Dec 2, 2014
Both activities are interesting and pleasurable, but cruising has one goal: to find a physically-attractive partner for immediate erotic intimacy.
Dating has several goals -- to engage in entertaining activities, to have interesting conversations, to be seen with someone attractive, and ultimately to find a long-term romantic partner.
But it's not as simple as sending a text to an attractive guy asking him to dinner next Friday night. Gay dating has its own rules, procedures, and protocols that differ considerably from cruising.
And, for that matter, from heterosexual dating.
Here are 15 simple rules of gay dating.
(I am assuming that you are the one who suggested the date, and that it has the traditional five segments: Meeting, Entertainment, Dinner, Dancing, and Return.)
How and where do you meet for the events?
1. If you suggested the date, you must call for him at his home. It is uncommon and in rather bad taste to meet at the Entertainment Venue, so only suggest it if there is an excellent reason, like you live right next door and he lives 50 miles away.
2. You must also pay for the activities, although it is polite for him to offer to pay his share. If the activities are very expensive, you can ask in advance if he would mind chipping in, but, again, that is in bad taste.
3. Sometimes gay men aren't clear on whether you expect friendship or romance, so a kiss before leaving his home will alleviate his concerns.
The Entertainment Venue
Traditionally a movie, but live theater or a sporting event work as well, anything which allows you to be together for a couple of hours without having to make conversation.
4. Heterosexual couples have no qualms about holding hands, hugging, or kissing in the midst of any entertainment venue, but gay couples must be careful. If he rejects your physical gestures, it doesn't mean that he is not interested -- he may just be being cautious.
5. Even without physical contact, you will get stared at, as most heterosexual buddies who attend entertainment venues together try to sit with a seat between them, lest they accidentally brush knees.
Dinner occurs after the entertainment, to give you something to talk about.
6. If the restaurant is not in a gay neighborhood, you will be asked "How many in your party?" and "are you together or separate?" repeatedly. The host and servers are unaware of the existence of gay people, and assume that you are two buddies hanging out together.
7. If the restaurant contains a bar, half-drunk ladies will also assume that you are two buddies hanging out together, and thus up for grabs. They will send you drinks or ask to join you. Reject them tactfully.
8. Dinner conversation should not include coming out stories, analyses of the faults of ex-boyfriends, or discussions of favored sexual positions.
The fourth segment of the date is dancing or some other physical activity, such as ice skating, to work off the stupor of dinner and prepare you for an energetic good-night kiss.
9. Only dance in a gay club. If you try it in an establishment that is for heterosexuals, you will get stared at and joked about, and you may be assaulted in the parking lot.
10. When you are not on the dance floor, both you and your date will be hit on. You can lessen the number of interlopers by physically touching him at all times, signaling "This one is off limits." But that won't deter the most oblivious.
The date is not over until you escort him back to his home and say "Goodnight."
11. For heterosexuals, the invitation to come inside is optional, but for gay couples, it is mandatory, primarily because it is too risky to attempt a kiss on the doorstep. If he does not invite you into his home, or if you do not accept, there will be no second date.
12. Once you are inside, a kiss followed by physical intimacy is expected, but not mandatory. If you are not in the mood, just say "I want to take things slow," and you can postpone the bedroom to the second or third date, no questions asked.
13. If you decide not to "take things slow," you must spend the night. If you get dressed and go home when the bedroom activities are over, the evening has become a hook-up, not a date.
14. And bring condoms, in case he doesn't have any of his own.
15. Serial dating is frowned upon in gay communities: if the first date was satisfactory, then you date only that person until the relationship ends or becomes a friendship. Therefore, you should call or email him within 24 hours, either to plan your next date or to explain that you are no longer interested.
See also: 15 Rules of Gay Cruising.