Category Archives: RULES

RULE NO.22: THERE ARE TOO MANY BOYS

 Abercrombie Modern Gay Dating

It’s hard to find “the one” when there are so many choices.

There’s a marketing theory that suggests that when we’re given too many choices we experience anxiety and buyers regret. This is called the “Paradox of Choice” whereby more choices leads to less happiness. One would think that the opposite is true, that the more choices we have the happier we will feel but this is not the case.

Lets look at an example. You’re in a restaurant with a friend and there is a huge selection of dishes on the menu. You see many different options that look appealing and finally after much deliberation you make your selection. Your friend chooses the schnitzel while you choose the steak. When your food arrives you instantly feel that you may have made the wrong decision. You look around at all the other tables and see the variation of delicious meals being consumed by patrons seemingly more happy than yourself and  you regret your decision. As you bight into your steak, you wonder “what would life be like if I was eating schnitzel?”.

This theory is ever present in the modern world of gay dating. Through the power of Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr we are exposed to images of thousands of gorgeous men from all over the globe. From the beaches of Brazil to the clubs of Tel Aviv, the internet has created a virtual gay community comprising of men that we never would have known without physically visiting those cities. While its fun to perve on these guys from your phone or computer it has created the “the anxiety of choice” conundrum – more options equals higher regret. Being aware of all these men who appear to be better looking and having more fun than the men in our immediate communities has created this anxiety of choice.  The most troubling thing about this anxiety is that the choice is not real. In a restaurant you can choose your meal from a finite selection and that choice will be served to you. In the online world, chances are that you’ll never meet those men about who you fantasise and yet you compare your attainable options to those which are infinite and unattainable. You might even be waiting for Mr Right who’ll hopefully appear in the form of some American adonis with gorgeous friends or worse still, you might be in a relationship treading water, until something better comes along. Having too many choices, whether they be real or imagined is affecting the way we date.

Couple this with apps likes Grindr and Scruff and you have a selection of 200 men at your fingertips. These apps are supposed to help you find potential mates in your immediate area but when there are so many options, how do you know that you’re going to make the right choice? If you’re like me then you probably keep pressing ‘refresh’ hoping that someone even more exciting than the last will magically appear.

This technologically advanced world has brought the universe to our fingertips and created digital communities which have helped countless gay men seek advice, solace and information but it has also given us too many choices.  In this restaurant of life, with its countless dishes and delicious choices, I wonder if we’ll always keep looking around at what everyone else is eating and never be satisfied with whats on our own plates.

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RULE NO.21: YOU’RE NEVER FULLY OUT OF THE CLOSET

Gay Men Coming Out

If you thought that coming was a one time event, you were wrong. We are consistently required to enter and exit the metaphorical closet.

Two recent events reminded me that when it comes to letting the world know that you’re gay, you’re never truly “out”. The first incident was during a university lecture on E-Commerce. The lecturer was discussing self published websites and asked for all those in the audience who had their own blog to raise their hands. A small number of people responded including myself.  The lecturer managed to lock eyes with me even though I was seated in the far back.

“Tell us about your blog” he instructed.  Now, I’m sure avid readers have realised from previous posts that I’m very open about my sexuality but when it came to describing the nature of my “gay blog” to 200 complete strangers, I was reluctant.

“It’s about being a 20-something in the modern world” I sheepishly replied.  At the time, I didn’t feel that it was appropriate for me to come out to a theatre full of people that I didn’t know so I omitted the most important characteristic of my blog so as not to reveal my sexuality.

The second incident was one that occurs on a recurring basis. I was seated next to an older gentleman at a work dinner a few months ago. Our conversation was brilliant as we transversed topics such as sports, politics and food. It was sometime during dessert when he brought up the topic of marriage and how his daughter (who just so happens to be in my E-Commerce class) was recently engaged to her long-time boyfriend. “Have you got a wife or a girlfriend?” he questioned.

“I’m single” I responded.

“What do you think about marriage” he asked, “is it on the cards in the future?”.

At that moment I could have easily begun my political rant about gay marriage and how although I would like to be married one day, as a gay man it is currently illegal in Australia. But I didn’t. Again, I did not feel that the situation called for my coming out.

“One day, I hope” I said and proceeded to change the topic back to a more neutral category.

Gay men face situations like these on a daily basis whether it be at university, family functions, starting a new job, making new friends or any moment when you’re introduced to someone unfamiliar. Society continues to presume that we all subscribe to the heteronormative  roles that we’ve been unwittingly assigned and chances are that these views aren’t going to change drastically anytime soon. This means that we will constantly be placed in situations where we will need to choose how much of ourselves we reveal to others.

Sexuality is a private matter and I don’t believe it’s always necessary or even appropriate to reveal to everyone you meet that you are gay. Although I believe that gay pride is crucial to ensuring self-esteem, it’s important to realise that not every situation calls for a dramatic Jack McFarland entrance. Of course we must speak-up if we witness homophobic behaviour in our immediate environment and I believe that this particular situation calls for a degree of bravery that we may be unprepared for.  Generally speaking though we should feel comfortable with whom we decide to share our sexual identity before we reveal ourselves.

While I honestly believe that we should always be true to ourselves, we must be prepared that our coming out did not end after we took those first steps out of the closet and it is our ongoing decision who we tell that we’re gay and who we don’t.

Image by Kwannam Chu

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RULE NO. 20: YOU ARE BRAVER THAN YOU THINK

Jean-Francois-Carly

Nobody said that being gay is easy. You are constantly confronted by people who tell you that what you are doing is wrong, sinful, immoral and disgusting. You may have faced rejection from people important to you and all because of something that you had no control over. And yet you are still here.

You are much braver than you think.

Before you’ve even had the chance to “come out” you had to confront those daunting feelings inside of yourself.  The feelings of confusion, isolation and shame. You had to ask yourself “Am I normal?”. That took a lot of bravery.  As you grew older you may have been picked-on or bullied because other kids could tell that you were different.  It took inner strength to shield yourself from the taunting and to recover from the physical abuse.

Once you decided to share your feelings with another person you had to find the coverage to expose yourself, to be absolutely vulnerable without certainty of how they would react. That took courage that heterosexual people will never understand.  You then had to deal with the consequences of your coming out. This may have meant rejection from family, losing friends or being shunned by your community. That too, called for immense inner courage. And all the while you had to forge your own path with little empathy, guidance or direction from anyone else.

With all of the other crap that you have to deal, it’s important that you pause for a moment and realise the bravery and courage that you possess to have made it to this point. You are much braver than you think.

Image by: Jean-Francois Carly

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RULE NO. 19: DON’T WORSHIP FALSE IDOLS

TOM FORD STEVEN KLEIN GAY VALLEY OF DOLLS

We are surrounded by false idols who we unwittingly worship but at what cost?

False idols give us nothing in return for the attention and praise that we give them. They present themselves to the world and tell us that they must be worshipped without considering what they really have to offer or what their followers really want. False idols do not engage with their followers. They yearn to be seen as different, elevated, better and divine. They are disconnected from the rest of us. It is only through this disconnection that their false sense of power exists.

False idols are committed to superficial pursuits and are driven by their egos. They appeal to the negative qualities inside of us such as greed, envy, vanity and feelings that we are not enough. It’s easy for us to be tempted by false idols, because much like the golden calf of the bible, they appear shiney and beautiful which is attractive to the superficial and egoic mind. The superficial mind however is never fulfilled hence why we continually partake in pointless worship.

When we worship false idols, we are left feeling empty, demoralised and worthless.

On the other hand there are role models. Role models contribute to our lives, they inspire us to be better, motivate us to improve and engage in two-way communication with the world. We learn from role models.. Role models appeal to our soul needs and although our soul needs are sometimes muffled by the noises of the superficial mind, they are much healthier and positive and when met lead to true fullfilment. You’ll know when your soul needs are satisfied because you’ll feel uplifted, loved and joyous.

Who are these false idols? They are reality TV stars (and their families), half-naked “Insta-celebrities”, social climbers, the “popular” group at school and anyone else who is worshiped based on superficial qualities.

The choice is yours who to praise but my advice to you is that if you’re not left feeling uplifted by the people who you worship then perhaps it’s time to shift your attention from false idols to role models.

Image Credit: Steven Klein, “Valley of the Dolls”

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RULE NO. 18: GAMES ARE FOR CHILDREN

Acne Circus Modern Gay

I’ve been dating men for close to a decade and in that time I’ve learnt some valuable lessons, the most important of which is that “games are for children”. Before I elaborate, let me share with you a recent experience that perfectly highlights my point.

I recently went on a date with an attractive younger guy. He seemed keen from the get go to set a time and place to meet and after a few false starts we finally agreed on a night that suited us both. We met for drinks in a bar one evening and indulged in interesting conversation. Although I’m reluctant to date younger men, he seemed mature beyond his years and I was captivated by his ambition and intelligence. My professional background has made me cautious however of people who are very skilled at selling themselves. I’ve come across many characters who present themselves well but fail to actually “deliver the goods” when it comes to crunch time. I threw caution to the wind as our banter intensified and our conversation became candid.

I should have been weary of the fact that he was still coming to terms with his sexuality, (one of my dating rules is to try avoid bisexual/questioning/closeted men as their journey of self discovery often adds a level of difficulty to the relationship) but once again I ignored my better judgement. Regardless of his stage of homosexual progress, I was lured into a false sense  that this guy was different. We openly discussed the topic of “leading people on” and I stated my position: I would rather blatantly be told that someone wasn’t interested in me than to be led on. He agreed. We finished our drinks, said our goodbyes and both agreed that another date was imminent. On my way home he sent me a message, the contents of which confirmed (in my mind at least) his interest and that he had enjoyed the date as much as I had. I responded similarly.

Two days past and reflecting on the date and the open and honest conversations we had shared, I decided to message him to make plans for dinner. Some may say that two days is too short of time to reinitiate correspondence but believing that we shared similar dating values, I decided to go ahead anyway. The afternoon passed and I waited for a response. By 11:00pm and with no response I justified that perhaps he had been under pressure at work and hadn’t had the time to write back. After two days it became evident that I was never going to receive a response.

I was completely confused by the situation and unsure why someone who supposedly held similar values to me would not respond to a simple SMS, even with an honest “thanks, but no thanks”. Secretly hoping that he had been hit by a car (why else would he not have responded?), I scoured his Facebook page to check for “get well soon” messages but unfortunately he was fine. Actually he was better than fine. From what I gathered from the tagged pictures and status updates he was enjoying a very social weekend. Normally such a situation would not have affected me. I’ve come across dozens of immature boys who’ve acted similarly and easily brushed it off as learning experiences but I was shocked. Not shocked because he had convinced me that he was different, but shocked because I had believed him. I had ignored my dating intuition which had told me to be weary of questioning, younger boys and I had been duped.

The only conclusion that I can draw from this experience is that it had all been a game and I hadn’t been playing by the rules. But I never wanted to play the game in the first place. Through my many dating experiences, I’ve realised the pointlessness of game playing and how it becomes a boring and endless cycle. I’ve learnt to be open and honest from the onset as this is the only way of attracting likeminded people. I believe that game playing is a reflection of our need for attention; it’s the insecure child inside of us that wants to be wanted by others in order to feel worthy. We chase after other people’s affection to satisfy our own insatiable need to be loved and once we’ve received their attention and affection we lose interest and start a new game with someone different. When someone plays all their cards and shows too much affection or attention too soon then our interest wains just as quick. This is the genesis of the saying “be mean, keep them keen”. If you deny someone of the one thing they need (love/attention/affection) then they’ll keep chasing you until you give it to them.

The moral of the story is that game playing is unnecessary and reflects poorly on the person who is consciously or subconsciously playing to “win”. At the end of the day there are no winners. We are meant to be in this together so that we can find a partner who loves us for who we are and not how tactical we are at playing with their emotions. Honesty is often said to be the best medicine. If you like someone, tell them and if you’re not digging their vibe then have the balls to tell them that too.

Image Credit: Circus Maximus by Julia Hetta

RULE NO.17: YOU HAVE THE POWER

Bertil-Nilsson

One of the most important lessons to learn in order to survive this adventure that we call “life” is that no matter what obstacles you face, within you exists the power to overcome everything that is thrown your way. If you have yet to recognise that power, simply keep moving forward and it will reveal itself in time.

Image: Bertil Nilsson

RULE NO.16: YOUR BOYFRIEND IS A REFLECTION OF YOURSELF

 Patriota Twins Moden Gay

Is who you date a reflection of who you are?

A friend of mine once admitted that he was sexually aroused by the sight of himself naked in the mirror. Instead of other forms of visual stimulation, he openly admitted that when it came to special “alone” time, his own reflection was enough to do the job. There are two things you need to know about this friend: 1. he’s extremely handsome by most people’s standards and 2. he makes Narcissus look like Mother Theresa. I’ve watched the string of boyfriends that have come and gone through his life and although they’ve been of different ages and nationalities, they’ve all had one thing in common – they look identical to him. This made me think about boyfriends and whether or not one’s boyfriend is a reflection of one’s self.

Have you noticed those cute gay couples who look like they could be brothers or father and son for the matter? Sure, some may argue that couples begin to look and act similar over time, much like dogs and their owners but I would suggest that who you choose to date is in fact a reflection of yourself. The short-buff-gym-dude dates other short-buff-gym-dudes much like the narcissistic model dates other narcissistic models or the blondes date blondes etc. So then what does it mean if you’re like me and you date people who are polar opposites? Is this the reflection of  subconscious self-love issues? Maybe. But I would choose to think that it is because you are attracted to people who have qualities that complement your own (whether physical or not).

I’m not assuming that everyone who is attracted to someone of a similar aesthetic or nature is narcissistic, I’m simply discussing extreme examples of the phenomena and trying to draw conclusions. From a more positive perspective, dating someone who looks like you may be a sign that you are comfortable with your inner self. A few years ago I broke up with a boyfriend because he liked things about me that I hated about myself so clearly there was something wrong with him. Now I realise that you can’t truly be open to love if you haven’t accepted yourself, although this realisation hasn’t changed the types of men I date.

There are obviously other factors involved in the subconscious attraction process (like LOA – Read Here) but it’s much easier to look at the superficial reasons so I would love to hear your feedback on the observation that who you date is indeed a reflection of yourself. 

Photo Credit: Patriota Twins by Rick Day for FantasticMag

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RULE NO.15: THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS IS SELF-LOVE

Happy Boys - Modern Gay

The secret to happiness is self-love (and not the sexual kind).

It may have become evident that I often discuss “self-love”. I believe that self-love is the hardest thing for gay men to achieve, the lack of which is at the root of most our dysfunctional behaviour. Many gay men still hold onto the shame of being gay, remnants of their closeted days which makes self-love even more allusive. But it’s not just gay men who suffer, all of humanity experiences feelings of fear, self doubt and self loathing; these are universal characteristics of the human condition.

Gay men, however have found excellent ways of masking these fears. We create fabulous and flamboyant personas, engage in regular sex and devote our time to aesthetic pursuits all in order to mask our true feelings. I’ve always thought that those people who display extreme traits are often masking the exact opposite. The loudest and most confident people are often the most scared, the people having the most sex are the loneliest, the most popular are afraid of not being liked and the most vain are never content with their appearance.

So how do we overcome our self loathing and fear? How do we find happiness within ourselves? I’ve been fascinated with these questions for as long as I can remember because I truly believe that only when you are happy does everything else fall into place. Only once you love yourself, can you be loved by others, romantically or in the broader sense. We try change external factors (jobs, partners, friends, cities etc) to make ourselves happy when all we really need to do is change ourselves.

Last night while trawling Youtube I found a video that offered a very simple answer to the happiness question. It proposed the easiest approach to finding fulfilment that I’ve ever come across (and I’ve done a fair bit of research!). Ask yourself this question:

“What would someone who loved themselves do?”

In whatever situation you may be, ask yourself “what would someone who loved themselves do?”. I can assure you that your whole perspective will change immediately. If you’re feeling upset, confused, enraged or bored ask yourself again  “what would someone who loved themselves do?” – the answer will come to you instinctively and those feelings will be quashed immediately.

Try this with me for the next week and let me know how it works for you. To watch the video Click Here.

Photo Credit: Diana Scheunemann

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RULE NO.14: YOU’RE NOT PICKY, YOU’RE INSECURE

Steven Klein Male Models

It was a Sunday afternoon in summer. A female friend of mine had asked that I entertain a friend of hers while he was in Sydney. She assured me that although he was ten years my senior, he was handsome, charasmatic, successful and friendly. Obviously I was sceptical but being the friend that I am, I agreed to do her a favour. I met him at a popular Sydney restaurant for drinks and we hit it off instantly. He was handsome and charismatic, just as she described. The conversation flowed and we were getting on like old friends. After a bottle of champagne we headed to a local gay venue for a few more drinks. Being a Sunday, this particular venue was wall to wall with gay men.

“Is there anyone here you like?” he asked.

“Not really” I replied after scanning the room for potential. “I’m very picky”.

“You’re not picky, you’re insecure” he responded instantly.

My blood began to boil.

How dare this guy presume to know me after one bottle of Clicquot and an afternoon of small talk. Couldn’t he tell that I’m confident and self-assured? That I’m successful and intelligent. That I’m the whole package. That I’m just waiting to find the right guy. That I’m…. insecure.

As I tried to reach for a defensive response I was stumped because in that instant it dawned on me, he was right. I wasn’t picky at all, I was afraid of rejection. I was insecure. Behind the confident facade, I was a scared boy, afraid that nobody would  love me. For so long I had hidden behind a vail of protection disguised as “pickiness”  in order to dismiss guys before I even had a chance to make a move; before I had the chance to be rejected.

He’s too short. Too buff. Too skinny. Too gay. Too butch. He dresses badly. He’s too old. Too young. Too tanned. Too many tatooes. Too clean cut. Too hipster. Not hipster enough. He’s not successful. He’s not my type anyway. I doubt I’m his type.

There have been so many excuses.

I realised that I had created a defense mechanism which had protected me for so long from facing rejection. Before I even had the chance to be rejected, I would justify reasons why I shouldn’t approach a particular person or give them a chance. This is such a limiting view of life. In retrospect, the greatest loves I’ve had have come from finding the courage to approach the handsome guy across the bar. But I’ve missed so many moments too due to my insecurities and unjustified justifications. I think about the times I wished I had said something to the guy who made eyes with me in the supermarket, or the boy from Canada my friends brought to the party. What could have been if I just had the courage to say “hi”?

A heart that is never broken dies of dystrophy. It’s only thorough the broken heart that light shines through. Without risk there is no reward. So instead of pretending that you’re just picky or waiting for someone to approach you, recognise your insecurities and try work on them. We need to have faith in ourselves and what we offer to the world.

A friend of mine who worked in marketing for an energy drink company (let’s call it Energy X) once told me a story that changed my way of thinking. She said, “Josh, at Energy X we don’t try convince people to like our brand. Some people drink Coke, others like Iced Tea. We have enough faith in our incredible brand that we appreciate those that love Energy X and it is those people who we pursue. We don’t try convince someone who only drinks Coke to drink Energy X too. You are like Energy X. Have faith in your incredible brand. Know that not everyone will like you or be attracted to you but appreciate those that do. Pursue them“.

This has stuck with me till this day and has helped me overcome my insecurities and my fear of rejection (a fear that we ALL share). We cannot convince someone to like our drink if they only drink Coke. Just the same as you aren’t attracted to everyone you meet, not everyone will be attracted to you. Be brave and be honest and realise that all this time you haven’t been picky, you’ve just been insecure.

Photo Credit: Steven Klein “Games and Restrictions”

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RULE NO.13: 30 IS NOT THE NEW 20

Modern Gay Guide

The video that every 20-something must watch.

Throughout my 20’s I’ve lived by the motto that “20’s are for learning, 30’s are for earning”. This has helped me survive the long days at work or hours spent in the library at university but I’ve been tempted to give it all up in the spirit of YOLO (You Only Live Once). During those stressful days when I wonder why I’m working so hard for very little immediate return, YOLO thoughts play on repeat through my head. Shouldn’t I be running around, enjoying my youth without a care in the world? Isn’t this the time for experimentation and exploration? Can’t I just put it all off until I’m in my 30’s? Am I too young to be working this hard?

Clinical psychologist Meg Jay, puts forward the argument in this TED Talk that your 20’s are your most formative and defining years of your adult life. What you do (or don’t do in your 20’s) has a lasting impact on the rest of your life. This is the video that should be mandatory for every 20-something. Watch below and share your thoughts.

Photo Credit: Richard Phibbs

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