There's no app more controversial in the gay/bisexual male community than Grindr. With casual and anonymous sex now at our fingertips, Grindr has changed how gay and queer men interact both sexually and relationally. No longer scarce, sex can be had anytime, anywhere, with anyone, doing anything imaginable.
There are men who lament Grindr, citing it as the downfall of the gay community. They believe it's led to the death of chivalry, honest connections and the old-fashioned, let's-grab-a-drink-and-get-to-know-one-another dating world. On the other hand, there are men, like myself, who say, unequivocally, that Grindr has had a positive impact of their life. And not for the obvious reasons: It allowed me to explore my sexuality, I met some unlikely friends, I even dated a guy or two I met on Grindr. While these things have occurred for me, they're somewhat expected from meeting new people in any capacity. The more people you meet, the more likely you're going to make friends and potentially date.
But now after using Grindr heavily for four months, I can say there were some additional, unexpected outcomes that made me more confident, happier and less naive. Here they are:
1. Learned how to talk with awkward men from all walks of life
I don't say that much prior to inviting someone over to meet up, and I've met men of all ages, races, education level and socioeconomic status. I've met up with married men and men on the down low. Some of these men have been sociable and charismatic, but more often than not, the initial meet up is somewhat awkward. Guys, expectedly, are nervous. I used to be one of the guys who was awkward and uncomfortable, but through repeated experiences, I realized there's nothing to be awkward about. I learned how to make small talk (and sometimes even have more serious talks). And this talk, the pre-sex talk, is more charged than any other talk I have. I've learned, if you're able to comfortably speak to a stranger, knowing you're about to have sex, you can honestly learn to speak to anyone, in any capacity.
2. Being kinky in the sheets says nothing about a man's personality outside the bedroom
I always thought, incorrectly, that kinky people must have something in common. A need for control, a yearning to alleviate the boredom from the monotony of everyday life or a troubled upbringing with childhood trauma. Through Grindr, I've learned this is far from the case. Sometimes there's nothing more to it. A lot of people are just kinky. It says nothing about them as people, and there's no larger meaning besides the fact they like a little adrenaline rush. I've had every type of sex imaginable, from vanilla to pistachio and there's no telling who is going to be interested in what.
3. Unlikely people will lie to you
You cannot be too safe. I wear condoms around 90 percent of the time. I'm by no means perfect, and because of this, I take Truvada as well. Being on PrEP allows me to breathe a little more easily when I have a slip-up. I don't feel like shit the next morning, convincing myself I've acquired HIV. With Grindr, I've slept with men who have been dishonest about their status. There was one man, I only learned after the fact, from his friend, that he was HIV positive. We didn't use a condom and I incorrectly assumed, because I had asked if he was safe, that he was HIV negative. I had a panic session after we slept with one another and got tested 10 days after and then 30 days after exposure. I tested negative, but learned the sad fact: You can't be too safe. 90 percent isn't enough. Always err on the side of caution. Always.
4. People are genuinely good
After that less than ideal experience, I still didn't lose hope in Grindr or all of gay mankind. I learned my lesson and proceeded with caution. That said, most of the guys I meet up with are genuinely honest, good people, just looking for a release. A horny person is not a "bad" or "shallow" person. Sleeping around doesn't mean that person is insecure or addicted. Sometimes, connecting sexually, however ephemeral that connection may be, is just enough to make us feel connected to humanity. Instead of seeing that as depressing, why not have the opposite point of view? We're lucky Grindr facilitates these connections. So yes, many men on Grindr may be somewhat awkward, horny and looking for love in the wrong places, but for the most part, they are normal, healthy and genuinely good people.
5. I got better, more confident and more comfortable during sex
Practice makes perfect. Alas, striking out the same batter doesn't mean you're a good pitcher. Just means you know how to pitch to one hitter. You not only need different batters to know if you're a solid pitcher, you need to learn which pitches works best for each batter. You need to learn how to read men to know whether you should be throwing a fastball or curveball. You need to take some risks. Throw a knuckleball in there and see what happens.
So Grindr, just like anything in life, is what you make of it. If you use it to facilitate a sexual addiction, cheat on your partner or avoid serious relationships, then it's not going have a positive impact of your life. If the vulgarity and abrasiveness of the men on the site cause you to become misanthropic and depressed, then Grindr isn't right for you. If you're looking for love, you've come to the wrong place. But if you're looking to learn a little bit more about yourself through stepping outside your comfort zone, then Grindr experimentation has the capacity to change your life for the better.