Alan - I'm a 26 year-old gay man and am having a really hard time finding men to date. I live in a city much bigger than where I grew up and am surprised at how hard it is to meet guys. Getting phone numbers is easy but keeping them interested rarely happens. I have been told that I can be a little aggressive but that's just my M.O. How do I approach a guy and keep him interested beyond a one night stand? Hook-ups are fun but I want more. Please help. --Randy
I hear this question so often, especially from people who are very discouraged and wanting to give up trying. Rejection is painful and it takes a lot of courage to keep putting yourself out there. I commend you for your tenacity.
My recommendation is to consider three aspects of dating. The first is, where are you meeting men? Are you limiting yourself to bars and clubs? Not that you can't meet quality guys in those venues but the best way to meet like-minded men is to get out there and get involved in activities that interest you. Focus less on the hunt and more on creating a fulfilling life for yourself. When you are engaged in doing things that give you pleasure, you will feel happier and appear less desperate. Happy people are more attractive to others. You will be among guys that have some interest in common besides drinking, hooking up, and finding Mr. Right. Do some volunteer work, take a class, learn a new hobby...anything that will draw you out.
Next, think about how you approach men. You are fortunate in that some have given you feedback about how you come across. In most cases, people just get blown off with nothing to work with. Aggression is off-putting; confidence and assertiveness is attractive. Use the feedback constructively and adjust your style of approaching guys.
Finally, if you are expecting romance and an enduring relationship to come from hook-ups, I encourage you to adopt a new strategy. Not that it can't happen that way but you are more likely to sustain mutual interest in the long run if you focus more on your pacing. Delaying sex with a guy you are interested in allows you to build a foundation of substance that is much more sustaining than a roll in the hay. Get to know him first, let him see who you are, and let the romance evolve naturally. We live in a society of immediate gratification and are frequently left always wanting more. A healthy, mutually intimate relationship requires giving it time and nurturing. Those first few months can be so exciting, so why rush through it? Make the honeymoon last as long a you can. You will be glad you did.
Alan Irgang, LCSW is a psychotherapist and “dating coach” in private practice in Chicago. He is also on the faculty of the Loyola University School of Social Work where he teaches graduate level courses in Human Sexuality. Alan has been in private practice since 1998 and has been facilitating groups for singles about dating and relationships for six years. Check out his website www.alanirgang.com for more information about his practice and his upcoming seminars for singles. Questions may be submitted to Alan at firstname.lastname@example.org; all private information will be kept confidential.