As we embark on a new year, it often becomes a time of reflection (mostly on the crutches that we failed to eliminate over the last year): Still not rich. But still abundantly single. Lost no weight. But gained some debt. And why can’t I speak any languages yet?!
So with my thumb pressed on the Grindr app, seeing it jiggle before watching it - and all of my filthy 3am sexts - disappear, I wondered how many other single gay men were attempting to ditch a similar crutch this year. And more so, how many would fail to rid it again.
I’d come to the decision after being dumped by my fleeting fuck buddy. It wasn’t a direct ‘dumping’, but when someone is continually flakey, you’re no longer fucking with a man, you’re fucking with a Cornish pasty. And it’s easy to admit the arrangement isn’t working when you’re getting blown out, instead of just blown.
With the confirmation that casual, yet amazing, sex with him was off the table - and any other surface in his south London flat - I realised that I hadn’t been on an actual date in months. What the hell had I been doing?! Well, apart from avoiding real dates in favour of hooking up?
How about becoming an expert in cancelling plans for Netflix? Or chatting to men on apps that I never ventured to meet?
It was a lightbulb moment. One in which I realised that the person who’d been sabotaging my relationships all along might’ve been me. It’s easy to blame a lack of success in dating on assholes, technology and gay society, but when I’d unmasked the one saboteur I could control, all that stared back was a scruffy version of myself watching Bird Box, with dark circles around my eyes, and Cheeto crumbs around my mouth.
OK, so maybe it was less of a ‘lightbulb moment’; more of a huge neon arrow pointing at my foolish ass, and the distractions I’d employed instead. I’d been aiding my loneliness without actually doing anything about it; fleeing love while seeking it at the same time. Might as well have been eating cheesy nachos during my spin class that morning too.
And I wasn’t alone.
My sister had spent the last three years lusting after a man she once had unimpressive sex with, a friend that only ever sought NSA, and at least two of my other friends weren’t dating at all because they wanted to lose weight. Granted, that some had made more headway in their romantic crutches than others, but how had otherwise strong and smart people been consumed by their crutches?
The truth is that everybody feels the heat and fears of intimacy, which why crutches are so easy to construct around it.
People often think of crutches as a negative thing, but as with physical injuries, we use crutches when we’re hurt. So while we may not be physically limping, they still help us to get back on our feet. But it’s when we abuse them that our recovery is hindered, and romantic crutches keep our broken hearts broken; preventing us from love by obscuring the vulnerability we need to find it.
Only when we feel empowered or motivated to give them up do we exert the inner strength needed to walk on our own. Which begs the question, can we ever really walk into a happy and healthy relationship - let alone down the aisle - with our crutches in tow?
I let out an overdramatic sigh, and pressed yes. Though fortunately, I never bagged enough decent sex to become a full-time Grindr zombie, how else would I find a reason to meet new men if there was always an excuse not to?
Many people would describe their relationship with Grindr as ‘love-hate’. I’d describe it more like Stockholm syndrome, with users possessing the desire to leave the platform, but simultaneously feeling like they’re missing out without on the new normal. A bit like when you’re afraid to leave a shit house party in case in the one cute guy speaks to you. (Spoiler: he's straight and you should have left hours ago).
But that’s half the battle with crutches: believing that you can achieve what you want without them. Not sure if I’d receive as much empty validation without the apps, or any facials without my fuck buddy, but perhaps what I’d make room for would be far more fulfilling.
Besides, a psychic-medium high on cocaine said I was gonna meet a man this year, so I'm all-set anyway...
To read more from the Single & Fabulous? series click here.