Three-hundred swipes later and I’m stuck wondering what I’m even doing at this point. I keep finding myself sitting in dark rooms rattled with a mix of anxiety, self-defeat, and agoraphobia.
How many times have I opened and closed these apps? How many times has the fear of rejection crept up my spine. A wicked ghost breathing directly on my neck. He reminds me that I’m wasting my time.
“You’re never gonna be any type of good enough for anyone.”
Feeling worse with each new face, my finger has a mind of its own. Smiling men flickering by before I can really register anything, what am I so afraid of? They’re nothing but pixels on a screen, yet the thought of engaging is simply too much to bear. The thought of opening myself up to a complete stranger, to once again fail or face rejection, it’s too much.
When you’re living in the world as a gay man, life can be a little bit more…complicated. What’s taken for granted by my heterosexual counterparts becomes an insurmountable challenge for folks like me. Life and love don’t work like they do in the movies, you have to force the hand of serendipity otherwise nothing will ever happen. You can’t just hit on random strangers in public. You’re usually not educated on how to properly have sex by your school systems. You’re never truly taught how to be by society at large, that lesson usually only comes through trial by fire.When the basic infrastructure for discovering how to function in relationships(or even as a LGBTQ person in general)wasn't made readily available to you, what do you even do?
You wing it…I guess.
As I push further into my late twenties I have to admit that it’s a little embarrassing still being this clueless. I know it shouldn't be, but it is. Every part of my brain says there’s no shame in not knowing how to ask for what I want from people. I can even mentally map out the nonsensical nature of believing people won’t be cruel and unforgiving when it comes to romance and sex. A friend of mine is always quick to tell me that people are a lot nicer and understanding of situations like mine.
Yet I find myself constantly asking the question, “Who has the time for someone with so little experience and practice.” After being alone for so long I’ve internalized the idea that I’m not worth the patience of anyone. There’s always someone out there more desirable, interesting, and confident about the way they handle their body and self. This endless loop of being a sad gay wallflower is a roller coaster I’d rather not be on anymore.The only issue is that the machine operator never came back from lunch. So here I remain, stuck.
If I don’t exist in the real world and I don’t exist on dating apps, do I even exist at all. My wants, needs, and desires all changing into nothing but vapors. Slowly becoming intangible as they fade from my grip, even as I try my damnedest to hang on to them. I can only hope that they’ll become real again to me one day. Perhaps in the form of rainclouds washing away my long-held pain.
Each flick of my finger is a small lesson in fear. For every new face comes a new way to hate myself for being so dysfunctional. Armed with the knowledge that the avenues for meeting other people like me are still very narrow, each swipe is another road blocked off.
Who knows to be honest? Maybe all of this is just in my head and I should stop complaining. I should just go for it. Or maybe I just haven’t learned to love myself enough to believe in the processes of romance and sex again. Regardless, my index finger will continue to act of it’s own accord until I get a grip on it. That could happen in a year or it could happen tomorrow, only time will tell.