Do You Have Love-Life ADD?

Do you flit around from date to date? Here are five smart ways to slow down and date better.

By Dave Singleton

“I don’t need help meeting guys,” says Miami resident Victor, 35. “I meet tons of guys everywhere I go—the gym, the beach, out with friends, parties, and online. The problem is that I never meet the right guy who wants a relationship. Some might say that I am out there too much, but can you really be meeting and mingling too much?”

The answer for many gay men depends on their approach to quality vs. quantity.

I think that Victor’s struggle embodies a downside of focusing on quantity, or what I call social
But what do you do when you’re ready to get off the circuit and focus on one guy?
A.D.D. Social A.D.D. is caused by too many options, particularly when it comes to dating. It’s an increasingly common urban dating phenomenon.

It’s a given that gay people in urban areas get used to life on a roller-coaster. When it works, it seems fun, spontaneous, and exciting. There’s a new friend, party and man right around the next corner. But many gay men are torn between fast-paced dating and a desire to develop something meaningful with a boyfriend or partner.

“The guys I’ve met and dated from bars and online here are often very fun and exciting,” says New Yorker Michael, 34. “There are sparks, but then everybody’s always looking for someone better. I’ll meet some cool guy and we’ll be really into each other. But it’s weird how quickly the excitement fizzles.”

A friend of mine once said that sending gay men into the dating whirl of a big city is like putting us on a monorail to the Magic Kingdom. We’re racing off to the next ride that will be faster and wilder—or at least different. We get accustomed to the velocity. But when you want to get off the circuit and focus on just one guy, what can you do to manage social A.D.D. in yourself and others?

Here are five smart ways to focus your energy and successfully manage your fast-paced dating challenges:

1. Recognize that social A.D.D. exists and make the time. If you have to, be as “Type A” with the removal of appointments from your schedule as you were getting them on there in the first place. As Los Angeles resident Brad, 35, says, “I used to rush through everything, but now I make the time to date. When I stopped rushing so much, I met a great guy I’ve been seeing for six months.”

2. Listen up! If you are going to make quality dating a priority, you have to limit distractions, such as cell phones, BlackBerries, multitasking, and overly rushed dates. “I was one of those obnoxious people who took calls during dinner,” says New Yorker Rob,
Now I turn off all electronic devices on a date.
32. “Now I turn off all electronic devices on a date, just like if I was at the theater.” Accept that there are no shortcuts to getting to know someone better. How can you give someone a shot if you aren’t really present?

3. Change your attitude. “Sometimes I feel too old to thrive on the gay party scene, but too young to stay home,” says Keith, 39, of Washington, D.C. “I’m looking for a happy middle ground.” If you’re like Keith, one new approach might be changing your attitude about the social scene. Accept its inherent flaws (i.e., shallow focus on superficialities, quantity of men vs. quality), rather than just quit it cold turkey and retreat into social hibernation. You can still enjoy the excitement, but at a different pace and with a different attitude.

4. Expand your social world. Meet single guys in settings other than bars and parties. Two options are:
  • Volunteer for a gay organization that you like. Sometimes the best first meetings occur when you are immersed in an activity you care about.
  • Post an online profile or update the one you have now to really reflect who you want to meet. Put some thought into describing yourself and your interests honestly. “I learn a lot more about my dates by reading their online personal profiles than I ever did making small talk at parties,” says Atlanta native Chad, 32.
5. Choose dates more carefully. “I’ll admit, my dating criteria are simple: Is he attractive, and is there a spark?” says Jason, 33, who lives in Virginia. Not that looks and sparks aren’t important. They are. But there’s more to a successful relationship—and that’s worth considering if you wonder why your dates fizzle quickly. Based on my research with other single, gay men, lack of common interests and true connection are probably the reasons. So, take some time and find out more about each prospect before you invest your time and energy. By screening in that way earlier on, you won’t have so many stop-and-start relationships.

Bottom line
Mixing and mingling too much to get the most of dating? Slow down. Life in the fast lane can be a lot of fun, but love in the fast lane can lead to confusion, dissatisfaction, and social A.D.D. To make dating more meaningful, shift gears, change your direction, and adjust your attitudes and behavior accordingly. The slower pace should yield longer-term, more satisfying relationships.

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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