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Savage Love: Looking 

Dear Dan,

I'm a middle-aged homo trying to figure out Grindr. Is it impolite to go on Grindr if you're not looking for an immediate hookup? My preferred form of sexual relationship is the friend-with-benefits situation. I go on Grindr looking to make friends who could, at least potentially, be sex partners, but I like to do the friend thing before the sex. I've had guys call me an asshole because I exchanged messages with them for 20 minutes and then didn't come right over and fuck them. Do they have a point? Does logging into a hookup app like Grindr imply openness to an immediate sexual encounter?

— Talking Online Repulses Some Others

Always be up front about your intentions, TORSO. The best way to do that is by creating a profile — on Grindr or elsewhere — that clearly describes what you want and what you're up for. Because good partners (sexual or otherwise) communicate their wants clearly. Adding something like this to your profile should do it: "My preferred form of sexual relationship is the friend-with-benefits situation. I go on Grindr looking to make friends who could, at least potentially, be sex partners, but I like to do the friend thing before the sex."

Grindr is an app designed and marketed to facilitate hookups, but some people have found friends, lovers, and husbands on the app (usually after hooking up first). So being on a hookup app doesn't automatically mean you're looking for "right now," and it certainly doesn't obligate you to fuck every guy you swap messages with. But if you're not clear in your profile or very first message, guys looking for a hookup on that hookup app will be rightly annoyed.

Your timing could also have something to do with guys calling you an asshole. Are you exchanging messages at two in the morning for 20 minutes? Because most guys on Grindr at that hour are seeking immediate sexual encounters. If you're just chatting in the middle of the night, then you're probably wasting someone's time — if, again, you're not being absolutely clear about what you're doing there. Also, TORSO, Grindr is location-based, which means you're going to get a different experience based on where you're using it. Some neighborhoods seem to be filled with messy guys looking for chemsex, bless their hearts. In others, you'll find unwoke twinks who are on Grindr to swap (highly problematic) GIFs of black women pulling faces. And if you're in a rural area, it's likely you'll message your full cast of Grindr torsos within a few days.

Dear Dan,

I'm a 25-year-old gay woman looking for a girlfriend for the past two years. I post on dating websites, go to the lesbian club, take part in the LGBTQ+ scene at my university, and put myself in places where I might meet women. But I'm worried that my persona deters women: I'm extremely analytic, a doctoral student and university instructor. Whenever I meet a girl, our conversation always goes in the same direction: She thinks it's cool I work with literature and then brings up her favorite pop-culture novel like Harry Potter. I say something like, "I've never read Harry Potter, but people rave about it. What do you like about it?" At this point, things change. The girl I'm speaking with gets flustered. She says something like, "Oh, I'm not good at describing things," seemingly feeling like I'm giving her a quiz. I'm not sure what to do about this. I think I'm a pretty attractive person, but my dating life is starting to make me feel differently. How can I find a woman I jibe with?

— A Lesbian Obviously Needs Excitement

You're doing all the right things — almost. You're getting out there, you're not shy about initiating conversation, and you're moving on multiple fronts. That said, ALONE, I'm surprised this hasn't popped into your extremely analytic head: If Y happens whenever I do X, and Y isn't the desired outcome, then maybe I should knock this X shit the fuck off. Your response to the mention of Harry Potter drips with what I trust is unintentional condescension. Don't want women to think you're administering a quiz? Don't subtly telegraph your disgust. And maybe go ahead and read Harry Potter already.

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