Until August last year, I’d pretty much been in back to back relationships for the previous seven years. The guys I dated varied in height, race, age, style and personality. But one thing linked them together. What? Almost all turned out to be gay. And the few that weren’t would rather sleep in their jeans than sleep with me.
There was the boyfriend that broke down crying in the car after we’d been to see a drag queen cabaret. During a song about the struggle of coming out to parents on a London council estate, my ex had given my hand a meaningful squeeze. Little did I know how much he empathised with the performance. Three days later I was the one crying in Soho, when he broke up with me citing communication issues. Now one of my best mates, he’s a leading light in fashion PR, goes wild for green juice, and my gay partner in crime for nights out in the capital.
Then I dated the boy who’d just had a fling with a male musical theatre star at our university. He’s now dating a former lesbian. After him, there was the Marxist academic, the frat boy with halitosis, the charming brass band musician, and the emaciated doctoral student with low key neurosis. All scared to be naked. So, where am I going wrong?
I’d like to think it’s about high culture, great style, or top-notch hygiene – the things that every film or TV show – from Ugly Betty to Will and Grace – tell us gay men are all about. But dating gay men makes you realise pretty quickly that those things aren’t always true. Especially when you’re lying in bed with a boyfriend that hasn’t washed in the last 9 days but knows the lyrics to every Grace Jones song.
Could it be then, about animal instinct? Possibly. Any dating book will tell you that men like to chase, but from my perspective that’s the most exciting part for both parties. Sometimes it can go too far. There was the time I asked the guy I was seeing if he was secretly addicted to gay porn, because we’d slept in the same bed every night for weeks without any move being made. Ironically, that conversation happened in the queue to a Vauxhall gay club with a crowd of curious men listening in attentively. The answer was a slightly startled no. Maybe I should wait for someone to chase me.
I had a feeling my last relationship was coming to an end when I realised that we hadn’t kissed in over six months. The alarm bells should have started ringing earlier on though. For our first Valentine’s Day together we had maxed out our student loans going to a luxury wine specialist hotel in Scotland. After a candlelit dinner and a couple of bottles of champagne down later, we ended up just hanging out in the lobby before heading upstairs to go to sleep. What a waste of a four poster bed. By the time that happened though, I was pretty used to my unexpected celibacy.
Since I was 18, I’ve taken every guy I’ve been out with to Mecca bingo on a first date, to see how he weathers it. If he sees the humour in it, he’s in, otherwise what’s the point? Is there something innately camp about dabbing numbered sheets surrounded by grannies and their carers? Are big pink markers phallic symbolism?
In fact, I think the real answer is a lot more straightforward. In the social media age, dating apps and websites like Tinder and Happn, day or night meeting someone is always an option. The resources to give into temptation and cheat are at our fingertips. Look at the huge number of family men revealed to be covert philanderers when the identities of users on website Ashley Madison were revealed. While there’s no sure fire way to ensure you’re not being cheated on, dating gay and celibate men is probably the most watertight after marrying a eunuch.
Dating men with no interest in sex, even with the person they love, means that I never have to worry about cheating. Given that I tend to move around a lot – I’ve lived in London, Oxford, Scotland and the States in the last four years alone, that probably plays into it more than I’d like to acknowledge.
There are some who think this kind of thinking is crazy. What’s the point of dating people you’re not sleeping with? But I don’t choose these relationships on purpose. In the past it’s almost led to having more meaningful experiences together, when the highlight of a date isn’t going to bed.
And, as soon as I figure out how to stop dating men who aren’t attracted to me without having to get a gender reassignment, the better.