1. Don't Rule Out Mainstream Online Dating Sites
Depending on what you’re looking for, there is a massive choice of dating sites for gay men. Some boast a vast user base, while others cater to niche interests. Before signing up, it’s a great idea to do a little research into what options are out there: some are more ‘flirty’ and fun, and some are known for having great mobile apps. Some are focused on gay professionals, and others are more helpful for gay men of a specific age range (for example, the over 50s).
If you want a secret tip though about where you might have more success than you think, take a look at mainstream dating sites, not just niche gay sites. All of the mainstream, reputable dating sites have options for gay men to state their preferences too, so you might prefer one of the more ‘universal’ sites. The big plus of these sites is that they have advanced algorithms that learn your preferences and personality to find you compatible matches. Plus they have lots of single gay members, maximizing the chances that you’ll find Mr. Right. You may feel more comfortable on a niche gay site, but love might be hiding in plain site on a mainstream app.
2. Treat Your Profile Like a Social Media Account
Once you've made your choice and have signed up to an online dating site or app, be an active user so that guys out there know you're serious about finding love. Depending on the site's options, share pictures about what you're up to, post updates, sign in and make connections—all of these things will help you get noticed by other users, and only increase your chances of finding a good match. Think of the dating site you choose as just another social media account, but instead of old high school friends and cousins seeing you in their feeds, it will be other singles.
So, how can you maximize your chances of finding love online? Cultivate a profile that showcases who you are. First of all, make sure you choose the right profile picture (or pictures, depending on your chosen app or site!). Your most important feature is your face—so, make sure you haven’t got dark shadows or glasses covering up your face. Some guys feel a lot of pressure to show off their body with shirtless pics, but the most important thing is to represent you as you are most comfortable—showcase your style, whatever it might be, and you will be far more likely to find a match that is truly compatible.
Quite a few sites and apps ask you to choose a screen name, which is another thing that can leave plenty of guys flummoxed. How can you come up with something funny, creative, or representative, in just a few short characters? Once again, focus on letting your personality shine through. Keep it abstract—perhaps the title of a song that you love, which will catch the attention of anyone with that particular shared interest. Anything that can tell other users something about yourself, or act as a conversation opener, is a great way to start.
3. Don’t Leave Blank Sections in Your Profile
Make sure you don't leave blank sections in your profile—fill it all out! When you’re meeting someone online, a profile is all you have to go by. Anything unknown is off-putting, so make sure you do yourself justice in representing yourself 100%. Most dating sites let you fill in personal details such as age, height, perhaps your preferred sexual role, relationship status, and what you're looking for. The more you fill out, the more likely you are to find what you're looking for.
And it goes without saying—be honest! Even though there may be things that you are insecure about, one of the advantages of looking for love online is that you don’t need to experience rejection face to face. If you’re upfront about your age, living situation, etc. from the beginning, you will definitely avoid having awkward or uncomfortable conversations later on down the line. If you would rather keep certain things private, that is also fine—just keep your profile honest if you want to build a truthful relationship later down the line.
Part of being honest about what you're looking for is keeping your profile focused and avoiding information that's irrelevant. For example – if you're looking for a casual hookup, don't spend paragraphs elaborating on your hobbies and life ambitions. If you are more interested in long-term companionship, that's when you can share more details about your ambitions and life goals. If you're unsure about how best to represent yourself, get a close friend or 2 to look over your profile or to help you fill it out—a second opinion is a great confidence booster.
The next step is to reach out to someone that you would like to connect with. Before you make a connection, make sure you've looked at more than just their picture. There's no denying that physical attraction is an important factor—but you should be able to get a better idea of whether someone is your type from a quick glance at their profile, the sort of the language they use, any other pictures they've shared or information they've uploaded. One minute of checking could save you many wasted minutes of interaction with someone who turns out to be completely incompatible.
4. Be Flexible on Your Preferences - It Doesn’t Mean You’re Settling
Watch out for guys who highlight all the things that they are *not* looking for in a relationship. He might be gorgeous and look like exactly your type, but listing what they don’t want comes across as pretty aggressive and threatening. Another type you might be best avoiding is the one who states all the things he expects his partner to do: “you must work out daily, you must have a job, you must avoid x…” Even if these are things that you do, it’s not pleasant or healthy to go into a relationship with any sense of obligations to the other.
Another important hack to consider is not to draw lines under certain things or rule them out. You might find a guy online that you really like, but 1 or 2 things don’t match up. This doesn’t mean you wouldn’t work out in real life. Things are always going to be different chemically between different couples. It’s great to know what you want—but some preferences are definitely worth being flexible on, especially since things will always feel different face to face as opposed to on a screen.
5. Avoid Using Just “Hey” as Your First Message
When you’re ready to make contact, be aware that your first message is also a part of your first impression. Try to say more than just “hey.” If you want to show a guy you're interested in him, show him that you've looked at his profile, and see if you can include something relevant in your opening comment. A small amount of thought and effort will help you catch his interest—perhaps you saw something in his picture that you have in common?
6. Meet Somewhere Fresh for Both of You
Once you’ve found someone and you’ve decided you’re ready to take the plunge and meet up, it might be worth considering meeting somewhere that’s “fresh” for both of you, to avoid the risks of running into old flames or even other acquaintances that might interrupt your evening. Many sites include options for “my place” or “your place”—but remember, however much you feel like you know someone—with online dating, you are ultimately meeting someone who is a stranger. The best spot would be a new place you’ve wanted to try – a restaurant or bar that you like the look of.
7. Enjoy the Experience
You might feel alone when you are behind a screen looking for love—but there are thousands of men like you who are also searching for something special. Enjoy the experiences, keep a safe and open mind—and with any luck, you’ll find the man of your dreams!