For gay men and lesbians, the stigma of dating is almost a cliché. A common joke among lesbians is, "What do lesbians bring to a second date?" The answer: "A U-Haul." Meanwhile, single gay men are often considered promiscuous if they're not attached. While there are sometimes truths to all stereotypes, many often wonder if lesbians really do have an easier time than gay men when it comes to settling down. I have plenty of lesbian and gay friends in long-term healthy relationships, but I frequently ask myself if the differences between lesbians and gay men in the dating world are fact or fiction.
"When you're in your 20s, you're most apt to be less picky about who you date," says Meghann Novinskie, an LGBT dating specialist and the executive director of Mixology, a completely offline matchmaking service exclusive to the LGBT community, with clients in over nine cities across the country. "Before you reach 30," she adds, "whether you are a lesbian or a gay man, you are still trying to figure out who you are and what you have to offer your potential partner, so the 'possibilities' are endless." When you're in your early 20s, trying to establish yourself in your desired career and make a happy home for yourself, whether it be with a partner or not, it is much easier to explore your options in the dating world. Going to bars and clubs is much more acceptable during this time in your life, and you're more apt to explore your options -- especially if you are a transplant from another city.
Novinskie adds: "As a more mature adult, however, dating becomes more challenging, and that's where the stereotypes about lesbians and gay men dating come in to play a bit more." Once you've established yourself professionally, you're more apt to get pickier in what you want out of a partner. "By nature, women are sometimes more comfortable with nesting once they've figured out who they are," Novinskie continues. "I know it sounds stereotypical; however, women are more inclined to look for a more nurturing relationship and working on that. Men, however -- and this goes for straight men, as well -- are wired with that 'grass is always greener' mentality. They may find it harder to settle down or may do so at a later age than women, potentially. I have seen from experience that amount of time going from 'dating' to being in a 'serious relationship' can be shorter for women than it is in men." There are far more opportunities for gay men to meet gay men socially than there are for gay women. Almost every avenue to meet like-minded people is more male-dominated than it is for women in the LGBT community. In most cities, there are far more gay bars than there are lesbian bars, LGBT networking opportunities are geared more toward male members of the community, and there are far more dating websites targeted specifically at gay men than at gay women. "It's a lot to handle if you're a gay man," Novinskie says. "It's extremely easy to keep looking for the next best thing, because the options are so much more readily available for gay men than for gay women. That's not a bad thing, but it can get confusing."
Novinskie explains that there are several reasons why it may seem easier for lesbians to settle down than for gay men. For example, when pairing two men together, it may be easier for them to express their desires sexually than for two women. As a result, two men might have a more sexually gratifying relationship right off the bat than might two women, who may feel that they need to get more comfortable in their relationship before moving forward sexually, hence why women may jump into relationships more quickly. "Obviously, this is not every gay man and every gay woman," warns Novinskie. "However, in my decade of experience matching both male and female members of the single community, it is more common that an LGBT woman would be more inclined to go on a second date with someone because they are more emotionally driven, as opposed to men, who can tend to be pickier. I've always encouraged both LGBT men and women to go on second dates with people that may not be their 'complete package' but they had a good time with on date 1, in order to break down what their concept of the 'perfect match' is."
Gay or straight, man or woman, dating and all the peaks and valleys that come with it is a hard business. "I think that saying it's easier for lesbians to date than it is for gay men is a bit misleading," Novinskie continues. "I think gay guys get a bad rap when it comes to dating, because the ones who are ready and willing to put themselves out there -- doing the legwork, meeting new people and trying new things -- are happily paired off just as quickly and just as seriously as any lesbian couple I've ever seen." It's not about men or women; it's about maturity and the willingness to try and get out of your comfort zone. That is the key to a healthy and successful relationship.