Yours seems a very modern paradox: millions of people feeling lonely, together. Finding and keeping a partner is difficult. Many of the old answers have fallen by the wayside. Two villages might come together for line-dancing in the barn. You might catch a bouquet at a wedding to encourage you to marry your partner. In many ways, these social changes are a great liberation, especially for those identifying as LGBTQ+. In other ways, problems emerge of isolation and addiction. We are freer than ever, but this brings anxiety over how (and who) to choose.
These hookup apps can be great fun, and there’s nothing wrong with sex as casual as you please, but there’s a risk of getting stuck in one repeating cycle of experience. It’s also fine to be single, if it suits you. Assess if your search for a partner is a distraction or a way of managing your own problems. RuPaul says, ‘If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?’, though it’s also possible a partner could help you love yourself more over time.
We are embodied, sensual beings, particularly when it comes to romance and intimacy. The sight of a beautiful face. The smell of the hair at the back of the neck. The feel of toned muscle under fingertips. So, texts and photos on-screen are perhaps not the best place to begin intimate relationships. We become a disembodied brain controlling fingers, and sometimes other body parts. I encourage you to question if the technology is working for you or against you. There are sites and apps more interested in the rest of you.
Before Grindr, there was Gaydar with its slogan, 'What you want, when you want it'. I don’t think anyone really knows what they want in advance (even if you think you do), and what you really want or need is unlikely to be available instantly. Maybe you already know this, but maybe you behave as if you don't. Yours is then a story of hope over experience. Compare that to the wisdom that, 'if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting'.
What alternatives to Grindr are there for meeting people that are more holistic, embodied and human? With LGBTQ+ venues shutting down, partly due to the shift toward these apps, I appreciate there can seem sparse options. Perhaps there are options at work. You might also consider volunteering or check meetup.com.
If this is a longstanding issue and you feel stuck, you could try a psychotherapist or counsellor. It can be remarkably ordinary, just two people sat in a room, discussing something of interest to you. The therapist will listen carefully, provide another perspective and help you get clearer about what’s happening for you and how to move forward.
Relationships take more work than a hookup, and meeting people offline takes more work than an app. This may mean investing more time and energy before getting to sex. This choice won't get you what you want when you want it, but it might set you on the path to finding a partner.
This question was answered by Adam Knowles, an existential psychotherapist with practices in London and Birmingham. If you would like to book sessions with Adam, you can click through to his profile below. Adam also offers online sessions over video.