The epidemic of gay lonliness

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Photo credit: Rachel Robinson
Rachel Robinson

Dear Dan: I’m a 40-something gay male. I’m single and cannot get a date or even a hookup. I’m short, overweight, average-looking and bald. I see others, gay and straight, having long-term relationships, getting engaged, getting married, and it makes me sad and jealous. Some of them are jerks — and if them, why not me? Here’s the part that’s hard to admit: I know something is wrong with me, but I don’t know what it is or how to fix it. I’m alone and I’m lonely. I know your advice can be brutal, Dan, but what do I have to lose?

—Alone And Fading

Dear AAF: “AAF said to be brutal, so I’m going to start there: You might not ever meet anyone,” said Michael Hobbes, a HuffPost reporter who recently wrote a lengthy piece about gay lonliness. “At every age, in every study, gay men are less likely to be partnered, cohabiting or married than our straight and lesbian counterparts. Maybe we’re damaged, maybe we’re all saving ourselves for a Hemsworth, but spending our adult lives and twilight years without a romantic partner is a real possibility. It just is.”

And it’s not just gay men. In Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, sociologist Eric Klinenberg unpacked this remarkable statistic: More than 50 percent of adult Americans are single and live alone, up from 22 percent in 1950. Some are unhappy about living alone, but it seemed that most — at least according to Klinenberg’s research — are content.

“Maybe there is something wrong with AAF, but maybe he’s just on the unlucky side of the statistics,” said Hobbes. “Finding a soul mate is largely out of our control. Whether you allow your lack of a soul mate to make you bitter, desperate or contemptuous is. So be happy for the young jerks coupling up and settling down. Learn to take rejection gracefully — the way you want it from the dudes you’re turning down — and when you go on a date, start with the specificity of the person sitting across from you, not what you need from him. He could be your Disney prince, sure. But he could also be your museum buddy or your podcast cohost or your afternoon 69er or something you haven’t even thought of yet.”

Dear Dan: I am a 55-year-old gay male. I am hugely overweight and have not had much experience with men. I go on a variety of websites trying to make contact with people. However, if anyone says anything remotely complimentary about me, I panic and run. A compliment about my physical appearance? I shut down the profile. I don’t like being like this. I just believe in being honest. And if I’m honest, I’m ugly. The face, even behind a big-ass beard, is just not acceptable. I have tried therapy, and it does nothing. How do I get past being ugly and go out and get laid?

—Unappealing Giant Loser Yearns

Dear UGLY: You say you’re ugly, UGLY, but there are some people who disagree with you — the people who compliment you on your appearance, for instance.

“I’m not sure I even believe in the word ‘ugly’ anymore,” said Hobbes. “No matter what you look like, some percentage of the population will be attracted to you. Maybe it’s 95 percent or maybe it’s 5 percent, but they are out there. When you find them, do two things: First, believe them. Second, shut up about it.”

In other words: Just because you wouldn’t want to sleep with you, UGLY, that doesn’t mean no one wants to sleep with you.

“I remember reading an interview with Stephen Fry, where he said that when he first started out as an actor, people would come up to him and say, ‘You were so great in that play!’ and his first response would be, ‘No, I was terrible,’” said Hobbes. “He thought he was being modest, but what he was really doing, he realized later, was being argumentative. Eventually, he started to just say ‘Thank you.’”

Hobbes thinks you should try to be like Fry, a big dude with a cute husband: “The next time someone tells him they’re into big dudes with beards, don’t argue, don’t panic and don’t hesitate. Just say ‘Thank you’ and let the conversation move on.”

Follow Michael Hobbes on Twitter @RottenInDenmark and listen to his podcast You’re Wrong About…, available on iTunes. 

Send questions to mail@savagelove.net, follow @fakedansavage on Twitter and visit ITMFA.org.