Dating Bradford: Criteria


Online profiles are often misleading. It’s like choosing the best looking steak at the supermarket without knowing the sell-by date, only you can’t smell it to see if it’s rancid.

As a single gay man living in NYC, I’m finding these “social networking” websites are a huge investment of time. The problem isn’t that the guys are flakes or losers, it’s that there are just too many perceived choices. How do we narrow the playing field?

Due to the sheer number of available men on the Internet, we are forced to taper down our search parameters so that we only have 8 or 9 hundred to chat with at any given time. In return, our lists of criteria become more and more specific to the point of anal compulsion. When we finally meet someone for a date, we have a checklist in our heads of criteria that need to be met.

In many cases our first impression is, “He doesn’t look as good as his photos” and already we are mistrusting. What else did he “lie” about, we ask? Thus the interrogation begins. Asking subtle questions like, “So you’re 42 and only had one boyfriend for nine months back when you were 26. Hmmm…Do you have intimacy issues? Maybe a sexual hang-up or two you’d like to tell me about?”

As soon as our dates don’t fit our preconceived mental pictures, they get nixed. It may not happen during the date, in fact it often happens on the way home based on the last sentence spoken, the last text exchanged, or during the following week once we’ve found ways to talk ourselves out of seeing their potential.

It’s easy to find reasons not to like someone. “He seems like a party boy” we could say, because he’s telling us about all the fun things he did last weekend. Or, “Looks like he’s drinking out of nervousness, could be an alcoholic” or, “Works on the weekends, that won’t jive with our hypothetical relationship schedule.” And such.

My own criteria don’t seem unreasonable. For me, he must be relatively handsome, physically fit, non-smoking, good at kissing, versatile in bed, and have a great sense of humor. Oh, and most important, NOT AN ALCOHOLIC or DRUG ADDICT. (Tricky in New York, where they’re almost as many AA meeting places as there are Starbucks.)

I’m pretty forgiving and open to all sorts of different men, so I think my list is reasonable. It’s the other guys criteria I have trouble measuring up to. “Doesn’t look like an Abercrombie and Fitch model,” “Isn’t in his 20’s,” “Too smart.” (I get that one a lot - wink wink.) And of course they feel threatened with being written about in my dating column for 40 million homosexuals. “But why, why?” I say, “I won’t use your name, just do everything right, forever, and I won’t have anything to write about, will I?”

“The four ‘A’s” said Tigger at the opening of Susanne Bartsch and
Kenny Kenny’s new club party Vandam at Greenhouse. “Four ‘A’s – like the 4 free cocktails I’m going to swill down before the open bar shuts off in ten minutes. ATTRACTIVE, AFFLUENT, APPROPRIATE and AVAILABLE.”

“What the fuck does ‘appropriate’ mean?” I asked while exchanging Aspartame air kisses between long-time club friends with no last names. “As in he looks appropriate with the furniture, or as in he doesn’t spit on your mom?”

“Appropriate for your lifestyle, as in is NOT Jesus with Birkenstocks. I mean one might trick with an alterna-fag, covered in tatts with a tongue ring and cock piercings, but you wouldn’t bring him home for the holidays.”

“Well, actually…” I began to say.

“Oh shut up, you’ll drag anything home to meet your New-Age-Marin-County family, but some of us were raised Catholic darling.”

It occurred to me that for a lot of people family acceptance must play a huge role in potential boyfriend criteria. Duh, right? Just because my father told me that my first boyfriend Ro was “the prettiest girl I’ve dated so far,” doesn’t mean other dads would be so open-minded.

Tigger’s boyfriend Steve - who’s definitely four “A” qualified - said his criteria were few, “Looks and substance. I have to enjoy talking to them. As far as bodies go, dick size is irrelevant, but I prefer tall and lean, like Tigger in fact. Personality wise, he must be outgoing, and social. I tend to listen a lot more than I talk, so I like guys who like to talk a lot.”

Yeah, I thought, JUST like Tigger who was at that very moment yappily star-fucking the ear off of Michael Musto for a possible mention in his Village Voice column.

The next day before scaring away the Mormon Missionaries at my door by telling them I was gay, (bless their hearts, they had no idea) I asked them what their criteria for dating was. Thinking that they were “men of faith” I figured their take on things might be less superficial or, oh I don’t know, divinely inspired perhaps?

“Olive skin with brown hair catches my eye first” said Elder #1, who was tall, blond, and ruggedly athletic. “After that it’s straight white teeth and a nice smile.” Then more timidly he said, “Someone you can have silence with and not feel awkward.”

“I’m more inclined toward fair hair” said Elder #2, who was quiet, with olive skin, brown hair, and a large mouth full of beautiful teeth. “Well-educated within the faith of course, but also athletic, adventurous and outdoorsy – Someone who will submit to ESPN on a regular basis.”

I looked from one to the other thinking they would make a perfect couple, told them so, and sent them on their way. It seems even missionaries are looking for more than just new converts.

“A boyfriend has to fuck me and love it.” Said my fanatically financial friend Felix, an economist for Paine Webber. “He doesn’t need to have a huge cock or be a total babe, but he needs to have an open heart and make me feel attractive. Is that too much to ask?”

What is “too much to ask?” I wondered. How much criteria is reasonable, and how strict or lenient should we be?

So I ask you: When surfing the net for the catch of the day, how do YOU decide which fish to throw back?

Based in
New York City, Bradford Noble has been an international Celebrity,
Fashion, and Advertising Photographer for 15 years. His first novel called, “Dating Bradford - A
Memoir” is soon to be published. Still curious? Dive into his world!