Being a gay guy living in a city like Tallahassee, dating was a struggle. My enthusiastic personality, ambition and not being picky per se but looking for certain qualities was stifling and off putting to some guys. “Nice” and “sweet” were words used to describe me, but where were “sexy,” “charming” and all those other adjectives you want to hear when constantly putting yourself out there.
Moving to Atlanta I decided welcome Tinder! Is that you again, Grindr? Anyone who read Grindr: This Wasn’t A Date. A Meet & Greet knows that sometimes guys have too much honesty in their desires via these apps. In Tallahassee this contrasts guys you ask out in real life. I encountered confusion that I was romantically interested in them versus being friends and some were completely uncomfortable with the idea of going on a date in college.
When I first interviewed in Atlanta, Alec and I met on Tinder. A couple weeks after I moved we agreed to go on a dinner date at the renowned Mary Mac’s. A dinner date! Welcome to a big city! He even insisted on paying. This felt like the big leagues.
Whenever we come to the end of a date and walk away, our instincts know how it truly went. The conversation immediately following a date is the moment of truth. Here’s how ours went:
Me: I enjoyed dinner with you and thank you for paying! Let’s get together this weekend when you’re free.
Alec: Hey, I had a great time at dinner last night. However, I want to be honest, you’re a really nice guy, but I’m not interested in pursuing this further.
What? “Nice?!” I’d always been an advocate for honesty. But that felt like someone declining to renew their business contract.
It hurt. Honesty hurt. But what was behind the hurt is that I wasn’t being completely honest with myself when I left dinner. I could do better. I could be happier. There is definitely someone who could make me feel more like myself and not like I was on audition.
I was bitter though, and I hadn’t felt this way in a long time.
It led to first lesson of online dating: Be honest with yourself. Be honest with the other person. Someone still gets hurt.