Saturday, 28 April 2007

The Man Date

Why do straight men have so much trouble spending time together?

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald ‘Good Weekend’ explores 'The Man Date', based on the New York Times article from earlier this month. (click here for the full NYT article) It seems that 90% of the sober male population has difficulty socialising amongst themselves if it doesn’t involve some kind of business or sport. Going one-on-one with a man for a meal, a walk in the park, to see some art or cinema is fraught with stress.

The concern about being perceived as gay is one of the major complications of socializing one on one, many straight men acknowledge.

Women can do it together without a second thought, and gay guys do it all the time, in fact gay men can ‘man date’ with men AND with women, interacting one on one about things that matter, or things that don’t – just spending time together. And that’s where the straight men lose out again – any date they have with a woman almost always has more than just friendship in mind (ask any woman – that’s why gay men are so popular with women), and their dates with men seem just too riddled with restrictions and embarrassments.

Cooking for a friend at home violates the man date comfort zone for almost everyone, with a possible exemption for grilling or deep-frying. "The grilling thing would take away the majority of the stigma because there is a masculine overtone to the grill," Mr. Discher said.

It’s scary. Another reason that I’m glad I’m gay!

I personally find the interaction I have one on one with my male and female friends some of the most rewarding times I can spend, and I very much look forward to them. I guess I don’t have to worry about people thinking that I’m gay, nor that I’m trying to seduce the women. It engenders a relaxed and more open environment in which anything can and will be discussed, barriers broken, taboos challenged...

Maybe we should all invite a straight male friend for a one on one dinner and introduce them to a whole other world…


Philip said...

Whilst I understand all the tensions mentioned in the article, I don't think that being gay necessarily means that you can escape them. I have a number of straight male friends, and I can remember when they didn't know that I was gay, the awkwardness about meeting up one on one. However, if a straight man feels vulnerable to suggestions of homosexuality, these fears are not going to be allayed on a date with an openly gay man. So, I've noticed that these days, when I do meet them, it does tend to be in group settings, usually including their partners as well. Of course, it could just be that they're more busy now with wives, babies and so on, but it certainly is much more difficult to arrange any sort of get together.

As a single gay man, meeting other gay men one on one carries it's own set of problems, particularly if the goal is to establish some sort of friendship. Oftentimes one of the parties harbours a desire that it become something more, either consciously or not. I've started out a number of such friendships, only to discover after a few meetings that the other party thought it was a slow courtship. At this point an expressed desire to just be friends is usually heard purely as rejection as it's such a popular euphemism for terminating romantic relationships.

The only truly uncomplicated friendships are those between a gay man and a straight woman, unless the gay man in question used to sleep with the straight woman before he discovered boys, but that's another story.

Trevor said...

I was wondering if anyone would bring this up. Certainly the gay man meeting a gay man, especially but not exclusively when both are single, often brings a set of stresses and uncertainties as you described. But I guess where there are new people you are meeting this is certainly more the case. Despite this I have found one on one contact with my friends who are gay finds much less inhibition about any topic of conversation and so discussion is more frank, open, and subsequently more rewarding - but maybe that's just me.