What Happened To Mental Connections?

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Recently I came across two articles written by a gentleman who decided to give up using online dating sites to meet men. The telepathyfirst article (http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/9/17/going-clear-40-days-40-nights-without-grindr) talks about his findings 20 days into the challenge and the second article (http://www.pride.com/gay/2015/10/19/three-takeaways-after-40-days-without-grindr) talks about his key takeaways at the end of the challenge.

I appreciated his challenge and his insights because many people in today’s society are learning how to navigate through online dating. It was not until I read the second article that it made me reflect on my life as a gay man and how my upbringing has influenced my views about relationships and sex. His comments, “This is gay culture, the one I live in and see every day; friendships often start with sex, friendships often lead to sex, and friendships often include sex at some point. Sex is what we are going to do, because it is what we have always done, and there’s nothing ugly or shameful about it. It is an ancient human instinct that gets horribly repressed, feared, and fussed over in today’s climate, when it should be celebrated. Anything that brings us together — whether it is Grindr, Scruff, a dating website, or a sex dungeon — should not be scoffed at, because we need each other.”

Here are my thoughts on relationships, sex, and online dating:

First, my mother was in a long- term relationship for over 20 years and I looked to that as my relationship example. Please know that I am not saying the relationship was perfect everyday but it may be what they represented laid a foundation for my current thinking as an adult. I have never been a man who liked dating multiple people at one time. I prefer getting to know someone and investing all my time and attention to that one person. Some people say you have to sample several things before you choose one, but that is not my philosophy. I honestly feel that we are in a place of over sampling; always thinking there is someone better (grass is greener syndrome) or there is someone who will allow us to check off one more box on that unrealistic checklist we’ve created for ourselves.

Second, I have been truly blessed that many of my closest relationships did not start or end with sex. Yes, I agree with the writer that sex should not be something we are shamed about but it also does not need to be the basis for most or all-gay relationships. I have heard the arguments: people were not meant to be monogamous, men (especially gay men) can’t be faithful, it’s just sex or most relationships should be open so that infidelity won’t be an issue. I believe that, like most things in life, it’s about the choices we make.

Third, in my opinion some use sex as a way to cope (or not cope) with many of life’s pressures, the same as some use excessive drinking, smoking, or shopping. The excessive use of anything to cope with the pressures of life is not a good thing and may ultimately lead to bigger problems. For some, using these sites has become a part of their daily routine as they look for a quick fix to cover up a bigger issue. But, I’ve learned there are no quick fixes or short cuts to personal development. Yes, I agree sex does feel good but it’s better when there is a real connection, a connection of the minds.

I understand not everyone uses these sites looking for sex but I also believe they are not always bringing gay people together in a good way. The Internet and these sites are not going away but we have to learn how to manage our use and expectations. I believe that many people want relationships that are not solely built on sexual attraction. Just because most are doing something does not mean we all have to do it.

Physical attraction is common and mental connection is rare!