Tag Archives: Grindr

13 reasons we hate hookup apps – and why we should maybe think again

We all love a good old whinge about dating apps, don’t we?

As a gay man, especially, it can be very tempting to blame all society’s ills on them – be it an increase in superficiality, the death of romance or body insecurities. We romanticise a time before Grindr when, in our heads, we all met up in public and cultivated beautiful, caring friendships and relationships in cosy little bars with rainbow flags above the doors.

And then it comes. “FINALLY deleting this horrible app!” they say. “I want to meet men the old-fashioned way,” spits a 22-year-old who’s been on the receiving end of one-too-many “hello m8″s and unsolicited dick pics. But the thing is, the old-fashioned way doesn’t really exist anymore and if it did, you’d be even more miserable. Take for granted the freedom apps have given us at your peril. They’re changing lives.

Before the internet came along, being a gay man could be a very isolating, confusing, and heartstoppingly sexless experience. Grindr and its desktop predecessors may have changed the face of gay culture, but they haven’t made it worse. The same things are going on, it’s just that the journey to them is different.

I’m not saying you’re totally wrong, or I’m right – we’re all a bit wrong. Here’s why: Continue reading 13 reasons we hate hookup apps – and why we should maybe think again


Dating apps aren’t killing romance – our attitude is

Another day, another person slinging mud at a dating app.

Tinder, giving boring singletons something to wang on about in All Bar One since 2012, has come in for a slating from historian Lucy Worsley, who claims it is removing the romance from our lives.

Citing romantic novels of the past, which as a historian is her right, I guess, she claims true romance lies in the overcoming of obstacles. The “slow exquisite torture” of love and romance in Jane Austen’s novels has been wiped out by Grindr and Tinder, according to Worsley, who has a new series on BBC Four to flog – and yes it’s about romance through the ages.

The torture of romance in Jane Austen’s books may well be slow, but exquisite it was not – I spent one of the most miserable terms of my life picking apart Emma in A-level English literature, praying a character would do something, anything, other than laugh behind their hand or talk like they were reading out a recipe for roasted ptarmigan to a toddler.

It is very easy to blame the progress of technology for all our social ills – TV has been getting in the neck for decades, after all – but the reality is rather different. We may be losing outdated, traditional courting methods, but we are gaining new ones, and it’s bringing people together like never before. 26 million matches a day on Tinder, apparently. Lizzie Bennet wishes, eh?

The funniest part of Lucy Worsley’s dismissal of Tinder and Grindr is her assertion they make it “too easy” to meet people. She has clearly never spent a night on Grindr battling her way through a slew of guys sending unsolicited dick pics or parroting “hey mr x” at anyone who happens to be online.

Easy? She should try wasting hours and hours and hours cultivating a textual romance with the hottie from 0.7km away who, upon turning up to your date, appears to be his own older, uglier, less articulate brother. Continue reading Dating apps aren’t killing romance – our attitude is

31 things you will see people do on dating apps

Dating apps, whether they’re for long-lasting love or a three-minute hook-up you can brag to your friends about, have revolutionised our love and sex lives.

But even with tec so new and exciting, we’re still a habit-forming animal – we can’t resist becoming a cliché.

So here are a few things you will almost certainly see on hook-up or dating apps. Swipe. Left.

1. A guy who does the same facial expression in every photo.
It’s usually a lop-sided grin or a grimace or that wide-open scream face that Caitlin Moran does a lot. Or a pout. They’ll find a preferred pose and stick to it. And it will never be just a smile.

2. Someone who has accidentally uploaded the same picture three times.

3. “Looking for a gym buddy.”
I have a boyfriend, but I would like to get unspeakable with you  in the changing rooms once a week.

4. A selfie taken in a dirty mirror.

5. A selfie with a pile of dirty laundry in the background.

6. An impossibly good-looking 19-year-old who would rather sleep with the Tollund Man than you.
But you try anyway. Continue reading 31 things you will see people do on dating apps

An additional 25 men you should never date

The dating arena is an unforgiving place. There’s no time to waste on that search for lasting love.

As ever, I only want to help, so if you want to separate the men from the boys and the woulds from the would-nots, here I have 25 more men you should, if at all possible, avoid when dating. Everything I do, I do it for you.

You should never date a man who…

1. Has a ‘hilarious’ answer-phone message.
Wacky outgoing voicemail messages are up there with novelty underpants, Homer Simpson ties, “Take me to your dealer” T-shirts and socks with the day of the week written on them when it comes to turn-offs.

2. Types “hehe” when he means “haha”.

3. Goes on about how Alanis Morissette’s Ironic isn’t actually ironic.
Yeah, I love to have someone explain to me in spine-tingling detail the official dictionary entry for ironic. May 10,000 spoons rain down on your head.

4. Says “Grauniad” or “Torygraph”.
Or the Daily Fail, or the Daily Diana, or the Scum, or any other annoying, smug nickname for a national newspaper. Apart from News of the Screws – but that doesn’t apply any more. (Interesting fact: my local paper growing up was called the T&A and NOBODY ever made a joke about it. Imagine.)

5. Tweets this picture and claims it’s his local Tesco.
It’s from Canada. And is really old. Piss off.

You should never date a man who posts this picture and claims it's his local Tesco.

6. Says “thanks for the birthday messages” on Facebook before his birthday is actually over.

7. Calls holiday ‘annual leave’, especially in his out-of-office.
He’ll probably end up begging you for ‘sexual relations’, after you’ve had a few ‘beverages’ down the local ‘hostelry’.

8. Has commented “YAAAAAASSS SLAY” on a YouTube video.
Or indeed comments on YouTube videos full stop.

9. Still has a Yahoo! email address.

10. Thinks he’s less lame on social media than everyone else.
He’s wrong – we are all terrible.

11. Claims someone is pretending to be him on Grindr.
It’s him. 101 times out of 100.

12. Says #sorrynotsorry
He should be sorry.

13. Uses the word ‘funky’ about anything other than James Brown.

14. Thinks texting you the entire lyrics to Dress You Up counts as flirting.

15. Talks about ‘payday’.
Or goes on about being ‘skint’ at the end of the month. Ooh, minor, surmountable money problems? Now that’s what I call talking dirty. Let’s have sex immediately, maybe on a bed of bounced cheques and Starbucks receipts.

16. Has a strong opinion either way on the great, sexless Apple vs Android ‘debate’.

17. Has a birthday party in a bar and expects you to pay to get in.

18. Uses the word ‘shenanigans’.
It usually describes the tamest night of sipping weak cocktails in an All Bar One just off the ring road, gazing out at a car park while a lightbulb gently buzzes somewhere just out of your eye line. And that’s what the sex will be like. And every day for the rest of your lives. Always a buzzing lightbulb somewhere.

19. Won’t ask for extra gravy.
There should always be more gravy. The man who will get it for you should be proposed to immediately. Marry. This. Man.

20. Accepts the first table a waiter offers him.
It’s always the worst one.

21. Sets all his Facebook profile pictures to public.
He’s a slut.

22. Wants you to write about him.
What if there’s really nothing to say?

23. Doesn’t have a favourite Victoria Wood quote.
“You’ve a look of Eva Braun – did you know?”

24. Doesn’t think this is the best X Factor duet ever.

25. Thinks admitting his selfies are “shameless” means he can take five times as many.

And one more for luck…

26. Is James Franco.
I mean, I love him, but God he’d be exhausting. And you’d need a nailbrush before you even got going.

I could go on. And I will, soon…

In the meantime, check these ‘pearls of wisdom’ out:

25 men you should never date

Another 25 men you should never date

A further 25 men you should never date

Yet another 25 men you should never date

I write a monthly column for the wonderful Gay Times magazine on all the men you should never, ever date. Get it now at gtdigi.co.uk

Do you really need a six-pack to make an impact?

The year is 2001.

I am in a bar, talking to a gay man. I used to do that. He might be trying to pick me up; I can’t tell. He takes another sip of his almost-drained drink and looks me up and down carefully. Here we go.

“How old are you?” he asks, with a mouthful of beery spittle.

“I’m 25,” I reply.

He surveys me again as if looking at a child’s finger painting. Finally, he speaks.

“If you want a body, you’re going to have to get on with it pretty quickly.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your body,” he sighs. “You don’t have one. You’ve no shape. By the time you get to 30, it’ll be too late. Start going to the gym as soon as you can.” He walks away.

If there’s one thing you’re going to need as a gay man, it’s a body.

If there’s one thing you’re going to need as a gay man, it’s a body. You can try telling me different, but nine times out of 10 you’re not going to get a great deal of initial interest from another gay man just because you look as if you read a lot of books. Looks count, even if they are only a beautiful lid on a simmering pot of ugliness, despair, bitterness and venom.

While I’m not bashing its usefulness, take good old Grindr, for example. You select your potential partner by browsing a gallery of tiny thumbnail pictures, lined up together like the world’s least appealing mosaic.

Users have less than a square centimetre to make an impression, and while most of us need a pretty face to experience the first stirrings of arousal – or at least a half decent face, depending on the time of day, how long it has been since ‘the last time’ and how many vodka and tonics you’ve had – many users decide to cut straight to business and get out their best weapon. No, not that, you’re not allowed to show that.

No, it’s the bod, the rack, the torso – buffed, shiny, preened and, usually, headless. Yes, these gods are so confident in the appeal of their sculpted trunks that they don’t even bother including their face.

“I have a body like this,” they drawl. “Why on earth would you care what I look like?”

“I have a body like this,” they drawl. “Why on earth would you care what I look like?”

Flicking through these prime cuts of flesh can be a humbling experience. A few brave or fetishised exceptions aside, everyone has everything in the right place.

An array of eye-popping guns, perfect pecs, killer abs and broad shoulders awaits you. It pays not to look down at your own torso while you’re surveying the merchandise, especially if you’re standing next to an open window at the top of a large building. The urge to jump may just be too strong.

All these muscles they’re honing, but for what? What are they lifting that’s going to need mass like that?

You wonder to yourself how they have the time to get bodies like this. Don’t they work? Do they exist in a parallel universe – a carb-free dystopia with no pubs?

And why do they want a body like this? All these muscles they’re honing, but for what? What are they lifting that’s going to need mass like that?

Unless they’re removal men who are forever navigating grand pianos up and down narrow spiral staircases, it all seems distressingly pointless.

I partially blame that Athena poster. You know the one: the oh-so-sensitive, muscle-bound babydaddy, emotionally cooing over the newborn in his arms, while a universe full of women (and gays) are far more emotionally swooning (at the very least) over his beach ball-sized biceps.

Until then, musclebound bodies were more or less restricted to wrestlers and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Why are a generation of bloggers and social media editors all walking round looking like they lift fridges all day?

Sure, there’d be weightlifters in the gym and selected movie stars who were ‘built’, but everybody else was either weedy or podgy, with only the odd natural Adonis scattered in between. And he’d usually be a manual labourer – so why are a generation of bloggers and social media editors all walking round looking like they lift fridges all day?

Watch some television from the 1970s or early 1980s. Glamour sagas like Dallas and Dynasty aside, everybody is fairly average. Potbellies, scrawny legs and funky teeth are the order of the day. Gradually, as Eighties’ aspirations began to be more body-focused than wallet-aligned, everyone started to look a little buffer, more toned. The war against podge had begun.

British soap operas used to be the last bastion of the ugly. Now everyone’s ripped and looks like they’ve just fallen from the underwear section of the catalogue.

Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer whipped off their vests in Top Gun for a slow-mo, trouser-bulging volleyball match and suddenly, every man wanted to be able to disrobe at a moment’s notice and not feel ashamed of their tummy.

Some corners of the media held out longer. British soap operas, for example, used to be the last bastion of the ugly. There’d be one token ‘phwoar’, sure, but everybody else was distinctly average – lumpy, bumpy and boring to know. Shirts would stay reassuringly on.

But now most younger male stars are all ripped and look like they’ve just fallen from the pages of the underwear section of the catalogue. They pull off flimsy cotton Ts at any opportunity, or star in scenes conveniently set post-shower, so they can show off their mile-wide chests and xylophone abs. At home, millions of men gulp and resolve to renew that gym membership. Or at least to go more than once a month.

When it comes to the buffness revolution, personality and kindness are first up against the wall.

But is it realistic for all of us to acquire this body beautiful? Our 9-5 existences don’t usually lend themselves to rigorous, continual exercise, rounds of protein shakes and special eating regimes delivered to our door. Something’s got to give, right? There are a number of exceptions, but my experience is when it comes to the buffness revolution, personality and kindness are first up against the wall.

I don’t want a six-pack, which is handy, as I’m unlikely ever to get one. They look ugly, harsh, as if you don’t do anything else except slog at it in the gym to have this alien stomach, which, of course, you are required to show off at any given opportunity.

I go to the gym; I’ve got a ‘body’, but I’ve got a real one. There’s hardly any fat and a one or two T-shirt friendly muscles are in attendance, yes, but it’s real.

It’s a body that likes a few beers, has been known to eat badly but isn’t averse to going for a run. I can look in the mirror at it and know that it’s mine, that it’s living along with me and I’m not killing myself – or boring everybody else to death – to make it look impeccable. And, most importantly, it’s not for display. You only get to see it if I really want you to.

So if you’re Mr Average, don’t despair at those Grindr galleries – let them keep their bowling-ball guns and starving stomachs. And leave them to slog it out when it comes to those killer abs.

Because when suitors’ eager eyes tire of looking at faultlessness and uniformity, they’ll come looking somewhere else, for something real. And you’ll be waiting.

An early, different version of this piece originally appeared on Huffington Post. Take a look at other stuff I have done for them.

Image: Melanie M on Flickr

How Grindr ruined dating for everyone

You can’t get more upfront and visual than Grindr. It’s the frank, confrontational reality TV show contestant of the social media app world, assuring you if it has anything to say it will “say it your face” or telling you “what you see is what you get”. Of course the truth is something quite different. Grindr is merely a cloudy mirror, vaguely reflecting society but usually doing its own hair or photoshopping out its eye-bags.

What it has done with its instant gratification storefront, however, is slowly strangle some of those quainter things of days gone by. Innocence gently erodes thanks to its in-your-grill bullishness. Dignity aside, Grindr’s main victims lie before us like discarded Kleenex on the floor of One Direction’s tour bus.

Back when online social interaction was reduced to sitting at a computer ‘scanning’ your locale on programs like ICQ or any old-school messageboards for like-minded individuals, you wouldn’t have much to go on when it came to identifying your chat partner. Names like foxi_bunni_1989 and luv_mussel (oh yes) could be extremely misleading, so the first question to get out of the way was a/s/l? Age? Sex? Location? Only then could you be sure you weren’t talking to your mother or maths teacher.

Sadly, everyone usually lied about A. Some funsters with feelings they couldn’t quite put their finger on would also lie about S. And L? Well, who really cared about L, so long as they were far enough away not to know you were lying about your ASL too? With Grindr, it’s all there already – your facts and figures presented like Miss World’s vital statistics. No surprises – except the ones you’re lying about.

Being truthful about your height
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a keyboard and an empty space on his calendar for Saturday night will lie about his height. Grindr doesn’t force you to display your height – or indeed any stats – but if you don’t, it will be automatically assumed your shirttails graze the ground as you walk.

So what’s the more diminutive dater to do? Wear stack heels? Arrive on a pogo stick? Why, no! Just bung a few extra inches on your height. Of course, it works! What are they going to do – bring out a tape measure and challenge you? Aren’t we always reading in the papers that numeracy levels are plummeting? How many of these idiots even know what six-feet tall even means? Or so reasons the empty mind of a height liar.

I am precisely 5’9” and a half (we must not forget this half; it is very important) and you would be amazed how many so-called six-footers I’ve been able to look squarely in the eye. Often, I glance up from their gaze just to make sure they’re not sporting a six-inch forehead. Because social media and apps encourage us to present a version of ourselves we’d like to be, height is usually the first thing to get a donk on it.

The excitement of seeing the bare chest of a stranger
Unless you run a beach bar in Benidorm, you don’t often get to see what’s going on under the bri-nylon collar and cuffs of whoever’s sitting opposite you. While online dating gives you endless pictures to scroll through and make faces at like you’re trying different flavours of cat food, very few potential suitors pose shirtless. You have to wait until that moment you’re alone together and your hands and eyes can wander, silently praying there’ll be no third nipples or gangrenous navels.

Grindr removes this frisson of excitement without so much as offering you a hanky to wipe your eyes. It demands ultra body confidence – row upon row of glistening torsos (some with heads attached, others cut off just above the Adam’s apple) for your perusal. No body on show means there’s probably nothing worth seeing or your subject is shy. There’s no room for shyness on Grindr. Pre-packed tomatoes don’t fly here; you’ve got to be loose and squeezable. Six-pack after six-pack dance before your tired, jaded eyes; the bodies melding into one mass of personally trained magnolia.

Peeking at guys in the gym changing rooms (you all do it) loses its thrill, as you know Pecs_Appeal81 has got perfect taut abs and pecs you could skateboard on and he’s just the press of a button away.

Hi, how are you?
Such a simple greeting, the informal denim-sporting little brother of ‘How do you do?’ And yet it has been tarnished for ever as one of the more dead-eyed opening lines you can expect on Grindr. It bothers the app’s users so much, many of them devote most of their blurb space to specifying they do not want to hear that greeting.

“Have more to say than how r u,” or “Anyone just saying hi will get blocked straightaway,” quip these burgeoning Gore Vidals. Most conversations start with hello, but Grindr users have no time for this. They want to get straight to the point, cutting out any pleasantries or any pretence that this conversation involves two humans and not two iPad-hearted sex robots with erections that need ‘solving’.

Hello is one of my favourite words to write, type and say, but Grindr eschews it for an extreme close-up of your genitalia or your exact GPS location.

Goodbye, hello.

A slightly different version of this post originally appeared on Sabotage Times, where I’m ‘doing some stuff’ now.

The One-Hour Wonder

The main problem with huge, exhilarating events is the crash back down to planet normal afterward. There is the inevitable need to prolong the high, to stave off the mundane.

It is when bored that I am at my most very dangerous, and the warning lights are certainly flashing now as I sit in my lounge staring at the wall just minutes after arriving back home after my friends’ beautiful wedding. The day itself was perfect and the couple radiant. The setting, in the grounds of the groom’s parents’ house in Kent, was so idyllic and flawless that my flat feels like an oversized KFC bucket in comparison.

It is Sunday. The phone goes on. And that app is launched. Last time I was this bored, I ended up sharing a bath with a stranger. Like I said, boredom can be dangerous.

Being literate and enjoying full sentences can be something of a barrier on Grindr. While all those little avatars of six-packs claim to be erudite grammarians, it seems nobody is safe from that dreary “hows u??” or “heyy mister”. So when I hear that magic ping and see a headless torso wishing me “a very good afternoon, handsome” I am intrigued, interested.

We get the usual rigmarole out of the way very quickly. “Any more pics?” and “Yes, but can I see what your face looks like” are soon despatched and I find myself chatting amiably to a very good-looking man with strong features and the most marvellously perfect body I have seen in a long time.

His thighs are huge and muscular, his stomach and chest rippling and he has biceps that would make Zac Efron self-conscious. Yet none of this perfection looks over the top or ridiculous; it’s all in proportion and not at all intimidating.

This isn’t someone who spends all day and night in the gym – he’s actually fit. These are real muscles; they are earned. In the next breath comes the reason: “I’m a volleyball player.”

Hold. The. Phone.

I instantly assume this poor creature is massively bored and only talking to me to pass the time of day. He is woefully out of my league. But it seems he has different criteria he needs to tick off because before I know it he is complimenting me on my English (he is, it transpires, Spanish) and saying I sound as if I might be quite bossy. Well, he’s got me there.

“I do like to get what I want, yes,” I reply, before realising that makes me sound like a high-maintenance bonehead. I quickly add: “But I always ask very nicely.”

His reply comes as fast as lightning. “And what would you ask me to do? And you don’t have to ask nicely.”

OMG am I being sexted at? I start to mildly panic. I’m not at good at this. Despite my sexually liberal leanings, I am at heart a mortified Victorian.

Luckily, my brain remembers I am still drunk from last night and so the ribald charmer who only gets an airing once I’ve had several pink gins comes to the fore. It only takes three or four more sentences that are, um, unsuitable to print in a family newspaper before he is firing over his address, telling me his real name and asking me to hurry up.

I put product through my hair, change my T-shirt, give it two squirts of Chanel (my two is like your four) and am skipping down the stairs to the street like I am off to meet Santa himself.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

I know exactly what I’m doing.

My bravado is terrifying, but it’s all I have right now.

It takes me about 25 minutes to get to the street where he lives, amid a sprawling estate with tower blocks looming over me. I ring a buzzer, hear a gruff “hello” and get in a very frightening lift with scratched mirrors and a carrier bag filled with something.

The lift doors open at the appropriate floor and I can see the apartment door directly of me ahead is ajar, yet behind a security grille which covers the entire doorway and is locked. Keys jangle. A face appears. And then a body. There is my ‘date’.

We seem to have different ideas of what 5’10” actually is, as he is shorter than me, but no matter. He looks much more average in the flesh but is still good-looking, and looks like he has just got out of the bath. While he’s not wet, he is super clean and is dressed in a crisp white T and some baggy shorts. He’s pale.

He says my name, and lets me in. I follow him down the hall into his lounge which is clean but packed with too much furniture and three clothes-dryers groaning with fashion I would generously call ‘European’, along with assorted sporty attire.

“Would you like a drink?” he asks with a tiny smile. His lips are quite thin. My mother would not approve. Of any of this.

“Water, please.”

He gets me the tiniest glass of water in the world and I sip it nervously while he stares into space and asks me a few questions about myself.

After five minutes of this sexually-charged inanity, he moves toward me. I moisten my lips in anticipation, trembling slightly – my Dutch courage but a memory.

“I don’t like kissing that much,” he says. Oh. I am disappointed. I do. “Shall we go to the bedroom?”

He leads me to his room – a bright, white sparse cell with a huge window and no blinds – and undresses me quickly. And then himself. My disappointment evaporates.

When it is over, I look down at my belly – bloated from the excesses of yesterday and pale and unappealing – then to his: taut, exquisite, and rising and falling with his deep, rapid breathing. He looks straight at me. “Shall we have a shower?”

We make our way through to his bathroom. It is the usual rented flat shade of depressing, with mushroom-coloured tiles and a mottled shower screen that probably won’t last many more drenchings.

I clamber into the bath, feeling as gracious as a fawn on rollerblades, and stand feeling hopelessly exposed and stupid. He climbs in too and starts the water, holding the shower attachment in his hand and showering first him and then me, in turns like an old man absentmindedly hosing his begonias.

He’s expressionless as he takes shower gel and squirts it into his hands, soaping himself before slathering my shoulders with a few stray suds.

I simply have to speak because he’s not kissing me or anything and the sight of the bubbles running down his body is making me feel light-headed. But it seems this is not sexual for him at all; he may as well be bathing a pug.

“We should have done this earlier,” I squeak. “Got us, errr, in the mood.”

He continues to look through me, and a mere slit of a smile crosses his lips. “Uh huh.”

It’s increasingly clear this shower is purely functional; there isn’t to be an encore. I am not to be treated to a satisfactory outcome of my own.

Eventually my X-rated water torture comes to an end and he turns off the shower and hops out, grabbing the nearest towel and offering it to me. I step out with all the grace of a ‘90s ladette getting out of a black cab and take the towel.

He stands before me, his face a picture of vague amusement, and helpfully guides the towel to places I may have missed, carefully patting me dry before taking his hands and smoothing down my hair into a side parting, so that I look like a superannuated schoolboy. Butter, however, certainly would melt.

I follow him back to the bedroom and begin to pull on my clothes, which now smell stale and beery and belong to what I felt like an hour ago.

He regards me as I dress before breaking the silence with a shaky “You have a nice, uh, butt. And legs.”

I laugh nervously in the hope it will stop him calling out any further random body parts.

“Yes.” I sigh. “You look like a painting,” I say, revelling in his furrowed brow as I zip up.

As he opens the door to see me out and unlock the unwieldy grille, he almost leans in for a kiss but then seems to change his mind and shakes my hand. I wonder why he chooses the hand; it’s not as if he doesn’t know where my mouth has been. But like he said, he doesn’t like kissing that much.

I say goodbye cheerily and slink down the stairs and out into the open air again, breathing in deeply and joyfully. I chuckle to myself as I make my way back to my seedy bachelor’s pad.

Life – it’s fucking brilliant, isn’t it?

Stats: 27, 5’10” (not), brown/brown, Santander
Post-date rating:
Date? Come on. But 8/10

Date in one sentence: I never cease to surprise myself.

Image: Flickr