Seven gay dating red flags that could send guys running
Being chased by a guy you’re just not into? We’ve all been there.
There’s a good chance we’ve been that guy too!
Most of the time we don’t intentionally do things to grind the chemistry to a halt. Our behaviours tend to be the result of emotions, past experiences and fear of rejection (a little Velvet Rage anyone?).
So if you’re available on the gay dating scene, we’ve put together a list of behaviours we’d call ‘red flags’. These are things you may be doing unintentionally but can leave a date with an inaccurate impression of the amazing person you are! It’s all to help you get the most out of your dating experience (aka, how to not send him running!)
1. Talk about your ex(es)
There’s no greater buzzkill than when the former boo blasts into the conversation… over and over again. Your new date doesn’t want to know how your ex is doing nowadays, that what they ordered for brunch was your ex’s favourite meal, or that he also backpacked through Southeast Asia! It can give the impression your ex will be an unwanted third party in the potential relationship.
There will come a time when you and your new date will be comfortable enough to share stories that involve your ex(es). Until then, if you feel the need to talk about them, consider confiding in a trusted friend or relative instead.
If you find it difficult not to talk about your ex, perhaps rethink getting back into the dating scene so soon. If you haven’t moved on from your past relationship (particularly if your break-up was recent), it may not be the best idea to involve a new date in your healing process.
2. Use dating apps in his presence
It’s normal to maintain a presence on dating apps. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, apps became one of the few ways guys could connect safely (online, of course!). Even before the pandemic it wasn’t uncommon for casual conversations to lead to friendship. Some of these platonic relationships never leave the apps, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t legitimate.
If you’ve just started dating someone, it’s OK to stay on the apps. You and your partner can talk about what works for you when the time is right. However, that doesn’t mean it’s OK to use the apps during a date!
While spending time with someone special, it can come across as neglectful and rude to be glued to your phone. If you’re using dating apps in his presence, that takes things one step further. It tells your date you’re not seriously interested in them, and you’re considering other options.
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Until you and your new interest discuss what your rules of engagement might look like, and whether you’ll cease using dating apps altogether, there’s no hard and fast rule about using them in private.
While out on a date, be present with him and not with your phone.
3. Check out other guys
Checking out other guys falls into the same category as using dating apps. Unless you’ve agreed to be open and are on the hunt for a third to join in, it can be considered rude. It also shows you’re not committed to getting to know the guy you’re physically present with.
If you’ve both agreed you’re in a monogamous relationship, maybe avoid window shopping altogether.
4. Sexual health is an afterthought
Looking after each other’s sexual health is the key to a respectful, exciting and intimate sexual relationship. It’s not a one man-job, it takes two (or more) to keep sexual health top of mind.
Don’t assume he’ll be comfortable not using a condom or that you can immediately stop using PrEP. Have an open and honest conversation about what works for you and hear him out on what he’s comfortable with. If either of you are living with HIV and aren’t sure how PrEP fits in, we’ve got you covered.
If he tells you he’s HIV positive, remember that living with HIV isn’t a barrier to a meaningful and healthy relationship. Maintaining an undetectable viral load prevents HIV transmission even when condoms aren’t being used.
If you’re not yet sexually exclusive, test regularly for HIV and STIs to protect each other and everyone else involved. Use PrEP to protect against HIV, and keep condoms in the mix to reduce the risk of other STIs such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea.
5. Talk about yourself, A LOT
It’s normal for there to be dates where one guy talks more than the other. Everyone experiences fatigue or might have less to say on a particular occasion. The flow of conversation should, however, generally be balanced. You need to feel like you’re able to talk about what’s going on with you, and so does he.
Avoid dominating the conversation. Ask about him and his interests if he’s a little shy and holding out on you. It will tell him you’re available to listen as much as you are to speak. It also shows you’re empathetic, and that’s a quality the world could use so much more of. Learn more about how you can become a more empathic listener.
Equally, you don’t want to hold out on him either. Avoiding talking about yourself by relentlessly probing him may give the impression you’re afraid to be vulnerable. Remember, vulnerability is core to forging a lasting and meaningful connection.
6. Have an overly negative attitude / Be a ‘Karen’
An overly negative attitude can be a major turn off. Don’t get this confused with having a bad day or going through a rough patch. Notice how you interact with wait staff and cashiers. Is it different to how your date interacts with them? More broadly, how do you react when you don’t get your way, or things don’t work out as planned? No one wants a Karen for a date!
If you’re feeling down, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your date. He may appreciate the heads-up, as we can all overreact when the emotions run high. If he acknowledges you were brave enough to be vulnerable, he could be a keeper. As Brené Brown says: “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”
Don’t be afraid to seek out help if you’ve been feeling like things aren’t quite right lately. There’s a range of LGBTQ-specific counselling services and peer workshops available across Australia. You can find a list of them here.
7. Be needy
Be careful of coming on too strong and appearing needy. Don’t stalk his social media or constantly ask him where he is. If he doesn’t reply to your text message he’s probably busy. If you’re messaging during his standard work hours, chances are he’s working. There’s no need to panic.
This doesn’t mean you should be aloof and play hard to get. Mind games are toxic in a potential relationship. Be respectful of his boundaries and mindful of the pace at which your relationship is progressing naturally.
So, get out there! Dating can be lots of fun, so be sure to enjoy yourself in the process. And if you feel like you’re not meeting decent guys, maybe it’s time for some tough love.
If you are getting dates and not vibing with some of your options, here’s how you can let them down easily.