Tag Archives: Hookup Culture

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Bro

 

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Men have always had it easy.

Gay or straight, the laws of online dating have always been balanced. Gay men have Grindr. Straight men have Hinge. But what about straight men looking to woo (or wingman with) other men, you ask?

Say hello to Bro, the app that everyone is talking about.

What it is: Launched in early 2016, Bro promises that it ‘goes beyond using labels, and is for men that are interested in meeting other guys — it’s as simple as that.’ It doesn’t say it’s a sex app (in those many words) — it’s for men seeking friendships, men who want to date, men who want casual hookups and all the permutations and combinations in between — without the baggage of old labels and questions by older relatives.

How it works:  Straight, gay or bisexual — Bro is an all-accepting sausage fest, and has no qualms about it. It’s online dating without typecasting itself as online dating. In fact, Bro advertises itself as the app that welcomes men who don’t feel welcome in the gay community. It finally lets people be what they shouldn’t be embarrassed of being — sexually fluid.  Sexuality is a continuum and not a binary, and bro recognises that. But beneath the blue and white, straight man-friendly exterior, does it really offer anything that Grindr doesn’t?

Yes, and no. There are less faceless torsos, more happy faces of people doing happy things. There’s always been a grey area between the boundaries of sex, relationships and friendship, and when an app asks you whether you are looking to find friendship, fun or ‘whatever’, Bro wins hands down in the grey department, all 50 shades of it.

I am neither a bro, nor am I straight — so I break both the cardinal rules when I decide to try it out — I am not one to shy away from finding true love, even if it’s with a potentially straight man. How do I do as a bro?

Not so well, but I’d let you be the judge of that with my five-day gaycation on the app:

Day 1:

I download the app with the vigour and hope that I usually reserve for the first day of a clearance sale. The app’s interface is bright, multi-racial and eye-catching, which is great — because that’s how I like my boys. After a quick sign up where it chides me for my stats, preferences and HIV status, Bro does what no other dating app does.

It asks me to sort myself.

Am I the beefy Jock Bro? A nerdy Brogrammer?  A muscular GI Bro? A preppy Bro? Casual Bro? Suited Bro? Lumber Bro, Hipster Bro or the ‘surprised-to-see-you-here’ fabulous Bro?

I choose the casual Bro because no hipster would ever admit to being one.

Once I am set, a grid of hopefuls show up — I am slightly disappointed. It’s a sea of men I’ve blocked on Grindr, long forgotten exes, a few friends, and men I’ve always seen around but never spoken to.

I dive in.

Day 2:

I start my second day with a fresh fist bump. It’s Gautam, a video editor who I went on a date with a few months ago. I’ve swiped right on Gautam on Tinder; Woof’d at him on Scruff, and starred him as a favourite on Grindr. I do the only sensible thing left to be done. I send a fist bump back at him, in the awkward way I would in middle school. (Side note: I’ve never really been great at fist bumping — the last person I fist bumped was my three-year-old nephew.)

‘What are you doing here?’ he texts me.

‘I was going to ask you the same question,’ I text him back.

‘Just checking out the scene on the other side of the tracks, bro,’ he pings back. We both have a laugh over it, ending our abrupt conversation with a crisp LOL from each side. We make plans to meet soon, but we both know that we won’t.

That’s the last I hear from him.

Day 3:

I strike up a conversation with a new face: 27-year-old Ankit’s profile says that he’s spontaneous, funny and charming, with a hairy chest. He’s also straight, and inconspicuously (but not surprisingly) from New York.

I say hello with a non-committal ‘Ssup?’ — could this be the start of a sitcom-level bromance (with six season and a movie) where we wingman each other at bars?

I wait for 10 minutes. I wait for an hour. I wait for a whole day.

He never replies, killing my sitcom dreams even before we can shoot a pilot.

Day 4:

Still reeling from the rejection, I open my bro with no new expectations. The app doesn’t disappoint — apart from two requests for my sexual preference, my message inbox is emptier than my heart. I switch off, vowing to never come back again.

I go back the next day.

Day 5:

I get fist bumped by a girl.

She tells me she’s bisexual; I tell her I am surprised. The awkward silence resonates forever, but my relationship with Bro doesn’t.

What I like about it: Like I said, it’s online dating without typecasting itself as online dating. In fact, Bro advertises itself as the app that welcomes men who don’t feel welcome in the gay community. It finally lets people be what they shouldn’t be embarrassed of being — sexually fluid.

But sexually lucid? Not so much.

What I don’t like about it: ‘Bro’ is for men who don’t want to commit — to labels, or a relationship. In fact, men can even ‘fist bump’ each other to show their sign of approval, so that they can be comfortable in their skin when they ultimately do ask each other for a blowjob (they are just one football jersey short of not really questioning their sexuality after using it.) This is my one grouse with the app; it puts heteronormativity on a pedestal.

And that’s the last thing that needs a throne in 2018.

Who is it for: Breaking norms and reestablishing sexual fluidity aside, I realise I wouldn’t want to go find bros before my hos. It’s simply not my cup of tea. Instead, I’d pass it over for a keg of beer and a beautiful boy who wants me for a little more than ‘whatever, bro’.

And for that, I’ve got Grindr and my wine shop on speed dial.

***

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 3/10

Compatibility: 4/10

Usability: 5/10

Downloadability: 6/10

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

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review of Grindr

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Before our smart phones took over and we started swiping right for Mr Right, meeting gay men was as difficult as trying to fit into your five-year-old denims — it required a trip to gay bar nights or connecting via dubious chat rooms on now-forgotten chat portals. Do you want the complete gist? You probably skipped the introductory class of Queer Culture 101.

But, technology has now allowed us to come together and spread our glorious wings (and sometimes, even our legs) wide. If you can order a cab through your phone, why can’t you go cruising too?

The gay dating app is thus, every homosexual man’s paradise: a one-way ticket to companionship, without the hassles of getting your friends or family involved. While there might be multiple dating apps that let you find your potential soul mate based on your picks and your preferences (and sometimes, even fetishes), I’ve decided to start off this new series with Grindr, because it’s the one most gay men would swipe right on, no puns intended (also I am lazy with research).

Don’t know what Grindr is?

I’m here to help. Just keep your notifications on.

What it is: Grindr, in its unfiltered GPS-based glory, presents a wide spectrum of gay culture. Here you can find every type of man; there is every shape, size, colour, and age represented within its Cartesian geo-limits. It’s like an online Pride parade, without the police permissions (unless you are into that) and the long speeches (or into that).

See, the thing with Grindr is that there are smart men, there are witty men, there are hot men, but most importantly there are men who want to meet other men, no strings attached.

How it works: With Grindr, it’s all there already — your facts and figures presented like a supermodel’s vital statistics — men are measured in d*ck pics and distances. There are no surprises here, except the ones you are lying about.

Kartik, a 28-year-old copywriter, met a handsome guy on the app just three months ago — an investment banker, with a plush two-bedroom sea-facing apartment in downtown Mumbai, and a face that could have been on a billboard. The man was gorgeous, had dimples that were deeper than the Mariana trench, and cheekbones so high, they could be on meth — rightly said, he was 30 going on 16 — and everything a guy could ever want to be with (or be). They sent each other flames and devils and whatnots, and literally ‘tapped’ at each other through the night.

The only glitch in the plan?

The banker was only five feet tall — a detail they had both overlooked (the banker forgot to mention it on his profile, Kartik forgot to ask). My copywriter friend never saw him again, and his digits were forever lost in Kartik’s sea of deleted phone numbers, along with all thoughts of moving into his picturesque bachelor pad.

Shallow friends aside, we can’t deny that Grindr demands supreme body confidence — row upon row of glistening torsos (some with heads attached, others cut off just above the Adam’s apple) for your perusal. If a guy doesn’t have a profile picture, it means one of two things — there’s probably nothing worth seeing or your subject is shy. Here, abs after abs dance before your tired, jaded eyes — the bodies melding into one mass of skin-coloured blot, and charisma is squeezed into a short bio, 150 characters or less.

So how do you differentiate between the torsos on ‘the Internet’s most popular gay dating app’? How can you tell whether the six-pack of your choice belongs to your potential Prince Charming or the pervert that everyone rain checks on?

You take your chances, and go meet him. What happens if it doesn’t work out?

Next, please.

When do you use it: While there’s no right time to be on Grindr, it’s advisable that you keep your phones away at bedtime, (only) if you are hoping to find the One — because any man who pings you post-midnight, wanting to ‘get to know you a little bit better’, is only interested in getting to know your sexual fetishes.

On the other hand, if you are looking for something on the side, here’s when to reach out to all the Romeos in your neighborhood:

6 am to 9 am:

Looking for someone to work out with? Hit him up when his morning motivation is up and flaring, and he’s ready to hit the bench press (or the sheets, if you are looking for a different type of cardio) all morning long.

Noon to 3 pm:

Interested in a quickie? The afternoon blues are perfect for an after-lunch liaison — this is when your will to work is at an all-time low, and your need to find a distraction is at an all-time high. Plus, you’ve got to work off those greasy rotis from lunch, don’t you?

5 pm to 8 pm:

Are you thirsty for a quick drink at the local pub? Ring up a boy for a spontaneous date in the evening, because it always beats going back home to an empty apartment.

And if things go well, you won’t.

11 pm and beyond:

Four words. No strings attached sex.

What do I like about it: Finding instant gratification is as easy as making instant noodles.

What I don’t like about it: Finding instant gratification is also as unhealthy as making instant noodles.

Who is it for: Everyone’s favourite dating app is perfect, if you are looking for something beyond companionship and compatibility, unless it’s the sort of compatibility you seek in bed.  Do you want a one-night stand that you can potentially network with in the future?

Say hello to Grindr.

It’s buzzing. Someone’s probably sent you a devil emoji.