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How to develop gaydar?
February 28, 2008 6:18 PM   Subscribe

I am a heterosexual woman. However, I am consistently attracted to gay men. How can I develop my "gaydar"?

I know many women "like" gay men, as they view the majority of them to be sensitive, nonthreatening, easy to talk to, etc., which I guess are all the same positive qualities I see in them. It's becoming a problem though because I don't just like them, I actually like them. It never fails that the guy I'm interested in happens to be gay, but I never know this until I've expressed my interest.

I generally shy away from guys who are forward enough to hit on me, so I usually like to be the one to approach the guy first. I can spot a flambouyantly gay man but if they are at all subdued then I'm clueless. Is there a way I can develop better "gaydar" so that I stop hitting on homosexual men?
posted by anniepants to Human Relations (45 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
i used to be like that—but it wasn't exclusively gay men. it was any man who was essentially unavailable. i had to work it out in therapy. sort of the stuff you would imagine: my father was emotionally unavailable, i was attracted to unavailable men as a way to avoid the possibility of an actual real relationship, etc.

i mean, i don't know if that helps but that was why i always found myself crushing out on the gays.
posted by violetk at 6:21 PM on February 28, 2008


Are you in college? If so, the way to stop falling for the gays: graduate.
posted by tristeza at 6:29 PM on February 28, 2008


It never fails that the guy I'm interested in happens to be gay, but I never know this until I've expressed my interest.

How soon after you meet guys are you hitting on them? Long enough to feel that they are sensitive, non-threatening and easy to talk to, but not long enough to pick up any clues on whether they are gay or not? I must admit, I'm having trouble imagining how exactly this all plays out, and would love a little more information. I suppose the only general advice I can give you now is to stop hitting on men you don't know anything about.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:35 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


How large a number are we talking about? If this has happened with 3 out of 3 men, for example, that's a fair-sized cluster but could just be the luck of the draw, made more likely by your preferred personality traits (perhaps slightly more common among gay men than straight men, but of course there are many exceptions).

Or, as violetk says, you are going for unavailable men every time for your own personal and complicated reasons, and your intuition about who is and isn't gay is actually pretty damn well developed.

So why do you shy away from guys who hit on you? Are they really crude and offensive? Do you feel insecure about dealing with even a sweet and gracious come-on?
posted by wexford_arts at 6:37 PM on February 28, 2008


I'm there with ThePinkSuperhero.

Aside from all the normal cues of:

1. Well groomed
2. Maintains eye contact (versus boobage)
3. Manicured
4. Great shoes
/stereotype.

You can just hold off and learn more about them.
posted by FlamingBore at 6:39 PM on February 28, 2008


So why do you shy away from guys who hit on you? Are they really crude and offensive? Do you feel insecure about dealing with even a sweet and gracious come-on?

Well, actually yes, most guys who hit on me are only looking at my body...which I understand, initial attraction is physical attraction but still, I can tell and it annoys me. I have a very toned/ athletic body for a girl and I know it attracts all the hound dogs whereas I think I intimidate all the guys who would give me a sweet and gracious come-on...
posted by anniepants at 6:50 PM on February 28, 2008


I generally shy away from guys who are forward enough to hit on me

You're too picky, and you only go after guys who do not come after you on a sexual basis. Many many men (I would say "most," but I don't have a cite) who do not display sexual attraction to women are gay. It's true. You're hitting all the gays because you like men who act gay, which is a tough row to hoe but we all make decisions.

And men aren't "only" looking at your body. I'll bet it's just that you look away and tune them out regardless of what might come next when you see them scoping you out. If so, this is how you are able to put all men who look at your body in the "hound dog" bucket. Obviously it's okay for you to look at yourself that way, though, since you're confident enough to tell us how attractive you are. For some reason it's okay for you to assess your own sexual value, but it's not OK for men to do the same thing.
posted by rhizome at 7:10 PM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


And I'll add that they are usually the ones to do *something* first, like smile at me in a checkout line, offer to help in some way, give me a free cookie with my coffee, whatever, so then I'll ask if they would like to hang out sometime and then I get the "ehh, well....yeah..." and then I'll realize that they are gay and they just thought I already knew or something. But I also get a lot of gay women hitting on me so maybe the gay population just thinks I'm "one of them..."?
posted by anniepants at 7:12 PM on February 28, 2008


Yeah; the reason you're hitting on gay men is that you are selectively weeding out most heterosexual men by shying away from guys who express interest in you or otherwise check you out. You say you have an attractive female body; a good first approximation to help with your gaydar is that any guy who doesn't at least appreciatively glance at you has a much higher than everage chance of being gay or otherwise unavailable.

Before I get angry looks; I don't mean crude gawking or leering or whatever. Only assholes do that. But your followup indicates that even regular ol' checking out annoys you.
posted by Justinian at 7:13 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


most guys who hit on me are only looking at my body

I think you overestimate your abilities to read their mind. You assume from the first that each and every man who hits on you is only seeking sex with you and won't want to like you for who you are. How do you know this? Usually if your answer is "I just know" then you really don't.

You may have had a few bad early experiences with that which you are now internalizing and using as a lens through which you are judging all of these heterosexual men.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:23 PM on February 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


And I'll add that they are usually the ones to do *something* first, like smile at me in a checkout line, offer to help in some way, give me a free cookie with my coffee, whatever

You, lady, are weird. You seem to exist in some kind of strange place where you expect people to be nice to you for no good reason...and reject all the ones who approach you because they find you visually appealing. No wonder you keep falling for gay guys!

Here is my recommendation: just get your hands on a boyfriend. You say you're good looking? Great. Go to an online site, post your picture. You'll get tons of lovely letters. Ignore all the nasty ones and gravitate towards the people making clever advances. Have a couple of blind dates, pick the one that annoys you the least, and start having sex with that person on a frequent and exclusive basis..

Once you have that settled, you can go back to your lovely little world.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:23 PM on February 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


the guys who would give me a sweet and gracious come-on...

I agree with the above posts. Do you realize you're dismissing all the confident straight guys because you think the timid gays are going to give you a sweeter pick up line?

There are sweet and gracious guys out there who nonetheless attracted to your "very toned/athletic body". Maybe you should give a normal guy a chance, huh?
posted by crunch buttsteak at 7:24 PM on February 28, 2008


Obviously it's okay for you to look at yourself that way, though, since you're confident enough to tell us how attractive you are.

I said "toned and athletic." Don't put words in my mouth, please.
posted by anniepants at 7:24 PM on February 28, 2008



Well, actually yes, most guys who hit on me are only looking at my body...which I understand, initial attraction is physical attraction but still, I can tell and it annoys me. I have a very toned/ athletic body for a girl and I know it attracts all the hound dogs whereas I think I intimidate all the guys who would give me a sweet and gracious come-on...


The guys who will give you a "sweet and gracious come-on" still check you out, they're just better at hiding it. I realize it must be irritating to feel like you're getting leered at (echoing Justinian's post here), but realize that before they actually talk to you, physical beauty is ALL there is. Put another way: You can't know a person before you know them.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:26 PM on February 28, 2008


And I'll add that they are usually the ones to do *something* first, like smile at me in a checkout line, offer to help in some way, give me a free cookie with my coffee, whatever, so then I'll ask if they would like to hang out sometime and then I get the "ehh, well....yeah..."

Wow, you do not mess around- not many women have the guys to hit on the guy who sells them coffee. Are you sure you're hitting on gay guys? Or are you just so forward that you're freaking straight guys out? Not everyone is on their game at the grocery store. I'll stick with my original advice that you may consider waiting and making yourself a little more familiar before going in for the kill. Woo a little, if you will.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:29 PM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


You don't need to develop gaydar -- apparently, you already have it. You just need to recalibrate your internal reading from "attractive" to "probably gay." Then you need to figure out why you are attracted to gay men.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:29 PM on February 28, 2008


I didn't put words in your mouth, I quoted what you wrote. You seem pretty aware of your hotness. There's nothing wrong with that.

If I offended you somehow, I apologize. You can just ignore what I said... and the other 15-odd echoes in here.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 7:33 PM on February 28, 2008


then I get the "ehh, well....yeah..." and then I'll realize that they are gay and they just thought I already knew or something

How does that make them gay? Maybe they have girlfriends or are not allowed date customers, or they're not interested in you that way.
posted by fshgrl at 7:36 PM on February 28, 2008


Well, actually yes, most guys who hit on me are only looking at my body...which I understand, initial attraction is physical attraction but still, I can tell and it annoys me. I have a very toned/ athletic body for a girl and I know it attracts all the hound dogs whereas I think I intimidate all the guys who would give me a sweet and gracious come-on...

Not meaning to pile-on too much, but that's precisely the kind of attitude that causes a lot of "sweet & gracious" straight guys like me (at least in my own mind) to generally avoid the upper levels of female hotness like the plague. It's not always a lack of confidence; as often as not it's an obvious sense that the girl in question is just another princess with a gold-plated carrot up her arse, who'll just roll her eyes and think "god, not another hound dog after my body".

Since jonmc is inactive here for now, I'll channel his oft-repeated line: "appreciating a woman's beauty & respecting her personal qualities are not mutually exclusive"

on preview: what crunch buttsteak & Inspector.Gadget said.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:39 PM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hahaha, you guys are ruthless. Keep in coming though. Yes, I am very direct and forward with guys. I didn't used to be until I got so annoyed with dating the same male chauvinist type that I decided to take matters into my own hands. Now then, my question is: how do I not scare the nice, normal guys away by being too forward but still getting to know them?
posted by anniepants at 7:42 PM on February 28, 2008


I understand why you guys are saying that I think I'm "hot", but honestly to me, having a muscular build is not something I strive for. I was born with it. But sometimes it makes people think they can say whatever bodily comments they want to me, as if I must put so much emphasis on my body that they can too, and that is not the case. So whenever a nice guy is just being nice without seeming to notice my body I kinda like it, know what I mean?
posted by anniepants at 7:52 PM on February 28, 2008


I'm pretty sure Thepinksuperhero is misjudging the male psyche in your "best answer" 'cause I absolutely think the idea that you are "scaring away" a nice, normal guy is a red herring.

Any nice, normal guys want to speak up and defend the idea that you'd be scared off by an attractive woman asking if you'd like to hang out sometimes? Anyone?
posted by Justinian at 7:52 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


just being nice without seeming to notice my body

Sure. But most normal heterosexual guys are going to notice your body. They shouldn't be jerks about it, but noticing your body is virtually the definition of what makes them heterosexual.
posted by Justinian at 7:53 PM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Um....

...by getting to know them? As people, instead of potential dating units?

Why bother hitting on someone who you don't know well enough to already be well familiar with such minor little details as their sexual orientation?
posted by ook at 8:01 PM on February 28, 2008


ook, how else do I get to know them without asking to hang out sometime or something?
posted by anniepants at 8:04 PM on February 28, 2008


Heh, i was about to post a follow-up comment; the kind of disclaimer i often put into RelationshipFilter questions: you are the person best positioned to judge what you describe.

It might well be that every guy who approaches you is obviously a sleazy player. I don't think people should discount that possibility. Ironically, the most attractive people often find it hardest to find decent dates, because a lot of people think they won't stand a chance; the hottie is tired of constant attention from sleazebags & quick to dismiss suitors; and simultaneously, he or she usually sets a high standard for any potential parter to meet, not only looks-wise, but also in terms of career, achievements, etc.

sooo...how do I not scare the nice, normal guys away by being too forward but still getting to know them?

How about just by being down-to-earth & friendly, without trying to force things into dating too soon? But I agree that you ought to continue to take more of the initiative, because a lot of guys will probably just put you into the "princess" basket unless you can demonstrate that you are, in fact, a normal person like anybody else. Being forward here means being warmly proactive, not sexually aggressive.

on preview, Justinian: no, I wouldn't be scared off by an attractive woman asking if I'd like to hang out sometime. In fact, that's how most of my relationships have started. It's a good way of weeding out girls who can't think for themselves enough to go beyond anti-masculist normative stereotypes about how the genders should behave.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:04 PM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


You don't need gaydar. You just need to get to know someone better before you hit on him. Show an interest in who he actually is, and you will discover what he likes. After all, one day you might meet a nice, attractive guy who is straight but already has a girlfriend. Wouldn't you like to know that, too, before you make your move?

Also, a friendly piece of advice: It's really really hot when a guy you care about isn't afraid to be up front about how much he likes your body.
posted by caitlinb at 8:05 PM on February 28, 2008


Perhaps you need to revisit your desire to even meet a heterosexual male. It seems curious to me that you want to meet guys who are not attracted to you in a physical way. Do not discount guys simply because they see your body and acknowledge it as a positive trait.
posted by explosion at 8:07 PM on February 28, 2008


So whenever a nice guy is just being nice without seeming to notice my body I kinda like it, know what I mean?

Absolutely. Totally understandable reaction on your point; perfectly valid. But by rejecting anyone who appears to notice your body, you're ruling out 90% of heterosexual men, even the nice ones.

And on preview: (this is moving fast!)

ook, how else do I get to know them without asking to hang out sometime or something?

The same exact way you get to know someone you aren't interested in dating. By having mutual interests, mutual activities, mutual friends, etc, not by randomly being smiled at in the checkout line.
posted by ook at 8:11 PM on February 28, 2008


ook, how else do I get to know them without asking to hang out sometime or something?

You go back to the coffee shop the next day and say "Hi!" and wait and see what develops naturally- see if he notices you, see if you can develop a running conversation. You don't need to ask out every guy who is nice to you, in fact, I would recommend you not, because the sheer scope of such a project and the rejection that will follow naturally will discourage you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:12 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank you for all your wonderful advice. I shall put it underneath my little pillow and sleep on it.
posted by anniepants at 8:12 PM on February 28, 2008


People (men, women, gay, straight, other) will check out your body. It is what we as humans do; society provides a lot of rules for how to do so in an acceptable way. That does not mean that the person checking you out thinks that you are the hottest thing in the world, any more than a gay guy giving you a cookie means that he wants to get into your pants. The point being, I think you might be misjudging social cues -- taking normal scrutiny as harassment, or friendliness as a come-on, or reserve as good intentions. It's a free world and you are welcome to perceive these things as you wish, but if you remain out of step with the social world around you, these confusions will continue.

I'm not sure if you are being too forward, but you are doing something that isn't working. What that something is, we can't see on our little computer screens. You'll need to take an honest look in the mirror, ask a friend, talk to a professional, give more details here, whatever works. Flirting should be like a dance -- there is a back-and-forth, a mutuality, and a communication that makes it fun. You are misreading signals (eg "gay" rather than "likes girls") and are in turn sending out of kilter signals. A lot of flirting and dating is really disappointingly basic -- it's all the clichés of eye contact, smiling, pheromones, shared interests, blah blah blah we've all seen the movie, right?

But if we keep with the flirting-as-dance metaphor, it's like you are rumbaing and the guys are doing the funky chicken and the record player is playing Black Sabbath backwards. My suggestion is that you should try to slow down and just meet people where they are, rather than where you think they are. Meet friendliness with friendliness, and let the question of "is he checking out my ass or my pants?" sit to the side until the social cues become more transparent. I get the sense that if your interactions had a few more minutes to play out, things would be much clearer. Getting a cookie is great... but the meaning of that cookie is usually made clear by what someone says next. You are making assumptions and jumping to conclusions, rather than letting the social situation develop of its own accord.

Lastly, the title of this question is "How to develop gaydar?" I think you do that by hanging out with (drumroll please) actual gay people. Enough evenings out with gay guys, and you too will develop an eye for which waiters play for the other team, which straight-looking guys aren't, and so on. Then you just use that in reverse in your own flirting, and hopefully start meeting guys who like girls in the right kind of way for you.
posted by Forktine at 8:20 PM on February 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wow. You all are ruthless.

My first thought was that you end up with the wrong guys because you go for emotionally distant men, thinking that they are not responding to your physical attractiveness out of respect for you, and then find out that they are actually emotionally distant because they are gay. We could get into all this psychiatry about how you probably had an absent or emotionally distant father and so you keep falling into the habit of looking for the same type blah blah blah.

Whatever the reason, though, you have to break this pattern of avoiding men who find you physically attractive and going after men who are unattainable. If you like to take the initiative, you can join a dating service, look at profiles of straight men and then make a move on one of them, but then you will have to face the possibility of rejection again. So, why not take things slowly when you find yourself attracted to someone, as TPS suggests, and also try giving the guys who "hit on you" the benefit of the doubt every once in a while?
posted by misha at 8:30 PM on February 28, 2008


If you are regularly not getting to know these guys enough to know if they are gay before you start asking them out, are you sure that you are not doing the same checking out the bod that you are seeing in the non-gay guys? They say that we see ourselves in others, after all.
posted by slavlin at 8:52 PM on February 28, 2008


Hahaha, you guys are ruthless. Keep in coming though.

Go to a Metafilter meetup. Meet these ruthless dudes in person.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:14 AM on February 29, 2008


Forktine, I like your dance as flirting metaphor, makes a lot of sense. Funny thing is, I don't have a problem doing this "dance" with guys who I'm not particularly interested in, but find I have two left feet when I actually do like someone. Sigh. I think I'll just concentrate on other things besides the dating scene for a while. Who knows, maybe I'll figure something out in the meantime.
posted by anniepants at 4:41 AM on February 29, 2008


And also can I just say in my defense (and something that will shed a little light on my "cluelessness")...I grew up in a tiny, tiny hick town where men are pretty rough around the edges, and I just recently moved to a liberal town not too far from NYC...huge change for me. So I am not used to all of this exposure to so many different types of people, sexualities, races, views, etc. This is all new to me. Do things make more sense now?
posted by anniepants at 5:15 AM on February 29, 2008


I'll ask if they would like to hang out sometime and then I get the "ehh, well....yeah..." and then I'll realize that they are gay and they just thought I already knew or something.

This reads as if their lack of interest is your evidence that they are gay, which seems like a stretch to me.
posted by Coventry at 5:39 AM on February 29, 2008


I'll ask if they would like to hang out sometime and then I get the "ehh, well....yeah..." and then I'll realize that they are gay and they just thought I already knew or something.

This reads as if their lack of interest is your evidence that they are gay, which seems like a stretch to me.


i agree with coventry. why would you think the only conclusion to them not wanting to go out with you is that they are gay? maybe they're straight but they're just not interested? from my experience (because i really did used to be a fag-hag), most gay guys will say something to the effect of: "honey, i'm flattered but we don't play on the same team."
posted by violetk at 5:50 AM on February 29, 2008


Yes, can you elaborate on what makes you certain these people are gay, annie? Do they tell you they are gay or do you guess that they are gay because they don't respond to you?
posted by Justinian at 9:16 AM on February 29, 2008


I have a very toned/athletic body for a girl and I know it attracts all the hound dogs whereas I think I intimidate all the guys who would give me a sweet and gracious come-on.

Well, it looks like you're getting some push back for saying this, but I think you shouldn't feel bad about not liking it when guys who are really aggressive or creepy hit on you. I grew up in a pretty rural area, and now have lived in a few cities, and there's definitely a specific type of guy that is overly-aggressive with come-ons that I've only run into in the city. (I think it has to do with the anonymity.) It threw me for a loop the first few times I ran into it. I think there's nothing wrong with liking whenever a nice guy is just being nice without seeming to notice my body.

In my opinion, the solution isn't to start thinking there's something wrong with *you* and you should be accepting the come-ons of skeezy guys that make you uncomfortable. What their true intentions are or what they are thinking is pretty irrelevant if it's not working for you. I do think that you need to realize that if you're much more comfortable with guys that do the sweet and gracious come-on, you shouldn't expect to pick up dates among perfect strangers (even ones that seem nice, like the coffee shop guy). It's not exactly that the sweet and gracious guys are intimidated by you so much as they aren't the type to run up to women they don't know and start asking for dates.

So: go to meetups, join a book club, volunteer at a charity, get a part-time job walking dogs in the neighborhood, do *something* that will put you in contact with regular guys and let you get to know them (and for them to get to know you) before the asking-out occurs. In my experience, people living in cities have much more of a filter when it comes to meeting and hanging out with new people, dating or otherwise--and despite the stereotypes that all men will hump anything that moves, this even applies to guys--and your aggressiveness might just come off as neediness or craziness, whereas in a small town it'd be seen more as just being friendly, flirty and forward. You just need to update your picking-up skills to match the new environment you're in, that's all.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:32 AM on February 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, the solution isn't to start thinking there's something wrong with *you* and you should be accepting the come-ons of skeezy guys that make you uncomfortable.

Now this is hardly fair. Nobody is suggesting that she should be tolerating skeezy guys who are being overly aggressive and creepy. People, including me, are suggesting that she might be interpreting very normal appreciation for being overly aggressive and creepy. Suggesting it, not saying it is absolutely the case.
posted by Justinian at 9:54 AM on February 29, 2008


Justinian, reading over that I realize that what I wrote might come off as directed at someone in particular here. Sorry--that wasn't the intent. I think it's (unfortunately) somewhat common for women to hear the refrain "don't be so picky" and "you're stuck up for thinking that the men on the street whistling at you think you're attractive" and so on when they express discomfort at being the target of aggressive sexual come-ons. No one here had really gone that far, I was just sensing the beginning of what I thought was a digression into what was going on in the heads of the guys who were staring at her body and hitting on her were *really* thinking, and whether it was really okay for her to blow them off or whether she owed it to them to give them a chance.

Which, in my opinion, is pretty irrelevant to the question: if the OP doesn't like being hit on that way, it doesn't really matter why those guys are doing what they're doing. Whether it's "normal appreciation" or "overly aggressive and creepy" are very much in the eye of the beholder, and I really dislike when women are told that they should just relax and take it as a compliment. I think it's much better to focus on how to get her in a situation where she's getting what she wants, rather than trying to redefine what she should want.

But, ya know, people can disagree. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, that's why it's ask metafilter and not The Totally Correct and Never Wrong Opinions of Iminurmefi, I suppose.
posted by iminurmefi at 10:13 AM on February 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thank you, iminurmefi. I agree with a lot of what you say. And yes, Justinian, they are gay. Either they end up telling me or they're friends do...or my friends are like "what, are you blind?" So, yeah.
posted by anniepants at 2:28 PM on February 29, 2008


I grew up in a tiny, tiny hick town where men are pretty rough around the edges, and I just recently moved to a liberal town not too far from NYC

Along with the other advice, try spending more time adjusting to your new home. Adjusting can take a long time -- at least a year or two. Give yourself time to observe how city people think and act. Eventually you'll understand East Coast, liberal city culture and get better at these things.
posted by halonine at 4:53 PM on February 29, 2008


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