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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Shake Hands? Or go on a date?

There's a joke that for gay men, having sex is like shaking hands. It's just what we do, you know, it's how we say hi to a stranger. And there's an element of truth to it, after all, as gay men we are defined to some extent by what we do with each other with out clothes off. Or at least flies open. And it's often said that nzdating should really be called nzfucking, cause that's how we treat it.

And I'm not complaining about this. Casual sex is one of our great treats.

But what about dating? Why don't we seem to do that in this country? I was talking about this with an American friend recently, and he claimed that over there it's actually quite normal to go out and have a meal, maybe a coffee or a drink, and not fall into bed straight away. From what he said, they sometimes even do that two or three times before they do fall into bed.(OK, not always, and maybe not so much in NY). And I was also talking with another friend, who is, sexy, and smart, runs his own business, and he said to me "Why can't I meet a partner?" He can get laid ok, but meeting someone to actually spend time with and that you can introduce to your family? That seems way harder for us gay guys as a group.

So why don't we date? I think this is an interesting concept. Imagine, getting to know someone a little bit before getting your rocks off? Wouldn't that be an interesting and novel experience?

And you know, I think there is something to be said for it. Without the total focus going on getting laid, maybe we'd actually get to develop friendships and find out if we really liked the other guy. For some reason, it often seems harder to do that after you've fucked I find. It often seems that sex first equals friends, or acquaintances after, or even less. How many guys have you had sex with that you've never called again, or can't remember their names when you see them out next?We seem to have this sexual culture built around the chase, the hunt, getting it, then leaving. I wonder howgood this is for us as a group.

One of the things that strikes me when I talk to young gay guys, in their teens as they are coming out, is that they so often say they want a boyfriend. I've perhaps gone on about this before. But it's such a common desire. A boyfriend. A mate. Someone to hang out with, to go out with, and yes, to fuck with too, but they really seem to show a desire to have a steady mate in their lives. And I think that's something that most of us can identify with too.

And I think that what our gay world does, with its emphasis on sex as a way of saying hello stranger, it makes it so much harder actually for young guys to date without the pressure of sex. We have such a sex centred culture in the gay male world that we miss out on some of the emotional side of things, the intimacy, the getting to know each other, the friendship and trust - all things that I think you need to make a relationship successful.

I suspect this part of our long legacy of having to live a life in the shadows. We were illegal and persecuted for so long, that we tended to take our pleasures on the run as it were. Gay male culture has set up certain patterns and these are hard to shake off, even now. I'm not against recreational just-fro-the-hell-of-it sex. Hell, if you've read any of my previous posts you'll know that.

But maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if we tried every now and then to actually date. To go and sit down, to talk, to get to know each other. Why not save shaking hands for really shaking hands at least some of the time, and spend the time to get to know each other a bit better before jumping into the sack. Treating the other person like an adult,a fellow human being, with needs and hopes and fears, instead of just a piece of meat to consume, I think it might lead to some interesting developments, and, let's face it, some more grown up forms of interaction. You're highly unlikely to want to spend the rest of your life with someone just because he's a great fuck - right?

Perhaps we might all be surprised at the outcome.

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