WELCOME

About this section

Three short films about this section, navigating the website, and the story behind MENRUS.CO.UK. Enjoy!

ABOUT MEN | MEN R US | 1m
NAVIGATING THE WEBSITE | MEN R US | 1m
BUILDING MENRUS.CO.UK | MEN R US | 3m

Click below to show to the icons used

  • MEN R US is comprised of six SECTIONS: YOU, MEN, BODY, SEX, STIs, and DRUGS.
  • Under each SECTION, content is listed in the INDEX or tap the book icon if you are using a smartphone or tablet.
  • Use the arrows to expand or collapse the chapter headings.
  • Quick links are listed under MORE STUFF or tap the info icon if you are using a smartphone or tablet.
  • IF YOU GET LOST there are Back to top links under every subject.
  • All LINKS open in a new window or tab and the key to the link icons are as follows:

Film or film clip
Sound clip
Photograph
Further information; eg: another website
Books
Groups or street services
Telephone; eg: support helpline
Internal link to another MEN R US section

  • A SEARCH function is located top screen right (next to DRUGS). It’s handy and we encourage you to try it!
  • There is a CONTACT US link the top right of the screen or tap the info icon if you are using a smartphone or tablet.
  • The ‘7th’ section ABOUT US contains MEN R US project info, contact details and Q&A.
CLICK ME Back to top

ABOUT MEN

Our road map

Whether you want to find, kiss, hug, or hold them; date, love, fuck or marry them we hope there’s something in MEN for you. We’re just a bunch of gay men who wanted a road map, so we made one. We know we can’t please everyone, but that ship sailed the moment we put pen to paper. Even so, we hope we’ve given you (and our friends) a starting point from which to can explore and a reference point to come back to should you need it.

Let us know if we should add or change anything, though there’s a reasonable chance you’ll be asked to help us make it better.

We have had some terrific finds on the Internet and  The Gay Men Project seems like a great place to start this section.

The Gay Men Project: The First 470 Portraits | Kevin Truong | 7m06s

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Friends

Friends

For most of us a day won’t go by without contacting a friend or mate, whether it’s just to catch up, make plans or do something together. And when our world seems to fall apart, or we just need cheering up, we turn to our friends.

Granted, friendships can take a back seat when a man walks into our life but they’re there to help you pick up the pieces after the little sod has moved on (despite the fact you deserted them while you were loved up in your flat with Mr Right).

Gay men have shared identities, coming out stories and common histories which bind us and are a bedrock of our extended family that not only protects us against loneliness and isolation, but also provides a space where we are loved, supported and valued.

Underlying the magic which brings friends together is time, mutual give and take, and respect if friendships are to remain happy and healthy. Being with the wrong people who don’t love you for who you are can damage your self-image and do more harm than practically anything else. Bottom line: surround yourself with good friends and dump the ones who put you down or use you as a punch-bag.

Importantly, people come in and out of our lives for a stack of reasons: by chance, through friends, serendipity, and circumstance. It’s at this point that the seeds of friendship are often sown. Some flourish, some struggle, while some just don’t survive, however much we invest in them. But some endure over the passage of time and it’s these which will deepen and grow stronger.

7 Ways to Meet Guys | GMFA FS #138
Get Out and About and Active | MEN R US

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Value most, like least

There are a ton of lists on the Internet about what friends should and shouldn’t be, so we’re not certain what we can offer. However, some MEN R US spunky monkeys got together over several bottles to decide what they value most and like least about friends.

It turned to be a very long night when some of the guys started going through their Facebook friends with a meat cleaver. Tears were shed, texts were sent… but contrite and bleary eyed, the next morning gave everyone the perfect excuse for an alcohol-free brunch and time to write this up:

 What we value most

  • A friend who loves and supports us unconditionally
  • A friend who can ‘just be there’ and is around when we’re down
  • A friend who can be our life coach, mentor, and all round oracle
  • A friend who will help us grow personally, and share in life’s lessons
  • A friend who is honest but who can be brutally honest
  • A friend who challenges us and keeps us grounded (eg: when we’re being a knob)
  • A friend who has fresh perspectives, judgement and integrity
  • A friend who is loyal, and who can keep a secret

CROSS SMILIEWhat we like least

  • A friend who nit-picks and finds fault and/ or whose bottle is always half empty
  • A friend who is boringly competitive
  • A friend who has to be centre of attention
  • A friend who is self-absorbed and/ or self-centred
  • A friend who cancels plans or breaks promises
  • A friend who is manipulative and/ or controlling
  • A friend who is not self-aware and/ or cannot share
  • A friend who morphs into his friends rather than be his own man
  • A friend who stabs you in the back or chooses personal gain over friendship

Very poorly structured friends test

Only you can decide how close you are to your friends, and how close they are to you, but here are a few scenarios which may be helpful:

  • Do you have friends to invite over for a meal (without cleaning the flat from top to bottom)?
  • Would your friends drop everything if you had an emergency (including leaving work/ their bed)?
  • Do you have friends who know they can just drop by?
  • Do you feel the need to put your wallet away or hide valuables?
  • Friends who know you are moving house, and offer to help before you ask?
  • Would your friends watch out for you (for the duration) when you are wasted?
  • A friend needs to crash, do you put them up without a moment’s hesitation?
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Friends behaving badly

When friends behave badly [insert here] they may just be going through a rough patch and don’t, in fact, mean to act this way.

  • He drinks to the point of collapse
  • He cannot manage his drugs and expects his friends to clean up after him
  • He always ‘takes’ and never ‘gives’
  • He puts you down in front of others
  • He never chips in
  • He ‘steals’ your boyfriend
  • He steals

Of course there are often two sides to a story: people who drink or take drugs to excess (hurting themselves and those around them) may be trying to block stuff out or be happy when in fact they are in a pit of despair. Some people just don’t have any money to spare and feel very embarrassed about it; it’s not as though we have a solvency check when someone joins a group of friends. And the friend who puts you down may be jealous, or unhappy with his lot and envious of yours. For many, stealing from friend is a deal breaker, but have you ever asked why?

Sometimes you’re prepared to put up with it until eventually – thankfully – he works through his shit. However, if you are trying to be a friend and getting hurt in the process, it may be time to boundary your friendship in terms of when and how you see him, including who else you’re with when you do.

If this doesn’t work you may need to decide whether to give it one last try by talking with him and/ or ending the friendship. This can be both difficult and stressful, particularly if you consider him a close personal friend.

It’s tough stuff but be firm, consistent, and fair and don’t expect the talk to be one-sided. If there’s a way forward it will take both of you to make it happen. If this doesn’t work and he keeps contacting you then say you’re busy and can’t meet up; hopefully they should get the message and leave you alone. If you think this can work then you are mistaken! Bottom line: be diplomatic but honest.

Alternatively, you can ‘disappear for a few weeks’ avoiding him completely, including breaking all social media ties. This may sound a bit harsh, but life is too short to spend time with those who harm or hurt you, or make you feel bad about yourself, and/ or take you down the rabbit hole… again and again.

Whatever the reason, sometimes it’s just too tough to end a friendship. If this happens, just be aware that there may likely come a time when he drags you into shit at a whole new level, and you will eventually crash and burn together. (And maybe this is what you wanted all along).

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Types

Types

Many of us use types to describe, identify and communicate ourselves. Who hasn’t heard someone say “he’s my type” or been asked if a guy is ours?

There is always some disagreement around the terms we use and whether we should use them at all. You should therefore be sensitive if applying a type to someone, bearing in mind some gay men reject them altogether as narrow, superficial and demeaning. Equally, many simply use types affectionately and as a convenient shorthand.

It’s a bit of a bear pit (no pun intended) but here’s our take on types, though you are perfectly entitled to throw them out and be your own gay, your own homo… etc etc etc

Physical types and personal characteristics

Some guys are primarily attracted to physical types of gay men (eg: bears, twinks, and muscle guys) while some find characteristics in men most attractive (eg: warmth, intelligence, and humour). Others mix and match and understanding these distinctions is important.

For example, the type(s) of men we find attractive sexually may not necessarily be the qualities we are looking for to sustain a relationship. Trouble is, we can get so caught up in a type we can lose sight that not far beneath the surface we are all simply men wanting to be loved, respected and held. The solution involves open-mindedness, flexibility, and/ or compromise.

So, what pushes your buttons:

  • A guy’s age, or the way he fits a T-shirt?
  • A pencil thin physique, or the way he smiles?
  • The hair on his chest, or his positive attitude to life?
  • It could also be the size of his dick (though this is a whole new conversation).

Bottom line: types, preferences, and the laws of attraction are as varied as they are fickle, complex and seemingly contradictory.


Handsome Man | Matt Alber | 4m 44s

Gay app and website catagories

Types of gay men saturate the gay media and magazines, and if the name of a club night doesn’t tell you what to expect, the promo pics will. Types of men are also pressed home by the boxes we are expected to tick on web apps. Here are the categories from 4 of them:

  • Bears, bikers, builders, chubbies, clubbers, farmers, firemen, footballers, geeks, labourers, leather men, married men, medical, military, muscle men, older guys, policemen, fireman, preppies, punks, rugby players, short guys, skins, tall guys, transvestite, and transsexual. (And hot garbage men, says Luke)
  • Bear, clean cut, daddy, discreet, geek, jock, leather, otter, poz, rugged, trans, and twink
  • Daddy, bear, leather, geek, discreet, military, muscle, jock, bear chaser, daddy chaser, poz, college, transgender, and twink
  • Slim, athletic, average, muscular, a little extra, and big guy
  • Grunge… but we’re uncertain if it’s still a thing? Let us know!

Granted there’s space to write about who you are (which some of us read BTW) but who hasn’t checked out a guy’s photo, sexual position, or likes to make a snap decision as to his ‘suitability.’ Even so, it can be hard to be you when you are reduced to a string of boxes.

Popular types

There’s been some hellish squabbling at MEN R US as we’ve pulled together a list of ‘popular’ types. However, our collective tongues are in our collective cheeks and we’re definitely open to additions and amendments:

  • Bears: 30+, broad/ heavier build (drinks beer), usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL
  • Cubs: Late 20s-30s, younger bears, usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt, Eagle
  • Chubs: Heavier to overweight (eats cake), often less hairy or none. Likely habitats: XXL
  • Drag queens: Big buxom or svelte, smooth as a babies, very possibly waxed, facial hair no longer a barrier: Likely habitats: Halfway to Heaven, Molly Moggs, Two Brewers, and on stage everywhere
  • Gym bunnies: Late 20s-30s, athletic to muscular build, less likely to be hairy, possibly waxed. Likely habitats: Fire, RVT, Ministry of Sound
  • Hoxton Queer: Arty types of any shape or build. Likely habitats: Hoxton
  • Jocks: Late 20s-30s, muscular build and gym obsessed, less likely to be hairy, possibly waxed. Likely habitats: Fire, RVT, Ministry of Sound
  • Muscle bear: 30+, broad/ heavier build (drinks protein shake), usually hairy, may be trimmed or sculpted to reflect their body shape, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt, Eagle
  • Otters: Late 20s to 30s, leaner, usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Duke of Wellington
  • Pups: Late 20s-30s, lean to muscular, can be hairy, puppy genre becoming increasingly popular. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt, Eagle
  • Spunk monkey: 30s. Laid back but easily excited around men. Into long bouts of energetic bouncy Tiggerish sex. Likely habitats: Brüt, XXL (barred from the Eagle)
  • Twinks: Late teens-early 20s, boyish features, thinner to slim build, usually smooth, may have highlights. Likely habitats: GAY, QBar, Heaven
  • Wolves: Late 30s to 40s, lean to semi muscular, usually hairy, often with facial hair. Likely habitats: RVT, XXL, Brüt
  • Everyone else: And everyone else

Those we have not included from the list of web app categories you can probably work out for yourself and there is a lot of overlap. For example, ‘preppies’ tend to be ‘clean cut’, ‘bears’ and ‘muscle guys’ are also ‘bikers’, and ‘daddies’ are a not so much a type rather a state of mind and an attitude.

So, when a guy shows you no interest it maybe because:

  • He’s attracted to guys without hair (and you have a full head of hair)
  • He’s attracted to slim, toned guys (while you are broad shouldered and muscular)
  • He’s attracted to shorter guys (and you’re taller than him)
  • He’s attracted to a particular skin colour or ethnicity

Or maybe it’s because he doesn’t see you smile or you slept with his ex. Where does it end?!!

Build it and they will come

Not even a life time ago, when the gay scene was smaller, having visible and shared identities was a way of finding each other (literally, in some cases) and bringing us together. And we should rightly be proud of this. The leather, clone and denim scenes dominated the 80s, the muscle scene has been pumping iron since the 90s, and the bear scene has been on the rise since the 00s; each with their interpretation of masculinity and what it is to be gay. London’s bear scene, for example, started because they had no place to go and (some say) a reluctance by other parts of the scene to share and play nice. The bears have built their own scene and the otters, wolves and cubs have come! Unfortunately some of these scenes have come self absorbed and ‘exclusive’ morphing back into the very thing they sought to over come.


Pups, Otters, and Large Furry Men: Thomas Morton on the Slanguage of Bears | Vice | 20 Apr 2016 | 3m 40s

Are Gay Men More Masculine? | AsapTHOUGHT | 27 Apr 2016

Gay Men: Are You a Jock, Otter, Bear or Wolf? | Hub Pages | 31 May 2015
Gay Cliques Census: Results Infographic | Noodles and Beef

Rowse Honey Commercial (October 2017)

A real turn up for the books by any advertising standard, this Three Bears fairytale commercial has caught our eye just because it’s really fun and really well made. MEN R US should add that we do not know the bears, we have not slept with the bears, we have no shares in Rowse, and we have not received any gifts or inducements to include this film on our website. Nuff said, we thinks.

The Three Bears, Episode 1: Winter Survival | 23 Oct 2017 | 1m 47s
Casting the Three Bears | The Drum | 25 Oct 2017 | 3m 24s

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Camp and its origins

Camp (style) | Wikipedia
What’s wrong with camp gay men? | The Fact Site
Queer Language | Rictor Norton
Why does society still have a problem with camp men? | The Telegraph | 21 Feb 2014
The History of Camp | Film Reference
On the Persistence of Camp | Gay and Lesbian Review | 1 Mar 2013
Polari: Origin Of Gay Slang (Read It, Mary!) | Queerty | 30 Mar 2006

Camp Needs More Gay | rantasmo | 17 May 2016

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Racism

Racism

Sexual racism is sexual discrimination or sex preference and prejudice based on a person’s skin colour and/ or perceived ethnicity. It is one of the most psychologically damaging and mentally exhausting forms of racism on gay scenes online and around the world..


White, Gay, and Confronting Racism | Matthew J Dempsey | 21 Nov 2016 | 10m 29s


Is there racism in the gay community | Kyle Krieger | 30 Aug 2016 | 8m 37s

Recently over 850 Black, White, Asian, South Asian, Arab and mixed-race gay men shared their thoughts on race and racism with GMFA. More than two-thirds of the men from the Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds had personally experienced racism on the scene.

 Racism and the gay scene | GMFA FS #148

Over 400 white gay men filled in a short survey for GMFA who asked for their honest thoughts on racism on the gay scene – whether they discriminate against other races, whether they have ever experienced racism themselves, and their general thoughts about preference vs. racism.

 Dear white gay men (Survey) | GMFA FS #148

Of course not all white gay men are racist. Many of the men in the survey were shocked and outraged by instances of racism they had observed on the scene. However, there were also plenty of examples of casual racism in some of the responses from the white guys in the survey. And we were surprised by some examples of more overt racism.

And we urge you to read “I’m black but you still have to ask for consent” by Philip Samba for GMFA.

I’m black but you still have to ask for consent | GMFA | FS #162

Accessing health services

In March 2015, Guy’s and St Thomas’ published a report dealing with the sexual health, mental health, access to services and social issues of Black, Latino and other minority groups. The report found:

  • Racism on the gay scene
  • Black gay men found racism on the gay scene to outweigh homophobia within Black communities
  • Black men often feel they are sexualised and objectified and used as ‘accessories’ for white men
  • They are presumed to have large cocks and to be sexually aggressive
  • They feel like they are not recognised as a whole person, and once the sex is over they are discarded
  • In contrast Latino gay men found stereotypes, such as being ‘hot lovers’ to be a positive thing
  • Both groups expressed the view that the gay scene is segmented and elitist and this can have an impact on their self-esteem
 You’re Really Sweet, I’m Just Not Into Black Guys | ImFromDriftwood | 31 Dec 2014 4m 40s
 Why Are Asians Rejected By LGBT? | OnisionSpeaks | 28 May 2015 2m 35s
 Racism And The Gay Community | rh2ac | 13 Jan 2015 7m 30s
 Race | The Grinder Guide (Ep. 4) | 6 Mar 2013 2m 35s
 Racist Dating Profiles | Davey Wavey | 10 Feb 2013 2m 11s

LGBTI racism: How to fix the exclusion of black and Asian people | Gay Star News | 26 Jul 2017
Gay Bars Can be Mind-Bogglingly Racist | Vice | 22 Apr 2017
Jemal Polson on racism within the gay scene | Attitude | 15 Sep 2015
 An open letter about racism in the gay community | Attitude | 4 Jun 2015

 Sexual Racism Sux! | Sexual Racism Sux | Facebook Cover
 Racism In The LGBT community | Wikipedia
 God’s Other Children | Vernal Scott | CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | 2013

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Hugs

Hugs and cuddles

Yes, hugs and cuddles… but bear with us…

Often underrated and misunderstood, hugs (especially big hugs) and cuddles are two of the most natural ways to express our friendship, and show closeness and affection. Cuddling, particularly, can also lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce fear and anxiety, and reduce stress. What’s not to like?!

Whether between mates or partners, it’s often best enjoyed and appreciated as a stand-alone activity without ulterior motives or hidden agendas.

Be mindful that cuddling can be interpreted as an exploratory step between ‘friends’, or a prelude to sex (though cuddling can be a big turn off if sex is always the end game). We can also get carried away, particularly if we misread signals.

There is more about hugs and cuddles and sex here: Hugs and cuddles | MEN R US (SEX)

Sometimes we just like to be held by another guy, or to hold a guy. It’s an instant mood boost, can dispense with words, and help us feel better about each other and ourselves.

So, make your intentions clear such as a touch on the arm rather than a hand on his crotch, or a gentle rub on his shoulder rather than finger tips snaking down to his arse crack. If you’re all loved up with a new guy in your life, lots of cuddles add an important dimension to your relationship, helping develop feelings of intimacy, confidence and trust.

Can I Cuddle Hold You | All About Strength | 11 Dec 2015 | 2m28s
How to Give Amazing F*cking Hugs! | Davey Wavey | 14 Apr 2014 | 2m16s
First Gay Hug (Extras) | The Gay Women’s Project | 16 Apr 2014 | 2m20s
Ellen Hugs Lesbian from Audience | RainbowlLove74 | 16 Mar 2011 | 1m49s
Free Hugs Campaign | 22 Sep 2006 | 3m39s

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Polari

Polari

Seemingly wedded to our apps today it’s easy to forget that only a few decades ago Polari was used widely as a safe means of communication for the gay community.

Polari is an eclectic mix of slang, dialects and foreign words, and original words and phrases, woven into English language grammar and syntax. Even today, you have used Polari if you’ve ever had a few bevvies at the pub, zhooshed up your bijou flat, or said something is a bit naff.

Before homosexuality was decriminalised, Polari allowed gay people to speak openly and identify themselves as gay without attracting unwanted interest or the attention of undercover charpering omis (policemen). Unless you were in the know, you would only partially understand what was being said and hear nothing incriminating.

Bona: Good
Dolly: Nice or pleasant
Eek: Face
Fantabulosa: Excellent
Lallies: Legs
Lattie: House
Lucoddy: Body
Nante: None or nothing
Naph: Bad
Omi: Man
Omipalone: Homosexual
Palare: Talk
Palone: Woman
Riah: Hair
Troll: Walk
Vada: Look

Polari started declining after the 1967 Sexual Offences Act made homosexuality legal. Nevertheless, it is a proud part of our LGBT history. Here are some examples of Polari phrases:

How bona to varda your dolly old eek!
How good to see your dear old face!
Vada the dolly dish, shame about his bijou lallies
Look at the attractive man, shame about his short legs
Can I troll round your lally?
Can I have a look around your house?

Polari was popularised by Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick who played Julian and Sandy (two camp out-of-work actors) in Round the Horne the 1960s BBC radio comedy show.

Round the Horne: Julian and Sandy | BBC | 9m55s
Episode clips: Bona Ads, Bona Bauffont, The Lazy Bona Ranch, Bona Rags, Carnby Street Hunt, Bona Tours Ltd

How gay men used to speak: a short film in Polari | Brian and Karl 24 Jun 2015 | 6m17s
Polari | The One BBC: One Show 17 Jan 2010 | 4m00s
Stuart Feather and Bette Bourne talk about Polari | Re-Dock | 28 May 2014 | 4m40s
 Bona Eke: Song in Polari | artdecoandy | 7 Dec 2014 | 5m03s

Polari | Wikipedia
Polari: Word List | Chris Denning
Polari, a vibrant language born out of prejudice | The Guardian | 24 May 2010
The secret language of polari | Merseyside Maritime Museum
Polari Magazine | Polari Magazine

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London

Moving to London

Thousands of gay men move to London every year to build a life, to be better connected with who they are, feel a sense a belonging, and maybe to find a man (or several).

Gay men also move to London to escape intolerance, homophobia, and violence. Most of us have heard at least one heart breaking coming out story, and who hasn’t been asked “Have you come out… what was it like… does your family know?”

What new arrivals often don’t realise is that London is one of the high maintenance capitals of the world. Living there is tough, and being happy tougher still. It can be very lonely, and even lonelier than the past you came from. Many of us are happy in London, some of us do OK, but some of us struggle.

So, whether you’ve travelled from a field in Norfolk, a village halfway around the world, or from a family who do not accept you for who you are, the quality of the friendships you make will be a key to your happiness and well-being. And that’s a promise.

Gay London

Greater London is 1,572 square kilometres (607 sq miles) and you will live in one of 33 boroughs that make up the Capital, packed with 8½ million people from all backgrounds, cultures, creeds and colours. Running beneath your feet are 402 kilometres (249 miles) of Underground carrying 1.265 billion passengers a year. It’s expensive, noisy, and it will take you an hour plus to cross the City, north to south, east to west.

The debate as to whether a single gay community exists is an old one, and London is no different. One is more inclined to say it is a diverse range of smaller communities with local geographies within the Capital. In the past, London’s wider LGBT community has come together in times of need: gay liberation in the 60s/ 70s, march against Clause 28, and created from scratch a network of life-giving community AIDS/HIV services in the 80s and 90s. Annual Pride marches in London stretch back to 1972, and while Soho has the largest concentration of gay venues in London there are many smaller scenes and communities threaded across the City.

 London fucks up gay men | GMFA FS #139
Sex And The London City: An A-Z Guide | GMFA FS #141

The Story of Two Gay Men in Different Lifestyle | Documentary | 18 Apr 2014 | 7m51s
London in 1927 & 2013 | Simon Smith | 30 Dec 2013 | 6m01s
Oldest Footage of London Ever | Yestervid | 16 Apr 2015 | 11m02s
Jason Hawkes: London Aerial Footage | Jack Cook 7 Jan 2015 | 5m13s
Jason Hawkes: London from the Air | Den of Lambs | 9 Sep 2012 | 4m02s

 London Underground: 150 fascinating Tube facts | Telegraph | 6 Jul 2015
London Underground | Wikipedia
London | Wikipedia
London’s top 10 towers | The Guardian | 5 May 2014

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The scene

The scene

Barely 50 years ago one of the few places you could meet other gay men was in a public toilet. Not only was it frightening and dangerous, but police arrest and the subsequent court appearance would almost certainly cost you your job, family and home. Any friends you had would vanish, if only to protect themselves. Coming out to your family was unheard of, health advice and support for gay men were virtually non-existent and access to the small homosexual scene was only for those in the know.

If you’re in your 70s you’ll remember this all too well. If you’re in your 60s you’ll have witnessed the fight for recognition and the law that legalised sex between men. If you’re in your 50s you’ll have visited the new pubs and clubs. If you’re in your 40s you’ll have experienced the emergence of the AIDS epidemic. And, if you’re in your 20s or 30s and screaming your tits off under the illusion that you invented gay life: think again!

LGBT History 101

Ever since the 60s, when the SK (Gay Social) Group was formed, gay men and women looking for a little bit more than a backstreet bar or cottage, have set to and baked, knitted and organised their own communities, and today we enjoy their legacy. If you were around in the early 70s, you had little option but to make your own ‘amusement’, hence the existence of the Gay Liberation Front, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality or a local befriending group. Thirty years ago they were playgrounds in the same way that Mardi Gras is today.

We would do well to spare a thought for the small group of flamboyant people prepared to give us all a bad name by taking to the streets and laying the foundations of the major festivals and events which exist today. Gay men and lesbians also laid the foundations for the effective responses that our community had in spreading the message about AIDS when it came along. Gay men became – and often still are – the backbone of many AIDS organisations and self-help groups who took that ethos of self-help and went on to apply it to all people with HIV.

Still in our thousands we volunteer or give money, or provide other support, to our communities and groups. Volunteers get involved for as many reasons as there are people, giving a few hours a week to a lifetime of commitment. And forget the woolly socks goody-two-shoes image, along the way we find lovers, get skills we never dreamed of and meet people we would never normally talk to in a million years. It’s a great way to find out more about yourself and what you can do. One thing that’s true is that not only do you get back what you put in, but you can end up with a whole lot more beside – community, friends, respect and a more rounded understanding of who we are, pride in the fact that you didn’t wait for the plague wagon to carry your friends off, pride that you got accepted because of who you are not in spite of it, pride in the fact that when someone is in the same difficult spot as you once were, you can be there for them.

While the gay scene grew steadily from the early 70s, in the last decade it has changed dramatically. The boarded-up windows and alleyway entrances of the ‘twilight world of the homosexual’ have evolved into a thriving industry of trendy bars, restaurants, cafés and shops filled with the latest fashion, lifestyle accessories and sexual accoutrements. A new generation of gyms and saunas have exploded on to the scene while myriad pubs and clubs continue to serve up a wide range of music, theme nights and sex venues. Pride, Mardi Gras, and other festivals and exhibitions have helped to revolutionise our image. Even the smallest town can usually boast a gay pub, and new venues spring up every year. Nevertheless, access to the ‘playground’ is often dependent on living near a town or city with a scene of some kind, and having sufficient cash and the confidence to go out and play. Many gay men still live in desperate isolation, survive on nominal wages and have yet to find the confidence and opportunity to travel the yellow brick road.

Furious Saint Jack | Dir. Ethan Roberts | 2014 | 3m 38s

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Pubs clubs and bars

Pubs, clubs and bars are an obvious place to meet friends and are still among the easiest places to find other gay men, though the massive increase in the use of apps has hammered the traditional gay scene hard. We will eventually realise what we’ve done and may well bitterly regret the time we turned our backs on our scene.

 Timeline of London Bars and Clubs | Wikipedia
The Black Cap closed a week after being awarded ‘asset of community value’ status | The Independent | 14 Apr 2015

The skills we use for cruising, meeting and chatting-up are pretty universal and can be adapted for use just about anywhere. Above all, if you go out thinking you’re going to find ‘him’ you are likely to be disappointed. The air of desperation is easily recognised and drives many men away.

Go with the flow, relax and enjoy yourself. You’ll be a much better mood, you’ll communicate better and if you don’t pick up it’ll be a case of “so what… there’s always tomorrow” rather than beating yourself up over failure.

  • Say hello to security on the door as you walk in – you never know when you might need them.
  • A lot of bar etiquette is macho stuff inherited from traditional pub culture where you can only ‘be a man’ if you look tough and drink a man’s drink; it’s against this we can be measured. You should drink exactly what you want, although bear in mind that certain combinations may make you less-looked-for cruising material. When was the last time you saw a skinhead with a piña colada, or a drag queen holding a pint of Guinness. In fact, we’ve seen both and they were tremendous!
  • If you smoke, make sure your pack is to hand and you’re not wrestling with a drink and lighter (through some guys are very skilled). Seems an age ago, but as a consequence of the Health Act 2006 smoking in enclosed spaces was banned on 1 July 2007 and venues were quick to establish smoking zones outside. Better still, why not give up? You’ll have better health and only your drink to worry about.
  • Find a place that gives you a decent view of what’s going on, but, if it’s busy, avoid the main thoroughfares to and from the bar, coat-check, toilets, dance floor and loudspeakers.
  • A busy venue is not necessarily a great place to cruise. If the venue’s packed with punters moving around like herds of cattle it can be difficult to both see and be seen.
  • Guys are likely to look at you so, even if you’re shy, try to acknowledge them with a friendly look or smile rather than looking as if you’ve lost a contact lens at the bottom of your glass.
  • By all means move around, but not so much as to appear desperate or nervous. Someone could be looking for you, and staying in a couple of regular spots improves his chances of finding you.
  • Difficult though this might be to believe, you can’t cruise everyone! So identify a few guys and concentrate on them.
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Chatting up

The key to chatting up a guy is patience but, since we’re usually thinking with our dicks and driven by an uncontrollable urge to shift our load by morning, we can move very fast.

Unfortunately, this can be at the expense of some common sense stuff that can help a first meeting get off to a flying start. On some of the larger scenes we can also compromise our chances: if one guy doesn’t fit the bill within a nanosecond, we move on to the next. This sort of behaviour can become habitual and you’ll miss out on some great men.

Unless you’re carving notches on the bed post, it’s the quality not the quantity that counts. How we connect with other men varies enormously but if you like someone let him know. If you don’t he’ll never know what he’s missing. The looks… the glances… the ‘ballet’ around the venue to find better vantage points (from which to see or be seen) or to engineer a close encounter… are all part of the ritual to reduce the possibility of rejection. (Of course, if we could handle the rejection better, more of us would go straight up to a guy, say hello, and take it from there).

We often aim to find a balance between showing interest, casually ignoring him, and making our intentions clear. Eventually though you should do something about it, if only to spare yourself the nagging doubt as you go home alone.

Many of us have developed our own individual styles of chatting to and picking up men and so the following suggestions may seem contrived. But, if you go through the following points, you’ll probably pick at least one thing you could do better (apart from him).

Everyone has an opening line and it’s not as if we haven’t heard them all before – particularly the crap ones. Even if it’s terrible, you’ve plucked up the courage to say “Hi!” and that’s more than he’s done if he’s just standing there waiting for you to make the first move. However, just for the record, here are a few chat-up lines that didn’t quite work out as intended:

  • “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you pleased to see me?” “It’s a gun.”
  • “What would it take to get a kiss from you?” “Chloroform.”
  • “My friends have told me about you…” “What friends?”
  • “What’s your idea of a perfect date?” “The one I was having before you came over.”
  • “Got a light?” “Yes.”

In the first instance, conversation should be easy-going and relaxed and any questions should be straightforward. If you start with something clever or devastatingly witty you may catch him off-guard or put him on the spot. He may then feel he needs to match you and if he’s shy or out of practice then you’ve immediately put him at a disadvantage. On the other hand, some guys do it to sort out the men from the boys, so if it works for you do it – but you know the risks. Here are our chatting up tips:

  • Your voice should be friendly, confident and relaxed – not pushy, smarmy or over-eager
  • Find out his name, remember it, use it every now then and don’t forget it
  • Keep the eye contact going
  • Get him to talk about himself but don’t turn it into an interrogation or forget that you’re part of this too
  • If you don’t want to talk to him be polite, firm and honest
  • Consider your body language and observe his. Unless he’s been explicit about what he wants, don’t get too close in the first instance. Believe it or not we all need some time to get accustomed to being in each other’s space. Instinct and practice will let you know when it’s time to get closer, particularly if his hand wanders on to your arse or crotch.
  • Mirroring each other’s body language can also help relax you both. For example, taking a drink when he drinks and re-positioning yourself when he does generates a comfortable rhythm between you. Mind you, it needs to be casual – not a comedy routine.
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Rejection

Indications that you’re not onto a winner usually include minimal eye contact and/or his eyes scanning men other than you, one word replies, the tone of his voice, or an unwillingness to initiate or respond to conversation. If he turns you down, don’t necessarily think that it’s you; it could be for a number of reasons:

  • He’s already got plans
  • He’s drunk
  • He’s got a boyfriend
  • He’s just broken up
  • He’s just had sex
  • He’s nervous or shy
  • He’s not in the mood
  • He’s on drugs
  • He’s not good enough for you
  • He’s got a STI
  • Maybe you just don’t turn him on
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How to make 'no' nice

If you’re not interested in a guy who’s obviously got you in his sights, it goes a long way to be polite when saying ‘No’.

OK, you may want tell the guy to stop bothering you, but imagine if the shoe was on the other foot: how would you feel? You should always aim to make a polite getaway. Speak firmly to make it clear that the conversation is over but – if you can – smile genuinely. This way no one is made to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. We’ve all been there so don’t do it to others.

If he won’t go away and you’ve shown him every reasonable courtesy, then tell him to… [in your own words].

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Cruising the streets

Meeting guys on the street happens all the time, but while the theory is simple, the practice requires a little more balls and timing. So, if you see a guy you like, here are a few handy tips:

  • First things first, check your ‘gaydar’ (that exclusive sixth sense only known to gay men). Looks can be deceptive, and many straight men dress gay for fashion.
  • Depending on the distance between you, you may need to change your angle of approach to ensure you pass by. Be casual, and if you’re unfamiliar with the art of subtlety it’s possibly best not to try. As you near each other look straight into his eyes in friendly non-threatening manner. If he does the same – and any longer than is usual between strangers – continue to look at him as you pass him.
  • Now this is the hard part. At what point do you look over your shoulder to see if he’s doing the same? When you’re doing it he might only be thinking about it or he could be doing it while you’re making up your mind! Hopefully, five or ten paces on, you’ll both do it at the same time. If not, you’ll never know what you missed, quite literally.
  • If he’s doing the same, you’ll both pretend not to cruise when in fact you both know what you’re both doing. Your heart pounds as you work out who’s going to make the next move. A friendly smile, a casual remark or a straight forward “Hi!” can break the ice but it does help if one of you has the courage to speak. His body language, his voice and facial expression should all tell you whether he’s interested or not.
  • If, after talking to him, you change your mind, you should make a clean polite getaway. “Nice to meet you” or “see you around” and a friendly smile will usually do it, but say it as you’re leaving so as to make it clear that the encounter is over.
Personal information | MEN R US
Consent and sex | MEN R US
Abuse and violence | MEN R US
Street safety | MEN R US
Cruising grounds | MEN R US

LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline | 0800 999 5428
Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline | 0300 330 0630
GALOP | 020 7704 2040
Men’s Advice Line | 0808 801 0327
Victim Support

The Havens | 020 3299 6900
The Havens can help you if you have been sexually assaulted or had non-consensual sex in the past 12 months. You can call them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for an initial assessment. When they need to see you urgently, such as for a forensic medical examination (FME), they aim to see you within 90 minutes. They also offer follow-up care, including counselling, tests and treatments. Its medical and emotional support services are confidential. That means it will not tell anyone you have contacted or come to see them unless you want them to. And you can use any of their services without involving the police.

While MEN R US maintains that The Havens is an invaluable service, it has intel from users to indicate it could – and perhaps should – be more friendly and accessible towards gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men. However, should you be in need of The Havens this is not a reason not to go.

The Havens has 3 centres in London:

Camberwell Haven, near to King’s College Hospital (South)
Whitechapel Haven, near to Royal London Hospital (East)
Paddington Haven, near to St Mary’s Hospital (West)

Personal safety | Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Survivors UK | Web chat/ text chat
Domestic violence | Stonewall
LGBT Domestic Abuse Partnership

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Street safety

When you are out and about, it’s easy to forget personal safety and that assaults on gay men still happen. If you’re on the street or on your local cruising ground, remember:

  • Keep your wits about you
  • Don’t over engage with everyone you meet
  • Try to avoid being on your own in an unfamiliar area, especially if you are drunk or have taken recreational drugs. Be vigilant when leaving gay venues
  • Always walk with a purpose, head up, and as if you know where you’re going. Be alert. Know who or what is behind you at all times. If you think you’re being followed, cross the road to check. If possible keep to well lit and peopled streets
  • If you feel threatened, try to attract attention or go into a shop, a pub, even knock on a door using the premise that you’re looking for someone who you thought lived at the address.
  • If you think there is going to be trouble – get out. Think about how you might defend yourself if you had to – screaming, shouting, and/or running. (If available, self-defence courses are excellent for teaching you disabling tactics)
  • If you can, carry a whistle or attack alarm and use it. Scream for help, bang on doors or flag down passing cars. But try not to look totally mad or they’re likely to ignore you
  • If you see someone being attacked, try to help without putting yourself in danger. If you can’t help yourself – get help
  • Always use a registered taxi firm that you can trust. Be wary of unregistered cabs and taxi touts. Agree the fare before you get in. Be cautious about travelling in a taxi alone. Consider sharing
  • If you feel threatened on public transport, stand near the exit, change carriage or seek the company of others
  • In an emergency always call 999
LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline | 0800 999 5428
Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline | 0300 330 0630
GALOP | 020 7704 2040
Men’s Advice Line | 0808 801 0327
Victim Support

The Havens | 020 3299 6900
The Havens can help you if you have been sexually assaulted or had non-consensual sex in the past 12 months. You can call them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for an initial assessment. When they need to see you urgently, such as for a forensic medical examination (FME), they aim to see you within 90 minutes. They also offer follow-up care, including counselling, tests and treatments. Its medical and emotional support services are confidential. That means it will not tell anyone you have contacted or come to see them unless you want them to. And you can use any of their services without involving the police.

While MEN R US maintains that The Havens is an invaluable service, it has intel from users to indicate it could – and perhaps should – be more friendly and accessible towards gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men. However, should you be in need of The Havens this is not a reason not to go.

The Havens has 3 centres in London:

Camberwell Haven, near to King’s College Hospital (South)
Whitechapel Haven, near to Royal London Hospital (East)
Paddington Haven, near to St Mary’s Hospital (West)

Personal safety | Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Survivors UK | Web chat/ text chat
Domestic violence | Stonewall
LGBT Domestic Abuse Partnership

Personal information | MEN R US
Consent and sex | MEN R US
Abuse and violence | MEN R US
Street safety | MEN R US
Cruising grounds | MEN R US

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Cruising grounds

Here are our thoughts on cruising grounds:

  • Cruising grounds can be dangerous places: know your exits. Tell a friend where you are going
  • If you know someone else there, make contact: you can look out for each other
  • Listening to music using headphones make you less aware of danger or attack
  • Try not to carry valuables
  • If you’ve met someone for the first time you may be tempted to take them home or go home with them. Beware of the risks. Get their phone number and suggest meeting another night
  • Sexy though they may appear to be – stay clear of groups of straight men, particularly if they’re loud or drunk
  • Be wary of accepting lifts from strangers. If you are with a group of friends but do not know the driver, you should be cautious about being the last person to be dropped off. Hitch hiking can be dangerous. Try not to hitch alone although this may make getting lifts more difficult.
  • Some guys have a 2nd phone (left at home) to which they send themselves messages with a quick description of the plan before running off with a complete stranger. Doing this in front of a potential shag also lets them know you are connected. Over the top (OTT) perhaps but it depends on how you value your personal safety (especially if you are not out).
LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline | 0800 999 5428
Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline | 0300 330 0630
GALOP | 020 7704 2040
Men’s Advice Line | 0808 801 0327
Victim Support

The Havens | 020 3299 6900
The Havens can help you if you have been sexually assaulted or had non-consensual sex in the past 12 months. You can call them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for an initial assessment. When they need to see you urgently, such as for a forensic medical examination (FME), they aim to see you within 90 minutes. They also offer follow-up care, including counselling, tests and treatments. Its medical and emotional support services are confidential. That means it will not tell anyone you have contacted or come to see them unless you want them to. And you can use any of their services without involving the police.

While MEN R US maintains that The Havens is an invaluable service, it has intel from users to indicate it could – and perhaps should – be more friendly and accessible towards gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men. However, should you be in need of The Havens this is not a reason not to go.

The Havens has 3 centres in London:

Camberwell Haven, near to King’s College Hospital (South)
Whitechapel Haven, near to Royal London Hospital (East)
Paddington Haven, near to St Mary’s Hospital (West)

Personal safety | Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Survivors UK | Web chat/ text chat
Domestic violence | Stonewall
LGBT Domestic Abuse Partnership

Personal information | MEN R US
Consent and sex | MEN R US
Abuse and violence | MEN R US
Street safety | MEN R US

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Meeting guys safety check

When meeting a guy for the first time:

  • Tell a friend what you’re doing and where you’re going
  • Arrange to meet in a public place
  • Consider asking a friend to phone you on your mobile after 20 minutes (just in case you need to make an escape)
  • If you have any serious doubts: make an excuse and leave
  • Don’t give out your address until you’re sure you want to continue seeing him
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Sex venues

Sex venues are clubs and club nights, pubs, and some gay saunas where sex is permitted on the premises. These may also be known as dark rooms and play areas.

  • You may wish to check out the busier times (or not) depending what you’re after; eg: weekends and bank holidays can be uncomfortably packed
  • Some venues have strict dress codes and will refuse entry. Depending on what you wear (and whether you’re travelling in public) consider taking your gear with you and changing at the venue, or wearing cover up; eg: trackie bottoms over chaps
  • If you’ve not been there before, it’s well worth checking what’s what before you get down to business. Many venues have Facebook pages that are useful reads.
  • If you’re going with a friend, agree a check-in time and place and stick to it
  • If you’ve had some great sex, think about having a break
  • While it is a sex venue, don’t be afraid to talk to a guy if you think that there may be something more going on
  • Don’t forget to take condoms and lube, and chewing gum

Our experience says:

  • Don’t let sex venues become habitual and your only way to meet other men
  • Sexual frisson or energy is just that – then it’s gone – so don’t expect anything else from a guy
  • Take care of your valuables
Gay sex and the sauna | GMFA FS #142
Modern guy’s guide to cruising | GMFA FS #148

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Personal ads

Times may have moved on but guys still use them.

Whether you’re looking for friendship, a relationship or sex, contact or personal advertisements can deliver just about anything that appears in print. You’ll find them in magazines and newspapers, and the gay press includes more explicit ads.

It can be an exciting way to meet men and, in some cases, dispenses with the niceties (or otherwise) of cruising. For some, it provides opportunities to meet men who prefer not to use the scene or who don’t have easy access to pubs and clubs. Answering ads is relatively simple and most papers and magazines operate a similar process:

  • Find an ad you like and reply in writing. Advertisers often want a photograph and preferably not from a photo-booth at 9am on a Monday morning when you’re hungover
  • Put the letter in an envelope with its box/reference number clearly marked on the outside
  • Post it to the advertiser care of the publication including a first class stamp (for each reply).
  • Wait and hope!

If you’re placing an ad check out the costs and the terms and conditions first. Advertisements are usually charged by the word which is why they’re short and why a dictionary of abbreviations has evolved; eg: corporal punishment – CP, sadomasochism – SM, or defined by hanky codes.

If a guy is explicit about what he’s looking for sexually then it’s reasonable to assume he’s being honest. Some ads are prone to gross exaggeration and dick size can often stray into fantasy world. By all means have the fantasy but you may be disappointed. When it comes to writing your own ad, phrases like ‘genuine’, ‘seeks similar’ and ‘for good times, maybe more’ are fine but just scan through the ads and they appear with unerring regularity.

While phrases like ‘would like to meet a guy who’s DNA hasn’t fallen off the back of a lorry’ and ‘you’ve tried the best… now I’m the rest’ may not be your cup of tea – your eye does at least stop on the page. Think about what you’re going to say and try to be original.

ALA – All letters answered
ALAWP – All letters answered with photo
BND – Boy next door
CS – Clean shaven
CT/A – Can travel/accommodate
GL – Good looking
GSOH – Good sense of humour
NSc – Non scene
NSm – Non smoker
NTW – No time wasters
SA – Straight acting
SL – Straight looking
VGL – Very good looking
VWE – Very well endowed
WLTM – Would like to meet

 Lonely hearts club band | The Guardian | 27 Jan 2009

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Casual sex

Not everyone feels the need for a relationship. There are times in our lives when we‘re ready to settle down, other times when we prefer to play the field or be alone. Gay men may not have invented the one-night stand, but we have certainly turned it into an art form and, for many of us, it’s how many friendships or relationships start. The unique sexual experience which comes with each new encounter also gives us an opportunity to develop our techniques and experiment with new practices.

Take your sex drive for a spin

Casual sex is not restricted to bedrooms or clubs. It can happen just about anywhere and sometimes when you’re not expecting it. It can also involve more than one person (hopefully). Casual sex should be about taking your sex drive out for a spin and having fun – without feeling guilty or feeling as if you’re settling for second best. It’s important to see casual sex for what it is. It should not be a substitute for that ever elusive relationship, although it’s understandable that finding a boyfriend can mean having sex with several – perhaps many – men along the way.

Peaks and troughs

While multiple partners can mean more experience, more confidence and more sexual satisfaction – it can also mean the reverse. Occasionally, a string of disappointing one-night stands can lead to a decrease in confidence and, over weeks or months, it can feel as if you’re never going to find anyone again. All of us experience this and it’s perfectly natural to have peaks and troughs. However, if you start to feel lonely or desperate or if you find yourself pining at two o’clock in the morning, its time to take a fresh look at your plan to get a man.

Fear of closeness

Casual sex over months or years may indicate a fear of closeness or loss, anxiety about rejection, or some other difficulty. It may help to talk about it with your friends or, if that’s not possible (or uncomfortable), to seek professional help.

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Fuck buddies

Fuck buddies are guys with whom we have sex on a regular basis without the complexities of a relationship. You might have met through the scene, the internet or a personal ad, but the pleasure you get is a sexual quid pro quo and an explicit understanding that you can stop seeing each other without anyone getting hurt.

Fuck buddies only work if you are both clear and honest about this arrangement. You can phone each other up, meet when it’s convenient, but know intuitively that you are unlikely to become boyfriends.

You can experiment, swap roles, practice technique or just fuck each other’s brains out because you both just love it – not each other. If this presents a problem then it’s possible you’re actually looking for a boyfriend. Sometimes it happens, but if you develop feelings – let him know. He may not be interested, or he may be thinking the same, but the arrangement has changed and you owe it to each other to be honest.

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Etiquette

Over the years, unspoken rules of etiquette have evolved to help make sure we get the best of the encounter – even if there’s no plan or arrangement to see each other again.

  • Guys may have different interests to you, and if you’re into one thing sexually, make this clear beforehand. Deciding ahead of time what you are going to do sexually can seem tacky (or be a turn-off) but it’s nothing compared to the disappointment you may both feel when you discover you’re not sexually compatible.
  • If you’re taking a guy back there’s usually an assumption on his part that it’s okay to stay the night. If he can’t stay the night – tell him in advance. If you’re going back but can’t stay, sort this out before you get into the taxi. Also, make sure that you can get home. Always have cab money, and refuse invitations to the middle of nowhere.
  • If you later discover that you don’t click or the sex doesn’t seem to be working out, or if you start to feel uncomfortable, make your excuses and leave. At this point you may regret having told him that you can stay over, but there’s no point in being over-polite if it’s quite clear that you’d rather be somewhere else. Sometimes casual encounters work – sometimes they don’t. Conversely, if you ask some body to leave, it’s not essential but it’s certainly a considerate gesture to make a contribution towards his fare home.
  • Once you’ve got down to business, don’t roll over and fall asleep until you have both had an opportunity to cum unless one of you has said that he’s not going to.
  • When you’ve done your stuff, it’s usual to go your separate ways. Do not feel obliged to exchange phone numbers. You’ve (hopefully) both got what you want and the ‘contract’ is finished. But does that stop us? No. More often than not we play that fucking ridiculous telephone numbers game!
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Phone numbers

The days are almost gone when you could transpose the last two numbers of your phone number on a scrap of paper. Today’s technology almost obliges you to exchange personal information. If a guy offers you his number but you’re not going to use it: say so. The tone of your voice can be friendly but be just that. You should only offer him your number because you want to see him again and not because you’re trying to be polite and/ or let him down gently.

This becomes more difficult if you’ve swapped phones to enter each other’s details – often done in haste and quickly regretted. You may also want to consider whether you give your last name as it can be surprisingly easy to find/ track/ stalk someone on Facebook, Google+ and other social media.

The morning after

If it’s the morning after the night before and you don’t want to see him again, don’t hang around. Get dressed, say something casual like ‘see you around’ and leave before the ritual of exchanging phone numbers can start.

If he offers you his number and you’re not going to use it – be polite, but decline. Remember: it’s a casual encounter… you’re not married… there are no obligations. If you want to see someone again and you have a partner – be honest and tell him the score.

The bottom line is that many numbers are scrawled down in haste and never used again. It’s just what we do to tie up the end of an intimate sexual encounter with the harsh reality that you’ve both done the business and are now getting on with your lives.

Lessons learnt

Learning and understanding this stuff can be both slow and painful, particularly when you think you’ve met someone really special who then never calls. The pit opens up and you start wondering if you should call… If you shagged on Saturday and it’s now Monday, do you call on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday? How long do you give him, two, three or four days? You feel wretched and vow never to feel like this again. BTW: Luke’s motto (one of the MEN R US team) is “48hrs or bust!”

Maybe he didn’t call you because he’s gone home to the boyfriend he didn’t tell you about, he’s met someone else, he’s afraid of getting too close or he’s just an arsehole. Maybe he likes you but not enough.

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Online

Game changer

APPS v3Born in late 1999, Gaydar is probably the daddy of all profile based dating websites from which has spawned a multitude of other websites and smart phone apps (web apps). There is no denying they have transformed the way gay men connect and communicate with each other.

Whether you are looking to chat, flirt, hook-up, or find a partner there are many smart phone apps to choose from and an increasing number of gay dating websites with an emphasis on longer term relationships.

If you are starting out, you may find some web apps overwhelming, but there are alternatives where you can explore your sexuality in a more chilled environment, perhaps taking the first steps towards acceptance and coming out, if that’s where you’re heading.

Also, we should not forget that web apps have been a game changer for people living in parts of the world where being gay is criminalised, considered evil, and a sin against God.

Where is it illegal to be gay? | BBC | 14 Feb 2014
LGBT rights by country or territory | Wikipedia

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Agree or disagree

While powerful web apps have brought us together in quite profound and positive ways, we believe that there are conversations to be had about their impact and influence. For example, while some of us berate the fact they reduce us to commodities we still use them every day.

We’ve pulled together some statements, so why not find a friend, settle down with your favourite beverage, and discuss…

  • You can’t determine chemistry online but it doesn’t matter
  • Against a long history of rejection, persecution, discrimination and violence against LGBT+ people, web apps ‘take advantage’ of our need for acceptance, validation, and recognition
  • Learning to use web apps can help better understand what you’re truly looking for off-line
  • Web apps like this are tracking devices which invade your privacy and expose you to unwanted attention
  • Web apps perpetuate an LGBT+ culture rooted in narrow, unrealistic images of beauty and attractiveness leaving little to no space to celebrate difference and diversity
  • The goal of web apps should be to take whatever it is you find (or whomever finds you) off-line
  • If stats, preferences, likes, and tick boxes are the tools we are given to find a men, it is how we will be seen by men
  • Web apps dull our characters, and the personal and interpersonal skills we eventually need to make, nurture and maintain meaningful friendships and relationships
  • Web apps should be part of a healthy online and off-line mix to meet guys, and make friends
  • 24/7 web apps throw up many more guys than you will ever meet so scrolling through the latest profiles and gorgeous bods is as soul destroying as it is addictive
  • Web apps perpetuate a 24/ 7 hook-up culture of self-gratification from which we will eventually burn out, returning to a scene which will have disappeared through neglect

Or maybe we do realise it’s all superficial and just a bit of fun. That we’re better than this and web apps do nothing more than connect, empower, and liberate us. Guys do find what they are looking for online, including Mr Right, The One, [Insert Here]. And whether it is love, a shag, a chemsex, or cuddles we’re after, it turns up in many different forms and in the most unexpected places.

So, our cautionary tale is more about:

  • managing expectations
  • understanding it’s in the real world where lasting relationships are forged
  • being clear about what it is you want and need (and knowing the difference). If not, web apps will leave you bitter, disappointed, and hurt
The Grindr Project | Documentary | 30 Apr 2013 | 34m22s
What Gay Men Really Mean When They Say… | Davey Wavey 28 Jun 2012 | 1m34s
Real Life Grindr! | Davey Wavey 12 Apr 2012 | 1m02s
IQ Millenial Question | Simon Sinek | 30 Dec 2016 | 15m25s (go to 2m35s)

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Online tips

Writing and reading profiles

If you’re writing…

Your profile name and/ or headline can grab people’s attention so make it original. Keep what you say truthful, accurate and light. Write something that is distinctive, special and unique about you. And think carefully before falling back on the clichés of liking long walks and enjoying cosy nights in.

While you only have to write a few lines and others will say more, there’s a balance between writing an essay (which nobody reads) and a blank profile (which kinda says it all). However true they may be for you, whinges, gripes and moans are unattractive, and pessimistic downbeat profiles will have guys clicking away fast.

If you’re reading…

If a guy takes time to write something about themselves then read it. If not, then maybe a guy who can string a sentence together and use punctuation correctly is not for you.

Avoid men with profiles which make aggressive/ negative statements about ethnicity, HIV and STI status, age and build. Flip it and think how likely is a guy to pick up in a club, sauna or bar if he says ” I’m disease free, and not into fatties or Asians. Any takers guys?”

Granted there maybe be characteristics about men which push our buttons sexually, but sexual racism and body fascism is unacceptable, though visible and seemingly tolerated online.

Chat and messaging

For some, this a doddle; for others, we get nervous or struggle to even start. It’s not so different plucking up the courage to speak to someone we like for the first time. So don’t write somebody off immediately if they don’t come up (or down) to your standard or style of writing.

Chat and messaging is ‘voiceless’ so we create one in our head which perfectly natural but this can lead to over analysis, mis-interpretation. However, bear in mind short snippy messages can be fun and sexy and but also can make for an equally short shag.

Exclamation marks suggest energy but overuse (including emoticons) can indicate he may be high and/ or highly strung. BEST AVOIDED IF HE WRITES ALL HIS MESSAGES IN CAPS.

And it’s not an interrogation (unless it’s what you want it to be).

Being HIV positive

Some guys say explicitly they are HIV positive, often using shorthand such as HIV+, +ve, poz, or [+]. The reasons for this include:

  • It is nothing to be ashamed about
  • It is nothing to be stigmatised
  • The nonsense some untested or negative guys come up with
  • It can provide clarity in terms of who you want to have sex with
Would you date an HIV-positive guy? | GMFA FS #147
Stop HIV Stigma | GMFA
HIV isn’t dirty, stigma is | GMFA FS #144
HIV, stigma and discrimination | NAM Aidsmap | 2012
The Stigma Project: Ending HIV stigma one image at a time | The Stigma Project | 27 Apr 2014 1m47s

DDF | Xtranormal | posted by pozmonaut | 27 Oct 2010 | 3m 14s
My Fabulous Disease | Mark S King
Just in case you haven’t worked it out, DDF is the acronym for “drug and disease free”.

Settings

Rather than assume anything, it’s worth checking your settings; eg: alerts, privacy, and tracking/ following. If your profile has an option to tell guys why you’re online then set this correctly; eg: if you’re not looking to actually meet anyone, say so and use a ‘chatting’ or ‘picking up messages’ option. It may stop some guys thinking they’re in with a chance when in fact they have none.

Spell check

When you finish writing don’t forget to check your spelling or run a spell check. While correct spelling and grammar shouldn’t be a deal breaker, a little effort to show you care can go a long way.   

Pics

For many guys, picture-less profiles are a non-starter. So use a clear pic taken in the last year. It should be a straightforward shot, without pipe work, litter boxes, laundry or family members in the background, for example. Unless it’s what you’re ‘selling’ avoid cutsie, posed, glamorous, funny (at least you think so) and/ or photoshopped.

Face, body, and dick pics send out different messages, so make sure you’re sending out the message you want. Unsolicited dick pics usually mean a guy’s horny. We all have dicks, we use them and we get horny. It’s just part of the language some of us use and can be just what you want to see! If you are offended then you’re not going to sleep with him are you? Job done, move on.

Humour

It’s tempting to be funny. Sometimes it works, but our rule of thumb is that it usually doesn’t travel well. Guys get confused or offended quickly, particularly if your sense of humour is dry, acerbic, or slightly left of field. We sometimes forget this online, where we don’t have the additional signals we take for granted when you’re standing opposite someone.

One man too many

If you can juggle several men at once successfully we’ll give you a gold star, but it’s exhausting, often self-defeating and can end in tears. You have to remember individual profile names and characteristics if you’ve been chatting (so as not to confuse them with someone else), and it really starts to go downhill if you confuse message strings or pick up a conversation with the wrong guy.

Step away from the man

If someone is rude or argumentative avoid the temptation to answer back. You can spend hours in meaningless dialogue, eliminating any chance of you and he hooking up. In fact, that ship sailed the second he called you an arsehole and you replied. So, step away from the man, say something like “hope everything works out for you” or “have to head out now” then block ‘em.

Stay away from the office

Office environments are getting savvy in monitoring what goes in and out across their Internet, with many employers having strict guidelines about what it is you can/ cannot do with your PC. In some ways, the solution has been smartphone apps but, there again, people notice if you keep looking at your phone repeatedly, or spend a disproportionate amount of work time tapping messages. Bottom line: keep your work/ office life separate from your personal life and only pick up messages during legitimate breaks.

Keep the man local

If you are investing time and energy in getting to know somebody who you hope to meet, make sure they’re local and/ or within reasonable travelling distance. If you can get the location check out Google maps before you start trekking off into the wilderness, or asking someone to drive into town who doesn’t know about the congestion charge or that it is usually hell parking anywhere.

Conversation or inquisition

We’ve a volunteer on the MEN R US team who gets goose bumps if you ask him “where are you from?” On the face of it it’s a reasonable question, as is “where do you live” or “what do you do?” The truth is that these lines have been done to death, so why not actually read his profile and respond to something he’s said, or try to come up with something a little more original.

A barrage of questions has got ‘ignore’ and ‘block him now’ written all over it. Chat and messaging should be attentive but relaxed. Tease out the answers (if that’s what you’re after) rather than subjecting your prey to an inquisition.

Thanks but no thanks

Receiving…

Someone saying “no” is never nice but it happens to all of us. Most guys are polite about the way they say it, but you really don’t have an automatic right to reply. A ‘no thanks’ is what it is. Move on. Arguments start easily because guys don’t take no well (even if the rejection message is reasonable) and from hereon in it goes from bad to worse. Short answer: do you really want to meet him now?

Sending…

Some web apps have automated ‘thanks but no thanks’ messages, although (we would argue) it’s a tad more adult if you have the decency to send a short personal message yourself. If your profile has an option telling guys why you’re online, set this correctly (eg: checking messages) as this may stop guys messaging you in the first place.

What do you want?

Spare a thought for what you want and need. The less you put on your profile the more it is assumed you are there for immediate sex and hook-ups; not always, but bear this in mind. Absolutely no point logging on if you’re knackered, fed up, or if your profile says one thing when in fact you’re feeling quite another.

  • Do you want sex NOW, or later?
  • Are looking for a date when in fact you want sex?
  • Do you want sex when in fact you’re looking for a date?
  • Are you looking for a relationship?
  • Are you really checking your messages, or cruising; or maybe you’re bored and just seeing what passes by?

Plans and meets

Say what you mean, mean what you say and stick to the plan. If you can’t follow through don’t make plans which you then break with some feeble half-arsed excuse. Before you start cruising, be clear in your own mind whether you’re hosting or travelling.

And there’s absolutely no point in getting horned up in chat if you have no intention of leaving your flat at 1am! Some guys are just bored and chatting to pass the time. They may sound really into you but never agree to meet. Sometimes this person is you.

It can be helpful to speak on the phone before you agree to meet. Until that point all you have are words, tick boxes and a few pics. Hearing someone’s voice can make all the difference before you trek off across town, or invite a complete stranger into your home.

The Behemoth (fantasy v reality)

“Between chatting online and turning up at his flat, I had created this crazy fantasy about who he was and what we were going to do. Had this weird shit going on in my head which squeezed out any possibility that he could be anything else. The sex wasn’t going to happen the moment he opened the door. He seemed a little taller (so), his was voice different (but I’d never heard it before), he wasn’t wearing what I expected (as if he was going to be wearing the clothes in his photo); and he also had glasses (which I wear for reading). Our imagination can be our best asset and our worst enemy. It was me that killed the moment, not him.”

Lucas | 1 Jul 2015

Partners and open relationships

Tread carefully when meeting partnered guys who say they are “just looking for friends” or guys who say they are in an open relationship. Sometimes it’s cool but it can also get messy. It gets messier still if you develop feelings for someone who’s attached. Rule of thumb: meet single guys if you are single or be clear about what you’re getting into.

Open relationships? It’s a no from me | GMFA FS #143

More doesn’t mean better

Making full use of a smörgåsbord of men doesn’t automatically translate into better sex, or that you’ll be any a happier. In fact, there’s often a feeling that you will never be satisfied or never find the right one. The prevailing 24/7 sex culture can make you feel as if you are a product or commodity, but it’s really is up to you as to how far you buy into it or not.

We suggest quality over quantity every time and some breaks between hook-ups. Scratch the surface and there is usually something deeper and constant within us about finding someone with whom we can really connect and love. There’s nothing wrong with this, though it’s almost an elephant in the room in a culture which promotes the opposite.

Online off-line balance

Add up the time spent searching, messaging, swiping and scrolling; you could also use that time actually meeting real people perhaps in a bar, or getting involved in an activity. This is not a shout against apps but a reminder that some of us spend a disproportionate amount of time immersing ourselves in an artificial construct of code, pixels and tick boxes.

There is nothing more satisfying than a guy who looks you in the eye, smiles, and says “Yes.” It pushes all sorts of really cool buttons inside us which are often absent during marathon adrenaline-fuelled web app man hunts.

Playing nice

It’s very depressing when we are less considerate to each other simply because we are using a web app. Guys are still guys even if there is there is an Internet connection between you and him. If we refuse to learn to balance authenticity and consideration, we will have great ways to bring us together but we will never be a truly great community.

Unfortunately, some guys think they don’t have to play nice because online is not real. Almost without exception, this has more to do with how they are feeling about themselves and nothing to do with you (unless you deliberately poked the bear with a stick). It’s not worth taking on their pain or hardening yourself. Just acknowledge it and move on.

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Web app listings

Our list is not exhaustive, but contains the most popular web apps and the ones we know, use and are familiar with at MEN R US. Only you can decide which one is best for you, and some trial and error is likely needed.

Also, take the trouble to read the reviews first and bear in mind the (star) ratings are geared towards technical competence. Some guys have several accounts on the go, but then it’s more a matter of keeping track and remembering to log in to check messages.

The staples seem to be Gaydar, Grindr, and Scruff. If you’re looking for older men and bears check out Daddy Hunt, GROWLr and Mr X. If you’re after something rougher, raunchier, and/ or fetish orientated then check out BBRT and Recon.

BBRT | Daddy Hunt | Fit Lads | Gay.com
Gaydar | Grindr | GROWLr | GT Date | Hornet  
Manhunt | Match | Moovz | MR X (previously Mister)
OK Cupid | Planet Romeo | Recon | Scruff
Squirt | The Guardian: Soulmates | XXL

This promo short from Moovz caught our eye in that it’s actually quite intelligent and genuinely funny – as far as web apps ads go. And before anyone asks: MEN R US doesn’t know them, nor do we have shares!

You’re Gay, Now What?! | Moovz App | 15 Jul 2015 2m29s

A special mention for Gay Farmers Dating, BoyAhoy (Skout), Compatible Partners (eHarmony) and My Single Friend.

Other web apps we found in our travels: Adam4Adam, Caffmos Community, G Kiss, Gay Adults, Gay Cupid, Gay Fish Dating, Gay X Change, GayQuation, JACK’D, Lavendr, ManCrunch, ManJam, One Good Crush, One Scene, OnlyLads, Perfect Match, POF (Plenty of Fish), Senior People Meet, and Zoosk.

Sugar Daddy Gay Dating & Hookup App – DaddyBear

DADDY-HIVWhen DaddyBear was launched by Hong Kong Bo Xuan Technology Co., Ltd, its CEO explained in an interview with INTO “No one would like to date people living with HIV unless he is living with it. Most gay sugar daddies are not living with HIV, so they don’t want to bring home any unwanted souvenirs. However, we support that gay men living with HIV have the right to date with other gays with HIV. But many rich and successful gay sugar daddies do not want to date with gay men living with HIV, which is the reason why we launched this app to meet their needs.”

DaddyBear is not the only app on the market that asks about your HIV status; in fact, most hookup apps ask but give you the option to share this information, or not. However, DaddyBear has gone out of its way to promote its app for people are HIV negative, presumably because it believes there is a market. However, just by clicking a box marked ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ says nothing about a person’s true status and this should be common sense.

And we would ask you a question: Would you rather sleep with someone who knows their status and is undetectable, or someone who clicks a box suggesting they’re “HIV-negative,” aren’t on PrEP, but was last tested a few months ago? It will be interesting to see whether there’s an appetite for DaddyBear or whether people move with their feet. Time will tell. In the meantime, we suggest you try another app.

Join the new dating app… unless you’re HIV-positive | Queerty* | 25 Aug 2017
This new gay dating app bans HIV-positive men from joining | Pink News | 26 Aug 2017
Gay dating app cops backlash for banning HIV positive guys | Star Observer | 28 Aug 2017
Sugar daddy dating app proudly and sadly promotes HIV stigma | plus | 28 Aug 2017

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Personal Information

Personal information

Day and night, guys cruise and hook up safely online; that’s how it is and an intrinsic part of how we connect today. Add up the times you’ve met a man like this and the rule of thumb is that nothing goes ‘wrong.’ If it does, do we say so or just chalk it up to experience?

Friends don’t always mention bad experiences, and if it has happened to them then statistically it’s less likely to happen to you (or so you’ve rationalised in your head). So, while personal safety is an issue, do we afford it the attention it deserves?

  • Who hasn’t picked up in a club and taken him back to yours, or you’ve gone to his, without telling anyone?
  • Who hasn’t accepted a drink (or drugs, for that matter) from somebody you don’t really know?
  • And when was the last time you gave some serious thought about your personal safety online, or on the scene?

Shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted

We tend to find the right frame of mind to make changes only when something hurts or damages us, or goes terribly wrong. These are experiences from which we should learn because, for some gay men, a meet or date has resulted in tragic consequences.

Getting to know guys, meeting men, and having sex should be fun, and for the most part it is. And collectively we’re pretty good at looking out for each other on the scene, whether we go out with friends, meet them there… and we’re always messaging each other (drivel mostly). However, meeting guys online is more solitary: we surf, chat, swap info, and within an instant a stranger is standing at the door.

24/ 7 online smörgåsbord of men and drugs

Today we can meet more men in less time than ever before: an online smörgåsbord of men just a few clicks away. And powerful drugs like GHB, crystal meth, mephedrone, and ketamine make it so much easier to make rubbish decisions, and for other men to do things to us without our knowledge or consent. And for those of you turning your noses up because you don’t take ‘those’ sorts of drugs, we are also talking about alcohol and the litany of other easily available recreational drugs.

Finding middle ground

Writing this section on personal safety has been a little depressing as it seems to be packed with negatives and warnings. And, if you were to adhere to all our tips there’s a pretty good chance you’ll come across as weird and never get laid. So, here’s our best analogy for some middle ground:

  1. You want to cross a road but the pedestrian light is red
  2. You look left and right for traffic, but there’s none as far as you can see
  3. So, making an informed decision, or judgement call, you cross the road
  4. More often than not you get across safely… but you might get clipped by that cyclist or flattened by the car you just didn’t see

Tips

Whether you use them, mix and match, or ignore them, it’s your choice but do read them:

  1. If you’re cruising with your dick, don’t forget to engage the brain
  2. Keep your personal information personal
  3. Use the anonymity that web apps provide
  4. Check that GPS location settings are what you want
  5. Hate crime happens so be vigilant, and report it
  6. Tell a friend where you are going
  7. Consider getting a second phone for cruising
  8. Are his photos recent?
  9. Are your pics OK if they were shared publicly?
  10. Think about what he’s after
  11. Consider speaking before you meet
  12. Meet in a public place
  13. Get safe transport to/ from your destination
  14. Always carry condoms and lubricant with you
  15. Be aware that drinks can be spiked
  16. Know what to do if you have been assaulted or had non-consensual sex
  17. Trust your instincts, trust your gut
  18. Keep personal belongings safe

Share and discuss

The trick is to find a balance between who you are – remaining open, interesting and attractive to others – while maintaining your personal safety. But don’t just read the stuff here: share, discuss and argue with a mate. You don’t have to be alone in reaching informed decisions about your personal safety, and you’ll be surprised how similar our experiences and concerns are.

Our tips are not exhaustive and are rarely foolproof. While this section is geared towards personal safety online, we also have sections on:

Consent and sex | MEN R US
Abuse and violence | MEN R US
Street safety | MEN R US
Cruising grounds | MEN R US

LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline | 0800 999 5428
Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline | 0300 330 0630
GALOP | 020 7704 2040
Men’s Advice Line | 0808 801 0327
Victim Support

The Havens | 020 3299 6900
The Havens can help you if you have been sexually assaulted or had non-consensual sex in the past 12 months. You can call them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for an initial assessment. When they need to see you urgently, such as for a forensic medical examination (FME), they aim to see you within 90 minutes. They also offer follow-up care, including counselling, tests and treatments. Its medical and emotional support services are confidential. That means it will not tell anyone you have contacted or come to see them unless you want them to. And you can use any of their services without involving the police.

While MEN R US maintains that The Havens is an invaluable service, it has intel from users to indicate it could – and perhaps should – be more friendly and accessible towards gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men. However, should you be in need of The Havens this is not a reason not to go.

The Havens has 3 centres in London:

Camberwell Haven, near to King’s College Hospital (South)
Whitechapel Haven, near to Royal London Hospital (East)
Paddington Haven, near to St Mary’s Hospital (West)

Personal safety | Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Survivors UK | Web chat/ text chat
Domestic violence | Stonewall
LGBT Domestic Abuse Partnership

Keep your personal information personal

When chatting online and things are going well we can use our personal information as currency, as a way of validating the connection we think we’re making and reassuring him we’re interested.

  • You type “come to mine” and give him your address
  • You say “let’s chat” and give him your mobile number
  • He seems really ‘nice’ so you give him your full name
  • He asks you what you do so you tell him where you work
  • He finds you on Facebook and wants to be your friend

This is understandable, but exercise some caution until you are certain that you want to take things further. Many online conversations start but never go anywhere, by which time he has information about you. Chances are he’ll do nothing, but he may have enough to cause problems.

Use the anonymity that web apps provide

Rather than feel obliged to give out your mobile number, why not actually use the anonymity that web apps provide, using them as your primary method of communicating with guys. Meets can be arranged with messaging, copies of which are stored on web app providers’ servers should problems arise.

GPS location

Smart phones use GPS technology to locate your position and apps in relation to other guys locally. Granted this is kinda the point, but check the settings to suit your needs and the level of privacy you want.

A second phone for cruising

We’ve chatted a lot at MEN R US about having a second ‘trick ‘or ‘burner’ phone to keep your personal and play lives separate. While this seems to have some traction in the States, we’ve quickly reached the conclusion it’s not going to happen here. Anyway, we’ve told you about it.

Most phones today allow you to block a number from the handset if you want to. But if you’re getting serious ongoing hassle you may have to get a new number. It’s a lesson learned, and a royal pain in the arse to inform friends, family, utilities, bank…

Are his photos recent?

If you think his pics are not genuine, photo-shopped or just too good to be true, then maybe they are. If you ask for more pics and he declines then maybe it’s best to end the chat politely.

This is a tricky one, particularly if you lack that little extra confidence but, if after meeting he doesn’t look like his pics in the flesh, don’t be afraid to end things and walk away. You do have a choice, so don’t allow yourself to feel compelled, obliged or pressured to be there and have the sex.

Are your pics OK if they were shared publicly?

Sending guys a pic of you standing on a beach is one thing, sending him one of you in an intimate family photo, or having graphic sex may come back to haunt you. They can be used to track you via face recognition on some social media or, worst case scenario, to blackmail you. Consider sending only face and/ or torso shots.

To put it another way: check out your horniest sexiest ‘dirtiest’ pic and ask yourself if you would mind your employer, co-workers, family and friends, or granny seeing it.

Hate crime

There have been cases of web apps being used to target LGBT+ people in hate crime. This includes people pretending to be LGBT+ people who then bully, intimidate, menace, and threaten to share personal information, pics and videos.

All web apps that we have researched have functions and/ or settings to block and/ or report this behaviour, though you may need to create a new profile if the harassment persists.

If you have received threats from someone who knows you, where you live, or where you work, consider reporting this to the police.

And learn how you can take and save a ‘screen grab’ or ‘screen print’ so you you have a visual record of any abuse or threats.

There have also been instances of supposed meets or dates being used as opportunities to assault and rob. Be vigilant!

Think about what he’s after…

Be mindful about what he wants. If he wants you to party, that may mean he’s looking to use recreational drugs; if he’s only top maybe he only wants to dominate you; and if he insists on coming to your place maybe he has a partner (even though he says he’s single). Maybe this is exactly what you’ve signed up for, but ask yourself if this is what you really want the first time with a stranger.

Consider speaking before you meet

Our preference is that you use your web app facilities to arrange everything during the early stages of getting to know someone after which time you can decide whether you want to give out your number.

However, if you choose to use your phone you can usually get a better feel for a guy, over and above what you see online, by chatting on the phone. It doesn’t have to a long conversation but it should give you a better idea as to whether he is high, and whether there’s still a connection and you feel comfortable.

If he doesn’t want to speak before you meet this may be a warning sign, although some guys find it much easier to chat in person, getting nervous or tongue-tied on the phone.

BTW: Most phones today allow you to block a number from the handset if you need to.

Tell a friend where you are going

More experienced guys tend not to do this, but consider letting a reliable friend know where you’re going and when they can expect to hear from you. A simple text message might read:

  • Shag alert: call me in 2 hours, or
  • Shag alert: call me at 11pm

The more information you give a friend the more they will have to go on if something goes wrong; eg: a name, phone number, a profile name (even a pic he’s using). Or consider using your smart phone to share your location with a friend.

This may seem like common sense advice, but it can be difficult to share intimate shagging details even with our closest mates. It can also be a faff to send a 1st message before the meet, and a 2nd after the meet (at the right time, regardless of how things went).

Meet in a public place

While meeting a guy in a public place is an ideal, circumstances often don’t make this easy if you are just meeting for a (quick) shag. Perhaps it’s night time and/ or one of you has already agreed to go to the other’s flat.

If you can meet in a public place, do so, but if you are going to an address you’ve not been to before then this is one of those instances when you should seriously think about sending a text to a friend.

Meeting in a neutral public place gives you greater control over the meet and helps ensure that no one has an unfair advantage. Having guys coming to your home or meeting in a guy’s flat immediately gives you less control, and you lose much of that power.

Get safe transport to/ from your destination

Arrange your own safe transportation to and from the meet/ date or be very cautious about allowing a stranger to pick you up in his car and take you to what is likely to be an undisclosed location.

Make sure you set out with enough money to get home, whether by public transport or taxi. Even if you just end up walking away from the meet you have so much more control.

It’s the stuff of legend, but many guys have gone to a place, decided not to go through with it, then found themselves in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Sometimes the quickest and best thing to do is jump in a cab and just get home!

Be aware that drinks can be spiked

If you go to a guy’s flat then it’s likely you’ll be offered something to drink, eat even. If you are happy to do this then go ahead, otherwise the safest and easiest response is “No thanks, I’m good.” If you do accept a drink, and haven’t seen it being made, take small sips and see how it goes.

You need to be mindful that sometimes drinks are spiked with drugs like GHB or Rohypnol, and these can put you at a severe disadvantage, and at risk of sexual assault and/ or rape, and/ or make you very ill.

Some guys do this to try and relax you and improve the mood, rather than necessarily to take advantage of you. Nevertheless, this is non-consensual, this is wrong, and it is illegal. Granted, this advice may seem counter-intuitive given you’ve gone to meet somebody to have a good time, but bad things can and do happen.

If you’re hosting, one of the things you can do to reassure a guest is give them an unopened can of beer/ bottle of water, or open a bottle of wine in front of them. You get the drift.

Know what to do if you have been assaulted or had non-consensual sex

If you have been assaulted or had non-consensual sex

  • Get somewhere safe as soon as possible
  • Ask for help from someone you trust
  • Call the police in an emergency

Consider going to the nearest accident and emergency department, the Havens (in London), or a police station asking for a LGBT liaison officer.

If you don’t feel you can do any of this, consider calling a helpline. Whether it’s a few hours, days, weeks, or months later, the vital thing is that you do something and find help and support.

Trust your instincts, trust your gut

Sometimes we can’t put our finger on it, but we are pretty intuitive creatures. If something feels wrong or weird then it probably is. And if you are concerned in any way about your personal safety, or you are asked to do things you don’t want to do, then this is not a person you should be with. You should leave as quickly as possible in a way that puts you in the least amount of danger.

Trouble is that if you are high on drugs your judgement and your ability to pick up on warning signs can be greatly impaired. You’re much more likely to waltz into a bear pit, and a whole heap of mess. And it’s not just drugs or alcohol we’re talking about here; even without them, we can make surprisingly rubbish decisions when we are horny as hell and desperate for that shag.

Condoms and lube

Discuss and agree the kind of sex you’re going to have before you meet; whether it’s protected or unprotected sex, for example. And we suggest you always carry with you condoms and lubricant.

Keep personal belongings safe

When heading off for a meet or date most of us take a bag of some description. No harm in this, but take only what you need and try not to leave your belongings unattended (eg: while you’re in the loo) as it might provide the opportunity for someone to have a dig around and retrieve personal information, your wallet, even your phone.

Protect yourself and if in doubt “Run!”

If you are a shorter guy into muscle daddies be aware that there are potential physical disadvantages. That’s not to say there are not skinny short-arses with the aggression of a Jack Russell, along with bears who are in a fixed state of hibernation. Sometimes opposites attract – who says we’re not multi-layered and complex?!

If you think this is an issue for you, consider joining a self defence class, a boxing club, or getting fitter generally, just in case the need arises to “Run!” (in the words of Dr Who).

Anonymous ‘open door’ encounters

Some guys get off on the anonymity of meeting total strangers, but this is the most dangerous thing you can do.

If your idea of heaven is having your head buried in the pillow with the door unlocked, waiting for guys to slip into your flat and plough your hole, then you need to seriously think about getting over this turn-on now. There is very little wiggle room on this one as you are putting yourself at tremendous risk.

Granted, it can be immensely difficult weaning yourself off something which really turns you on but (if this is it) we strongly advise you talk it through with a trusted friend, a counsellor, or phone Switchboard – even if it’s just to clarify in your own mind that this is what you want, the risks you are taking, and the reasons behind it.

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Dating

What is dating?

Perhaps we are stating the obvious by defining dating, but in a 24/7 smörgåsbord sex culture some guys seem to think the ‘boundaries’ and ‘formalities’ of dating don’t matter. They do and guys still date (yup, we’ve said it) so it can be very irritating when some men think it’s OK to use it as a back door, or short cut, to sex.

A date is when:

  • two people spend time together
  • with the intention of getting to know each other better
  • on a potentially romantic level
  • over an extended period of time
  • to find out if a relationship is something worth pursuing
  • during which time sex is not the driver

To clarify further:

  • Sexual hook ups are just that, usually arranged online for sex
  • Hooking up or hook-ups can include sex, though non-sexual mates and friends will often hook up to spend time together socially
  • Hanging out usually means guys spending time together, as mates or friends, doing non-sexual and non-romantic stuff

Sometimes we confuse this stuff, sometimes intentionally. Being clear in your own mind about what you want, and being equally clear with others, will eliminate no end of grief and you will feel better for it.

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Check list

Whatever your age, you should be feeling excited, if a little nervous, but this is good and healthy. This is particularly true for guys who have not been dating for while, or are new to the whole dating thing.

Most likely, there will be a ton of stuff buzzing in your head like:

  • Will you like each other?
  • Is he the one?
  • Will there be a connection and chemistry?
  • Will we have anything to talk about?
  • Will I say the right thing or embarrass myself?
  • Is my breath stinky?

The only way you’ll find out is by going (!) so here are some tips to get you there.

The venue and doing stuff

Keep a first date short-ish and simple so if it’s not a good fit it doesn’t become a marathon. At MEN R US, we really like the idea of actually doing something on a date like a cheap gig, a gallery, a market, bowling; you can try a spa day but you may be pushing it! If you like each other, you can extend it, or plan a longer one next time.

Pick a place where you can talk and hear each other. A drink in a quiet café or a quick supper or lunch can be nice… but it can be intense. Think about getting out, active and having fun!

Check out transport to and from the venue, and getting home afterwards.

Alternatively, ignore the above and make your own rules.

“After the date from hell we had to wait on the same platform. Felt so awkward – jumped on the first train south. Took me ages to home. House mates thought it had gone well cos I didn’t get back ’til late. Had to tell them the whole story and ended up laughing like crazy.” Adam | 23 May 2015

Appearance

Your appearance should matter to you. Jeans and T-shirt worn well can make just as good an impression as a suit and tie. Be comfortable and be you.

Manners

Old fashioned perhaps but ‘manners maketh the man’ or ‘don’t be more of an arsehole than you naturally are’. Whether you are attracted to him or not, treat him as you would like to be treated yourself, and be courteous to waiting and bar staff.

Be on time

Turn up on time or let him know if you are going to be late, for any reason.

Mobile phones

Turn your mobile phone OFF during the whole date, or put it on silent if you are expecting an urgent call.

Baggage

We all have a past and life experiences that influence who we are and how we behave towards ourselves and others. Examples can include a line of ex-boyfriends (which didn’t end well), difficulty connecting with men, and/ or a history of drug use. However, it is also said that we are what we are, the sum of these and other parts, and ‘baggage’ is life’s rich tapestry conveniently labelled for the 21st century.

Whatever we call it, managing it in some way often helps us in ourselves and the relationships we make. This could mean some introspection, a self-help book, a damn good cry, a heart to heart with a friend, counselling, or at the very least acknowledgement that you/ we all have baggage which, with some effort, can – to a greater or lesser extent – be sorted, put to rest and stored away.

The important thing is we don’t bring this stuff to a date, and certainly not a first date. So, you don’t bang on about your last failed relationship, or a traumatic coming out, or a struggle with alcohol. Equally, it would be wrong to present yourself as squeaky clean (unless you are) and sometimes these moments shared at the right moment are very important.

It’s said there’s a time and a place for everything and there’s a knack of being true to yourself without frightening the horses (the horse, in this case, being your date). Too much emotional baggage, too soon, is never attractive and if things start to get serious you’ll have plenty of time to share your past, hang-ups, regrets and mistakes – as will he.

Be true

A guy should like you for who you are, so let him see the real you. The key is not to over analyse, relax, and be yourself. Dating is not a time to try being what you think your date would like you to be. Attempts to exaggerate, impress, dress up the truth or lie will likely end in tears.

Regardless of whether you hit it off romantically it would be good if you could both say that you had a good time. Whether you see him again or not, he should feel better off for having spent some time with you.

This also means not lying or giving false hope, leading someone to believe you are keen to seen them again when, in fact, you have no intention of doing so.

Snap judgements

Many of us make up our minds as to whether we like someone in the first few seconds or minutes of meeting. But first impressions can be very misleading. You will risk missing out if you judge too quickly or are too fussy or rigid about what you are looking for in a potential partner.

Try not to rule people out straight away. Instead, spend some time getting to know them; it’s what the date is for! If you’re not sure about someone, it may take a few dates before you can really decide.

Rushing in

Being attracted to someone is a great feeling but this is often a ways away from something more substantial. Sex on the first date (particularly if it’s mind blowing) can connect you in complex ways which can then blind your compatibility issues. Don’t underestimate this as they will invariably reveal themselves over time, sometimes destructively. Guys wake up a month or so later to realise they actually don’t like the man and have nothing in common.

So, take time to get to know a guy before getting too emotionally or physically involved. It helps if you can establish that there’s more to the relationship than just chemistry before ripping off each other’s clothes.

Ending it

As a date or dates unfold, we process compatibility and whether there’s a connection, common ground  – and whether we actually like the guy! Sometimes we conclude he’s not the one. The important thing is that you end things as decently as you can.

Being honest and saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ to him face to face says a lot about who you are as an an adult gay man. Sometimes things just don’t end well, but always try to tell him calmly, however difficult this may be. In time he may become a friend, or be a friend of your next boyfriend, and you never know when you might see him again.

And you get no points for ending it by text or phone!

“Went out with Marco a few times but it didn’t work out. Got really messy when I told him because he said I’d been giving him all the signals. I probably was but couldn’t be honest with him. I’ve been with James a year now but a couple of months in I met his best friend: Marco. Very awkward for a while but then we had the conversation we should have had when I broke up with him. My bad.” Andrew | 1 Feb 2015

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Warning signs

He’s just got out of a long term relationship

The average length of a ‘long term’ relationship is variable at best, but we’re going for 2 plus years as a guide. What’s more important is whether he’s single and emotionally available when he meets you.

Asking around MEN R US we came up with a completely unscientific guide of no proper dating for 2-4 months for every year a person has been in a relationship. So, a guy finishing a 5 year relationship might need between 10 and 20 months. This may seem a lot… or a little… but factors to consider include the quality of the relationship, how it ended (eg: a bust up by mutual agreement, or something in between) and the emotional maturity of the guy.

Complete bollocks maybe, but at least take away from this that when relationships end we need time to heal, clear some head space, and sort out life’s practicalities before we start dating again. Forget this, and we catch guys on the rebound, or are rebounding ourselves.
And while you may be perfectly entitled to run for the hills when he says “We still live together but are not in a relationship” just bear in mind the practicalities of separation can take time, particularly if they’ve bought property together.

He’s flirting and checking out other guys

It’s quite amazing how subtle guys think they are when they’re scoping out the restaurants, crowds, wherever, when in fact his eyes should be on you. Particularly when we are looking at someone, we can pick up the tiniest flicker of when someone is looking elsewhere. Trust your gut and gaydar on this.

Unfortunately, we can be remarkably forgiving when we’re really into someone and think we’ve made a connection. Short answer is this guy is probably not for you, and it’s not a good sign if you’re looking for something longer term.

The worst though is when the guy has no interest in you whatsoever, is checking out other guys, and you’re waiting patiently for the date to end. If you can do it, if you can pluck up the courage, say what you have to say and leave, head held high.

He wants to go to a bar

This can be a really bad sign and is it really a proper date if you are surrounded by a pile of other dudes, a high percentage of whom may/ will be cruising. Suggest you go for a walk, go for a wander, do anything else except stand in a bar.

He drinks too much too fast

There is nothing wrong with a drink or two but you don’t want your date becoming rude, loud, clingy, violent or sick. For example, a bottle of wine between two over a meal sounds about right. Several bottles and/ or a stack of liqueurs with the dessert menu perhaps not so good. Also think about whether you are being actively encouraged to line ’em up and drink at a rate which is not comfortable for you. This stuff is tricky and subjective; what might be a lot for one person might be very little for another. In the end, it’s your date.

He is rude to others

It’s a surprisingly revealing trait if your date is dismissive or rude towards waiters, bar or theatre staff for example – often they don’t realise they’re doing it. His behaviour also shows you up by association and can be very embarrassing, particularly if you catch the staff’s eye, both thinking the same thing: “what a dick!” It also begs the question how is going to treat you in a few months time.

He says he’s ‘discreet’

A guy who says he’s ‘discreet’ may suggest he may not be out, or comfortable in his own skin, and/ or is embarrassed or fearful about being around others who might imply or indicate he’s gay, or a type of gay person he thinks is unacceptable.

This may also indicate internalised homophobia which is when you take on negative messages given to you by society, culture or religion and you incorporate these into the way that you view yourself.

Don’t be with anyone who is less than you want to be.

Sex

If he wants to have sex on a first date (or the first 2 or 3) then it’s not dating, is it? A date should be just that, uncomplicated by sex and all that it entails. Either you’ve not been honest with him or he’s not been honest with you.

He talks too much

If he does all the talking, this may mean he’s more interested in himself than you and a relationship with him would be me me me! We are flattered and feel special if someone takes the time to listen, ask questions and draw you out. It is important that you both have a chance to learn about each other, but try and make sure that you are listening as much (or more) than you are talking.

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Being a good man

Be healthy on the inside

We probably have at least one friend or acquaintance who seems to be genuinely happy being alone and another who seems to fall in and out of relationships quicker than you can say ‘I’ll call you…’ We probably know some guys who equate relationships with dramas and others who have been together so long we’re secretly envious.

We also know guys who can pick up every night of the week but whom we suspect are lonely, and those who seem to have an unerring capacity to be vicious, self-centred and hell-bent on destroying the men they say they love.

Finding the ‘right’ man can take time and just because he’s not by your side now doesn’t make you a bad, unreasonable or inadequate lover. Despite everything you can do, there’s a surprising amount of chance involved and you shouldn’t feel guilty or angry if you’ve been unlucky today, this week or this year.

“Everyone can’t be the same… Everyone can’t be straight, Everybody can’t be beautiful. Some people are just gay and average. We’re the strongest I think.”
The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy | 2000

It’s one thing to find a man – it’s a bonus to discover that he wants to spend time with you. It’s miraculous that the sex is just what you both want but are you ready? We buy the right clothes, cut our hair, exercise, shave and tan ourselves into oblivion, immerse our skin in creams and lotions and decorate our homes… even the cat leaves the bedroom at the appropriate signal.

But while we spend time, effort and money to look our best it can often be at the expense of preparing ourselves from the inside. If you’re not happy by yourself – in yourself – then you’re not going to feel much better with someone else. In fact you’ll be trading one set of problems for another and dragging someone else into the crap. The axiom that you can’t love others until you love yourself is very true, but equally you can’t receive love unless you feel at one with yourself.

Particularly on the gay scene, we’re constantly comparing ourselves with other gay men and that’s where all self-esteem and self-worth stuff gets in the way. It keeps us from seeing ourselves as whole people, preferring instead something better, younger, more handsome, better-built and more together – not forgetting that extra inch or two. Consequently, our self-esteem plummets, we fill the space with self doubt and question our ability to become involved with other men.

No matter how often someone tells you that he finds you attractive or that he cares, you cannot quite believe it. In fact, the more honest and genuine the compliment the more painful it can be to accept. This is not to say that you can’t love or don’t love, but getting yourself into mental and emotional shape helps raise your self esteem and replaces self-doubt with positive thoughts and feelings.

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The things we do

Over several MEN R US suppers, we’ve pulled together some characters and characteristics which you may know, have seen or have had some direct experience of. If they ring any bells maybe it’s time to a chat with ‘that’ friend, or for you to talk it through with a friend of your own.

There is nothing shameful or embarrassing about any of this. You’re recognising potential issues in you and are prepared to deal with them. This is a strength, not a weakness, and these are healthy and positive steps to take. Alternatively, you may wish to call a helpline, or see a counsellor or therapist and your GP may also be able to help.

Angus

  • Angus is lonely but when he finds a man he’s happy again
  • As the relationship gets serious, he picks holes as to why this guy isn’t right
  • You can never love him enough and he’s always finding ways to test your friendship and loyalty
  • Actually, Angus thinks he doesn’t deserve a boyfriend, or the love and intimacy that goes with it
  • So he keeps his distance, never letting anyone get too close, and when you say you love him he skilfully bats it aside
  • He starts using web apps to hook up again but complains it’s all that gay men want
  • He’s always looking for validation that he’s good, attractive and lovable

Freddie

  • Freddie focuses on his weaknesses instead of his strengths, his bad points rather than his good ones
  • When it comes to him he’s a glass half empty kinda guy
  • He thinks that he doesn’t deserve to be happy and, when he finds a man, convinces himself that it’s all going to go pear-shaped
  • The pessimism can be so overwhelming and his sense of self-worth so low that he undermines whatever good things are going for him

Mark

  • Mark is charming, funny, intelligent and would make someone a great boyfriend… but it goes out the window when he’s out clubbing
  • Salivating over six-packs and burly bears in surprisingly snug fitting jeans, all he can think about is that he’s unattractive
  • In reality he could lose a little weight, but he gets so depressed by this single issue he can’t bring himself to exercise or make even modest changes to his lifestyle
  • Increasingly isolated each time he goes out, he thinks he’s lost the battle before it has started

Tobias

  • Tobias always seems to know what you need and insists on getting it for you… a cup of tea, tickets to that gig, or a new batch of drugs
  • Nothing is too much trouble, but in giving so much he ignores his own needs
  • He doesn’t think well enough of himself to enjoy sex but will do anything to please you (and please you he will!)
  • He’s nervous about being touched, moves away after you’ve cum and tends to play the martyr (and he’s really good at it)

Greg

  • Greg doesn’t think anything he has to say is important
  • If he does tell you how he feels, he’s frightened that you won’t like him for him – a lovely guy who just doesn’t know it
  • This fear of rejection is preventing him from getting close to anyone, but while he doesn’t show his true feelings he’s thoroughly miserable
  • Thinking he’s distant or disinterested guys leave him alone

Paulo

  • Paulo knows what makes you feel bad about yourself and never lets you forget it
  • He’s the first to embarrass you in front of friends and broadcast your sexual exploits
  • He can only feel good about himself at the expense of others
  • He has a never-ending stream of fair-weather friends who stay just long enough to be mauled by his malicious sense of humour
  • Hemlock pales beside this bitch, and he’d rather take it than admit that he is unhappy and intensely lonely

If this is too much, then at least take some time to think about how and why it might be affecting your ability to make friends, have boyfriends and sustain them.

And yes, it may seem a little silly but you can do a lot worse than actually write out what makes you a good guy and what points you would like to change or improve.

Aim to tackle them in turn and set yourself realistic goals to achieve them.

London Friend | London Friend | 020 7833 1674
Pink Therapy | Pink Therapy
BACP | British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy
Switchboard LGBT Helpline | Switchboard LGBT Helpline 0300 330 0630

Samaritans | Samaritans | 08457 90 90 90

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Gay men in prison

Being convicted of a crime and spending time behind bars is never going to be easy. It is not intended to be. However it is important to be aware of the additional risks of being a gay prisoner, and what is in place to support and protect you.

Homophobia still exists in UK prisons. Whether this takes the form of verbal or physical abuse, the Prison System has a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that you are not discriminated against in relation to your sexual orientation.

Whilst not illegal, prison-specific rules can outlaw sexual activity between prisoners. Despite this, many prisoners continue to have sex discreetly. This can range from consensual relationships, being intimidated/coerced into sex acts by other prisoners, to serious cases of sexual assault and non-consensual sex. Often the latter can be in relation to prison ‘debt’, for example as a result of trading cigarettes or drugs.

There are higher rates of STIs and HIV within prisons. Access to condoms can be tricky; prison healthcare services have a legal duty to provide these to you if you are at risk of having unprotected sex otherwise.
All prisons should have an Equalities Officer to oversee issues in relation to these concerns. When arriving in prison it is important to inform staff during your reception screening appointment of any worries relating to your sexuality so that appropriate action can be taken (they are there to keep you safe). Measures to protect you can include single cells and specific roles in the prison to minimise your contact with other prisoners.

If you feel your concerns are not being addressed you can make a formal complaint via the Independent Monitoring Board (representatives spend time on the prison wings throughout the week to deal with concerns about prisoners’ treatment). There may also be prison-specific one-on-one peer support from ‘Listener’ schemes, or access to national support from organisations such as The Samaritans Helpline or the Bent Bars Project.

Bent Bars Project
Howard League
Inside Time
Prison Reform Trust

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Abuse and violence

Abuse and violence

Abuse and violence You may also find our section on CONSENT AND SEX helpful.

Some boyfriends and partners can become abusive or violent. If you are suffering abuse or in an abusive relationship, or know someone who is, the following may be of help:

  • Domestic violence and abuse does exist between gay men
  • Domestic violence cuts across all groups regardless of race, age, class, religion, lifestyles or disability
  • Domestic violence is about control of one person by another
  • Alcohol, drugs, stress, etc. are not an excuse for violence
  • There is no provocation or justification for domestic violence – the batterer is responsible for their behaviour

If you keep going from one violent or abusive relationship to another then you should examine why, how, and when it happens. This should be a useful start when seeking further help, advice and, perhaps, counselling. Violence and abuse can happen in many different ways and settings. Violence is not always physical, but can also be emotional, mental, verbal and sexual. Violence or abuse can be considered as an intrusion into your life that does not involve your consent or agreement. It is a very personal thing, and what one person feels is abusive another person might not. If it feels abusive to you, try and do something about it. If you feel unable to confront the abusive person – seek advice and help as a matter of urgency. You might be able to get someone to help or act on your behalf. If you are in a abusive relationship you may:

  • Feel that you are to blame
  • Make excuses for your partner’s behaviour, “he can’t help himself, it’s his work… his family… his debts… it’s me… it’s just the way he is…”
  • Find yourself forever anticipating your partner’s next mood swing
  • Feel trapped and believe there is no way out of the relationship
  • Go on loving your partner even though you know what’s happening is wrong
  • Feel confused, depressed, angry, alone, and frightened
  • Do things to make you forget – drink more, smoke more, take drugs, harm yourself
  • Feel that no one else will love you or take care of you
  • Think it will stop soon

If you are on the receiving end of violence it is important to get out as soon as possible and get help. Do not feel guilty that this has happened to you and that, in some way, it’s your fault. It is also important that you do not feel embarrassed about your reactions after the event – you have been through a traumatic and stressful situation. You do not deserve to be on the receiving end of any form of violence or abuse. The abuse or violence only gets worse and can lead to permanent damage or death. If it wasn’t you, it would somebody else.

If you are being abusive or violent towards you partner – there is something you can do to stop. There are a number of groups and organisations that will work with you to help you understand why you are doing this and how to stop. They are there to help you… not to judge you.

What can you do?

  • If violence is happening on a regular basis, find out what help is available to prevent this happening to you. It is also important to record what is happening in case it needs to be used as evidence
  • Tell someone what is happening! Speak to a gay organisation/helpline, or tell someone you can trust
  • Have someone you can call any time
  • Go to a safe place, or plan ahead so that you can get to a safe place quickly, if you are abused again or are scared
  • Use a helpline or call an organisation for lesbians and gay men who are victims of violence or who can help in dealing with the police. You can call just for emotional support, for referrals to support groups or for practical help about possible police/legal remedies
  • The police have specially-trained officers, some of whom are gay or lesbian themselves. When you phone police ask if a gay liaison officer is available
  • In an emergency always call 999

Abuse SupportNational Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Domestic Violence Helpline
Following the closure of Broken Rainbow in June 2016, GALOP now runs the LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline. Mon: 10am–8pm | Tue: 10am–5pm (1pm–5pm a trans specific service) | Wed: 10am–5pm | Thu: 10am–8pm | Fri: 1pm–5pm
LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline | 0800 999 5428 |  0300 999 5428

Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline | 0300 330 0630
GALOP | 020 7704 2040
Men’s Advice Line | 0808 801 0327
Victim Support

The Havens | 020 3299 6900
The Havens can help you if you have been sexually assaulted or had non-consensual sex in the past 12 months. You can call them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for an initial assessment. When they need to see you urgently, such as for a forensic medical examination (FME), they aim to see you within 90 minutes. They also offer follow-up care, including counselling, tests and treatments. Its medical and emotional support services are confidential. That means it will not tell anyone you have contacted or come to see them unless you want them to. And you can use any of their services without involving the police. The Havens has 3 centres in London:

Camberwell Haven, near to King’s College Hospital (South)
Whitechapel Haven, near to Royal London Hospital (East)
Paddington Haven, near to St Mary’s Hospital (West)

While MEN R US maintains that The Havens is an invaluable service, user intel indicates it could – and perhaps should – be more friendly and accessible towards gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men. However, should you be in need of The Havens this is not a reason not to go.

Personal safety | Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Survivors UK | Web chat/ text chat
Domestic violence | Stonewall
LGBT Domestic Abuse Partnership

Personal information | MEN R US
Consent and sex | MEN R US
Street safety | MEN R US
Cruising grounds | MEN R US

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Being assertive

Being Assertive

Assertiveness should be about feeling, understanding and believing that you matter in your friendships, relationships, at work and at play. For some gay men claiming the same rights as everyone else can be hard. It’s also about breaking patterns of behaviour and can take time.

We aren’t always treated equally by the law or society in general, though things are getting better. Despite these improvements, a background of discrimination might make you feel you have no rights at all – even within our own community. Wrong! You do have rights – though sometimes the way gay people treat each other you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Wouldn’t it be great if we were treated with respect by other people and, in turn, felt able to respect them. This is the part of what assertiveness is about. It’s also about building your own self-respect and dealing with your own feelings. Would you like to:

  • Increase your self-confidence?
  • Be clear and direct?
  • Be properly understood?
  • Feel better because you’ve expressed your feelings?
  • Stand a better chance of getting what you want?
  • Have fewer situations that are unresolved?
  • Be treated as an equal?

This is what being assertive can achieve. It’s not achieved by being aggressive, we don’t need to act like steam rollers. Being passive will not help us get what we want either. When we are passive in situations, we don’t express our feelings. This builds up anger and frustration inside us until finally we blow up over a tiny thing. We often feel bad after this outburst and revert to being passive again. Being assertive can help you break out of this circle of passive to aggressive behaviour. Being assertive can use up a lot of energy. You don’t have to keep it up 24 hours a day. Go slow. Take it easy and choose your moment. The decision is yours.

“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.”

There are no magic words or set phrases for being assertive. However, there are several vital ingredients in becoming more assertive:

  • Listen – even when the person is expressing strong feelings or being aggressive.
  • Demonstrate understanding – not by using the stock phrase “I understand how you feel” but by referring to what you have heard. For example: “you seem angry and disappointed.”
  • Say what you think and feel how the situation is affecting you – take responsibility for your feelings. Be clear about what has given rise to your feelings and attribute them to the event or the behaviour – not the person. For example: “I feel upset and hurt that you left me at the club when you said you would give me a lift home.”
  • Say specifically what you want to happen – this minimises the chances of being misunderstood and increases the possibility of getting it. It doesn’t guarantee you will get what you want. Listen to the response you get and be prepared for the person to have a different point of view.
  • If you need to negotiate, consider the consequences for you and others of any joint solutions where both of you are satisfied, rather than make a compromise where neither of you get what you want. Don’t give in to passive or aggressive behaviour at this point – you’re nearly there.

Right, now here’s the hard bit. Think about whether you’re happy with your lot. What about…

  • Having friends and relationships around you that matter
  • A job you enjoy and puts some money in your pocket
  • A home where you’re happy and where you can relax
  • Getting the medical and health services you want or need
  • Getting the sex you want
  • Disclosing your HIV status
  • Dealing with the gay scene

Try writing down real situations where you would like to be more assertive. Use a variety of situations that aren’t frightening but which you’d still like to deal with better. Build up to more difficult situations that you encounter or are avoiding. Then, working through the five points listed above, note down possible assertive approaches to these problems and, if you need to initiate the conversation, start from point 3. Practise saying them in your head before you try it out for real. Remember that words on their own do not convey an assertive message.

Communication researchers have found that only 7% of a message is based around the words you say, 38% of the message comes from the tone of your voice, and 55% comes from your appearance or body language. Your words, voice tone and body language should all say “I’m confident and your equal, I expect to be treated with respect.”

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Getting older

Getting older

Contrary to popular myth, gay men get older too! Unless you’re flattened by a bus, most people live to their 80s, although a few of us thrive for more than 100 years. Several factors seem to make us grow old:

  • Every time a cell divides (to replace those which have died) the blueprint for making them gets a little fuzzier introducing less precise copies. Consequently, more faulty cells are made.
  • The body is gradually poisoned by a build-up of waste and toxins that it cannot process.
  • There is a progressive decline in the immune system’s ability to detect and destroy micro-organisms and developing tumours.
  • Diet, exercise and hereditary traits.

Put like this ageing doesn’t sound so great – it might even sound a little grim – but, eventually, that’s what bodies are designed to do. Nevertheless, with more of us living longer, more of us will still be here. Getting older is a fact of life and worrying about ageing just wastes time we could be living.

The Science of Ageing | AsapSCIENCE | 7 Mar 2013 | 2m05s

Older and wiser

Hopefully, older means wiser, calmer and clearer about what’s important to us. As an added bonus, friends we made when we were younger may still be our friends decades later. Obviously there are exceptions, but from about 35-40 years plus – older gay men tend to have:

  • A more rounded sense of who they are
  • Greater emotional stability
  • Grown increasingly comfortable with their sexual identity
  • A more considered approach to life
  • More confidence and are usually wiser
  • Built up strong networks of friends
  • Genuine interests … other than alcohol, shopping and drugs!
  • An established home and financial security
  • More sexual experience and a better understanding of what they like
  • The potential for the security of a long-term, mutually supportive, relationship

Sex

As we get older, the body’s ability to have sex changes – we may need more time to get turned on, get a hard-on and to cum. Erections may not be as stiff, you may prefer sex in the mornings when you’re rested and erections can occur spontaneously. Having said that, the quality of sex tends to matter more over the numbers of shags we get, we are more likely to know what stimulates us, and we tend to be more considerate bed partners.

Gay men in their 40s and 50s tend to put sex into perspective, prioritising life differently and developing other interests. This is perfectly normal. Sex is still great in later life but it doesn’t occupy every waking moment. Mind you, while there is no reason why you cannot have sex until your 100th birthday, if you insist on fucking like a rabbit every night, you might resent your body if it sometimes refuses to co-operate.

Age and the gay scene

There is no doubt that the gay scene and gay media play a role in making older gay men feel unwelcome. In fact, while younger gay men can be spectacularly cruel, both younger and older gay men can also be predatory.

Many younger gay men (particularly in their teens, 20s and 30s) have a distorted view of what it means to be older, often equating it with becoming less attractive, an inability to get or have sex, and leading a sad and sorry life. Younger gay men also assume that because older gay men are not like them – or don’t look like them – they cannot be happy. Some men resent older gay men on the scene and scorn their efforts when they try to make conversation.

There will always be a few older gay men who just want one thing, and there will always be younger gold-diggers! But, as a rule, younger gay men make arrogant and simplistic assumptions about what older gay men want and are rarely able to see beyond their own prejudice and vanity. Not surprisingly we don’t see so many older gay men on the scene. This is because – in many ways – it’s served its purpose and is no longer of any use to them. They have simply grown up, moved on and have got themselves a different and more varied life.

Since first impressions and appearance are often the factors which determine whether we approach men, what older men have to offer is sometimes not immediately apparent. The deeper qualities are more likely to emerge over a drink, a meal or a one-to-one encounter. But if this is not what you want, it costs nothing to be polite and courteous when declining.

Of course, you will see men in their late 50s, 60s and 70s who still use the scene, and while it may be difficult for some men to understand their motivation, it’s perfectly possible that they’re happy, well-adjusted and getting on with their lives. You’ll probably also find that they won’t be making the kind of crass and juvenile assumptions younger gay men make about them.

Age differences

Gay men tend to be more understanding of age differences (than our straight counterparts) and mixed-aged relationships do work; in fact many thrive. You may be exactly what your younger man needs, while you may be what your older man has been missing.

A five to ten year – or more – age difference is not uncommon and the ability communicate, adapt and compromise will often bridge the gap in life experiences. The larger the gap, however, may increase the likelihood of compatibility issues.

  • While you go to bed with your smart phone, he remembers a time when mobile phones (and the Internet) barely existed. Flip this and younger guys are appreciating less tech while older guys are embracing the new.
  • While he’s happy to relax at home you’re twitching to go out on Saturday night. Flip this and younger guys appreciate the benefits of stable home life while older guys enjoy clubbing (if occasionally).
  • While he wants to visit an exhibition you want to catch-up with your friends. Why not do both: you can go with him to the exhibit and he can join you with your friends. Alternatively, respect each others space, do your own thing, and chat about what you did in the evening.
  • While you’re still having youthful adventures (usually our teens to 30s) he’s looking back on all of that. Flip this and you might find a little life experience helpful and who doesn’t like to hear about good drama!
  • While you’re happy to buy some sensibly priced ingredients he prefers to go to the latest restaurant. Flip this and an inexpensive home cooked meal and good company often hits the spot while a fancy restaurant could be the exception rather than the rule.

This may all seem very obvious; the important thing is that you give this sort of stuff some thought and talk about it together. Because:

  • There will be times when you both see life differently
  • Remain open to each other’s perspectives
  • Be aware that as you grow your relationship is likely to change
  • Be mindful of dependency, manipulation, bullying and power struggles (both parties)
  • Money is often a issue so discuss the arrangements before spending

Fantasy or reality

Attempting to realise a desire or fantasy for a much older or younger lover is often disappointing and unhealthy (for both of you). Although healthy relationships between older and younger men do exist and can work — you should think carefully before embarking on what might be a fruitless quest. However, if you find that your relationships are short-lived, or just don’t materialise, you should carefully examine the reasons why a younger or older partner is important to you.

You’re too old to be on the scene | GMFA FS #142
What Younger Gay Men Really Think About Older Guys (and Vice Versa) | Logo TV | 11 May 2015 | 2m58s
I love the older gay men | luciendante | 25 Mar 2013 | 6m28s
Older Gays Vs. Younger Gays | Davey Wavey | 21 Dec 2014 | 3m58s
Freaking Out About Age Gaps in Gay Relationships Is Homophobic | The Daily Beast | 9 Jan 2015
Don’t Mind The (Age) Gap | Queerty | 5 Dec 2013

ODL v1Opening Doors London

Opening Doors London | Opening Doors London | 020 7239 0400
Age UK Camden Tavis House, 1-6 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9NA

Looking after your mind and body | Age Concern
LGBT People in Later Life | Stonewall
London Age UK Business Directory | Age Concern

Opening Doors London aims to specifically meet the needs of the older LGBT community and is aimed at people who identify as LGBT and are over the age of 50. Opening Doors has members from across London and beyond providing regular social activities, a dedicated signposting and referral service and a befriending service. The website has written resources such as planning for later life, health, housing, and social care issues. It’s free to join; simply complete the (website) membership form.

Over 50s LIving with HIV Health, Wealth and Happiness Project | THT
This project  supports the financial, emotional and physical well-being of over 50s living with HIV in Brighton, Bristol, London, Manchester and the West Midlands. Whether you’ve been diagnosed recently or have been living with HIV for many years you may find one of its services may be able to help.

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Relationships

Relationships

Relationships are as individual as you and your partner, and it’s up to you to find the type of relationship that meets both your needs. There is often a magic which is undecipherable but which intuitively draws two guys together. It’s the heady stuff which makes us feel so alive when we fall in love and can also help to keep the relationship fresh and alive years later. Underpinning the emotional stuff are practical things we can do to give the relationship the best climate in which to grow. All relationships are risky, there is no guarantee they will work but this should never stop you trying.

I say potato, you say potarto…

You should have interests that are similar or complement each other, but accept that there will be differences between you. Trying to change someone into what you would like them to be will drive you apart, so acceptance of who he is is a pre-requisite. Fortunately, differences are often part of the attraction and so trying to smooth off the rough edges can dull the magic which brought you together.

For example: gym bunnies and couch potatoes, opera queens and disco divas, vegans and carnivores are not necessarily going to work out – but stranger things have been known to happen. Sex is often an important (but not obligatory) factor in a healthy relationship but, all too often, it is the instrument against which we measure compatibility.

The penis issue

It’s been said that sex is 90% of a bad relationship and 10% of a good relationship. Think carefully before dismissing out of hand a man who has everything except a truncheon knob; equally, beware of starting a relationship with someone’s dick (it might be all he is).

Honesty

You only have to read problem pages (gay or straight) to see that many relationship problems hinge on an inability to communicate honestly. Misunderstanding, conflict and mistrust are the staple diet of many a soap opera and invariably stem from partners not being open about their feelings.

A relationship where partners are honest with each other makes it much easier to face up to problems and find solutions and, as an added bonus, you will learn to understand each other better. This can sometimes be difficult where someone close to you is concerned – but it will be a testament to your abilities that he won’t feel threatened, betrayed or hurt.

Love and respect between two people cannot exist if niggles, gripes, tensions, frustration and resentment are allowed to fester. In short, if you can’t be honest: you’re screwed.

The Conversation | Three Flying Piglets for MEN R US | 2017 | 33s

Support and sharing

When a guy gives a damn about you, life’s little arsewipes become that bit easier to manage. Equally, when you succeed in life, having your man there to share it with you is a big part of why guys get together in the first place. If you’ve been there already you’ll understand, if not: it comes highly recommended.

Successful relationships are based on mutual support and sharing. He’s there for you and you’re there for him. You’re sick and he cares, he’s sick and you care. He’s sad and you hold him. You cry and he doesn’t go clubbing. Bless.

However, If you make all the effort in the relationship, he may soak it up like a sponge and in a short space of time you’ll be drained, angry and resentful… or vice versa. He’ll wonder what the fuss is about while you’re making his thousandth cup of tea… he’ll tell you not to be so stupid… and he’ll say he loves you… and tears and dramas may follow.

Flexible friends

Like everything in life, relationships change. Be grateful: it would be a sorry world if Westlife were still in the charts ten years from now or flared jeans were permanently fashionable. The first year or so of a relationship is usually very special: you still want him all the time, you’re fucking like rabbits, and you’re both very happy.

Over time this changes and usually not for the worse. You will still want him but it’s okay that he’s not attached to your hip, the sheets are changed less often but the sex has got better through trust, experimentation and familiarity, and the happiness has found a home inside you.

As the relationship grows you will need to be willing to accept change, be flexible in your approach and in some cases, take the initiative before you get stuck in a rut. As you and he grow as individuals it’s likely that expectations and priorities will also change. Your lives together may become predictable, safe and dull and – while this may be okay for some – there is ample room for resentment, disappointment and missed opportunities.

Being your own man

Being in a relationship should not mean that you give up who you are. You are both individuals with your own personality, friends, and interests – some of the very attributes that attracted him to you in the first place. The differences between you should be appreciated and save you from becoming two archetypal clones with matching clothes and whiny lovey-dovey voices. Get the picture?

We all need that 20th century cliché ‘space’ where we can be by ourselves and enjoy some privacy. It’s perfectly natural and gives us an opportunity to chill out and relax. Relationships can be fantastic but are also hard work. Time alone is essential to re-charge the batteries. It may mean a night apart or an evening set aside to see respective friends. Whatever you decide remember that you’ll be doing this because you care for each other not because you don’t.

If you can’t leave your partner alone, it’s a sign that you are feeling insecure and/or jealous. You may have good reason but that’s no reason to behave like this. It’s a real killer and a sure-fire way to drive him away. You need to look at why you’re doing this and take it from there. If, on the other hand, you feel trapped, suffocated or resentful then you also need to examine the root cause. You need to sit down and talk things through before you get angry and upset. If not, you’ll get on each other’s nerves: one will feel that the other doesn’t love him while the other one runs away from his ‘clingy’ boyfriend.

Couch relationships

Relationships run the risk of becoming too comfortable, easy and predictable. You start to take each other for granted, make assumptions and become lazy. All relationships need a work-out occasionally. It doesn’t have to be anything major but it does need to blow away the cobwebs away and get your hearts beating again.

Surprise him with a weekend break or a holiday (then both panic when you can’t find the passport). Tell him how you’ve longed to be strapped to the shower head. If you’re used to cinemas – go to a theatre. If you go to theatre – go to a gallery. If you always go to one club – choose another. Do stuff on the spur of the moment. If you’re used to lying in bed on a Sunday, why not visit a market or jump on a train and while you’re there – suck him off.

6 ways you know he’s NOT the man for you | GMFA FS #147
Ageless | Heath Daniels | 28 Mar 2014 | 3m42s
Gay Relationships | Mark E Miller | 13 Oct 2013 | 6m25s
How to Keep a Boyfriend | Shep689 Advice | 28 Jul 2013 | 6m54s

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Open relationships

When we start a relationship it is often with an expectation that we will only have sex with each other. One-to-one, or monogamous relationships, can provide security and be particularly helpful in getting to know each other without distractions. This works well for some, but for others living up to this ideal can be difficult as time goes by.

As the immediate intensity, horniness and passion of a new relationship settles, we may feel the need for something different. While it’s natural for sexual needs, desires and fantasies to change over time, a partner may not be necessarily able (or willing) to adapt to meet them.

Additionally, scene culture endorses and promotes sex with multiple partners and, for some of us, it can be difficult to break the habit even if we’ve met the man of our dreams. It can be hard to stop ourselves from making comparisons, believing – often mistakenly – that the grass is greener on the other side of the bar. If you care enough about your partner you won’t slip off behind his back for an illicit shag. If you don’t care enough you probably will and – in time – you may reap what you sow. (No sympathy there then.)

Contrary to popular myth successful open relationships don’t just happen, and if one appears out of the blue then one of you is probably trying to rationalise or conceal an indiscretion.

Open relationships are consensual agreements, negotiated jointly – which should allow you and your partner to have sex with other men. This should not threaten your commitment to each other and you should both sort this stuff out before you start shagging around.

Just because the sex has become less exclusive doesn’t mean that the relationship is any less devoted and committed. When talking stuff through, key ingredients should include honesty, being upfront about fears and concerns, and respecting each other’s viewpoints.

For example, you should talk about the difference between sex and love: meeting another guy should be about getting your rocks off, not about falling for him. You also need to manage and overcome feelings of jealousy. Take your time: don’t feel as if a cast-iron agreement has to be signed, sealed and delivered in a single session. It could take a period of weeks or even months; this is a very big step for both of you.

Suggested rules for open relationships:

  • Sex with other men is restricted to once-only shags, or times when one of you is away or threesomes (which doesn’t mean one of you is shagging while the other is asleep)
  • If you don’t use condoms within the relationship – use them every time you have sex with someone else
  • If you go out together, you return home together
  • You talk openly about who you’ve been with, or don’t talk about it at all
  • If you go back with someone you don’t stay overnight
  • Sexual partners are never brought back home, or always introduced when they are
  • Express any fears, concerns or worries as soon as they occur
  • Agree times when you intend to be together
  • Revisit the agreement every now and then to ensure you are both comfortable with it
  • Tell the third person what the deal is

Open relationships are unlikely to work if:

  • Either of you breaks the agreement
  • Either of you fears losing your partner to someone else
  • Either of you has doubts about the existing relationship
  • Either of you conceals any fears or worries
  • Sex is the main or only thing keeping you together
  • The true motive of the open relationship is to hunt for new partners
  • You don’t tell the third person what the deal is

For some couples it’s helpful to write out the agreement. Most important though is that you both stick to what you have agreed and are prepared to discuss any issues promptly, should they arise. One of the more obvious problems is falling for one of the guys you’ve met. Talking it through with your partner first is essential but, if you can’t do that, chat to a trusted friend and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why can’t I talk to my partner?
  • What has the new guy got that my current partner hasn’t?
  • How might these feelings for this guy be a response to something else in my current relationship?
Open relationships? It’s a no from me | GMFA FS #143

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Relationship difficulties

We wouldn’t be human if our relationships didn’t have difficulties and many of them are simply part and parcel of being together. The secret is to tackle them early before they fester and resentment builds up. However, some behaviour – by either of you – can indicate deeper and more serious problems. While the list is virtually endless, here are some typical examples:

  • Bad moods, disagreements and rows
  • Being argumentative or deliberately contradicting each other
  • Monosyllabic conversations or the silent treatment
  • Sniping and backstabbing when out with friends
  • Being demanding and bossy
  • Interrupting privacy and space
  • Long work hours at the expense of the relationship
  • Resistance to touch, cuddles and hugs
  • Noticeably less sex, or hurried, emotionless sex
  • Abuse of drugs and alcohol
  • Refusal to return calls or respond to messages
  • Failure to keep appointments and agreements, eg: regarding open relationships
  • Moving out!

Being in love can skew your judgement, and while the shit has been hitting the fan on a regular basis we can be oblivious to the fact that something is wrong. In the end, if you don’t work it out for yourself nothing gets sorted out. We tend to be optimistic and reluctant to admit shortcomings, eager to rationalise or forgive inappropriate and destructive behaviour. Before long we can’t see the wood for the trees. Even if we do recognise there is a problem, our ability to act can be hindered by a fear of losing him, being lonely (again) and throwing away everything we’ve built up together. One of the most difficult things to do is to get him into a frame of mind where he will tell you what’s wrong, so that you can work towards a solution together. If you’re the one being the arsehole then you’ve got to get through the anger and resentment before you can start making things better.

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Rescuing relationships

  • Deal with the difficulty or problem as soon as it arises – don’t let it fester
  • When you’re ready to talk avoid airports, football matches or pubs. Choose a place that provides privacy, quiet and gives you space. A neutral location is often best
  • Stay calm and adopt non-threatening body language
  • Tell him what you think the difficulty is without being accusing. It’s the things people do that are the problem and not the people themselves
  • Avoid embarrassment or humiliation
  • Be honest, straightforward but tactful and remember that you’re here to save the relationship – not to get your own back
  • Listen… listen… listen
  • Acknowledge his perspective even though you may not agree with his point of view
  • Reassure him that you want the relationship to work
  • Give him time to talk and listen to what he has to say
  • Be prepared for him to be critical of you and recognise that the difficulty may also lie with you
  • Sometimes these talks don’t find solutions in one go and accept there may be limitations to what you can achieve initially. Be clear that you both need to continue the discussion at a later date
  • If you are able to find a solution, make sure you both understand what it entails and agree to it.
  • If you love him, say so. If you can be affectionate, be so
  • Afterwards you may be physically and emotionally drained. If you need to take a day off work, do it
  • Remember that solutions can take time and may raise other problems. Take it a step at a time
  • Don’t just jump back into bed as a quick fix solution and at the expense of resolving problems fully
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Breaking up

If all efforts to resolve relationship difficulties fail, you will need to decide whether you wish to finish it. Take your time, perhaps talk to a friend – preferably one who doesn’t hate his guts and won’t just agree with you. In the final analysis you will need to ask yourself: will I be happier with him in or out of my life? If you decide to finish the relationship:

  • Tell him face-to-face, difficult though this may be for both of you
  • Try and stay calm and adopt non-threatening body language
  • Tell him that you want the relationship to end and explain the reasons
  • Avoid embarrassment, humiliation or blame
  • Be honest, straightforward but tactful
  • Give him time to talk and listen to what he has to say
  • Remember: he might try to persuade you to stay, so you need to be clear that you have reached the best decision you can before talking to him. If you start wavering, you could be open to accusations of emotional blackmail or ‘crying wolf’
  • Own what you say and the decisions you take

Some relationships work, others don’t, many reach a natural conclusion. It’s best that we recognise it and move on rather than being swallowed up by unhappiness, boredom and resentment. Some relationships are short but have been bursting with life while others simply rumble on interminably – a marriage of convenience devoid of warmth and love. So before you throw your hands up in despair try and recognise that it is the quality of a relationship that matters most, not necessarily its length. Eventually though, it’s often changes in our emotional, physical, and spiritual needs – combined with other interests and lifestyles – which outgrow relationships however hard we have tried.

Gay men have a remarkable capacity to remain close friends with their ex-partners and if there is a possibility of bringing a relationship to a civil close, do so. However, don’t feel you have to. Discuss your feelings, remember the good times, reflect on the not-so-good times. Tie up any practical matters, eg: property, furniture, personal possessions, and legal/money matters. Recognise that breaking up is hard and can be very emotional, but ending a relationship on an even note makes its much easier to let go and move on. It will be at times like these that your friends are all-important. Good friends are a selfless bunch and you’ll be able to be wistful, whinge and cry your little heart out. Mind you, some won’t miss the opportunity to say something like “…what you need is another man” or “…you’ll get over it.” Just slap them and cross them off your Christmas card list.

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When it's over

  • If it hurts: let it hurt
  • What’s done is done and you can’t change the past
  • It’s okay to miss him but you will get by
  • Recognise that he is not your responsibility any more. Make a clean break and don’t allow him to creep in through the back door (pun intended!)
  • You may want to take some time off the scene. If not, recognise that you may be vulnerable
  • Sometimes it can be many months before you feel able to even consider another commitment. There’s nothing wrong with that
  • You have gained valuable experience: use it positively. If mistakes were made, learn from them
  • Don’t mope about at home – get out and about, have a meal with friends, go on holiday
  • Exercise and sports are a great way of burning off the calories and the angst
  • Don’t look for blame or blame yourself
  • Hold on to the good times and the positive aspects of the relationship
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He's a bastard!

Putting aside the caring and sharing stuff for the moment… he could just have been a complete bastard. Sometimes the anger, hurt and resentment we feel towards an ex-boyfriend can be overwhelming, particularly if he has really fucked you over and there’s nothing you can do about it. It can be months, sometimes years, before it seems to matter less and then an unexpected reminder can bring it flooding back.

However right it feels to be angry, these feelings will have an impact on new relationships and will use up emotional energy that could be better used making yourself a happier and healthier life without him. Sometimes the sweetest victory is using a painful experience to rebuild your life and – if you see him again – let him know it… with a smile.

Lastly, if you seem to end up with all the bastards, you should examine why. Talk it through with a trusted friend, contact a helpline or consider seeking professional help.

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