Tuesday, February 24, 2015


The countdown is on. In five weeks, I leave my rural incarnation of solitary confinement and return to Vancouver. And one sudden thought rushes to mind:

Maybe I should have rented.

Yes, I bought a teeny, tiny condo. It’s all I can afford in the Vancouver market. It’s one reason I left the city ten years ago.

I’d given Vancouver an eleven-year run. It hadn’t been the right fit. I have always been a big believer in “no regrets” and in never taking a step backwards. But, in truth, there weren’t many options. I am about five years away from my earliest possible retirement and moving to another province (and another pension system) seemed utterly impractical. I have applied to return to the U.S. where I earned two degrees and lived for sixteen years, but U.S. Immigration has my application sitting in a giant slush pile in some basement of some decaying government building. I’ll likely be retired—maybe even dead—before my number comes up.

It was Vancouver by default. Not exactly a rousing endorsement. I’ll make do. Hopefully, I can even thrive. But my current state of All Quiet on the Dating Front has led me to believe that there remains an ambivalence imbalance. The breathtakingly beautiful city is more indifferent to me than I am to it.

In the dating realm, the conventional thinking is there will be more opportunities in Vancouver. Really, how could there not be? But, as anyone will tell you, size isn’t everything. An emphatic “meh” from a significant metropolis can sting more than nonexistent shoulder shrugs from nonexistent gay men in the boonies. I stand to be rejected for me rather than for my home. That’s a scary prospect.

I am starting to wonder if I am simply not a Vancouver kind of man. I’m not outdoorsy enough. Heck, I don’t even own a pair of hiking boots. I have never gone to a yoga class. (No doubt, I’d be a terrible distraction to the instructor. I am stretching. I swear.) And I can’t even name the current coach of the Canucks. Maybe the Vancouver shunning is justified. If only it could be remedied by stocking up on Lululemon gear and traipsing through mud.

On the dating site OkCupid, I rarely get a sniff from a Vancouver guy, even though I state that I live close to the city. In fact, of the last dozen men to “Like” me, not one is from Vancouver. Instead, I’ve piqued some interest in two small towns in Florida, Brooklyn, Palm Springs, a place I’ve never heard of in the U.K., a tiny dot on the map in Missouri, Singapore, Portland, Seattle, Pasadena, Toronto and Panama City. The last ten guys to send a message were from the Philippines, Singapore, Redhill (UK), Calgary, Washington, D.C., two from London and three from Seattle.

Typically, people run dating searches within their geographical area. My results show that either they really don’t like me in Vancouver or I am more attractive when viewed from far, far away. Maybe both. Not very encouraging. I suppose there is that other possibility that single gay men in Vancouver aren’t terribly serious about finding someone. Maybe solo hikes up the North Shore Mountains are all they need to satisfy the endorphins. Perhaps the whole lot is a passive posse. That’s not helpful either for an awkward, shy guy like me.

Yep, I bought in Vancouver. It’s a grand gesture. Do you hear me, Vancouver? This is called commitment. I’m settling in. And already I feel unsettled.

Just what is the immigration policy for Panama anyway?


oskyldig said...

From what I remember of OkCupid, all those incessant quizzes helped build a profile of personality compatibility instead of just labelling oneself. The more quizzes you do, the more of a full picture you get.

I suspect you likely got compatibility matches from afar because statistically finding similar matches would outstretch geographic limitations. But should that make any difference? A connection is a connection, and if you're not willing to invest then that says a lot about a level of commitment you're willing to give into something (we're talking emotionally here, not financially).

Based on reading you over the past year, you profess a high level of interest in pursuing something but it appears to be only on your terms and therefore the "pool" is quite limited. Geography and mutual attraction have been areas of concern, but if one is not willing to try something outside of the comfort range then perhaps they are overlooking things that they hadn't considered before.

I think the biggest pitfall of modern dating is the fact that people can preselect attributes of potential partners and hone in on them that way. Sine misrepresentation is rampant it's a failed system. People used to have to meet people through friends, or float around in social circles with an open mind. Historically even it was a all about financial stability, not about mutual attraction.

Having said this, it wasn't perfect then, and it wasn't perfect now but you complain about a system that you feel does you wrong - then change. I think that if you decide to not conform to something that you don't believe in shows an independence and commitment that would attract like-minded individuals. :)

Rural Gay said...

Hi Oskyldig. I appreciate your regular comments, but I think you are missing much of what I'm trying to say. Perhaps it's an error of mine in communication.

For this specific post, I am not talking about OkCupid's matching system; rather, I am referring to people who have expressed an interest in me. They don't seem to be Vancouver men. Thus, it seems logical to second guess my pending move. (When one is facing a big change, it is natural to second-guess the decision.) In truth, Vancouver men have never really responded to me...and that goes back to the time before internet dating.

I think it is commendable to broaden one's search net. I do try. Physical attraction does still matter, at least it does to me. A more noble person may rise above that. I have never professed to be noble. I have gone on dates with people for whom I didn't feel a strong attraction to and, in the end, it only let both of us down.

I have put myself out there time and again. I have tried to go into each date with a sense of hope. I have done everything I could to hold up my end of the conversation. Still, I remain single.

I have been determined with this blog to be as honest as possible and to provide a perspective that other single gay men may find relatable. I have worked at improving myself; not sure what sort of change you are suggesting.

If I do appear to "complain" it is a familiar refrain that chronically single people revert to all too frequently. It does not consume me. This blog has a limited focus. It is intended to be about the experiences of a gay man's experiences--often struggles--arising from or exacerbated by a choice to live in a rural area. For reasons that should be self-evident, the frustration has increased.

I have had positive feedback from some of my lighter pieces, topics of gayness in pop culture and some of the oddities about what is supposedly part of a gay culture. Sadly, I have not had as much inspiration to write on such topics in the past year. My humor has been dulled and that troubles me far more than being single.

This year has been the biggest challenge of my life and very little of that is directly related to dating challenges. Still, I've had to be more self-reflective and I'm sure that comes off as self-absorbed at times. I once had a half-full view of life; unfortunately, I'm stuck in a half-empty funk. Sorry about that. No one would be more relieved than I would be if I were to snap out of it!

A return to urban life is not an instant fix. Work will still be necessary. I shall have to continue to put myself out there. I shall have to continue to reflect on how I can improve. (And, yes, I shall continue to seek professional support as well. This is part of a recognition that I do have much more work to do.) All this rural blame has become all too convenient. I would never deny that.

Upcoming posts will continue to refer to limitations and disappointments related to online dating--at least until other options are possible after my move. I have a hunch that there will be more writing about the transition from rural back to urban. I will continue to be cautious in my thinking. I know the journey will not be entirely rosy. The writing allows me to rein in some of the hope. IT's a survival tactic. Should there be a letdown, the fall won't be as great.