Tag Archives: Dating 101

What We Talk About When We Talk About Gay Men And Casual Sex

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Love stories can be weird.

I meet Shamita, a high-flying lawyer at friend’s birthday soiree. She’s pretty, she quips about pop culture and politics, and makes Kim Kardashian jokes over dinner – I find myself instantly attracted to her. Over drinks, we bond over our mutual appreciation for menthol cigarettes and men who refuse to commit.

Am I falling in love?

Not so fast, lover boy. Somewhere over our third gin-and-tonic, as we bemoan the lack of desirable men (but not mates) in our lives, and are this close to being each other’s back-ups when we are well in our 40s, Shamita throws the quintessential jab at my sordid dating history:

‘But it’s okay if you are a slut, you are gay!’ she splutters, as I gently thump her on her back.

‘Umm, what?’

‘Yeah, that’s the whole point of Grindr, isn’t it?’ she grins.

Is that supposed to be endearing? Amusing? Consoling? Comforting? My platonic love story – like all my other romantic escapades – dies an early death. It was too good to be true anyway. Plus, she hasn’t read my piece from last week, where I rebuke people (such as her) for so harshly judging the love lives of flippant gay men (such as myself).

I am not amused.

As a 30-year-old gay man, I have no qualms about being on Grindr (or any other dating app for that matter). I have heard the ‘buh-dupe’ sound everywhere I’ve gone – the club, the gym, at Starbucks, my favourite restaurant, and this one weird time, from the pockets of my local general practitioner.

Apps like Grindr (and the motley crew of matchmaking apps it is part of) have been the gold standard for men to meet (and mate with) other men. But then again, what about dating (read: hook up) apps for straight people? Certainly, Tinder might be the closest thing to a hook up app for non-gay folk, but it absolutely falls short of being a full-fledged mate-making service. There’s no space for sexts and all the ensuing unsolicited dick pics. Surely, gay men aren’t the only group of people who want to engage in casual (but also toe-curling) sex. So where is the disconnect?

It’s in the relationship that people believe gay men have with their ideas of casual sex. Is it the first of many nights of morning-afters? An all-access pass to the neighborhood sex clinic? A jigsaw puzzle of ‘what not’s’ before you find your ‘why not’? A patchwork quilt of essential bouts of heartbreak? Or most importantly, the first stop in your rites of passage of finding a relationship?

What is it not?

A parameter for approval by anyone else. While acceptance by ‘this’ society is useful in many ways, we lack foresight when we try making it our primary goal. LGBT equality stands for many things – better representation, more visibility and the scraping away of prejudices and the patriarchy. But most importantly, it stands for living the best lives we can lead.

Equality has never been about being palatable to society. It’s about having the freedom to do whatever you want to do, just like our heterosexual friends – our relationship with NSA sex included. We have half a dozen other battles to fight, because when you are already dealing with transphobia, racism, sexism and violence against LGBT youth, there simply isn’t any time (or fu*ks to give) about who is having sex with whom, and how often.

Just remember one thing: You’ll never win with a homophobe, just like you’ll never win with your mother. So there’s no point trying to please one (mothers on the other hand, are a different case). Instead, go live your life as vividly as you can. That can mean swiping at gold-rimmed mason jars for your wedding registry, or swiping right on half a dozen boys on Tinder in a single night.

At the end of it all, you have to do ‘you’.

Or just about anyone you want to.

How Do We Find Love, In The Time of Tinder?

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It’s the week of Valentine’s Day.

Urvaksh, a 30-something banker, loves plaid, almond milk lattes and artisanal beer. Like most quintessential gay men that I know, Urvaksh is on the lookout for ‘sweep-me-off-my-feet’ love – the kind that you find in dog-eared romance novels and primetime soaps. But as is the case with quintessential gay men, Urvaksh is also ‘hopelessly’ single. A status that stings more so during this painful week; suddenly, Netflix feels lonely, and bar deals (two for the price of one) seem too taxing to finish.

But Urvaksh isn’t one to give up. He takes ‘finding love’ very seriously – a trait that’s equally heartbreaking and heartwarming in gay men around the country.

To further his cause in finding romance, Urvaksh goes out on a new date every week (while sleeping with thrice the number of people in the same time) – and falls in love every fortnight. It’s a tough life, but he survives (and so does his company-provided credit card). But that’s not where his rat race for romance ends. Urvaksh has premium memberships with Grindr Xtra, Scruff Pro and Tinder Plus, which means that he has paid big bucks to find the elusive ‘Mr Right’.

So can ‘Mr Right’ get here right now?

He should. That’s three times the boys (on Tinder), an infinite supply of blocks (on Grindr) and billboard-style exposure (obviously, on Scruff). This way, an unlimited crew of underwear models, upcoming fashion photographers, Type A consultants and highflying entrepreneurs can spot him before anyone else does. The stats are definitely on his side, but the stars?

Not so much.

‘It’s just not working out,’ Urvaksh tells me over a drink, at a gay shindig in January. He’s Super-Liked boys on Tinder, favourited the nicest profiles on Grindr, Woof’d appropriately at hirsute men on Scruff and even looked around more than once on Hinge (although he feels quite unhinged after his experiences there).

‘How hard is it to find someone you can just have a conversation with?’ he asks me, but doesn’t give me time to respond.

‘… And no, I will not have drinks with someone whose username is ‘CockRings7’. Tell me, why are all the nice boys not online (read: available)?’ He blows off steam (and smoke) in my face. Honestly, who’s to blame, when someone ends his Grindr profile with the classic ‘only 9+ cocks apply’?

Urvaksh does, but I don’t bring it up. Instead, what I do tell him is that all the nice boys are online – they are just complaining about the fact that there are no nice boys online.

‘I think I should just go off dating apps, I really can’t do this anymore,’ Urvaksh tells himself, and I wonder why I am even a part of this conversation.

‘Now can you just be my wingman at this party?’ he pleads, finishing his beer with one large chug.

Uh-oh. That’s why.

The Internet says that dating apps make romance conveniently fast and easy; it’s like fast food – deliciously satisfying, but really, really bad for your health.

But when has the Internet ever been right? Anyone who says that finding love on dating apps is easy has never spent hours trying to figure out what the gorgeous photographer means when he sends you an ill-timed ‘eggplant’ emoji. Does he like aubergine or is he just hot and horny? It’s a mindboggling maze of deciphering smiley faces.

And fast?

Nope. I’ve spent months chatting up multiple Mr Right Now’s’ in the search for Mr Right – and it’s been as painful to watch as an episode of Splitsvilla (but then again, equally high on drama).

It’s a tale as old as time; fuckboys, douchebags and dimwits aren’t custom-made at a secret Grindr factory, they’ve been around since eternity. So is Grindr (and the motley crew of matchmaking apps it is part of) killing romance in the dead of the night, behind locked phone screens and locked doors?

Let’s get it straight. It’s not.

Technology has been facing the brunt for being the cause of most of our world’s problems – the television stands shamefaced for its contribution to the rise in gun violence, the refrigerator regrets its hand in rising child obesity, the microwave has been getting in the neck for global warming and the steam iron might as well have been the single reason for frayed denims.

“I wish I could meet someone the old-fashioned way,’ Urvaksh sighs, as I light up another cigarette. What’s the old fashioned way?

Strangers wobbling out of a bar together into 17-odd months of regrets, slurred voicemails and alcohol-induced arguments? Being awkwardly set up by friends at a house party just so that they don’t have to listen to your scrambling singledom survival stories over scrambled eggs at brunch? Bumping into someone while waiting in line at a coffee shop just to realise that they like their coffee with milk, weeks later?

If you think your next big love isn’t hidden behind a mesh of profiles on the dating app of your choice, there’s a very big chance he’s not waiting for you at the bar with free drinks (and if he is, there’s a chance he might put it on your tab). Conventional ways of finding love are dying out and for good reason, because we just don’t have the time (or the hope to leave things on chance). Instant gratification is in.

Sure, Grindr can be that dark dreary place that you’ll be in an on-again, off-again relationship with (because on more than one occasion, you’ll be propositioned for a golden shower at 2 am, that’ll make you want to shower multiple times after), but in this Instagram-obsessed world, it helps you reach out to people like never before – with or without filters. Plus, a relationship built on a dating app is no less real than the one forged over mixed-up orders at your neighborhood coffee shop.

Still struggling over why you are single on Valentine’s Day? Maybe it’s time to introspect – could it be something to do with your personality (or lack thereof)? Could it be something to do with the fact that you are seeking out people’s preferences in bed rather than their preferences in life? Or could it be the fact that your profile description says that you are ‘looking for a soul mate to share a life with’ but you go by ‘WildTop4U’?

Maybe, but I feel like my Netflix rom-com is on its way. Now pardon me, while I go swipe left on every boy on Tinder.

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Delta

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It should come as no surprise when I say that I’ve traversed the A-Z of online dating to find the elusive needle in the haystack of honest, hot men. I found a few As, a couple of Bs and a whole lot of Zs. I’ve dodged some Xs and questioned a bunch of Ys.

But it still looks like we’ve missed a few Ds. Well, there’s only one thing left to do.

Dial D for Delta.

Just make sure you don’t hit up the American airline company with the same name.

What it is:

Delta calls itself ‘India’s first homegrown LGBT community, networking and support app’, and if you didn’t get that the first time they told you, they’ll make it a point to reiterate it everywhere else — on their website, in your email inbox and even your phone’s push notifications — in fact, it’s one ‘good morning’ text away from being an active part of your family’s WhatsApp group.

Ping.

Ping.

Ping.

Do we have a spammer in the house?

And yet, the app doesn’t disappoint. Delta is to the Indian queer moment what Grindr is to the international gay scene – it’s revolutionising the LGBTQIA+ community over the country, sans the unsolicited dick pics and bare-chested torsos.

How it works:

What sets Delta apart from other dating (or ‘networking’) apps is that it can be used by the entire umbrella of the queer spectrum — which automatically makes it more woke than everything else out there (that includes you, Jack’d). It looks like we have a winner!

‘Would I want to meet and date amazing singles from the community?’ it asks me. Well, as an ‘amazing single’ from the community, I’d really like to. The interface (which was a lot choppier in the beta version) is easy to use — just like my range of emotions.

Profiles pop up one after the other, names fully hidden (a step up from Hinge) and a compatibility quiz waiting to find you your future plus one. There are 16 questions in all, but as long as I am not the one being played, I really don’t mind answering any of them (unlike my Class 11 Advanced Physics quiz, where every question was a player).

Each profile comes with a trust score — men (and women) are verified by their phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook statuses and even a selfie (because hello, 2018) — the higher your score, the more the number of sparks that get credited into your account. These are what you send to each other to match and (ultimately) unlock names, and other such trivial details.

Are we done yet? Because I am ready to start dating. I send sparks to a few boys who look interesting. And I hope for a few (read: at least one) on the side.

And then I wait. And I wait. And I wait. I go and take their quiz again.

And then I wait some more.

The app draws a blank, just like I did in my high school Physics paper.

What I like about it:

Delta’s compatibility feature is a breath of fresh air — pairing people based on common interests, and things that actually matter (unlike Scruff’s Match tool) — such as their expectations from a long-term partner and their views on a long-distance relationship, rather than their preferences in bed.

It’s an app that really tries hard to make a difference (with much emphasis on the ‘trying’), but fails only because of one crucial kink in the plan — people lie on their compatibility tests just like they like on their LinkedIn resumes — so that attractive surgeon who thinks that jealousy has no place in a loving relationship? Chances are he’s already blacklisted all your exes.

And he’s probably going to blacklist you too.

What I don’t like about it:

Like all the boys I’ve ever dated, Delta is perfect on paper. An app that redefines inclusion? Hell, yes. A calendar that’s packed with LGBTQIA+ events and inclusive-brands? Swipe out those debit cards. Most importantly, a secure space for the queer community? Sign me up, please.

But like all the boys I’ve dated, Delta has one major problem — it hasn’t made up its mind on what it wants to be. It ends us looking confused, trying to find itself in a world full of labels. Is Delta a dating app? Is it a networking platform? Is it a matchmaking service? Is it a brand-listing device?  Is it a discussion forum? Is it a helpline? Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Sadly, it’s no Superman.

Bonus Feature:

The app’s Instagram feed gives me a boner — it’s inspiring, inquisitive and invigorating — just like I want my men to be. Here’s a giant shout to their social media rep, who not only needs a raise, but also my phone number.

Who is it for:

If you are really tired of all the apps I (tirelessly) reviewed over the past nine+ weeks, then you should swing the doors wide open for Delta. It’ll probably show up in a tux, bearing a box of chocolates and a bouquet of red roses (or tulips, if you like them). It’ll make sure it talks about all the right things, and woos you with all the right words.

And most importantly, it won’t even make a big deal if you don’t put out at the end of the date (side note: but it’s totally your choice if you want to).

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 6/10

Compatibility: 9/10

Usability: 7/10

Downloadability: 7/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Happn

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Love can be found in the most unexpected places.

If you are the smart, suave Jane Austen novel-inspired hero, you can find love as you rummage through old classics at the bookstore. You can lock eyes with your future soul mate as you order an Old Fashioned at the bar. You can even fall hopelessly head-over-heels in love with a fellow patient in your doctor’s waiting room (just make sure it’s not your therapist). The train station? Obviously. The supermarket? Hell yes. Your nephew’s PTA meet at school – why not? The world is your oyster to shuck. But what happens when you are shy and mild-mannered, and have the self-confidence of a prepubescent teenage boy?

This is when Happn happens.

What it is: Happn is an app for your missed connections. Whether it’s the cute writer whose number you forgot to ask or the attractive waiter at the coffee shop who slipped you an extra cookie, the app lets you reconnect with people when you didn’t get an opportunity to do so. It’s your boost of confidence. Your (slightly creepy) wingman. Your second chance. Your ‘other door’ when the first one slams shut in your face.

Like they say, Happn is a real time playground for love. Now get down and dirty, but beware of the jungle gym of romantic entanglements that never work.

How it works: Happn picks up everyone within a 250-metre radius and presents them to you like an open buffet of opportunities. It’s every stalker’s dream-come-true. Which brings me to June 2017.

I saw him pull over at the signal, as I was halfway through a chicken sandwich. He was inconspicuously tall and conventionally good-looking – and I was mere meters away from staging a meet-cute. He looked at me through his window just as the traffic lights switched from red to green, and my face switched from green to red. Tossing his floppy black hair out of his eyes, he smiled and drove by. I felt my heart race along, but it couldn’t keep up – he’d already zoomed away into oblivion. Was this a burning heart, or heartburn? I threw the last bits of the sandwich away, just in case.

This is where Happn comes in.

Open the app, and watch as it loads up everyone who you’ve potentially crossed paths with in your life (although they need to have downloaded the app and have similar sexual preferences). Recognise someone you might have seen pass by and want to show him that you are interested?

Just send him a heart on Happn, and hope that he sends one back – that’s the secret way of letting a match know that you ‘like’ them secretly, so they won’t know you are interested in them unless they’re interested in you too. If you want to be more persuasive (as I am wont to be), you can even send a ‘charm’, sliding your way into their DMs, or in this case, their match lists with the flair of a self-proclaimed dating coach.

But do remember, Happn has as much probability of connecting you to the hunky model you saw at the bar last night, as it does of setting you up with the creepy neighbour from across the street – the same one who’s always looking at you through his plastic drapes. Stay cautious, stay safe.

What I like about it: On Happn, matches include the company and job title of each user, which makes it easy to do your research if a potential paramour seems particularly dodgy (not that anyone’s career choices are a measure of their shadiness).

What I don’t like about it: Because Happn matches its users with people they’ve physically passed during the day, if the match ends in an uncomfortable conversation, it can feel uncomfortable – and depending on the situation – unsafe for one or both parties if they’re habitually crossing each other commuting to work or otherwise.

Happn also works better in big cities than in small towns. The more people you pass during the run of your day, the higher the chances of meeting the one true love of your life – which means it also automatically increases your chances of being pestered by creeps, douchebags and potential serial killers that you might have passed (without giving a second eye) on the road. Keep your hearts open, but make sure that your eyes are even more so.

Who is it for: For those who believe in second chances.

Just make sure you have a friend on SOS, and the neighbourhood’s ‘sex offender’s list’ downloaded for perusal on your smartphone.

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 6/10

Compatibility: 1/10

Usability: 4/10

Downloadability: 4/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Planet Romeo

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We’ve grinded at clubs with Grindr, scratched away at Scruff’s rough surface and had a tryst with ’90s style dating with Hinge. But what do you do when your needs are more carnal and less ‘Can-we-have-another-spectacular-date-again?’

Look at that app skulking away in the corner? It’s Planet Romeo.

What it is: Planet Romeo is the bane of homosexual existence, but such a necessary evil. A German-based networking portal for LGBT ‘singles who are looking to mingle’, Romeo can rightly be called the deeper end of the online dating pool — don’t get me wrong, I’ve found a handful of interesting people there, but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. For every interesting person you connect with, you have to sieve through a hundred hopefuls of ‘Hi’s’ and ‘Hello’s’, all with ‘a place’, or worse, a bed. It’s the Yahoo chat room of the new millennium.

Only this isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

How it works: Frankly, Planet Romeo is an online directory of men to sleep with — page after page full of profiles of horny men, looking for everything from ‘Now’ to ‘Why not now?’

As a veteran, you feel an odd adrenaline rush every time you log in: the ta-da-ding message alert syncs with your heartbeat (or your libido) and urges you to open the app every 30 minutes (which you will).

Then, as you browse the lists for men you might be sexually interested in, you can decide whether you want to send them a ‘footprint’ (great butt, hot c*ck, fun guy, handsome face, you get the gist), and leave them as souvenirs for the boys you want to keep as souvenirs. Once thoughts (and sexual preferences) match, people exchange numbers, and bodily fluids. Sex has never been so simple.

Since Planet Romeo can get so addictive, most gay men spend a major part of their formative years on it. An anonymous friend has multiple profiles up — one is faceless, asking for ‘discreet M2M fun’, another hides behind a tantalising picture of Ranbir Kapoor. A third, a close up of his excruciatingly well-defined torso seeks immediate sexual gratification, while the fourth shows his face in all its glory, dimples et al — that’s when he’s looking for something serious, but he’s never had to use it yet.

‘I needed to find myself,’ he says to me — and on his way, he found Rajiv, Faiz, Rishi, Kabir and half a dozen other gay men. He likes the variety, he tells me later, as he meets me for a coffee between two dates. ‘Sometimes, if you are lucky, you even get a callback for a threesome’. That’s what he hopes the second one would be, as he gulps down his coffee to boost his sex drive all over again. He’s got the first boy waiting on speed dial.

I have nothing to say, so I simply sip at my iced tea. Rampant sex aside, what’s the plus point of Planet Romeo?

You don’t have to audition to get into anyone’s bed. Unless you want to role-play.

When do you use it: to feed your weekly (or daily, no judging) case of post-midnight blues (or blue balls).

What I like about it: flapping d*cks and a patchwork quilt of sculpted abs aside; Planet Romeo really is very nonchalant about its chief purpose. In so many ways, it’s like your cool aunt who knows about your sexual history, but makes sure she buys you a pack of condoms before you step out for your hot date — Planet Romeo’s info zone shares free (and reliable, unlike WebMD) information about STDs — emphasising the importance of safe sex and condoms.

The fact that it has the largest user base makes this that much more important.

What I don’t like about it: Cluttered with virtual ads, pop up windows and profiles of boys-who’d-rather-pick-your-bodies-than-your-brains, Planet Romeo is as confusing to navigate as your quarterly Zara Sale (sans the clothes, obviously).

But that’s not all. One of the other downsides of Planet Romeo is how NSFW it is for any place apart from the dark confines of your bedroom. Work? Definitely not. Gym? If you don’t want to be deadlifted.  Your daily train rides? Unless embarrassment is the last stop.

 Bonus feature: The upgraded 2018 version of Planet Romeo is full of bonus features (and hopefully, no STDs):

  • Ask Mother: Just like how mothers help nurture a baby, this section offers relationship tips and advice for gay men to nurture their relationships. Unlike your mother, it also tells you to use the app.
  • “G-rated” Version: PlanetRomeo allows nude photos and adult content on their website. However, members who wish to screen out sexual content can choose this option. Think of this like ‘Netflix for Kids’, but secretly hope there aren’t any underage-children here.
  • Automatic Logout: If you are inactive for a period of 10 minutes, you will be automatically logged out of PlanetRomeo. No more catfishing by your colleagues (or your slightly devious friends).
  • Happy Friday: Most of the PlanetRomeoplus features are available for free on Fridays to all its members — Happy Hours for everyone!
  • Planet Radio: When you are browsing through thousands of profiles on PlanetRomeo you can choose to play your favorite internet radio station. Why should musicians have all the fun?

Who is it for: Anyone who’s looking for pure, uninhibited, unadulterated sex. Carry a condom.

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 10/10

Compatibility: 4/10

Usability: 5/10

Downloadability: 9/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Hinge

 

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Remember the ’90s — when internet trolls, post-millennials and online dating didn’t exist? Back when people would set each other up with their friends and ultimately get blamed for heartbreak (or worse, Herpes)?

Well, now there’s an app for that.

Oh hi there, Hinge. When a dating app promises that ‘75 percent of their first dates turn into second dates,’ you know they’ve got their hinges sealed shut.

No puns intended.

What it is: Hinge calls itself the ‘Relationship App’, and it leaves no stones unturned while trying to set you up with your soul mate. It’s like the nerdier (and also less attractive) second cousin of Tinder. And that explains why hardly anyone (read: any gay man) uses it.

How it works: Hinge pools all the singles in your extended friend circles (using Facebook as it’s underlying base) and matches you with the most likely of them, based on a serious of questions and common interests — which you have to ‘like’ to initiate an interaction — reducing the chance to run into a hopeless string of men who are just looking for ‘No-strings-attached’ sex. Hinge believes that swiping keeps you single, and focuses on creating more engaging profiles that reduce users from treating other members like ‘a playing card they’d flick to the left or right’.

Instead, it’ll ask you a set of questions, props you for your interests, and it even bugs you till you upload a picture. Some call it cute; some call it ‘too-much-work-to-get-into-someone’s-pants’ (side note: and yet others call it your mum’s second cousin who drinks too much vodka too early in the evenings).

Do you both love dogs? Lovely.

Is your idea of the perfect date a walk on the beach? Bring it on.

Does hiking on a Sunday morning seem viable to you too? Let’s get the wedding rings ready.

On paper, Hinge is like the Instagram of online dating. Profiles are peppered with gorgeous pictures, tongue-in-cheek answers you would want to tongue-wrestle with and captions that are so witty they could star in an AIB video.

Too bad you can’t ask someone to #FollowForFollow.

When do you use it: If you are really ready to commit, Hinge is the app to commit to — it takes long-term relationships so seriously, it could be your mother.

What I like about it: Unlike traditional dating apps, Hinge sets you up with people in your social circle — making sure that you have common interests  (or friends) that you can talk about over a quick beer (or five, if the friend in question is interesting).

Also it offers great prompts for adding personality to your profile, paving the way with ice-breakers like “We’ll get along if…” and “I did this before it was cool…” making our low-pressure dating app a lot like that always-eager-to-set-you-up friend you wished you had. The only difference?

You don’t even need to buy the app a beer if things work out between you and your date.

What I don’t like about it: Since all your matches are pulled from your friend’s Facebook accounts (while obviously avoiding awkward ex and family ties), any match you encounter will already have someone in common with you — which can either be a great conversation starter, or a deal breaker (because you really don’t want this Facebook friend to be the annoying HR department head from work). But that’s not the only problem.

Hinge, like your friendly, local Aadhar card also shares all your Facebook information. Your age? Sure. Your unsavory political views? Definitely. Your embarrassing religious beliefs? Good lord. And that drunken video of you dancing on the bar in your sophomore year of college?

It’s out there for all your soul mates to see.

Every single one of them.

Bonus feature: Hinge has this gift that just keeps giving. The more you use it, the better it gets to know you — it’s like your best friend sans the unsolicited advice — finding you matches based on people you’ve previously liked (and matched with) before. Goodbye catfishers. Goodbye internet creeps. Goodbye boys-who-slide-into-your-DMs-with-unsolicited-dick-pics.

Who is it for: Disney princes looking for their Disney princes.

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 4/10

Compatibility: 8/10

Usability: 6/10

Downloadability: 7/10

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Scruff

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It’s no secret that Grindr is on a one-app mission to be the centre of the gay universe — especially with its online magazine, a new tapping feature and the rather special gaymoji keyboard. Grindr is thus, the rightful king of all queens.

But what happens when you want your men to have more character (and more importantly, more hair)?

Say hello to Scruff.

What it is: Like Grindr, Scruff is a grid of available, attractive gay men with pictures in various stages of undress. It’s infested with bears, otters, wolves and cubs. Is this an app or a zoo?

It’s a mating ground, but more on that later. Scruff follows Grindr’s tried-and-tested formula: scroll through a near-endless grid of thumb-sized profiles of men with not-so-thumb-sized d*cks.

Only this one comes with a few twists and knots on the way, no puns intended. See, Scruff’s all black, faux-tough guy motif isn’t all that memorable, but every gay man’s second favourite dating app comes with its own set of redeeming qualities — namely a narrowed down user base with millions of guys on the hairier side. And they are all looking for the same thing.

You.

How it works: Being slightly more niche than Grindr, Scruff doesn’t have the same critical mass of users, nor the cultural clout. But Scruff is no nonsense that way. It comes with a purpose — letting scruffy men find their hairier halves. You woof at people you like, leaving them little red notifications of love that they can sniff back to your account. However, Scruff’s standard layout allows four profiles in a row (as opposed to Grindr’s three) — so a guy who looks cute in a tiny, thumbnail picture might not look the same blown up — after all, you don’t want your thumbnail Akshay Kumar to look like Akshaye Khanna when you zoom in. The only silver lining on the scruffy cloud, though?

It allows you to search for like-minded men in other cities (and offer airBnB style travel accommodation for the same), making it ideal for that vacation fling that is hairier and smarter than your average bear.

My own phone screen lights up with a message from one such hirsute hottie. It’s a 32-year-old man from 3,000 miles away. He calls himself Entreflaneur. His interests include art, design, film, aimless wandering and compulsive list making. His photos include well-defined pecs. Have we got ourselves a winner?

I send out a woof before I can even open the message. ‘Can I see how hairy you are?’ asks the Amazonian demi-god. He unlocks his highly NSFW album, where each picture is an advanced Biology lesson.

I blink at my phone — is that the new ‘Hello! Nice to meet you?’

‘I don’t have any pictures,’ I ping back — the woof that I sent him two minutes ago, has probably strangled itself in embarrassment. He never texts back, leaving me to aimlessly wander by myself.

Which I do; out of the app, never to come back again.

When do you use it: Like I’ve said before, Scruff is the hairier, bearier alternative to Grindr, which means that the target audience is here for exactly the same reasons — pure uninhibited sex, 24/7 (so think of it as a convenience store for carnal pleasures, only here they don’t accept cash).

What I like about it: Are you a self-proclaimed pogonophile? Scruff takes the basic dating experience and tailors it to men of the older (and muscular) persuasion. So many sets of abs, so little time. Just make sure you hit them up before they hit someone else.

What I don’t like about it: Since everyone on Scruff has already crossed paths with you on Grindr, there’s a high chance you’ll be someone’s sloppy seconds.

And I don’t mean it in the good way.

Bonus feature: Scruff also offers an exclusive Match feature, which serves up, well, matches. But it only seems to pair people based on what they’re looking for — dates, relationships, fun — not deeper criteria, such as common interests or your (often conflicting) views on Donald Trump’s latest shenanigans.

Who is it for: If you are looking for a quick nookie with men who have some hair on their chest and dirt on their nails, Scruff (as the name rightly suggests) is perfect for you.

 

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 7/10

Compatibility: 7/10

Usability: 8/10

Downloadability: 8/10