Dating 101

The Incredible Undateable Gay: On Spinsterhood

By: Les Fabian Brathwaite

Dating as a gay man in New York often proves, ironically, fruitless. Every date is the potential one — until he isn’t. The love of your life one night won’t return your texts the next morning, presumably because he’s disappeared into that special place in hell reserved for anyone that’s not you. Romance is fleeting, love is capricious, hookups are easy and she has had it.

A connection can be the hardest thing to find and each time one is severed, it becomes harder for the heart to accept another. Eventually, being single becomes a matter of survival and being undateable the survival instinct. What do I mean by undateable? Well, for example, take me (please!).

Despite my best and worst efforts, I’ve never been in a relationship. And I continue to wonder whether or not that’s a good thing. I don’t much care for other people and misanthropy loathes company. I’ve hit the rare emotionally-deficient trifecta: I’m emotionally distant, emotionally needy and emotionally insecure. And I have high — what some might call “unrealistic” — expectations. I’m also often blinded by my lascivious urges, which is a nice way of saying I’m kind of a slut. I waver between wanting a relationship and wanting to nail anything with three legs. While my friends were casually dating in their early-20s, I was pursuing fleeting hookups, hoping to turn them into impossible romances. Then, all of a sudden, I roll out of the gutter to find everyone has shacked up…and that I’m undateable.

I also tend to be attracted to other undateable men. Every guy I fall for seems to either have just gotten out of a relationship, is in a relationship (of varyingly vague definitions), or they’re not looking for strings. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, I’m playing a goddamn symphony. Any and all past attempts at romantic entanglements have left me drunkenly massacring Bonnie Raitt at some karaoke bar at 2 am, actually wondering where it all went wrong. The first hint may have been believing I could find, let alone hit, a note six tequila shots in.

In other words, I’m single and undateable by a matter of choice and circumstance. It’s not for lack of trying, but now I’ve stopped trying. By conventional wisdom, that means I should find Mr. Right any day now, as I’ve been reassured countless times by the happily coupled. But what if I don’t want Mr. Right? What if I just want to go to a sex party and find a few Mr. Right Nows? What if I want to get into a throuple with Mr. Right and Mr. Left? What if I just want to be alone? The 21st century affords this thing we call coupling its varyingly vague definitions.

That’s not to say I’ve given up on love. Far from it. I’m way too stubborn and have seen way too many romantic comedies to do anything that sensible. For me, a relationship still remains something of a miracle. To find someone you love who loves you in return? You’re pulling’ my third leg. Yet, here are so many of my friends — walking on water. 

Relationships, no doubt, come with their own set of problems. Your life is no longer your own. You exist as one half of an entity, joined in the minds of everyone to whom you’ve introduced your partner...your significant other...your better half. I’ve been told — often and passionately — by these halves that relationships are “tough,” followed by an obligatory, “but they’re worth it.” That second part always comes off a little half-hearted. So it’s important not to idealize the unknown.

Still, I can’t help but yearn to know — it being better to have loved and lost etc., and so forth. I’ve always been the solitary type. The sullen, chubby kid on the playground eyeing the other children suspiciously from the safety of the swing set. What’s all this fun they’re having? How can I get in on it? Who’s in charge here? Mine has been a life of observation, lived on the sidelines. But as the perennial third or fifth wheel, I’ve come to pretty good terms with the idea of spinsterhood. I already have it all planned out: I’m going to go full on Stritch. Billowy tops. Chunky jewelry. Openly drunk. No pants, and more importantly, no fucks.

After all, is it so bad to die alone? That was always my biggest fear as a gay man. It was a joke at first, but like all jokes it was based in truth. Boyfriends come and go but bitterness is forever! Now as I rapidly approach 30 — a.k.a. gay death, another joke (ha) — and my friends are discussing marriage and planning weddings, that fear is all too real. But it’s not so terrifying when you unhinge your jaw and just laugh at it. Laugh at the ridiculousness of dating. Of the ridiculousness of looking for an idea, or an ideal, in the eyes of someone else. Of the hours spent trolling bars or websites; of the blatant lies you’ve told on dates to disguise how crazy you really are. Of the times you checked your dignity at the door because he was really hot and you didn’t know what “watersports” meant. That’s why I’m writing this column. Because you’ll be surprised how many times that happened and because love is the biggest joke of all. And we’re all in on it.

Admittedly, a dating column never really appealed to me because I’m not Carrie Fucking Bradshaw and this ain’t Sex and the Motherfucking City, or as I like to fondly refer to it, Rich White Ladies Having Brunch. I’m a broke black kid crashing on his friend’s couch in Brooklyn. Though I do brunch like the whitest of white ladies. And I do get around. I’ve lived in New York for some 10 years and have been gayall of them. Therefore, the sex I have in this city is illegal in like 78 countries. And that’s just missionary.

In this column, I hope to explore different themes of dating, not only as a gay man, or as a New Yorker, but the universal groping in the dark for a connection. Because deep down we’re all the same: terrible.

Tags: DATING 101