Too many rules

Shopping lists are for grocery stores, not boyfriend hunting

If, for a moment, I might directly address certain single gay men seeking long-term relationships:

You’re driving me crazy, dammit, with all your complaining, your nitpicky ways and your dishonesty about what you want.

In an effort to prevent my spleen from exploding on some unsuspecting love-starved sap, let me offer some advice.

(Caveat: Don’t for a minute take this rant to mean I’m advocating coupledom. I’ll save my advice for unrepentant sluts and those addicted to pointlessly destructive relationships for other occasions.)

Stop making rules about the guy you want to meet. Sure, you have standards. But you should know them by heart by now. Writing down a list of requirements or repeating that list over and over to any friend who will listen is not helpful. Do you fear your rule that you’ll only date a non-smoker will go whoosh out the window when you meet a Mr Right with a cigarette in his mouth? Well then, maybe the rule should go whoosh.

I once heard someone say, “He was really cute, but he was 23 and I don’t date anyone under 30.” Hey, desire doesn’t follow your orders. That’s why good lovin’ is so hard to come by.

One inventive man with a website has posted a list of 37 criteria. You check them off and if you score high enough, he’ll date you: “Cooks well.” “I own cats. You’ll go before they do.” “WASP or black only.” “Adventurous.” “Monogamous.” You think he’s being a smartass or that you’re not nearly that judgmental. But just listen to a few bar conversations to find equally utopian expectations.

Genetic science hasn’t reached the point yet where it can make a man to your exact measurements. If you’re not going to give a little, try having yourself cryogenically frozen and set the timer for 150 years when they’ve worked the kinks out of breeding the perfect catch.

Stop misrepresenting yourself. All those personal ads about liking long walks on the beach, movies and sex by the fireplace? C’mon. Where did you learn about relationships? Harlequin romance novels? He’s going to find out sooner or later that you’re a neat freak with no hobbies.

That’s not to discourage you from actually taking up tango, joining a sports team or working with sick children. There’s no harm in actually being interesting.

Stop looking for a boyfriend. Boyfriends pop up in the oddest places: a friend’s party, an art gallery opening, the subway late at night, a drag show. But the scent of desperation scares many potential Mr Rights away. Go out and meet lots and lots of people; one might turn out to be quite comfy. If not, you didn’t have a bad time along the way.


Stop making rules about dating. Let’s accept the premise that once you find the right man, you’ll remain happily together into your old age, or for as long as he remains the right man. Then what does it matter you met him in a park at 3am? He wouldn’t have sex during your first encounter? It’s whether he has sex with you after eight months of co-habitation that really matters. It will all seem funny, looking back.

What kills me is when I hear things like, “After the third date, he told me he needed more space. Maybe he’s afraid of commitment.” Or, “It’s been four weeks and I’m still not sure if he’s the one.” Dating is not rocket science. The worst thing you can do is let his every word and action carry the weight of your life plan. Are you having a good time? Keep dating. Are you having a bad time? Politely end things.

Stop lying about sex. Single gay men usually see themselves outside society’s rules on sex and relationships. They fuck around (which is fine) and they’re careless with other men’s hearts (which is not so fine).

But many have this fantasy that a relationship is their ticket back inside the fortress of the mainstream. Once coupled up, they’ll suddenly become monogamous, considerate homebodies, just like that. All the rules that applied to mom and dad will suddenly descend like a blessing from a saint.

Let me say that a) That ain’t going to happen and b) Why exactly would you want it to happen?

Following my simple rules won’t get you a man. But they can certainly make life a little less annoying – for you and your friends – while you’re looking.

Paul Gallant is Features Editor for Xtra.

Paul Gallant

Paul Gallant is a Toronto-based journalist whose work has appeared in The WalrusThe Globe and Mail, the Toronto StarTHIS magazine,, and many other publications. His debut novel, Still More Stubborn Stars, was published by Acorn Press. He is the editor of Pink Ticket Travel and a former managing editor of Xtra. Photo by Tishan Baldeo.

Read More About:
Dating, Love & Sex, Toronto

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