Premise: This article is written from my personal experience. In no way, shape or form do I speak for the same sex attracted population as a whole, and nor have I been exposed to every heterosexual experience that exists. These are just my personal experiences and observations as a gay man.
One of the things that I have always found so entertaining when talking with my heterosexual friends, is the comments that they make about how fun dating and being single in the gay world must be. They talk about apps like Grindr that give us “sex on tap” or that “you’re gay, you're allowed to date numerous people” or my personal favourite, “girls don’t just want to have sex, they are always looking for a relationship”. I find these comments interesting - it seems that there is this belief that somewhere in the act of coming out, gays reach this state of sexual enlightenment that allows us to have increased communication in a frank and honest way. To an extent, I agree with this, in the sense that a proportion of the population see same sex attraction as something of a taboo, or that it is not the “normal” sexual practice. So because of this, gays said "F**k it, let’s liberate ourselves from a world where it isn’t appropriate to talk about being gay and a world that often discourages us from talking openly about sex". The part I don’t agree with, is that this is only something that is developed during a “coming out” or from an interaction with same sex attracted people. I personally think that negotiation and communication when it comes to sex are skills that can be learnt and adapted by everyone, so that sex and relationships are clear and enjoyable for everyone. So, here are my three lessons on dating for heterosexuals:
Now I know what you’re thinking - "How dare this guy! I know how to negotiate! We have to choose movies and what to get on Uber Eats all the time..." I don't doubt you have negotiation skills, but I'm sure all of us should strive to improve our negotiation skills around sex. Why? So that we get the sex that we want! To premise this point, I will explain the reason that gay and bisexual men, including men that are attracted to other men (GBM) have learnt this a little faster than heterosexuals in general. It is quite simple when you think about it, but it has everything to do with tops (the partner that penetrates) and bottoms (the partner that is penetrated). Unlike our heterosexual counterparts, there is not an innate belief or understanding of which partner is the one getting penetrated and which is the one doing the penetration. This simple act of sexual negotiation is required because nothing kills the mood like two guys getting together and then realising you both wanted to be the top / bottom. And sure, lots of guys are "vers" (happy to do either), but even in those situations, there is a conversation that needs to be had around that. I think it's funny that just because some people have a vagina and others have a penis, it determines what will occur. Like, why not ask the question of “are we gonna have sex or are you just looking for oral?”
Talking about the sex you want to have
Let's talk about the sex you want to have, then apply our negotiating skills. One of the things I love about apps is the opportunity it allows to discuss my sexual likes and interests before being face to face with someone. I can get on Grindr and say, "I love being licked, touched and bitten on my neck, cheek, nipple etc." This way, I know that if things advance further, I am far more likely to have great sex. If I didn't communicate this, they would have no idea what I liked and they would have to wing it. Dirty talk is great for this, but I think we need to get beyond “dirty talk” because:
1) You aren’t saying anything "dirty", you are explaining what you get pleasure from - nothing dirty about that!
2) Often dirty talk is about trying to turn a partner on, or saying what someone wants to hear as foreplay. This can be confusing - do they actually like "xyz" and want to do that, or did they just say that to get me turned on...? For example, it is very infrequent that people would dirty talk putting condoms on right? It would be far more likely people would be saying "I’ll lick you here and slide inside you". Even though they might say this, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily wanting condomless sex. It just sounds appealing. You need to get clear on what is just 'dirty talk' and what is the 'reality' of the situation.
While we are on the topic of communication, I also don’t understand that when my heterosexual friends have started dating, there seems to be this belief that after x amounts of dates, they are monogamous and aren’t still sleeping with or dating other people. GBM seem to have a lot of relationship marker terms for dating. There is a conversation about whether or not to go official, monogamous or to go official but stay open. That is a conversation that I have had with all of my partners, yet with my straight friends it's like:
Friend: “Well yeah, we aren’t sleeping with other people anymore”
Me: “So, you talked about it?”
Friend: “...No, but like, we have been on 3 dates...”
So there you have it, these are the biggest differences I have noticed from discussion with my friends about dating in different communities. The key to any good relationship is communication and negotiation, so get talking! Normalise discussing what you are looking for and what you want, both sexually and in a partner. Happy dating people!
Health Promotion Officer - Gay Men