I began my foray into online dating near the beginning of the craze. Before the hundreds of apps at our fingertips and slightly after some of the online dating services, there was Grindr. Grindr is the gay dating app that came before Tinder, Let’s Meet, you name it. It was so exciting to know you were only 328 feet away from someone. “OMG… does that mean that cute guy lives in my apartment complex?” On the flipside, there’s also the fear that the creepy, ugly guy… who could be a serial killer wanting to wear my flesh… also… lives in my apartment complex.
I decided to create a typical profile with the standard headless profile picture. Aside from the fact I wasn’t out of the closet yet, I also didn’t want to be doing my laundry, reading and laying out by the pool, or be grocery shopping in Publix and have someone recognize me. The messages POURED in (that actually sounds dirtier than it should). It was so exciting to have all these guys show interest in me and find me attractive. I mean, I always knew the girls wanted me. I spent most of my life coming up with excuses to not meet or getting them so drunk we couldn’t mess around. The guys wanted to see more! And more… and more… and… uh… shouldn’t I be getting paid like models or porn stars based on how many pictures they want/I am sending? This… is kind of weird. There were almost too many guys to even keep up with…
Then I realized that it was not so much a dating app as it was a cyber brothel, hookup app, or merely a means of passing the time to masturbate while your goldfish watches you. Heck, over half the guys on the gay apps are in open relationships or partnered. And they are happy to admit it! Gross. Bye. But I decided to play along and just do mass amounts of teasing because it was nice to be wanted by so many different people. Sue me. It became a drug. Ke$ha was NOT wrong. But I never had any intent on meeting any of these guys. They were all so vulgar, trashy, and pathetic. Every conversation was the same:
Me: I have function eyes, yes.
Guy: You’re so funny, and cute!
Me: Thanks 😉
Guy: Anymore pics?
Me: *sends over G-Rated pics*
Guy: So sexy man. Into? I like kissing, contact, oral/jo. Mostly top. You?
Me: I like video games, reading, and playing with my cat.
Guy: We should meet up.
Ouiser Boudreaux really sums up what I actually wanted to say. Because okay, really? I can’t even “BYE!” enough to that person. But that’s about 80% of the population on Grindr, as well as most of the other “dating” apps that my friends are still on. In the end, I met 4 of them in person. One guy was so smitten that he practically tried to cook my breakfast before we even sat on the couch to eat dinner and watch a movie. Another guy only liked to kiss like they do on Disney channel shows (open mouth but no tongue… err… what?) And the third one… well, let me tell you about him.
I was vacationing with my mom, aunt, and cousin and thought it would be real cool to have some island beach torrid romance. I guess you can say I was thirsty. I finally narrow down to a guy I want to meet and we go walking along the dark, beach roads (I should have known better… I have seen TOO many horror movies for this to remotely seem like a good idea) while we talk about each other. He was married and has three kids. I can deal with that. I tell him the resort where I am staying and he recognizes it because his family is in real estate and they did some of the construction work for the company. I am absolutely not telling a stranger where I am sleeping in case he’s a deranged murderer… did I mention my aunt is reading this book about a serial killer on the beach and keeps telling us about it? It’s almost like she was the white angel on my shoulder throughout this whole process. Anyway… I tell him about the pool near me and how I love watching the turtles, etc. The next morning I awake to a test message: “Get your ass down to the pool! I’m here with my kids and we’ve been swimming and waiting on you to wake up for an hour!” Uh… CREEPY. He knew which section of the resort I was in because of the mentioning of the pool and turtles alone? Someone save me!
Whatever. I went down there, knife in pocket because you can never be too sure! I meet his kids and we all talk. I learn he is extremely wealthy based on all the stories his kids tell me about their house and what they do for fun. Good looking and rich? Check! I can overlook the creep factor for that, maybe. We arrange plans for him to show me some undeveloped acreage along the marsh later that day. Was he really that creepy or was I just reading into it? Whatever… I do what I can to look my best for my impending murder, just the same. At least if I get butchered I will look good when they find me.
When the time comes for me to sneak out of my condo, I do so knowing that I left a note behind JUST in case something happened to me. I wrote down his name, phone number, make/model and license plate of car. I tucked it away in my suitcase, knowing no one would need to look there unless there was an emergency. Remember, I am still not out of the closet yet. I know I can’t tell my mom I am going to meet some man in his late 30’s to play checkers. She would think I was crazy… or on drugs!
We drive OFF the island (scary) and my heart is beating. I am so nervous but so excited! We make our first stop at this abandoned house (creepy) and he gives me a tour. My first thought? If he tries to ravage me here, there will be some severe splinter issues. Next on the tour is the lavish dock on the marsh that will fit three boats. The next thing I know my pants are off. What happened? WHAT?
When we return to reality, he takes me to see the HUGE undeveloped property where he and his father are planning to build a mini subdivision. He gets out of the car to open the gate and I am searching through is truck for some more information on his full name, who he is, what else he does, etc. I find a business card with a name that is not what he told me. “OHMYGOD he’s going to kill me!” Before I can load my phone to Google the name he is back in the car. So we are driving around this land, which looks like the filming location for Predator. I mean, really. He could rape me, murder me, and bury me out here and no one would find me for a decade. What. The. Eff. I’m really not paying attention to anything he’s saying. I was constantly looking for places to run, hide, and objects around the ground that I could use to fight him if this tour turned into a sexual attack. If all else fails, I suppose I can always hit him right in the face even though I have the muscles of a 2-year-old.
As we leave the property, he has to get out and lock the gate. I feverishly Google his name and my worst fears were realized. Maybe it’s not him. This is not a movie; this doesn’t happen to people like me. Then it was confirmed to be him when the website loaded and I saw his face. With creepy, yellow, America’s Most Wanted-esque rapish glasses. He was a registered sex offender in Augusta, Georgia for the molestation of two children. And I look 12. OMG! OMG! OMG! To make a long story shorter, after another roll in the hay (don’t judge me! It was good… and I couldn’t just go from hot to cold and blow my cover… I had to think about my safety…) If only my mama knew…
Until I got his scary ass text messages saying he knew where I lived (the city, anyway) and that he wanted us to be together, etc. Um. BYE, FELICIA! I did what any guy would do. I slept with a butcher’s knife under my pillow, a can of pepper spray by on my bedside table, and I slept with my tennis shoes on because you never know when you need to run. I deleted all the dating apps from my computer’s favorite places and the apps on my phone. I went off the grid. For six, long, dry months. I was petrified. And not in the empowering Gloria Gaynor kind of way.
Flash forward to six months later. I log back on a DIFFERENT gay dating app. I see a guy that I was talking to and actually really interested in meeting for a serious relationship. I know if I click his profile on this app that he will see my picture (not like the other app we were using). I did it anyway. He was just too damn cute. A couple of hours later he messages me, “Hey, you! Was wondering when I’d see you again…” Push comes to shove, messages get a little tawdry, but then he clarifies, “Just so you know, I want to take you on a date, though.” Somewhat skeptical, I accept. Then over two years later, we are still together living in the same house. Hashtag love.
My online “dating” life could have been worse. I mean, I was never totally serious. I used it as a means to feel better about myself and then make fun of how pathetic some guys were based on their unprovoked aggressiveness! I never thought the fourth guy I met on there would be my soul mate. One of my friends even said to me, “You don’t marry your Grindr trick!”
Without the app, though, we would have never met. He lived 45 miles away from me at the time. I can’t hate online dating or dating/hookup apps entirely. I can say, however, people should have higher standards when they browse (don’t just talk to someone because they think you’re cute), have a set of requirements (if they are partnered or their profile pic does not have a head or is shirtless… NEXT), and realize that a good 75% are just after sex. If you can accept that and not fall victim to the charm and seduction, then you can find your soul mate in that 25% of good people. What did Rihanna say? “We found love in a hopeless place…” But it’s safe to say I am happy I don’t have to go back to that world…