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Why does everyone think I'm gay?
January 19, 2011 7:15 AM   Subscribe

20-something straight male, minimal relationship success because I think people think I'm gay...strange situation...advice much appreciated!

What's going on with my personal life?

I'm a recent college grad and since I was in high school, I've gone from one serious relationship to the next--probably three major relationships in total. The last of which lasted 2-3 years and ended in a sudden, unforeseen breakup--she broke up with me.

Ever since I can remember people jokingly have called me 'gay' (I should note that there's nothing wrong with being gay, and I'm not trying to fuel the stereotype). I have some of my personal quirks, but nothing overtly 'gay'. Most of the time, it was people joking about my new v-neck tshirt, doing something feminine, or just being affectionate and silly. I always just dismissed the jokes (because that's what they were) as funny teasing and it never bothered me, especially because I always had a girlfriend. In fact, sometimes I may have played it up a little bit to just goof around--after all, I was secure in my sexuality.

I think I come off as goofy and friendly, but I'm not sure that's the case anymore…

Fast forward to the past six months…I've started online dating and have probably gone on 15 dates with people I thought I was compatible with. In fact, I think I'm pretty particular about going on dates--I'm saying this to point out that I wasn't just going on dates with any girl who I got in touch with. Literally, there were only two 'second dates'. None of the dates went horribly wrong and we had a perfectly good time on each occasion. The two second dates went ok, but subsequent follow-up on my part (a day or two later) just led to 'rather be friends'. The other 13 or so never made it to second date stage, despite my casual follow up ('had a great time last night…if you're interested in seeing each other again, would you wanna do something friday?').

So, what's going on here? I realize I haven't gone on THAT many dates, but there's this pervasive thought in the back of my mind that maybe I AM gay…I know that sounds stupid and I've never really thought about it before.

Have any women here ever gone on a date with a guy they thought was gay? Why would people potentially think this (I mean, wouldn't I be going on dates with GUYS?)? How did you handle it?

I think my personality makes people think this. I have a habit of laughing as a verbal response to things, probably unrelated? Physically, I'm athletic and have no other unusual features. I dress on the casual-nice side when on dates (jeans, button down, loafers)--nothing particularly unusual…

Have any of the guys on MeFi experienced this? I'm not as frustrated as I may sound about the failed dates--but, seriously, no follow up from the majority? And yes it's a little blow to my ego ;o)

Oh, I just remembered this! Perfect example--went on one of my first dates after meeting someone online and was pretty nervous. After we chatted for a while over lunch, I somehow jokingly said 'people always think I'm gay…it's kinda weird'…the response, 'oh yeah, i thought that at first…'. In the moment, I just laughed it off because she KNEW I wasn't gay, right? Well, probably not.

Should I be totally upfront about not being gay? Such a weird thing to do...

I realize I'm kind of just bitching and complaining, but writing out some of these thoughts is also helpful for me! Any insight or opinions are welcome and I appreciate the feedback (in advance).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
If I went on a date with a guy and one of the first things he said to me was "Just so you know, I'm definitely not gay!" I would think 1) What the hell? and 2) This guy is probably gay.
posted by tetralix at 7:25 AM on January 19, 2011 [36 favorites]


I don't necessarily see the two things (people mistaking you as gay and bad dates) as related. You don't say that the women who haven't wanted to go on second dates with you think you're gay, only that they don't want to go out again.
posted by xingcat at 7:26 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I went on a date with a girl and the first thing she said was that she wasn't a lesbian I'd think either she's bi or trying to convince herself she wasn't a lesbian. I'd assume girls would feel the same way with genders reversed and everything.

Dates don't work. It happens.

But for what it's worth, if you lived anywhere near me I'd meet up with you and let you know if you gave off a vibe that might make me think you're gay. Maybe someone will be able to do that for you.

Other than that, it seems to just be bad dating luck. It happens.
posted by theichibun at 7:29 AM on January 19, 2011


Gay men are sexually attracted to other men. Are you sexually attracted to men?
posted by litnerd at 7:30 AM on January 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


So, what's going on here? I realize I haven't gone on THAT many dates, but there's this pervasive thought in the back of my mind that maybe I AM gay…

Are you attracted to men? If not, you're not gay. It's not about clothes or mannerisms or anything else. Sexual orientation is about who you're attracted to.

To go on 15 online dates and not have anything last seems about par to me- finding a mutual attraction is hard work. And as said above, if I was on a date with a guy and he suddenly started talking about how people think he's gay, I'd be concerned that he might be gay.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:32 AM on January 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Online dating is tricky because you don't know if you'll click in person. The dates-to-relationships ratio is much higher.
posted by salvia at 7:34 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


This really depends on your body language, I think. Movies, tv shows, a lot of things have fueled the stereotypes of how gay men act. You might be emulating some of these without realizing it.

Next time someone tells you they think you're gay, ask them why they think that. Don't be aggressive about it.. say you've had other people tell you that and it baffles you and you were wondering what made that little bell ring in their head.
posted by royalsong at 7:36 AM on January 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also "yeah, I thought you might be gay when I first met you" isn't the same as "I don't think you're attractive nor would I want to date you." One guy I know falls into the "everyone wonders whether he might be gay when they first meet him" category, but he has no problem getting girlfriends.
posted by salvia at 7:38 AM on January 19, 2011


Don't rule out that you're coming across as asexual.
posted by oreofuchi at 7:39 AM on January 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


For whatever it's worth, 15 first dates leading to two second dates is not an unusual ratio for online dating.

Do not volunteer to dates that you are not gay. If it really bugs you, ask an old friend exactly what it is about you that makes people think you might be gay. If you can get a specific answer, it still might not be that much help—it strikes me that it's difficult for us to train ourselves out of our personal quirks.
posted by adamrice at 7:43 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have any of the guys on MeFi experienced this?

I have not -- as far as I know -- encountered the thing of going on dates and women thinking I'm gay. As background, I'm a 30-ish straight male; have done a lot of online dating; am happily not-too-macho (I hate sports, love cooking and shopping for clothes, am a vegetarian, am upfront about all this, etc.); a couple of my ex-girlfriends have told me (in a positive way) that I'm somewhat effeminate (which I don't necessarily agree with but doesn't bother me).

What I have encountered plenty of is: going on first dates that don't lead to a second date. And ... going on second dates that don't lead to a third date. This is part of online dating. Get used to it. It doesn't mean you're unattractive or uninteresting or come across as gay.

Realize that what seems like it must be a losing streak can often be just bad luck. (I'll link to this relevant comment of mine on a similar dating thread, posted as Jaltcoh.)
posted by John Cohen at 7:45 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nthing that the hit rate you're reporting for online dating isn't out of the ordinary. Some people have 100 dates, and only maybe get a handful of second dates. The whole process is about quantity narrowed to quality.

Keep trying, and don't say anything about people mistaking you for being gay. If you bring it up, it's going to cause issues that are unnecessary. If anything's causing a lower-than-normal rate of callbacks/second dates, it's probably not what you think it is. Be willing to consider that it's something else that it *is* within your power to change. Because it probably is.
posted by Citrus at 7:53 AM on January 19, 2011


There is definitely a niche in the dating scene for 'metrosexuals', for lack of a better term. You just have to find the right girls and go to the right parties. Don't know where you are from, but you'll have better luck in the city, for sure.
posted by empath at 7:55 AM on January 19, 2011


Are you on good terms with any of your exes? Do you have close women friends whose judgment you trust? Maybe ask them if there's something off-putting in your approach. Maybe also ask them about the profiles of the girls you've been dating--there are many, many women who are attracted to guys who aren't perfectly heteronormative in behavior, women who will be only too delighted that you like girls. Finding these women and avoiding women who seem to be looking for super-straight-acting men will probably boost your success rate.

But I'm not absolutely sure that fifteen dates that go nowhere (as tiring as fifteen first dates must be) really means that you're doing anything wrong.
posted by Frowner at 7:55 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I have a friend who used to be intentionally ambiguous about his sexuality and played up the 'is he or isn't he?' thing and it got him laid constantly, and by girls that I would have thought were way out of his league. But I think that was mostly a result of him being really out-going and super self-confident.

My guess is that worrying about whether people think you are gay or not is more of a turn-off than just not giving a fuck would be.
posted by empath at 8:01 AM on January 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Why would people potentially think this (I mean, wouldn't I be going on dates with GUYS?)?

Since the social default is heterosexuality, a lot of queer people start out identifying as straight or go through some sort of process of figuring out their sexuality. There was just a question the other day on AskMe from a gay woman who had been in a 5-year heterosexual relationship before coming out. Also there is the whole "doth protest too much" issue that people have mentioned, where being unusually vehement that you are not gay could be seen as further proof that you are gay.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:07 AM on January 19, 2011


Honestly, it's kind of arrogant that you immediately assume women must think you're gay as a way to explain why they don't want to date you. It makes you sound like you think you're...I'm trying to think of a way to put this that doesn't sound accusatory...sort of the bee's knees, you know? You've always been in relationships, you've only been single for six months. The last relationship was probably the first time anyone broke up with you, yes? You talk about being "athletic" and "blow to your ego" and that you're "picky" and don't just date anyone. Also, the fact that you would ask this particular question kind of adds to my impression that you're just kind of insecure in general. Your self-image is one of a suave guy who should be able to get dates, and this is throwing you for a loop. It's a bit of an extrapolation and I really don't have much to go on to proclaim definitively that you must be coming across as arrogant or desperate or whatever, but it's something to consider and watch for.
posted by Nixy at 8:19 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have known a few straight guys who "read" as gay in their 20s, to strangers/people just meeting them. Often they dressed a little older/dadlike and not as "frat boy," often they had quieter, gentler personalities. In their 30s, this no longer reads as "gay" to the wider culture but reads as "reliable guy" and "great dad" or "great dad material."

I ascribe that phenomenon basically entirely to cultural expectations of how straight guys in their 20s are supposed to look and behave, and anyone who doesn't fit that definition must be "other" (and "other" must mean gay, because society can be pretty uncreative).

(But yeah, I'm not sure the dates, which sound about normal for internet dating, and the "people sometimes think I'm gay at first" are at all related.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:37 AM on January 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Seems like the opposite problem I have... people think I'm straight >.< Anyways, my opinion is there is no reason to indicate your sexuality - doing so would seem to me that you may have issues with it. Some guys are just very well kept - metrosexual? So don't worry.
posted by TrinsicWS at 8:38 AM on January 19, 2011


Agreed with the previous answerers that this is usually regarded as an advantage on the first few dates, unless you're in a really conservative area, or are somehow only dating women who are specifically looking for somebody to make babies with (which, as a 20-something, doesn't seem particularly likely just yet).

If nothing else, these problems probably won't manifest themselves until the 3rd or 4th date, when physical intimacy starts to become expected, which the girl might resist because of how she perceives your sexuality.

Also, remember that this is something that virtually every straight male actor has had to deal with. They usually manage just fine.
posted by schmod at 8:40 AM on January 19, 2011


If you get some outside verification that you really do come off as gay, and if you are capable of being friendly and not getting freaked out when men hit on you, may I suggest you try picking up girls at gay bars? Lots of straight girls come there with their gay besties, and they're clearly already at home with the gay "type..."

It might be a better sort of primary screening than online dating. If you find you're a type, you may as well use it to your advantage.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 8:42 AM on January 19, 2011


i've known a lot of straight sensitive nicely dressed men with stereotypically feminine interests. i never doubted the sexuality of the ones who seemed interested in me (subtle ways, I mean -- glances and such.) are you perhaps not projecting a sincere sustained attention in a woman that will assure her that you find her attractive? she could also think, "oh maybe i'm not as attractive as my photos/maybe he doesn't really go for brunettes/etc..."

Remember insecurity on dates goes both ways.
posted by pinafore at 8:42 AM on January 19, 2011


I think my personality makes people think this. I have a habit of laughing as a verbal response to things, probably unrelated?

Work on stifling your--nervous?-- laughing habit. Forget the "gayness."
posted by Carol Anne at 8:42 AM on January 19, 2011


Those people that you went on dates on, are not attracted to you. It's not because they think you're gay. Sure, some of them may feel that your idiosyncrasies remind them of stereotypical ideas of what a gay man acts like, and this may speak of their false ideas of what gay/straight men are "supposed" to act like, but when it comes to them being interested in you, you need to accept that they are just not into you. It's not because you may or may not "act" gay - but you're giving off signals about you, your being you, that are just not attractive to them. It doesn't matter if you're athletic or not. It doesn't matter how you dress. Your verbal and non-verbal cues don't really matter. Why should girls like these things? They shouldn't, because all girls aren't the same, nor are all guys. It's all about finding someone who not only doesn't mind, but likes our little idiosyncrasies.

Whatever little signals you're giving off are fine - they're you. And they're fine. And not everyone is going to like them for a multitude of reasons. And that's ok.

I might be willing to bet that some of this may actually be subtle cues about your lack of confidence in you not accepting your quirks, that turns women off. Maybe the fact that you're overthinking it comes across as a turn-off - instead of giving the impression of, "this is how I am, like it or not, I'm rolling with it." I think being secure in your sexuality has a lot to do with feeling like you don't need to prove anything. And by saying "by the way, I'm not gay" at the beginning of a date is showcasing that you feel like you need to prove something. And even if you get to feeling secure again and a girl still doesn't want to take it to a second date? It just means she wasn't feeling the chemistry there - with you, as a person, as you are. And it's ok. Somebody else out there will.
posted by raztaj at 8:50 AM on January 19, 2011


Act how you feel. You'll eventually meet someone who sees you for who you are. sound cliche? sure, but it's true.

My wife makes jokes towards me that I come off as gay, and I know I do to some people, but it's probably like Eyebrows McGee said. I find that those guys who act and dress like fratboys look, sound and act like idiots and I'm basically amazed that any woman would give them more than 5 minutes of their time. Keep on dating.

Good luck!
posted by zombieApoc at 8:55 AM on January 19, 2011


I have known a few straight guys who "read" as gay in their 20s, to strangers/people just meeting them. Often they dressed a little older/dadlike and not as "frat boy," often they had quieter, gentler personalities.

I've had the exact same experience as Eyebrows McGee, and ended up dating quite a few of these guys too, so if you're getting turned down by the women you date it's not because they think you're gay, it's just that they're not that into you. One of my longest relationships was with a man who wore cardigan sweaters almost every day, and looked like he could be a 1950s pipe-smoking dad from a sitcom. (Another was with a guy who sewed his own vivid purple, patterned pants!) Everyone wondered whether he was gay when they first met him, but it never affected his ability to get dates in the long run, and it never really seemed to bother him that people made the initial assumption. Other guys I've dated who have that is he/isn't he thing going on have been a little more... particular? than average about their clothes, food, music, etc. I tend to be drawn to that, as are a lot of women, so I seriously doubt it'll affect your dating prospects in the long term.

I did have a friend in college who had mannerisms that were intensely stereotypically gay (like bursting into songs from his favorite musicals unexpectedly in the middle of the grocery store parking lot, or somewhere equally random). He actually did have quite a lot of trouble dating, first because he pushed so many stereotype buttons so hard, but mostly because he just was so over the top that it got pretty wearying after a while. So, you know, don't be that guy. But otherwise just don't worry about it.
posted by MsMolly at 9:33 AM on January 19, 2011


You know, you're post could have been written by the 18-year-old version of me... except I don't think ask.mefi existed yet. For pretty much my entire high school experience, it was an uphill battle convincing girls that I wasn't gay. It wasn't a total mystery as to why -- I dressed like a raver or an indie kid, had a habit of slipping into a higher octave vocal register when excited, was friendly and outgoing but totally non-aggressive, and, having grown up w/ sisters, very comfortable chatting with girls. There really wasn't much I could do about it. I'd get frustrated every now and then when I'd realize that a girl I'd been flirting had totally misread my intentions, and especially when anyone expressed disbelief about my hetero-ness.

Then I graduated and left home for a super queer-friendly liberal-arts college near NYC, and suddenly it wasn't much of an issue anymore. I mean, I came off like the Marlboro Man next to some of our campus' queenier 'mos. That's not to say that people started immediately assuming I was straight. In fact, they just kind of stopped assuming altogether. If they wanted to know, they'd ask me or one of my friends -- and eventually, I learned to stop reading any sort of value message into it, mostly because, I realized that if anything, it was a plus when it came to meeting girls.

This pretty much continued to be the case when, after college, I moved to Brooklyn along with the rest of my graduating class. About a year ago, I moved back to my home town to help take care of my terminally ill dad, and I was a little surprised to find people assuming I was gay again. I guess I'd assumed that I'd outgrown it, but apparently, I was just moving in social circles where most of the guys don't adhere to the traditional tropes of masculinity. Thinking about it, among my colleagues and acquaintances, typical masculine style and behavior would be considered gauche and banal. Unflattering comparisons with the obnoxious investment bankers from Murray Hill would ensue.

So, at the end of the day, my advice is don't try to mold yourself to fit what you feel are these girls' expectations -- instead, put your efforts into finding where the girls are for whom you ARE their expectations. They exist - albeit in some places more extensively than others - and they also tend to be ten-billion times cooler and hotter than the boring conventional ones looking for their ex-frat-boy (or even worse, Jersey-Shore-guido) husband.
posted by patnasty at 10:00 AM on January 19, 2011


From the OP:
First of all, thank you for all the responses and feedback—my other mefi questions never seem to be as popular ;o)

@tetralix, this only happened on that one first date and I think it came out a little bit more natural than that--if that's really possible. I'm pretty sure it somehow came up and I didn't just blurt it out. But yes, I would agree that it's not the most assuring thing to say

@theichibun, I'm out on the west coast (san francisco, specifically), but thanks for the offer! Maybe I should have mentioned that detail earlier?

As someone else said, it probably has a lot to do with my mannerisms. I think I project being very friendly and touchy feely. The nervous laugh probably doesn't help either… I am pretty sarcastic and make jokes out of a lot of things, this could probably be off-putting as well…kinda of goes along with laughing at everything…hmm…we could be on to something!

@oreofuchi, I sometimes feel like I may come across as asexual—never thought of it that way before. No surprise, a few of my dates have seemed more like job interviews and, while generally enjoyable, felt more like grown-up conversations and not 20-something joking around…

@nixy, yes, I realize I probably come across as a huge asshole and act like I am 'that desirable/cool/whatever'. The connection between me and online dating isn't really the source of people thinking I'm gay, but has become more problematic since I've been trying to date new people. Haha, and yes the last relationship was the first time anyone broke up with me. You're right and there is some insecurity on my part!

Sorry for violating the response format by replying to individual people (pretty sure that's frowned upon). I'm going to do some more self-reflecting, but also just continue to get out on more dates. I know my sample size is tiny and I'm trying to create causation between people not liking me (GASP!) and the idea that I may come off as gay. I genuinely appreciate the feedback (positive and negative).
posted by jessamyn at 10:00 AM on January 19, 2011


I'm going to do some more self-reflecting, but also just continue to get out on more dates.

IMO, you could probably do with less self-reflection. Just be yourself and don't worry about what they think of you. Let your freak flag fly.
posted by empath at 10:16 AM on January 19, 2011


I've known a few people in my life who I swore set off my gaydar (I have quite a few gay male friends, too) through stupid stereotypical stuff like their manner and interests. Like, the slightly fay guy from graduate school who was really into opera.

I knew they weren't gay because they were constantly hitting on, and hooking up with, girls. Are you flirting with these girls? And hooking up with them?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:28 AM on January 19, 2011


You have zero evidence that this is the reason women are rejecting you. This is not a diagnosis, but you sound a little OCD with this "omg they think I'm gay!" thing, especially given the title of your post and your mention that you have a "pervasive thought" wondering if you are. Is it really a constant occurrence in your life that people ask you about it, or is it something that has perhaps happened a few times but yet looms very very large? You don't mention whether you are attracted to guys. If not, and yet you think/worry about gayness quite a lot, consider talking to a therapist about it. There is a particular brand of OCD in which worrying about being gay is the focus.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:35 AM on January 19, 2011


I'm a recent college grad and since I was in high school, I've gone from one serious relationship to the next--probably three major relationships in total. The last of which lasted 2-3 years and ended in a sudden, unforeseen breakup--she broke up with me.

...

Fast forward to the past six months…I've started online dating and have probably gone on 15 dates with people I thought I was compatible with. In fact, I think I'm pretty particular about going on dates--I'm saying this to point out that I wasn't just going on dates with any girl who I got in touch with. Literally, there were only two 'second dates'.

I'm 29 and you've had more serious relationships than I have. I did not have any significant relationships until I was in college. My first serious relationship was with an abusive dickbag who I stayed with for 3 years because.... well... To be honest it's been a decade and I really couldn't tell you why I stayed. My second serious relationship didn't happen until I was 23.

I've dated online a lot, too, and yep, that's about what it's like.

You are perfectly normal. There is nothing wrong with you. This probably has nothing to do with whether you come off as gay.

On the internet dating front - I find that it can be really hard to pick potential dates online. It's too easy to get bogged down in liking the same bands and stuff like that. And then you get to the actual date and they're OK, but you're not really attracted to each other and it goes nowhere. At this point I choose people online based primarily on their profile photo. I still have a lot of trouble with this, though, and was honestly thinking of putting up an AskMe about strategies for upping the ante on internet dates.

Re your question about "going on a date with someone you thought was gay" - well, I'm bi, so I hope the women I date are gay! Heh. On the dudely front, honestly, I think gay men are sexy and would be pretty into seeing someone who was sexually ambiguous in such a way. But I'm not most women, so.
posted by Sara C. at 11:06 AM on January 19, 2011


may I suggest you try picking up girls at gay bars? Lots of straight girls come there with their gay besties, and they're clearly already at home with the gay "type..."

When straight women go to gay bars with their "besties" (gay or otherwise), they are usually not there in hopes that some gay guy will switch teams for them. Or otherwise "into the gay type". They are usually just out for a bit of fun with their friends. Just like anyone else. The gay bar environment is typically conducive to this for straight women, because they're not the object of sexual conquest and can let loose and enjoy themselves. It's the anti-meat market.

And I say this as someone who is potentially attracted to seemingly gay men! Seriously, if you're a straight man, DO NOT go to queer spaces looking to hook up in a heterosexual manner. It's horribly gauche.
posted by Sara C. at 11:13 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


A couple of years back, I joined a rugby team made up of primarily gay players who played in a "straight" league here in Chicago. We had a few straight players but since we were welcoming them onto our team, it was seen as bad form to announce that you were the straight one and instead people just got to know each other and eventually we'd read the signals right and learn you had a wife or a girlfriend.

One of these straight players had also played on a primarily gay hockey team in Minneapolis and one weekend, his former team was playing in a tournament in the Chicago burbs, and since he was playing with them, he and his wife had a party for them and invited his new rugby friends. One of his hockey teammates was quite attractive to me, and though I was more than happy to talk to him on end and be accepting of his flirtation, I tried super-hard to read nothing into this because I had a tendancy to crush on straight guys (especially corn-fed hockey players types) and didn't read much into the flirtation because guys who play on primariliy gay teams tend to be comfortable enough in their own sexuality to flirt in any direction. And when the party moved to a local gay bar, I thought nothing of it because I knew that there were still guys I knew were straight in the group. And I didn't think anything of it when this guy insisted on buying my drinks because fuck, I was poor and ruggers were known for buying rounds for the group, so why shouldn't hockey players be the same way?

What I'm saying is it's a good thing he eventually sent me the unmistakenable signal of making out with me or I might not have ever caught on.

My point: Actions speak louder than words, especially when words might seem like one is protesting too much.

I think your small sample size is skewing the way you are approaching this and you've attached to this very unlikely thing when its really just the ups and downs of dating. Does my story mean every cute hockey player is going to want to get with me? Sadly, no. But just like something that might have seemed unlikely might be possible in the positive way, the same thing can happen in the negative. I don't think there's anything wrong with you trying to figure out "why don't they like me?" but the problem is -- as cliched as it sounds -- sometimes it's not you, it's them. You just don't click and there's nothing you can do about it. Don't let a few non-perfect experiences turn you into the type of person who overthinks everything and ruins a good time. Just be yourself and you'll find somebody who clicks with you.

(Because, seriously, if gay me could attact women before I came out, I'm pretty sure somebody who isn't actually gay will eventually have no problem.)

posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:14 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


In general, whenever I have met a man who self-identifies as straight and who complains that everyone thinks he's gay, he has come out as gay within five years. I can think of a dozen examples off the top of my head from my own circle of friends and acquaintances.

Now, the operative word here is complains. I know men who are straight, and who other people sometimes think are gay or might be gay, who don't complain about it because whatever.

So my advice to you is to stop complaining about people thinking you're gay, because that will reinforce many people in their belief that you're gay and in denial.

Also, the nervous laughter is an instant vagina-clencher. Work through that; it will make everyone happier.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:33 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Were there any dates that *you* didn't want to go out with again? If you're finding yourself wanting to go on a second date every time you date, I think that is more pertinent to your relationship status than any mannerisms. Just be yourself, and don't be afraid to tell them if they aren't quite your type (in a respectful, empathetic way of course).
posted by forforf at 11:41 AM on January 19, 2011


A bi- friend once said that I'm the straightest person he knows (whatever that means) and your ratio of 15 first dates to 2 second dates seems within the margin of error for my online dating experience. I had about 10 first dates and 2 second dates before I met my wife.

Maybe you just need to be patient. Or maybe you're picking dates who have what you're looking for on paper but aren't the kind of people you have real-life chemistry with. (I was doing that for a while.) Try to ignore "what you're looking for" (really what you THINK you're looking for) for a little while and pick people you're instinctively drawn to instead.
posted by callmejay at 12:10 PM on January 19, 2011


I nth the asexual thing. I have a friend who lots of people think is gay. He's not and I've never thought he was, but I have always felt he did give off a sort of asexual, not entirely mature sexually vibe, despite the fact I know he's pretty experienced. I think a lot of people misinterpret this kind of vibe as being gay.

Definitely don't announce you aren't gay. That might actually make me think you were deep in the closet.

I think your odds as far as online dating go are totally normal. They're better than mine. A first date in online dating is not a first date. It's an interview for a first date. The second date is the real first date. I can tell you that about 80% of the time I meet someone online they are nothing like what I thought. I mean complete 180. And I too am very picky about meeting people. Generally I know when they are walking across the bar to meet me that I'm not interested or certainly the second they open their mouth. It's very hard to convey who you are online and chances are you just weren't who they pictured in their head. I wouldn't worry about it too much. I really doubt it's because they all think you're gay and honestly, there are some girls who label every guy that is well groomed and not covered in tattoos gay. It's stupid and I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by whoaali at 12:15 PM on January 19, 2011


I think your odds as far as online dating go are totally normal. They're better than mine. A first date in online dating is not a first date. It's an interview for a first date. The second date is the real first date.

This is incredibly true. You have some observation bias going--you think that you're having an impossibly difficult time, but really you're having about the same level of success as most people doing online dating (including the people I know who met their spouses and life partners that way).

So keep doing what you're doing. Except for the nervous laughter. And for God's sake, don't talk about how people think you're gay. All the other stuff is probably fine.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:31 PM on January 19, 2011


You know, I went back and re-read your question and something jumped out at me that I missed the first time:

"I always just dismissed the jokes (because that's what they were) as funny teasing and it never bothered me, especially because I always had a girlfriend." (bolding mine)

That's a very interesting statement. It makes me wonder if, rather than this being a question about how being percieved as gay is getting in the way of getting girls, you may be hoping for getting girls to get in the way of your being percieved as gay. Like, "If I had a girlfriend again, or always had a girlfriend and was never long without one, people wouldn't call me gay."

Does that ring a bell with you? If so, it's kind of a whole new level of insecurity that you really, really need to face. It suggests several things, A.) You really haven't introspected enough to decide on your own if you are gay or straight or bi B.) You see women as a means to an end, and this probably comes across to them on dates and C.) If that's true, you need to think about who you're trying to impress. Male friends? Parents? Authority figures? "Them" in general? It would be good to ask yourself those questions and follow that train of thought.
posted by Nixy at 2:25 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I have encountered plenty of is: going on first dates that don't lead to a second date. And ... going on second dates that don't lead to a third date. This is part of online dating. Get used to it. It doesn't mean you're unattractive or uninteresting or come across as gay.

I think your odds as far as online dating go are totally normal. They're better than mine. A first date in online dating is not a first date. It's an interview for a first date. The second date is the real first date.

These two things.

Also, I think I project being very friendly and touchy feely.
If you are all full of nervous laughter and getting touchy feely on a first date, I wouldn't go on a 2nd date either. Those two things together are just not a good combination.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:46 PM on January 19, 2011


I have a habit of laughing as a verbal response to things, probably unrelated?

You could just come off as kinda goofy. Its for people on the internet to really give you advice on why your dates don't work out.

I dated someone that I previously communicated with online for months. On our first date he came off really arrogant to me. And also nervously laughed at his own jokes constantly.
After the date, we still chatted online and I explained that I thought he came off way more arrogant in person and he said he was nervous. After we talked about it, we met again and ended up dating for 2 years until we decided that we were better as friends - plus I wanted to move out of state to be closer to my family.

So, thats why people get all worked up about "first impressions"... because most people judge by that and discontinue communication... not realizing that first impressions are usually skewed by nerves.

Also, yeah, take a few moments to be honest with yourself and contemplate on whether or not you would enjoy intimacy with a man.
posted by KogeLiz at 3:51 PM on January 19, 2011


From the OP:
"This is incredibly true. You have some observation bias going--you think that you're having an impossibly difficult time, but really you're having about the same level of success as most people doing online dating (including the people I know who met their spouses and life partners that way)."

Yes, I realize there is some serious confirmation bias going on here--it's tougher to be objective from your own perspective, though.

"So keep doing what you're doing. Except for the nervous laughter. And for God's sake, don't talk about how people think you're gay. All the other stuff is probably fine."

I actually thought my nervous laughter, upbeat nature was endearing...what makes you say the nervous laughter is so off-putting? Not being argumentative (I appreciate the feedback), I just am not sure I understand your opinion.

@Nixy, I appreciate your follow-up. I'm not sure if I am really THAT insecure (I know, I know...it sures seems like it). I think the problem is more the initial stages of being perceived to be gay.

To all those I couldn't individually respond to, thank you for sharing your experiences!
posted by jessamyn at 4:06 PM on January 19, 2011


Nervous laughter is incredibly off-putting, especially in a man (yes, I am part of our sexist society, and apparently have internalized this bit of sexism, which is making me impatient with myself but there it is--I am likely to be way more of a feminist and an anti-gender-essentialist person than most of the people you date, so I think that this is a useful data point).

People are attracted to confidence. But of course we can't always be confident. So people are attracted to useful coping strategies (prudent silence, paying attention) more than to non-useful coping strategies (sweating, nervous laughter).

And yeah, there's more of an onus on men to be confident than on women in our society. Which sucks, but there it is. The self-presentation of "I'm confused, so I giggle" is possible as a positive one for women, not so much for men.

Also, the very sound of nervous laughter is annoying to many people. It's one of those "fingernails on a chalkboard" sounds to which many people have a visceral reaction. I have never met anyone who found it endearing in actual humans, Snagglepuss and various anime characters notwithstanding. I encourage you to rethink your perspective on this.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:04 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, don't worry about it.
You seem to be very comfortable with yourself and don't seem critically insecure at all, as some posters have suggested to consider.

I agree with most that the nature of online dating is usually like the one you described, and although I can understand how that could be a little blow to your ego, don't let it get to you, and keep on doing what you're doing, as long as you feel like doing it.

As for the being perceived gay part, you hadn't seen it as a problem until now, so I say don't over think it and make it a problem now. I highly doubt that you were automatically assumed gay by every girl you met online, hence the result of no follow up dates. Really, I don't think that's the problem, and if it is, then that's their problem. Not yours. Don't try to change anything for judgemental people.

And speaking of judgemental, "nervous laughter" cannot be categorized just like that in my opinion. Everyone laughs in different ways in different situations for different reasons, so I wouldn't say "Nervous laughter is off putting so cut it out and man up". You seem to me like someone who has some self distance and can see things in different perspectives. If you think your nervous laughing is an endearing part of you, then it probably is.

Anyways, I repeat but don't worry too much, and just continue being yourself, and I'm sure things will pick up at one point. Take it easy, and have fun!
posted by snufkin5 at 6:39 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


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