There are, roughly speaking, two conversations you have on Grindr. The first kind is the one you have earlier on in the evening, or when you’re just starting off. You pick profiles with wholesome names like ‘student’, ‘Tim’ or ‘hey there’, and engage in polite chitchat about what he studies, what you’ve been doing today and what films you’re both into. The key thing, however, is that while you’re both there to fuck (it is, technically, possible to be on Grindr and actually be looking for honest-to-goodness coffee dates — I’ve even been on one – but we shall set these aberrances aside), in this conversation no-one must be the first to put sex on the table.
So, with strategy that would put UN negotiators to shame, it is crucial to be the first one to ask, ‘What are you looking for?’ That way, he has to be the one to bring sex (Grindr lingo: ‘fun’) into the picture, and you can finally drop the worry that you were revealing your harlot ways to an innocent young man who just wanted a gym buddy.
The other conversation one has on Grindr is the one you have once you get frustrated with that delicate dance. Maybe you take your face off your profile, maybe you shrug and throw caution to the wind. ‘Horny?’ you message every likely candidate (the pool getting older as your standards drop through the night) within five minutes’ biking radius. Exchange a few photos to confirm he has the anatomy you’re interested in and head on over.
You meet. Horny optimism encounters sober reality, and with no roadmap we revert to the manners our mums taught us, offering drinks and (no, really) sometimes even shaking hands, with a few strained words about the weather outside. Finally you work up the mettle to lean over and make out with this stranger you met two minutes ago, and like a skydiver’s leap it falls into place from there, and – bonus – since you don’t have to care about each other, you can be as selfish as he’ll let you be. Half an hour later you’re back on the street, slightly stickier, lighter on your feet, and wondering if everyone recognises that smug just-got-rimmed expression on your face.
The vinyl to Grindr’s MP3, gay saunas are an institution many people don’t know still exists. Think men wandering around darkened corridors in only towels (with cheaper or free entry to under-25s, this genuinely isn’t Night of the Living Dead), generally with some sort of steam room, jacuzzi and mattress-sized cubicles (‘cabins’) for privacy. No pretences of delicacy here; it’s all on show: eye contact or a gentle grope as you pass is the favoured statement of intent, and if you’re going at it in a public space you’ll probably look up to find yourself in an impromptu orgy (note: saunas ruin you for Never Have I Ever). Finished, shower off the encounter and find someone new.
Romantic dry spells I know all about. But going without sex? Sorry: not my style.