Online dating apps like Grindr and Scruff can be great for connecting gay men with one another, or just some casual sexual release. Naturally, they also expose us to a lot more potential rejections.
The ease of rejecting someone over the internet coupled with gay mens’ competitive and exclusionary culture, it is impossible to avoid rejections. We have all been ghosted and ignored before. You can’t control how respectful these rejections are.
However, you can adopt some simple rules to reduce the chances of facing future rejection, and have a more fulfilling experience online.
I want to preface this by cautioning that gay men are disproportionally vulnerable to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, possibly due to some degree of internal and external rejection of our homosexuality since young. Apps like Grindr are making it worse for many of us.
If you feel like the online gay scene is affecting you so much that your happiness, well-being, and daily functioning are impaired, I strongly urge you to talk to a therapist. They can help you devise strategies to come out a more resilient and happier person. It is not weak or shameful to seek help, it is brave and inspiring.
How to reduce rejections
While rejections are unavoidable as you can’t possibly be everyone’s type, be it personality or appearance wise, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting a reply.
And no I am not talking about using fake pictures or doing anything inauthentic, like putting a false age or exaggerating on how big your penis is. In fact, chances are that doing those would only make you feel worse about yourself.
Have your pictures available
There is a reason the acronym “NPNC” is everywhere on dating apps. Short for “No Pic No Chat”, the term is broadcast on many profiles as people want to see how you look before they can decide if they are interested.
Even if you do not think you are that good looking, trust me, there are more people who are into someone who looks like you than someone who has no pictures.
It may be a particularly vulnerable move but an interaction that starts from honesty will be a more promising one than one that starts from secrecy.
Make sure your photos reflect well on how you look in real life too, and also spend a little time to figure out
what kind of photos or camera angles show off your best self.
Be clear and consistent
Make it known one way or another what exactly you are looking for on the apps, be it casual sex or meaningful friendships or anything in between. Clarity in your intentions not only help filter out people who are not on the same page, but also makes you seem more approachable.
Avoid sending conflicting signals by for example having your pictures sexually suggestive when you claim to be looking for friends only, or engaging in excessive chit chats when you claim to be looking for some sex right now. That can turn people away easily.
Work on yourself
Okay, so maybe you are just not “hot” enough by conventional standards.
But you can always work on yourself, for your own sake. Attractiveness is not a fixed attribute.
Put some effort in how you look (hopefully without becoming vain) and work on becoming someone that you would want to date yourself. You should not be doing this for other people either, it is for you.
With determination and time, your self-esteem will increase as you feel better about the way you look, and additionally, you will also find yourself getting more and more interest back from others. A person that is happy with themselves is someone people gravitate towards.
Learning to move on
All these being said, even if you adopt all these tips, you definitely will still face rejections. Our goal should not be no rejections at all, but being able to approach rejections in a healthy way.
When you find yourself brooding over one, ask yourself, “What was it that made them not interested? And what can I do about it?” It could be that you are simply not their type, or there’s something about the way you approach people that is turning people off.
The point is, see rejections as opportunities to reflect and then improve. After that, move on.
There is a phenomenon that makes people who we can’t get seem even more attractive than they actually are. It’s called reactance, or the forbidden fruit effect.
Keep that in mind to remind yourself that this rejection is really not a big of a deal as your brain thinks it is and that you only want him more because he said no.
The online gay scene might have a lot of flaws, but I hope you do not quit them altogether. Use your past rejections as learning experiences for yourself to be a more empathetic and respectful person when you are put in the position of rejecting someone else.
I hope that through readers like you, we can create a friendlier and more resilient environment on there so that its benefits for us gay guys can outshine its cost.