Before I came out, one of the “hallmark holidays” I resented the most was Valentines Day. I never had a relationship to celebrate and was secretly a bit jealous of all of my friends who did. And while I still find this holiday somewhat annoying, I will admit that I always enjoy planning something for just my partner and me to enjoy together. But realizing the positive aspects of this holiday didn’t come immediately after coming out. I had to first find a partner.
One of the intimidating parts of coming out, especially if someone comes out later in life, is where to meet people and how to start dating. If you consider that LGBT people make up on 10% of the total population with an even lower percentage of LGBT who are “out,” it might feel like slim pickings. Let me assure you, there are plenty of good gay men and women out there for you to meet. The real question is how to get started.
The most important thing about entering the dating scene is to be your true self. What I mean by that is be who you are at whatever point in life you happen to be. If you are 50 years old and just came out, be 50 and don’t worry about whether or not you will be attractive to someone else. I can assure you, there are men out there of all ages who are searching for you. If you are 50 and are attracted to younger guys, there are younger guys who are attracted to older men. Avoid going through a mid-life crisis and feeling like you have to act and dress like you are 20. Just be you and put yourself out there as you are.
Now of course, you might feel like you could loose a few pounds or spruce up your wardrobe before diving into the LGBT social scene and that’s fine. Exercise is good for everyone and so if your body image motivates you to get in shape, more power to you. Just don’t make yourself into something you are not. Now, for where to start…
I’m a huge fan of online dating sites. Aside from meeting my partner on one, I think they are a great place, especially when you are new to the dating scene, to meet people in a low-risk and comfortable situation. You can talk with people to see who might have something in common without having to deal with crowds, noise, and alcohol. It’s a great opportunity to break the ice, talk about attitudes, experiences, and what you are looking for with minimal risk. Of course, there are online dating sites of all kinds, some of which cater to hook-ups more than long-term relationships. There are even apps for your mobile device, like Grinder and Scruff, that will help you locate others like you while on the road. In my opinion. Gay.Com is still the best online dating site for those looking for more than a one-time 20-minute date.
Gay.com was just completely revised this month and now offers more of a community feel to its website. You can create a profile that certainly includes your sexual interests, but that also includes a lot more of what others might be looking for in a potential partner. You can enter as much or as little information about yourself as you wish and the good news is that you can get online and try it for no cost. Of course, for the additional features, you will need to purchase a subscription, but in my mind, it’s worth it.
Online dating does come with its own set of risks and I always remind people to use your common sense when meeting other people in person for the first time. I know it make shock you, but some people don’t use their real picture in an online profile. I can tell you from experience that I was only disappointed once by someone who I met who was clearly not the person they represented themselves to be in a picture. The other basics around online dating include always meeting in a public place for the first time. Don’t provide any personal identifying data online that could subject you to identity theft and don’t share your home address until after you meet and feel comfortable.
Whether you are “out” or not, there is no reason to feel alone this Valentines Day. There are lots of people out there looking for all kinds of relationships, from friendships to a spouse. Take a chance and go online and look around. You might just be the one someone else has been looking for there entire life.