Ask Dave-CinderFella wants to meet a Prince

He wants the fairytale romance, but is afraid to come out. How will he meet his Prince Charming?

By Dave Singleton

ear Dave,
I am 21 and I’ve never had an intimate relationship with another guy. I could say that it’s due to the fact that I am quite shy, and I’ve been in the closet for all this time. For example, I have never
I think I have what you could call a “Cinderella complex.”
been to a gay club because I am scared I will run into someone I know. What if he finds out about me, and eventually spreads the news around until it reaches my family?

In addition to that fear, I am a dreamer. I dream about finding the right person to spend the rest of my life with, and I feel that I could never have sex just for its own sake. I think I have what you could call a “Cinderella complex,” which may feed into my concerns about having everything perfect and bright.

I would like to have a real relationship with someone who will remember my name the next morning. Where do I look for it? How do I find it?
- CinderFella Waiting for Romance

Dear CinderFella,
Your letter takes me back to when I was your age and I felt the same desire for my first relationship to be perfect, monogamous, and real. Like you, I was closeted at 21 and worried that people would find out. I didn’t have the dating experience my straight peers had, so I had lots of time to fantasize about the perfect mate.

What I learned is that fantasizing about a perfect relationship in the abstract gets you only so far. Waiting around for your fairy-tale prince is risky business. You have to be proactive if you want romance in the real world.

It’s easy to understand why you’re sitting by the proverbial fireplace. When you delay the dating process (as many gays and lesbians do when we’re not out), you miss the chance to learn by trial and error. It’s the tried-and-true method for finding a relationship that works.

In some ways, you may be more mature than your peers. Maybe when they were at parties, you were thinking about serious matters—but in affairs of the heart, you might be a little younger. There’s nothing wrong with that. Dating and sex are going to be new for you, so be patient with yourself. Don’t feel pressured to find a “perfect” relationship just because you’ve waited.

As you explore where and how to look for love, know that dating is a numbers game. You have to put yourself out there to find the guy you want. As you begin dating, are there ways to guard against men who are either deceptive or disinterested in the kind of slow-to-form connection you want? Not really. But are there ways to make your journeys toward self-acceptance and romance better? Definitely! As you begin this journey, let these three suggestions help you navigate the path from fantasy to reality:

Understand how being “out” makes it easier to find a boyfriend.
I’m sure you are questioning the
They aren’t perfect, and neither are you.
coming-out process—and I understand how that fear impacts your willingness to replace romantic fantasies with wonderful, real-life experiences. Read books on the topic to help you understand the process, what to expect, and maybe give you the courage to take that step. Two that stand out are Outing Yourself: How to Come Out as Lesbian or Gay to Your Family, Friends, and Coworkers by Michelangelo Signorile, and Loving Someone Gay by Donald H. Clark.

Create an online profile that reflects the real you.
Whether you meet someone at a party or through online dating, first impressions are usually fast and always count. Make sure your profile is clear, engaging, and honest. With online dating, you know so much (or think you do) that it’s hard to reconcile a romantic profile with a guy who then pushes for a hookup. Online profiles give you the chance to state what you’re looking for up front before you meet; it’s a more targeted way for you to find men who share your standards. Review your profile and make sure it spells out who you are and what you want (“I’m looking for a long-term relationship, not a hookup”). Be clear with guys you meet in person and through online channels. With online dates, make sure you screen them with a phone call before you agree to meet them. Screening online prospects helps you avoid wasting anyone’s time, including your own.

Don’t be a victim of perfection.
You are a real guy who’ll meet other real guys. They aren’t perfect, and neither are you. Try to move beyond fantasies to find someone wonderful and reasonable. Consider not getting too disappointed when a guy prematurely “busts a move,” as they say. Unless his behavior is offensive, try deflecting his come-on by telling him what you’re looking for and gauge his reaction. Is he dismissive of anything less than fiery, instant gratification? Or is he receptive to the idea of a “slow burn” with someone who might be inexperienced, but values quality over quantity? Many guys are so used to hooking up that they act out with learned behavior or perceived peer pressure. Maybe one of these so-called Lotharios will appreciate a man who holds his romantic ground.

Bottom line: As you slowly come to terms with being gay and replace your fantasies with real-life experiences, remember this: You can do that and still be true to your own standards.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him at
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