I’m almost 30, and I’m still virgin. People might ask what’s wrong with me—and I’d like to know the answer myself. Because I’m very introverted, it’s hard for me to initiate conversations. Because I’m quite masculine, gaydar may not single me out of a crowd, so it’s nearly impossible to get a boyfriend. I have always figured on waiting for the right guy, but I may start changing my mind soon. Should I just go for it (Craigslist, Manhunt) to get some experience? Where can I find the right guy?
I definitely don’t recommend jumping into hooking up with someone on Craigslist or Manhunt. If you’re looking for quick hook-ups, there’s nothing wrong with finding guys that way, but given that you’re not experienced, that might be rushing it. I had a client who had waited into his late 20s before being sexual with another guy. When he tried Manhunt, he found it to be too aggressive and overwhelming.
It sounds like your waiting wasn’t necessarily intentional. You say you’re introverted, but it sounds like you’re not approaching guys, instead waiting for some guy to come to you. Since you’re masculine, I would think guys would hit on you more, given that our gay male culture values masculinity as more attractive. So I am guessing you aren’t putting yourself in situations where gay guys can approach you.
I am also wondering if you are the avoidant type of guy and/or highly anxious? You have to address both these barriers to getting out there and dating, or they will keep you from finding the right guys, either for dating or just to have fun sex. In working with avoidant and anxious gay men over the years, I’ve noticed that they have the hardest time coming out of the closet and then creating a gay social group. They struggle longer because they avoid conflict, and being out and gay requires learning how to deal with conflict.
Being gay in this heterocentric society is inherently—and unavoidably—conflictual. If you’re going to put yourself in social situations, there’s no way to avoid social anxiety. However, you can do things to manage the stress and allow yourself to tolerate it so you can find the right guy.
- Go to dating sites like Match.com, Chemistry.com and Yahoo personals and post a profile of yourself. The pace of these sites will let you go slower than on Craigslist and Manhunt. Rather than sitting back and waiting to be approached, initiating contact on these sites—and practicing social skills in cyberspace—can be a great way to start.
- Visit chat rooms on AOL, Yahoo Messenger or Gay.com (and, very soon, 365gay.com). Those sites can offer you practice in interactive socializing without actually going face-to-face with other men. But be warned: Sometimes these chat rooms don’t have much conversation or socializing going on. Rather, most guys are after sexual hookups, checking in with their dick sizes and sexual interests. Settle on rooms where there is more genuine interaction.
- If and when you decide to meet a guy, don’t make it a long and drawn-out. Making it short and (hopefully) sweet—coffee or a quick snack, with a pre-set ending—will help keep your anxiety to a minimum.
- Locate your nearest gay community center and drop in on their social meetings. That structured setting will allow you to feel more comfortable and in control in the situation.
- Finally, some people benefit from mild dosages of anti-anxiety medication. If you find yourself repeatedly immobilized by anxiety, consider possibly taking something. I recommend talking with a psychiatrist first, because your personal physician is not trained—as are psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses—to prescribe psychotropic medication.
Good luck to you, and keep trying!
Joe Kort, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and Board Certified Sexologist who specializes in gay affirmative therapy, relationship therapy, sex therapy and sexual addiction. He is the author of 10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives, 10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To Find Real Love, and Gay Affirmative Therapy for the Straight Clinician. He provides workshops for gays and lesbians as well as trainings for straight clinicians around the country. His website is www.joekort.com.