Rick Miller LICSW


Looking to Meet Mr. Right Online?

Sometimes technology promotes denial and deception.

Posted Feb 05, 2015

Here is the paradox: The ever-increasing number of ways to meet men online and via SMS apps actually decreases the possibility of forming any kind of deep connection with one.

In fact, the idea that Mr. Right is out there just waiting for us in the virtual world is more a fantasy than ever. Even so, the choices are endless:  dating sites, hookup sites, and anywhere out in the world.  If you keep searching, he will pop up at a moment’s notice.

Using these sites promotes compulsivity. The reinforcement of getting a live man to respond can keep one engaged for hours on end. Since flirtation, vagueness, or lying are often the norm, the state of arousal remains constant. Remaining “logged on” keeps men checking their devices constantly, meaning they are only partially able to concentrate on other things:  work, friends, partners, and family. Since it is considered the norm for gay men to use these sites (often multiple sites simultaneously), the compulsive nature of it isn’t questioned when it ought to be.

And, of course, no one even needs to leave his house, since the perfect man may pop up on the browser at any time.  Those who are looking for real connections are sitting in the dark.  

We see it everywhere: people glued to their devices, distracted by the addiction to online dating or hookups.

Buying into this whole arena is dangerous, really dangerous.  I have had countless tense conversations with my gay clients about this, both in individual and group sessions. It is so clear that denial about cyber or sexual compulsivity and hours spent online is common and unhealthy.

I was impressed when I came across Lester Brathwaite’s blog “Why I’ve Given Up on Hooking Up” (3/7/2014). Pay attention folks. 

He confesses to the addiction that comes from hooking up, which is ultimately fueled by insecurity. He also describes this phenomenon and how it further engenders internalized homophobia:  “Being online with a wall of anonymity reinforces unreal body expectations, encourages the enumeration of ideal qualities and contributes to further disconnectedness. I have spent countless hours staring intently at my phone, flipping through the same profiles, wasting my time and poking holes at my self-esteem, for what?  Sex? Maybe. Love? Hardly. Validation? Probably. These apps and sites have rendered me completely unable to interact with guys in any other way because they cater to my insecurity. Now it is up to me to make real connections in the real world.”

It’s real and honest. Bravo. I offer the following suggestions.

  • Cut back on using these apps and websites.
  • Delete a few of them. How many do you really need? Aren’t you seeing the same people on all of them? 
  • Take time out to notice how many times you are checking these apps for a hit -- and then cut back. 
  • Come up with a realistic number of times to check each day. Stick with it.
  • Never keep logged on while working and change your status to “logged off” when you actually are.

By allowing yourself to be unavailable to the virtual world, you will become available in your real life in a richer deeper way. You will have the space to be more connected and attentive. A sense of relief will be one reward, the chance for reciprocity another. You will find yourself feeling happy and confident again.

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