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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Apps ... by Matt

After the London 2012 Olympic Games, many people are now aware of the smart phone app Grindr. There was a story doing the rounds that the arrival of so many athletes to the Olympic village had caused Grindr to grind to a halt. This was all good journo grist for the mill and, I suspect, excellent free advertising for Grindr itself.

There are quite a few of those apps out there, all designed to allow (predominantly) men to hook up for casual sex, to chat, or more commonly to waste other people's valuable time.

I'm a fan of the first option and when I was initially aware of Grindr I did not have a smart phone:. I had a crappy, large-buttoned 'granny' phone with a tiny screen and absolutely no capability for connecting to WiFi or the Internet at all. My life was simpler then. I was happily married and commuting between Brighton and Eastbourne every day. Certainly no time for a bit of extra-marital how's yer father with a flight attendant who's into underwear and role play. I sometimes wonder, in weaker moments, if the explosion of Grindr, Scruff, Growlr, Recon, Gay Network, Gaydar (the app), Squirt and all those myriad apps and websites into my life wasn't the herald of the end of days of my relationship with the now-ex.

Of course it wasn't. To blame the entirety of my break-up on software is no different to the Daily Mail-fuelled garbage bandied about every time a new GTA (Grand Theft Auto) game is released. Like any good piece of software, or hardware, user input is accountable for 95%* of the experience, good and bad.

When Andrew deigned to give me his hand-me-down iPhone in exchange for him using my upgrade to get a sparkly new one, I immediately rushed to the App Store to see what I could lay my hands on. We had an open relationship so it was cool. I knew Andrew used the apps as we had, in the past, used them to pick up passing trade on our trips to see his family in Somerset and South Wales.

I fumbled about with setting up profiles, taking selfies that I thought had a certain Myra Hindley quality about them, proudly displaying my 'Open Relationship' flag for all to see. Considering a lot of gay men I know play around outside of relationships, there's an awful lot of judgement going on from all sides the moment you declare that you're allowed to have sex with other people.

Andrew and I had always reasoned that playing about in the bushes, for example, doesn't lead to declaring love for someone else - at least not for two, level-headed men such as ourselves. Open relationships do seem to work for some but, in the end, it was a part of what drove a wedge between us. As I stoked the ashes of our relationship, I realised that Andrew's way of keeping me with him was by allowing me my Droit de Seigneur. I think he lacked confidence in his ability to keep me distracted.

I soon found that a lot of men using the apps were firmly in the 'wasting other people's valuable time' category. Men would show an interest, a couple of lewd pictures would be exchanged and then I'd frighten them off with the seemingly innocuous but obviously very dangerous line, "So, shall I come round in an hour?" Silence.

And those men that I did meet opened up a World of possibility to me: I might like the freedom to meet who I wish more often than just whenever Andrew was off gallivanting about town and I thought I had enough time to be discrete about it. I met interesting men with exciting lives who always spoke of the apps with an air of secret shame. We had fun and my sex life was enriched all the more for it. But as I trudged home, thinking up a good excuse as to where I'd been in case Andrew had arrived home before me, the depressing sensation that I really shouldn't be proud of being in an 'Open Relationship' crept over me.

As I write this now, it's a slightly different story. For one I'm 'Single' and open to 'Chat', 'Networking' and 'NSA' (No Strings Attached). I am more confident in my outlook being a singleton and in turn I am rewarded by far more (genuine, for the most part) interest from the men of Brighton and Hove.

I still face the disappointment of the fantasists who like the idea of meeting but really just want a picture of my cock so they have something to masturbate over later on. Of course I could be being a little hasty in my judgement: Perhaps they're just not as confident as me and are certainly not in the same place as I am, head and heart. Perhaps.

I take rejection on the chin from the guys with porn star bodies who aren't into hairy men with beer bellies.

For the first time in my life I am able to chat to guys who are younger than me. I know what it's like to project an air of confidence and experience whilst being 21 years of age, wanting something more than fleeting physical contact with a stranger because, well, that's what you're supposed to want, isn't it? A boyfriend? Someone to buy expensive furniture with and be middle-aged before your time. Until the next hot guy comes along at any rate.

In short, I love and am loved. Just not in that romantic, 1950s movie way. And I love it.

I just made that statistic up

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