This article has actually been several years in the making. What you’re about to read is a process that I documented as my partner and I made a tree change.
We left the city – and all of our friends behind. My question was – would it be possible for two gay guys (a couple in a long-term, monogamous relationship) to make new friends in a small, rural area?
Does making gay friends get harder as you get older?
It’s not all about age, but I think age certainly is a factor.
Your twenties are all about finding yourself and making new friends wherever life may take you (overseas, uni, new job). By the time you reach your 30s, there’s a certain expectation that you’ve made the friends you’re going to make, and now it’s time to settle down.
Part of settling down involves honouring whatever commitments we’ve made in our lives, whether they be to our partners, families, careers, or the bank in the form of a 30 year mortgage.
As a by product of our commitments, we have less time for our existing gay friends, much less the time and energy needed to make new ones.
Another part of it may be to do with becoming pickier as we get older. As we know ourselves better, we develop a criteria that we apply to new people we meet, based on what we’ve experienced to work and not work before.
This can be a good thing as it steers us away from the people we don’t want to have in our lives, but as we sharpen our focus, the available pool of meeting suitable people shrinks considerably.
Then there’s also the fact that we’re only looking for gay friends, and not to hook up (which ironically feels like it would be easier). While there are a plethora of hook up apps, there aren’t as many gay friend apps, are there?
It seems that in the abundance of available casual sex, room hasn’t been made for those genuinely looking for friendships, and people to hang out with.
I know that this isn’t a new thing in the gay community (only the medium is different), but it still leaves me a bit confused. Even when I was single (and I was single for a looooong time), I would have always chosen friendship over fucking (Well at least 95% of the time).
My approach to making new gay friends is a bit mixed. On the one hand, I’m optimistic that it can happen. After all, my partner and I are smart, fun, friendly guys. Why shouldn’t we be able to make new friends?
On the other hand, are all the issues I outlined above.
So here is how the process of making new gay friends has unfolded for me.
(Out of respect for their privacy, I’ve chosen not to include the names of the people I am talking about).
2012 – A very random, almost weird meeting
In late 2012, a random Google search led me to trying a new hair removal therapist. At this stage, my partner and I were still living in the city, so the new place I chose was literally the closest one to where we lived.
And how random is this? My therapist was a) gay and b) lived in the very suburb my partner and I were moving out to!
Was it a sign? I didn’t know, but we exchanged numbers and said we should keep in touch.
2013 – Making first contact
Buying your first house is super exciting – and also super stressful. But in very early 2013, we moved into our brand new, first home together.
Over the course of a few months, we reached out to our new friends and began catching up. We’d go over to there place for dinner. They’d come over to ours. That sort of thing. It was actually a really nice, chilled way to get to know each other.
2013/2014 – We become friends
The great thing about the way our friendship is unfolding, is that it’s happening in what feels to me, to be a very natural way. We’ve each invited the other couple over for dinner. We’ve spent time getting to know each other.
The guys even helped us out by lending us some tools to help out with our landscaping. Everything has been easy, stress-less and drama free so far. And I’m confident that it will continue this way as well.
I’m also really enjoying the fact there’s a level of respectfulness to all our interactions. We ask questions of each other, and genuinely listen to the responses. We’re getting to know each other and everyone is interested in what everyone else has to say.
One of the concerns I had before beginning this friendship is I wondered if it would feel real. Would this be a friendship of geographical convenience more than anything else? I’m happy to say that isn’t the case. Being geographically close definitely helps, but it’s by no means the only reason we’re becoming friends.
I realise we’re lucky that our first new friendship out here is turning out to be a positive experience. Maybe that won’t always be the case as we seek to make new friends, maybe it will. Either way, I’m loving getting to know new people and sharing this experience with my partner.
I guess this whole experience has, and is, answering the questions I had about how to approach making new gay friends after 30. I’m learning that it doesn’t matter where you live, how old you are, or whether you’re in a relationship or not, making new friends is possible if you’re open to it!
2015 – Friendship over?
The friends that we made living out here, have turned out not be such nice guys after all. It turns out what I was seeing and experiencing in my friendship with them, wasn’t actually the case.
Living in a small community, everyone knows everyone else’s business. I unfortunately discovered that our new friends were actually bitchy, weird and possibly not nice people. Basically all the outdated, stereotypical assumptions made about gay guys. Which really sucks!
I really wanted to like these guys. And I tried. I made a lot of effort. I helped them out when they needed a hand. I listened to them as they recounted all the issues that were going on in their lives. I listened. I included them. I was being what I consider to be a good friend. The problem was it was all a one way street.
It didn’t start out that way. At the start, things were balanced and in alignment. But over the course of 18 months, that slowly shifted. And it shifted so slowly that it was almost unnoticeable. Almost
I did sort of felt there was an imbalance at times, but I would brush it off. I kept saying that eventually we’ll get to a point where they take an interest in what’s going on with me. We’ll eventually get to a point where they invite me and include me in what they’re doing. We’ll eventually get to a point where I ask them for a favour.
Needless to say, that day never arrived.
On the one hand, I am kind of bummed that I didn’t see this coming. I could hear the little internal whispers telling me something wasn’t right. But I chose to ignore that, overridden by a desire to make friends – seemingly not even great friends – at any cost.
On the other hand, I am who I am. I am a giving guy. I do take an interest in my friend’s lives. I’m always happy to help. So I don’t want to change or limit that part of me either. That may mean that sometimes it creates an energetic imbalance in my friendships.
Hopefully with awareness, I can be on top of it, and take steps to prevent it from becoming something that damages my friendships. Still a work in progress on that one, I guess.
So, as this friendship was deteriorating (it happened slowly, probably over the course of 6-8 months), my partner and I were still committed to the idea of making more gay friends in the area. We were still open to the idea of meeting guys who just wanted to be friends to hang out with.
Can you make friends on Grindr?
Now I’m not saying it’s impossible to meet friends on Grindr (or any other social/hook up app). Our experience though, was that we didn’t.
We organised two ‘friendship dates’. During out initial chats with both couples, we clearly outlined where we were coming from, and what we were looking for. In other words, we made it really super clear that we were just looking for friends – not sex.
We also made sure there was a compatibility and a lot of conversation before we decided to meet up. We were looking for common interests, hobbies and just general points of view. Living close was no longer the sole (or main) criteria.
And then we met up with them.
Just like relationship dates, friendship dates (especially the first one) can be awkward. There’s just no way around it. Everyone’s nervous. You’re not too sure of what to say. You don’t know what they think of you. And what do you think of them? All that fun stuff!
But we got through it and it was so-so OK. Not an ideal wavelength match, but OK enough to possibly continue catching up and seeing whether we had more in common.
But afterwards, we found out that both couples we met are actually in open relationships. That doesn’t bother me. You can be in an open relationship and still have gay friends that you don’t sleep with, right? I think so. Turns out, these guys not so much.
So basically we’ve had no further contact with either couple (generous offers to join them in their jacuzzi aside).
Where I am today
Fast forward a few years and we get to the present day. My early 30s are now making way to my mid to late (gulp!) 30s. And the idea of making new gay friends has in many ways, come full circle for me.
After our disastrous Grindr friendship dates, I began to look at myself and question why I was doing this. Why was I going to such lengths just to make gay friends? It stopped being about them. I turned the focus inwards to get a better understanding of why this was so important to me.
If I had to boil it down to one thing (and there are a lot of factors at play here obviously), it would come down to inclusion.
I’ve never felt like I’ve been included in the gay community. I didn’t really go to gay bars or clubs much during my 20s. I don’t look like the images I see in gay media. I don’t relate to so many things that have become associated with gay guys (being into fashion, fabulousness or Madonna). I’ve never really found my own gay tribe I guess.
But hey, please don’t think it’s all doom and gloom because it isn’t. Over the past 6 months, I’ve really started to let go of this desire to make new friends – gay or otherwise. I’ve come full circle in my thinking. Having gay friends has never been important to me. Having good friends, is.
And I’m very blessed to have some amazing people in my life. Why should it matter what their sexuality is? Together, we form a tribe that transcends sexuality, personality, age, income bracket and all that other stuff. In a way, none of that matters.
I’ve also reached a level of acceptance with things. Whether its friends, or work, or love or anything else in life, I’m much better at accepting where I am. My focus is now on appreciating what I’ve got and being open to whatever may come my way in the future.
And ultimately for me, it boils down to this:
As long as you have a few good people in your life
who love, care and respect you
as much as you love, care and respect them,
isn’t that all that matters?
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