Out And Online - Cracking The Code To Gay Profiles

Wondering if that cute guy is really your match? Then you need to learn how to read the secret signals hiding in his profile. Your lesson starts here.

By Nick Burns

hen I first discovered online dating, I felt like I had won the lottery. As a young gay man who grew up in a small conservative town, I found it hard to meet potential love interests by bumping into them at Barnes & Noble or waiting in line at the DMV. Online, there are tons of prospects—but the sheer quantity came with its own problems. How could I separate the guys I’d really like from those who weren’t my speed? Sure, there were photos and write-ups explaining who they were and what they were looking for, but I soon realized that these profiles didn’t always match the person once I met him face to face. Some guys would say they’re looking for a long-term
People who want “fun and possible LTR” may be more into fun, less LTR.
relationship when they were really out for no-strings-attached sex; others weren’t entirely out of the closet, which brought its own set of complications. These experiences made me wonder: Is there a way to check out a guy’s profile and get to the truth of whether he’d be a great match? To find the answer, I consulted a dating expert for tips on reading between the lines. The advice below has helped me immensely, as I hope it’ll do for anyone else in search of the right man among many.

A picture is worth a thousand words...
Photos, of course, are an easy way to gauge how attracted you are to someone. But there are other messages you can glean from the kind of pics they post. Photos that are a little too good—he’s bare-chested, giving his most fetching glance at the camera, or wearing tight jeans that hint that he’s well-endowed—could indicate he’s out for some no-strings-attached fun rather than a relationship. Why? Because anyone who makes his sexuality his key selling point is probably more interested in what you have to offer in the bedroom versus out of it, says psychotherapist Joe Kort, author of the forthcoming book 10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To Find Real Love. And while posting a few photos indicates a desire to give viewers a sense of who a guy is, posting a plethora (like more than ten) could mean he loves the way he looks a little too much and is as vain as a peacock.

...And no pics say even more…
And what if a profile shows no photos at all or promises to email you one if you get in touch? It could mean he’s not out of the closet. “If he doesn’t show photos or if he shows photos just of his body without a face, chances are he’s not comfortable with certain people knowing he’s gay,” says Kort. That
“If he wants a commitment, he may say “friends first, relationship later.”
doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ashamed of who he is; it might just mean that he’s worried that certain people in his life — relatives, co-workers — might react badly to the news. So before you initiate contact, make sure you’re fine using some discretion in your relationship.

Spot the scene queen…
Certain gay guys live to party and dance all night out at clubs. Want to know who they are so you can join them—or steer clear and find a more mellow relationship? Look for ads that mention “keeping up with me” or “no drama!” More often than not, they are drama, so be prepared for one really intense time with them. Another dead giveaway? Hip spellings of certain words like “boi” for boy. Encounter a string of slang like “Hot boi ISO a VGL str8 acting guy 4 LTR or NSA fun,” and you don’t need your decoder ring to tell that this guy is probably a veteran online dater (how else would he know all that lingo?) who’s most likely trolling for a good time. If that’s your thing, go for it—but if your idea of a great date is dinner and a movie, don’t expect this “boi” to jump on board. (Incidentally, the shorthand above translates as “Hot boy in search of a very good-looking straight-acting guy for long-term relationship or no-strings-attached fun.”)

Know if he’s just up for a one-night stand…
When surfing profiles you’ll probably encounter the phrase “Fun and possible LTR” (LTR stands for long-term relationship). And while this might lead you to believe that this guy truly wants to settle down once he finds Mr. Right, don’t be fooled, says Kort: A guy who wants “fun and possible LTR” is probably more into fun, less into the LTR. He merely wants to avoid scaring away the more relationship-minded man who is attracted to his profile. Keep in mind, he may not be intentionally trying to deceive you, he may truly think he’s open to long-term commitment. But any emphasis on “fun” should be noted as a “caution ahead” signal by anyone whose priority is to settle down for the long haul.

…Or if he truly wants a relationship
So how do you separate the guys who say they want a commitment from those who truly want one? For starters, there probably won’t be anything strongly sexual mentioned in their profile, says Kort. He may even go so far as to say “friends first, relationship later” to ward off the guys who are just looking for action. And since he’s probably not spending his days sleeping off last night’s outing, he’ll probably list lots of hobbies or activities he enjoys.

He also won’t give a laundry list of things he doesn’t want in a mate, like “no fats/fems” or “one-man gay pride parades need not apply.” This could indicate he’s burned out on dating, or that he’s just a negative person, or that he harbors a strict, fantasy-like image of who he wants to be with—three signs he’s probably not ready for the less-than-perfect reality of a relationship.

Nick Burns is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York.
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