When you are a gay man in your twenties, dating can be an all-around horrible experience. BuzzFeed reached out to some of those gay twentysomethings to tell us some of their difficulties when trying to date.
Here's what they had to say:
1. You tend to judge the ~success~ of your dating life on heteronormative standards.
"Growing up, I loved romantic comedies that depicted the happy endings of straight couples. So when I started dating, I viewed what I wanted from those examples. But I've learned that those romantic conventions don't work when you are trying to date a queer person. The dynamic of two men being together IS DIFFERENT. Queer men are varying shades of the rainbow." —Chris, 25
2. Many guys will look at your physical attributes before getting to know you.
"I went from a 225-pound fat boy to a 145-pound athletic guy. As I lost more weight and gained muscle mass, I began to notice a change in my looks. I was becoming attractive, to the point where other guys were staring and had lust in their eyes. To say I wish I was a big boy again would not be too far from the truth. At least when I was a big guy, men were more interested in other aspects of me." —Erich, 24
3. The gay group you fall into can influence how and who you date.
"Gay apps usually come with some sort of sorting hat for your 'gay tribe.' It sucks that there is so much division within the gay community in that respect. It seems each tribe comes with its own set of rules for dating. I just wish inter-tribal dating/mingling wasn't an issue, but it seems to be for some people. I'm a twink who loves bears...deal with it." —Danny, 25
4. The dating pool is smaller for gay men compared to straight men.
"Let's be real. Even in this day and age, a gay bar is still a novelty. Straight bars outnumber those geared toward a gay demographic. When I step into a predominately heterosexual establishment, I feel like I have to be on guard and really careful with the people I choose to flirt with. Even on apps, you see the same damn people ALL. THE. TIME." —Matt, 27
5. HIV stigma still runs rampant.
"If you are gay and in your twenties, chances are you've seen someone write 'drugs and disease free' or 'negative you should be too' in their profiles. HIV impacts everyone, no matter your sexuality, but it's still a hot button issue in the gay community, especially in dating. People are too quick not to go on a date with someone because of their status or will refuse a second date once they find out. I feel like a lot of twentysomethings, because of immaturity, aren't as informed about the disease and stigmatize it." —Christian, 27
6. You constantly fear that you may be compromising Mr. Perfect if you settle too soon.
"If I settle with one guy, delete Tinder, and stay in all the time, am I going to miss out on The One? What if the person I'm with right now isn't the right person for me? Am I saying no to all the other guys who might be the one I want to spend my life with? I feel like I only want to date someone who I am 100% convinced I'll be with forever." —Craig, 21
7. Keeping up with all the apps geared toward gay men is a full-time job.
"Between Grindr and talking to people on all the others, it takes up a few hours a day. I once went on four dates in a day. When you are constantly texting multiple people and don't respond to one, you get the infamous question mark text. You never intended to break someone's heart. It's just a lot." —Taylor, 22
8. You know so much about a person before a date that there's just no more mystery.
"Because of dating apps, you can find out where a guy works, what kind of company he keeps, and all the places he's lived before even meeting him. On one hand, this is kind of great because you get to weed out a lot of clunkers you wouldn't want to spend time with. On the other hand, it sucks because there's less for you to discover from spending actual, in-person time with him." —Dylan, 29
9. You are made to feel like you are not masculine enough on a weekly basis.
"When 'Masc4Masc' and 'Straight Acting' are no longer a thing, then a lot of our dating problems would be eliminated. You can be having a great conversation with a guy online, then, at the slightest suspicion that you are a total queen, you are ghosted. Like...come on. We just need to learn that some guys really are into Britney Spears while others really do love monster trucks, but that doesn't define what they can bring to dating or a relationship." —Jeremy, 22
10. Every guy you date has different relationship goals.
"The biggest struggle of dating is the internal battle one undergoes when deciding if he wants an open, polyamorous, or monogamous relationship. I've been in all three relationships and neither was perfect, but all provided wonderful learning and growth opportunities. [...] While I have generalities of what I want from being in all the different relationship structures, I can certainly tell you that one size does NOT fit all. Relationship dynamics are unique. The relationship I want with one man is not exactly the same kind I'd want with another." —Zakh, 26
11. A lot of guys on apps really aren't honest.
"I remember, after an extensive chat online, meeting someone in person, and they were nothing as they described. Their pictures were years old, and we didn't have the same interests/conversations we had online. It's become a thing to hide behind a virtual wall and become something you're not. That's why I prefer meeting someone through mutual friends or activities. There aren't any surprises." —Peter, 25
12. You can encounter some racial hangups.
"Along the lines of masc guys saying they don't want fem guys to message them, guys clearly state they don't want 'ethnic guys.' Race in dating, even in 2015, seems like an issue. Can't you just date me for me and not be turned on/off by my tan skin? Why do I have to worry if someone ONLY dates Latin guys? Why do I need to find a guy at an 'Urban Night?'" —Joaquín, 24
13. The closet is STILL very real for a lot of people.
"Nothing's worse than getting a message from a guy online who refuses to show you a picture because they are 'discreet." If you are an out and proud gay man, it's hard to date someone who doesn't want to be seen with you/hold your hand in public. It's like you are a mistress but aren't since you both are single. I understand that people are in very different places in their coming-out process when they are 20. Each guy is at a different place in their gay maturity. Though I respect that, I still want to find someone in a similar place of coming out. It can feel like babysitting otherwise." —Eddie, 28
14. There is always someone around to tell you that your twenties are for fun, not dating.
"The biggest struggle that I have while I'm dating is when a guy thinks that I'm ~too young~ to date. Even though they're absolutely correct, maybe my idea of fun is not being single. I know what 'wild and crazy fun' is out there, but I already got it out of my system. I feel that I'm ready to settle down. So yeah, I have every right to want to be with someone." —Tom, 22
15. Some guys your own age don't take anything seriously.
"Every guy I've ever met that's my age just doesn't have their shit together. They're too busy partying, going crazy, sleeping around, or being too narcissistic to care about someone else. I feel like a lot of the younger gays lack empathy and just don't possess the qualities necessary to have a healthy relationship. Everyone seems to have a few screws loose that I've met, and it just doesn't end up working out." —AJ, 21
16. You really don't know if you should date older or younger.
"I feel too young to commit, but also an insatiable desire for stability. In the past couple years, I've dated older men because I wanted a solid, responsible man in my life, but these dates only helped me realize that I'm not ready to be comfortable yet. And while I'm not dating older men now, I can't help but feel immediately disconnected from people my own age." —Andrew, 22
17. People assume you want a sugar daddy.
"I will admit, mentally, I still have a lot of growing up to do. But I want to make one thing clear: I HAVE A JOB AND CAN BUY MY OWN SHIT. There seems to be this assumption, especially when you are more attracted to older guys, that you want something from them because you are a poor twentysomething with no direction. Nope. Not true. Next." —Justin, 25
18. You can never find someone in a similar place in life as you.
"I think your twenties are a time when the only real common ground everyone has is a sense of uncertainty. We are all trying to figure out how we are going to stage the rest of our lives. So, it takes an extra couple steps to find someone in a similar stage of life with a schedule that works with yours, with similar goals, and who is willing to make a commitment. Everything is ever-changing." —Rick, 23
19. Dating seems to have a system of rules.
"Relationships and dating are not the same thing. I'm so tired of going on one date with a guy and then he thinks we are an item. And, in general, I despise this notion we have in our culture today that you have to be practically already in a relationship to date. After seeing an attractive guy, you have to make small talk. Then, after trading numbers/social media, you make attempts to hang out with the person in large group settings. Only when you have learned about the person do you ask them on a date. It's not that serious. If you see a guy you like, ask him out. If it doesn't work out, then it doesn't work out." —Grant, 22
20. People don't want to meet IRL anymore.
"I actually had a guy I was flirting with once at a bar say, "I'm sure I'll find you on Grindr. Let's chat there later." He smiled and walked away. He later did find me on there later, but I ignored him simply because... really... he couldn't pick me up at the bar? A lot of people have become so reliant on using apps to get dates that when you're out and about at bars/clubs they don't seem to be interested in anything serious anymore." —Steve, 21
21. And you really can't escape the hookup culture of your twenties.
"MEN. LIKE. SEX. You get two men together, something is always bound to happen. But, that can be a complicated issue. I've been on many first dates sealed with sex at the end of the night. I feel like a lot of gay people, not all, feel like something's missing otherwise, but sex is definitely like the goodnight kiss rather than something uber romantic. And most apps are hookup apps. It's just too easy to get a fix. Who wants to go through all that dating bullshit?"—Lance, 24