~ by Joel Martens
Finding “the one” is a challenging task, and we can all use a little help. LGBT relationship expert Patrick H. Perrine brings his matchmaking and human sexuality expertise to the pages of The Rage Monthly, to discuss the challenges of finding and keeping a relationship in the LGBT community.
Perrine has worked as a gay relationship expert since 1997 and holds a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and a master of arts in human sexuality studies.
Perrine is the CEO of the dating site MyPartner.com and author of two dating and relationships books: Bringing Perfect Back and Sex vs Love and has conducted internationally recognized research on human mating preferences, with an emphasis on the dating preferences of gays and lesbians.
Check out Patrick H. Perrine’s advice for navigating the dating landscape in this day and age from online dating to practical communication:
How do you think the process for finding love has changed for the gay community in recent years?
The landscape has changed for anyone looking for love today, not just the gay community. But mostly, technology and the access to technology has also equated to the access to other people. It is so much easier to make a connection with someone next door or across the country or world, without every running into them. Search functions today can allow you to find exactly what you want, from nipple piercings to annual income, when you want it.
There are many people out there that are looking for Mr. Perfect or Ms. Perfect, is there really such a thing?
Simple answer; Yes. Complicated answer; Yes. The caveat is this… Perfect doesn’t mean they are literally perfect, no one is. Mr. or Ms. Perfect is about finding the person who is a perfect fit for you. And here’s where most make the mistake. It doesn’t literally mean he or she is going to be perfect on paper. Everyone is going to have compromises and areas of negotiation. Don’t “not” let someone become perfect.
What it does mean is they are going to make you feel happy. They are going to balance you. He or she is going to be the yin to your yang. And yes… it means they are going to complete you. But get over finding the perfect person and allow yourself to find Mr. or Ms. Perfect Fit. Want the full explanation of Mr. Perfect? Check out my first book Bringing Perfect Back at amazon.com!
5 most important qualities one should be looking for when dating?
(In no specific order):
1. Personality Characteristics—do they fit with yours, do they compliment yours?
2. Lifestyle—do you guys want to live life the same way, day to day and long term?
3. Commitment Level—are you guys looking for the same “type” of relationship?
4. Sexual Personality—Yes, sex is important and yes, the puzzle pieces need to fit together. That doesn’t mean one has to be a top and one a bottom. But are you two willing to be what the other wants… while getting what you want?
5. Personal Values—are the things in life that are important to you important to them and also, what needs to be important to him/her and what doesn’t. It’s a balance.
5 things you should watch out for?
Based on surveys of our myPartner.com members, here are some things to watch out for.
(Again, in no particular order):
1. Are they rude to the waitstaff?
2. Are their longest relationships less than 3 months?
3. Do they always talk about past relationships?
4. Do they want to jump in the sack on the first date?
5. Are they more preoccupied with there mobile device than with me?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions… tread lightly!
Are there specific pitfalls that you find people who are dating fall into?
I think the biggest pitfall that most gay men and lesbians fall into is a complete cliché: Communication. Yes, the art of compromise is oftentimes in relationships. Try not to be too selfish and listen more. You don’t have to be right all the time and sometimes the best thing you can do is swallow your pride and not push for what you want. You’ll be surprised how much more you get if you give (that applies to everything)!
Dating is intimidating for so many, can you suggest ways to take the pressure off, or to make it lighter and more enjoyable?
Here are some of the tips I give private matchmaking clients when they are going on a first introduction:
10 Things every single should know for the first date:
1. Quick and Easy… Choose a quiet, neutral place to meet. I recommend a lunch or coffee date for the first meeting. You want to be able to communicate easily and in a non-confrontational space. If you aren’t into each other, it’s easy to cut a coffee date short!
2. Look Your Best. Attention to detail is everything. Dress appropriately, depending on your venue. You want to look your best and be the part!
3. Laughing Allows the World to Laugh with You. Everyone loves being around charming people because they seem to spread good vibes. Get yourself into the right state for making a great first impression and go for it. Feel good about yourself and others will feel good about you.
4. A Second Date is Great, but Concentrate on Conversation. Let’s face it, most people looking for the right match want to know what kind of person you are before deciding whether or not they’d like to see you again—not just how sexy you are. Make an effort to get to know your date; you’ll make a better impression that way. One of the most common mistakes people make is dominating a conversation—remember: it’s not always about you!
5. It’s Not a Job Interview. Talking about how great you are is super… for a job interview. Ask questions, but stay away from salary, weight and exes
6. Give GENUINE Compliments—but not too many! There’s nothing worse than flooding a date with flowery lines about them, BUT everyone has something special to offer—so notice that something special and offer genuine compliments.
7. Show R.E.S.P.E.C.T. by Keeping Your Hands to Yourself! Some people are known as “close talkers.” Even when engaging in casual chat they just get too close. Many people have no objection to “touchy feely” encounters, others are put-off by it. Respect your date until you have figured out more about him. Touching can be an effective, flirty action, but should be reserved until you know more.
8. Safety. Please use common sense and never enter into any situation you are not 100 percent comfortable about. Don’t hesitate to exit the situation should you feel your safety is not intact.
9. Don’t be Picky… it Sets a Bad Precedent. If you’re a picky eater order something you know you’ll like. Sending back food or modifying something is obnoxious.
10. Most importantly—Be Yourself! Unlike online dating, there’s no point in assuming a role you think someone wants you to play…here’s your chance to find someone who wants you for you. Be proud of who you are and go from there!
What’s your point of view about online dating in general?
Here’s what I think (biased of course, but): If you are dating and NOT dating online, you are probably going to miss out on meeting Mr. Perfect (as we discussed earlier). But, don’t think online dating is an “easy” solution for meeting someone. If you are going to date online, whether it’s a site like myPartner.com, Match.com or ManHunt.net, it takes work because it’s a numbers game. The more you put yourself out there, the better your odds are going to be. But as much as I think online dating is important, I fervently believe you have to generally “get involved.” Get involved online, get involved in sports, get involved in non-profits… whatever your passion is, if you are more involved in it, you will be more likely to find your Mr. Perfect!
Should you spend much time chatting online or set up a meeting right away?
It’s different for everyone, but because online dating is such a numbers game I would recommend chatting more online before committing to anything. It really depends on the site you are using too. A “casual dating site” like ManHunt.net and Adam4Adam.com is going to focus more on instant gratification and things like someone’s endowment, whereas a “relationship-based site” like myPartner.com and Chemsitry.com is going to focus on more “compatibility” areas as earlier referenced.Sex is always the major focus online, any advice on how to screen?
That’s a trick question. Screen for what? If you want to find a guy or girl who isn’t just looking for sex, that’s when you apply the “chat online” more, meet later rule. If someone is responsive, interesting, asking questions and carrying on an online conversation without just sending naked photos, they’re probably more sincere about finding more than just sex. Here’s what I’ve learned about gay men dating online—90 percent plus of gay men will find sex online—“while” they are in pursuit of Mr. Perfect. They aren’t, unfortunately for some, mutually exclusive. Meaning, men who are looking for love won’t only be looking for love online.
How do you determine sexual compatibility?
We actually look at several areas of sexuality that range from general physical cues (i.e. body type, ethnicity, body hair, etc) to desired sexual roles (top, bottom, versatile, etcetera). We also look at the desired relationship style (single partner, multiple partners, etc.) and sexual activity and frequency preferences (monthly, weekly, daily, etcetera). But we also look at someone’s comfort level with their own sexual orientation and gender identity. All of these things play into individual sexuality, which can manifest in various ways with another person.
Even though it’s a complicated and highly meticulous calculation that we try to solve for our clients, oftentimes it comes down to simple chemistry felt between the two men and letting them navigate the waters on their own (without ever knowing the answers to the questions above).
Can you share one of your favorite dating stories—something that surprised you or something that changed the way you advise daters?
One of my favorite stories is about my only transgendered client (MTF). She was a 60-something (older than my average client of 41) ivy-league professor, highly accomplished and recognized. I matched her with a 50-something bi-sexual blue-collar city employee, a very unlikely match and one in which both were wary to initially meet. I convinced them to meet because of x, y and z reasons of compatibility identifiers.
A year or so later they were married and for all purposes, are living happily ever after. I tell this story for one reason; they came from completely different worlds, worlds in which they otherwise would never have met. Throw caution to the wind, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you can find!
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