or spank you with a paddle. But there are times when our judgment might be a little clouded.
For example, although some rebound relationships can be healthy for some people, others can be quite harmful, for both parties involved. So, if you’ve been through a recent breakup or other circumstances that have proven particularly stressful, take a moment and check in with yourself. Do you truly want what you’re seeking or is it an effort to fill a hole or to cope? And if you do get what you’re looking for (whether it’s a new relationship or a one night stand) will it affect you positively or leave you feeling even worse?
There’s not necessarily any one wrong decision. But giving some thought to your motivations and the potential positive or negative impacts of your decision could benefit you in the long run.
What are your boundaries – and just how firm are they?
Depending on the who and where of your hookup, you may find yourself in a situation that you’re not prepared for or that presents personal challenges for you. Perhaps mixing sex and alcohol doesn’t usually end well for you. Or maybe you end up at a party where people are mixing sex with substances that you’re not used to.
People have different levels of success when it comes to managing their actions in these types of circumstances; particularly if addiction is an issue. If you often find yourself making choices that you regret or that put you at risk of harm, you might want to consider speaking with your family doctor or seeking support from a mental healthcare provider or support group.
However, one good strategy to lessen the chance of finding yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in is to set boundaries in advance. Consider asking yourself the following:
What challenges might I face?
What choices can I make to lessen the likelihood of encountering those challenges?
If I do find myself confronted with one of those challenges, how important is it to remove myself from that situation?
There may be some cases where it’s okay to bend the line a little – as long as you’re aware that’s what’s happening. But there are other times when you know the circumstances could become more concerning. So, if you find yourself in a situation you feel is dangerous or could lead to your harm or the harm of others, ask yourself:
What plan do I have to remove myself from that type of situation?
It could be as simple as making a plan to check in with someone you trust before the night is over.
What personal safety considerations are you taking?
As men or masculine-identifying folk, personal safety isn’t a consideration many of us are taught to consider within the context of dating or hooking up. However, if you’re planning on hooking up with a stranger, here are a few precautions you might want to consider:
Check out your potential partner online – is there any record of them? are they who they say they are?
Always let a friend or someone else you trust know what’s up – where you’re going, who you’re with, and if you plan to stay the night.
Meet in a public space – or at least in a space that you’re familiar with or comfortable in. Also, you may want to keep some information private, such as your home address, until you get to know the person better.
Know how to protect yourself – you don’t have to be a gym bunny to learn a few key moves that could get you out of trouble if needed. If you’re concerned about your ability to protect yourself, consider taking a self-defense class.
Trust your instincts – if your body is telling you to get out of a situation, trust it; you’re smarter than you might think.
The truth is, most hookups come and go with no real cause for concern. We’re not trying to scare you. But there are rare cases where people do find themselves in real danger. You’re a part of our community. We care about you. So, take a moment to think about your safety.
What prevention options are you prepared to use (or not use)?
We are going to dive far deeper into HIV and STI risk and prevention in our second video and blog from this series. After all, in the video associated with this blog, the two actors haven’t even touched yet, let alone mixed fluids (not in real-time anyway – that happens next week)! That said, your prevention strategy can start long before you’re under the covers or sprawled out across a swing at the bathhouse.
Take a moment and ask yourself:
What types of sex might I have?
If I do have these types of sex, what risk might that put me at for HIV or other STIs?
Which prevention options might help lower that level of risk?
What do I need to do in advance to be prepared to practice those prevention options in the heat of the moment?
The truth is, most effective prevention options require some degree of preparation. That preparation can range from pretty minimal (i.e. making sure you have condoms and lube on you) to pretty intensive (i.e. getting a PrEP prescription and attempting to obtain coverage). So, whatever type of sex you like to have, make sure you take the time to think over the associated risks, the types of prevention options that would lower those risks, and what preparation you might need to do in order to effectively implement those options in the moment. And make sure you come back next week for more information on HIV and STI risk and prevention!
That’s it for part one of our blog and video series “Difficult Questions.” Stay tuned for part two and three in the weeks to come! In the meantime, check out other great content on our Facebook page or watch this blog’s related video below!