Prompt: For this challenge, we want you to write about 21st-century love. We encourage you to get personal and share your own story, but if you don’t want to go that route, we welcome commentary, opinion, and even humor pieces on your definition of love in this modern age. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
Answer: I’m 26 and I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m 26 and I never had a boyfriend. I’m 26 and I feel naive, young and inexperienced with this concept of love, romance and intimacy. I’m 26 and I am a gay Asian male living in Los Angeles, a city known for people looking glamorous and beautiful. I’m 26 and I ask myself: why has my match not come yet?
There’s this quote that I read recently that really struck a chord with me. It reads “someday someone will walk into your life and make you realize why it never worked out with anyone else.” What I’ve been learning for the past year is that love and relationship takes patience. Whether you are 26 or 49 or 64, there will come a time where you will get that experience that you seek. I’ve sat in discussion groups with other gay men and hear stories from my older generation about their struggles with love and relationships and I feel for them. I hurt when I find out that a relationship that they had for 10 years ends, and now they are at a point in their lives where they have to start over again and they are fearful. I always wonder, will that be me in the future as well?
With gay culture it’s a little bit different with the digital age. First of all, unless you live in a community where practically everyone is gay, the average gay man has trouble deciphering whether a person they meet on the street is gay or not. That’s something I struggle with constantly because more often than naught, I tend to be more attracted to males who do not fit the gay stereotype. I have an awful gay-dar and do not have the proper experience to know whether someone is flirting with me. For me, my lack of knowledge in knowing how to confront/approach someone who I don’t even know is gay and my failure to recognize flirtatious signs my way, has made it difficult to find a partner.
This lack of intimacy and relationships kind of guides me down a route that I’m not particularly fond of. As a man, my sex drive is a bit high and I crave/desire that intimate setting. I find myself often lusting over beautiful men that I see walking down the street. It makes me resort to apps on my phone to release my urges. I’m not sure how many of my readers are aware of the new technologies but there is an app called Grindr, specifically marketed as a gay man’s social community app, where one of the prime purposes is to hook up with other gay men in your vicinity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve installed and deleted that app because of the urges that hit my body at random moments in the week. It’s not that I think the app is a bad thing but I have this perception of myself as trying to be pure and not seeking out sex but I’ve come to the realization that, well, Anh, you’re just like every other guy and it’s okay.
I’ve tried online dating communities such as OkCupid, Match, PlentyofFish, among others. Initially it sounds like a great idea to pursue if you are seeking out others who are seeking the same thing you are. However what I’ve come to realize is that these dating communities, as well as Grindr, tend to lower my self esteem. Think of it this way; you market yourself online in a certain way, a way that you are proud of. You put yourself out there letting people know your favorite hobbies, your personality and being self-indulgent about yourself. And then you wait…and you wait…and you wait. Nothing. No responses. Every so often there is a message from someone you’re not very attracted to but the message are very few and far in between. So you think, okay, let me approach others and you send out messages to people you, yourself are personally attracted to…and you wait..and you wait…and nothing come from it. That’s what I’ve been feeling from these up and going social communities and apps and it’s been hurting. It’s hard not to think about what is it about yourself that isn’t attracting the crowd that you want and you constantly question everything about yourself, from your body – to your personality and so on and so forth.
For me now, I’ve resorted to not using digital technologies and websites as much as possible. It’s quite more sincere and fairy-tale like to meet someone in person and hope that something will bloom from it. For me, engaging in a social activity and hobby that you are personally invested in is a great way to meet a companion. Patience is a virtue and even though I preach it, I’m not going to deny it is tough to attain. Live your life and be yourself and love who you are. Once you love yourself, then someday, somebody will walk into your life and love you for who you are.