Gay male and gay male of color filter. How do I come to terms with my dating issues?
April 11, 2012 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Gay male and gay male of color filter. How do I come to terms with my dating issues?

I'm a mid-30s attractive gay male Latino. I don't meet a lot of gay guys that I want to date and consequently I haven't had a lot of relationships. I like active highly educated guys, mostly on the more masculine end of the gender spectrum. I've tended to be attracted to Latino, middle eastern, and white guys and find this highly problematic given my own issues being a man of color in the white dominated gay community. My therapist said it was OK to have preferences when dating, which has always struck me as an unsatisfying response.

People come on to me every so often, and while I appreciate the attention, these people usually don't really excite me enough to pursue something long term. OKCupid is a bust because I don't get responses to most of the people that I send messages to. This is, unfortunately, in marked contrast to some of my attractive white friends, who get a shit ton of attention on the online dating services. I also notice that most of the guys that approach me seem to date men of color exclusively, which makes me feel like some sort of fetish object. I generally feel marginalized and sometimes downright pathetic being attracted to people who won't give me the time of day. As a younger gay man I figured that dating would be fun and exciting, and that I would be regularly meeting people that excited me, and this has never really been the case.

I have to add that I've never fit in particularly well with Latino culture (grew up in white suburbs) or gay culture (just not that interesting to me). I have a few close gay friends, but I'm not a gay social butterfly. Whenever I go out to bars or to house parties or have joined gay activities, I have this grinding feeling that I'm just put off by most gay guys, I mean, everybody is really nice and all, I just don't see people that really excite me to flirt. The very few people I do always seem to be the most unapproachable or over the top good looking people.

I'm a pretty new practitioner of mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy and try to use that to deal with some of my feelings: anger over being a failure at dating, anger at being a hypocrite, and shitty feelings of marginalization.

I have some goals I have set for the short to medium term:
1. Spending time around more gay people of color in person in order to challenge my preferences.
2. Get involved in more gay-oriented activities to expand my social circle (related to #1).

What I want to know is whether anybody out there has felt any of these feelings and can share their experiences coping (beyond relaxation techniques)? Coping with not feeling successful at dating, coping with race in the gay community, coping with the feeling that they aren't attracted to most gay people... ? This is all been swimming in my head for the past few days. Thanks.
posted by 314159 to Human Relations (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
As a gay man, I have felt the same, "I don't feel attracted to anyone but guys who are way out of my league and/or aren't interested in me." I know a lot of others who have felt the same way.

My take on it is that we grew up without the same dating experiences that our straight counterparts had, and as such, we had to focus attention on fantasy objects, like guys in the media, gay porn, or the classic "heroes" wherever we grew up (football stars, class presidents, etc.). Without the whole normality of being asked to a dance by someone who sits next to us in science class or double-dating with friends, it all becomes this perfected ideal in our heads that solidifies by the time we're out and ready to date.

The way to overcome it is to socialize with a lot more gay people, I think. Getting to know guys beyond their looks and learning to appreciate something other than pure lust at first sight. It takes a while, but it's really worthwhile.
posted by xingcat at 10:53 AM on April 11, 2012 [12 favorites]

Your writing suggests you're a very unique, thoughtful and intelligent person. You might find yourself more successful spending your time meeting new folks just to get to know them, and to let them get to know you, without trying to date anyone. A person like you should be able to cultivate quite an expansive circle of friends, and as it grows you're bound to meet someone who responds to the kind of person you are (those things that don't come out on OKCupid or in clubs), and whom you respond to.

Incidentally, I'm a straight white guy, but I've dated women who are white and women who are not, and I'm not particularly unusual in that sense. Perhaps it is reasonable to assume there are guys out there who would be interested in you as more than a fetish object -- you'll just have to learn to weed the bad ones out.
posted by davejay at 11:00 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am another straight guy so take my advice with a grain of salt. But, there is really nothing wrong with having preferences when it comes to dating, EVERYONE has preferences, it is just how we are wired.

Now, as long as you are comfortable with your preferences and you dont let yourself get hung up on them you will be fine.

My general advice for anyone who is single, is spend as much time as you can working on yourself, be that at the gym, at the library, or just pursuing new hobbies you will find your time well spent.
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:39 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a black gay man who also doesn't find himself that interested in a large quantity of gay men I meet, I can relate. Or rather, I'm certainly not attracted to the "norm" of gay men (I'm what they call a "chaser," though I'm not exactly Twiggy myself). I guess it's not a bad thing to challenge your preferences, but I hope you don't give yourself a complex about what you're interested in. I'm interested in a) men and b) heavyset ones and if I can't find any of those, I wouldn't say I need to change or that the problem is with me - the problem is with circumstance. So if you try to challenge your preference and it isn't working, I hope you come to the conclusion that, like your therapist said, there's nothing wrong with preferences. I don't know if one can make themselves be attracted to someone they aren't attracted to. Why did that seem unsatisfying to you the way your therapist said it?

And the perspective I take about men who date people of color exclusively (and I've had my experiences with them) is that it's not really a fetish any more than me only dating men is a fetish, but there real problem is if its a person who only sees you for your color and assigns a bunch of expectations and assumptions to you solely on the basis of that. That's truly disrespectful of you as an individual and doesn't bode well for relationship prospects.

But I think your second goal is a good one. As one of the commenters before me said, expanding your circle of gay friends is a good way to go. Gay clubs and websites like OkCupid can only show off certain parts of who you are and probably not the parts that will be directly responsible for a long-term relationship. I think you're really on the right track with that one.
posted by Holygrail2 at 12:43 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

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