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1 November 2010, 2:00 pm 19 Comments

Mister Manners: Grindr Etiquette

This post was submitted by Mister Manners, TNG’s new sex etiquette columnist.

A 'clear' violation of Rules #5, #7 and #8.

It’s a crazy world we live in.  It seems that every day there’s five new ways for we humans to interact with one another through electronic media.  It seems like everyone is out there in cyberspace interacting with one another, yet no one really knows the rules, the protocols, for these interactions.  As such, people just end up getting disappointed, frustrated, or otherwise pissed off at one another.  Social media is there not to replace human interactions, but to facilitate it.    So why is it that I hear more stories of people’s frustrations with online resources than success stories?  Perhaps it’s because there are no rules?  The 20th century had Emily Post and Miss Manners to help establish proper social protocols.  I will humbly attempt to fill this space with 21st century advice for the modern gay looking for love (or more) in the digital age.  Without further ado, let’s get started with establishing some rules for using the hottest mobile “online friend finder” app, Grindr.

The first thing that confuses a lot of people is the purpose of Grindr.  Is it a tool for finding buddies, or dick?  This confusion is compounded by the endless stream of profiles showcasing shirtless torsos with tag lines reading “just friends” or “not looking.”  Let’s take a step back and assess what Grindr is. it’s a mobile app that allows you to see gay men who are logged on near you.  They are sorted by proximity, the closest at the top and the farthest at the bottom.  Grindr puts a lot of emphasis on location, which to me indicates that it’s an app for actually meeting people in public.  “Oh, you’re 500 feet away?  Let’s meet up!”  If it wasn’t intended to facilitate real-time human interaction, profiles would be sorted by some other datum, like how well they fit some other preference.  In fact, Grindr allows you to provide very few details about yourself, other than your age, height, weight, ethnicity, and a brief “about” section, so there isn’t a lot of ability to sort by anything but location.  Again, more indication of it being a tool for meeting people.

So, I’m going to assume that Grindr is indeed a tool for hooking up with your neighbors.  Why else would it put such a priority on proximity?  With this in mind, let me offer the following simple rules:

1) Blocking is your friend. There’s really nothing wrong with blocking someone.  My recommendation is to block anyone whom you wouldn’t want to sleep with.  This way, they won’t see you and try to chat you up, leaving you the awkward dilemma of turning them down or ignoring them.  Which leads us to rule #2.

2) Always respond.  If someone chats you up, reply to them.  A simple and unoffensive reply would be, “Thanks, man.  I’m not interested.”  It’s a common courtesy.  If someone says hello to you in the hallway at work, you don’t ignore them.  You reply.  It’s just rude to be so dismissive.  So what if you aren’t into them?  You should have blocked them already (see rule #1), so since you’re visible to them, you are fair game.  It prevents him from wondering if perhaps you’d missed his greeting, and he’ll likely try to greet you again.  If you’re not into it, say so.  It makes life easier for everyone.

3) Say more than “hi.” “Hi” is a simple and universal greeting.  However, in e-space it doesn’t really convey much.  If you think the guy’s cute, say so.  If you like his eyes, smile, shirt, goofy expression, etc., say so.  Give him something to respond to.  Which leads us to #4.

4) Know what you’re looking for.  According to the assumptions above, if you’re on Grindr you are looking for sex.  It doesn’t have to be “now” but you are likely dropping a hook into the river to see what sort of fish you might catch.  Admit to yourself why you’re there, and own it.  There’s nothing wrong in this day and age with trying to find some convenient, local dick.  Admit to yourself what you want, and you’ll be much more likely to find it.

5) Give him something to react to.  Once you’ve completed #4, use the “About” section to let the world know who you are and what you’re looking for.  It can save a lot of back-and-forth via awkward on-screen keyboard chat if you just put it out there in your profile.  If your profile has a blurry picture and few words, someone won’t have anything to say to you besides “hi.”  You’re basically forcing guys to violate rule #3.

6) Make your profile consistent. Headless, naked torsos with the headline “looking for friends” causes a lot of cognitive dissonance in people.  If you are genuinely generally looking for friends, show your face.  If you’re looking for sex and your torso is your best feature, by all means flaunt away.  But don’t be surprised if your hot pecs draw in guys who’d rather get into your pants than your head.  You get what you ask for.  If you’re not really sure what you want, go re-read #4 above.

7) Show your face.  Don’t be shy about showing your face to someone.  If you’re “discreet” or on the “DL”, maybe you should be looking for dick somewhere else.  Most guys want to be attracted to the guy they sleep with, and the face is a huge part of that. Personally, I won’t meet up with someone whose face I haven’t seen.  You’ll save a lot of time and effort showing yourself online and getting rejected up front versus arranging a meet-up and getting denied in person.  It doesn’t have to be your profile picture, but you should reasonably expect to share a face pic before meeting up. Which leads us to…

8) Share flattering pics.  I find it amazing how many attractive guys share pics of themselves that are completely unflattering.  Awkward angles, disembodied cocks, poorly cropped out fag hags, iPhone screen captures of Grindr pictures that may or may not be your own…  Sheesh, this could be a column all its own.  Pics are very important in the online sex world, so make sure to put your best face (or chest, or cock) forward.  Don’t have an eye for photography, ask a friend.  Shy about talking about your body with your buds, don’t tell them it’s you!  Pull up a picture, say that someone sent it to you online and ask their opinion.    Try your best to illustrate your genuine appearance.  You’ll be a lot less likely to waste your time, and the other dude’s.  For a great illustration of how NOT to photograph yourself for online sex, check out luriddigs.com.

9) Don’t over-share.  Profile titles such as “recently single” or “he broke my heart and now I’m nothing” don’t really turn a guy on.  If you’re looking for dick, look for dick.  If you’re looking for a shoulder to cry on, hang out with a friend.

10) Don’t be a dick. My final and all-encompassing rules is one of just being nice.  This world is far too cruel for us to perpetuate self-hatred in social media.  Be friendly, courteous and kind.  I’d say “do unto others…” here, but I’m almost afraid that most people are so used to being shit upon in online “social” circles, that they just don’t care any longer and pass the cruelty on to one another.   Be an advocate for change, one friendly exchange at a time.

Got rants, complaints or additional rules regarding looking for sex online?  Send them to me!  mistermanners@thenewgay.net.

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  • bobby said:

    RE: rule #8. this rule is void. cause everybody has a “glamor” shot or angle they look good at. So if you send those pics which make you look like an 8 when you are a 5. This will only lead to disappointment for the other guy. Nothing more awkward then showing up and the guy looks nothing like his pic and then you have to tell him it’s not a match face to face ala rule #7. also use current pics.

  • Lord Sugar said:

    Thanks for the guidance. I was looking for this and your rules make sense, though I would agree with bobby’s amendment.

  • mrkent said:

    Well, he did say to try your best to illustrate your genuine appearance. I think rule 8 is just fine.

  • Callum said:

    Thank you for this. Labelling and stereotyping happens rampantly in our own community that causes a lot of negative perceptions of ourselves. I’m relatively new to the online dating thing though I’ve been out for a while and was discouraged by the amount of things people were willing to say they DIDN’T like as apposed to what they did which was usually “straight acting” or a “Demi god” or other bullcrap ideals. It seems many men are expecting a dating site full of adonasis and are instead greeted by a diverse range of shapes and sizes. In my experience many men on grindr are so delusional and disappointed they must very rarely actually go beyond the initial text conversation. It makes it very hard for us to find and sustain meaningful relationships through these mediums when they are perceptually making us both disgusted at our own bodies and image and disgusted in the body and image of most of our potential mates. AKA a mesley 5% of the population. How is a gay man ever going to find love like this ?

  • Callum said:

    Scratch that last part I meant to say how is a gay men meant to find love or even a one time awkward fumble if we constantly set ourselves up for disappointment? I think many of us would be happier if we just accepted that most of the few guys we actually /can/ sleep with will definitley NOT fit our perception of the perfect “sexy” man. No most gay men aren’t muscle bound beacons of masculinity, get over it. Accepting nothing but the “perfect” man will leave you lonely forever. No you shouldn’t just “settle” for any old guy but I do feel our standards are at an impossible level and could be brought down a peg or two, for everyone’s benefit.

  • Callum said:

    I would also like to add that we had had to create out culture by ourselves, from scratch and have only been able to live openly in the west for a very short amount of time. All aspects of our lives were repressed and oppressed and swept under the rug and kept hush hush for a HUGE amount of time. This kind of thing will leave scars on entire communities because coming out of
    the closet means bringing to light all the inequalities that go on inside that dark closet that very few people have had any influence over or any kind of regulation or proper policing

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