Toronto
3 min

If you don’t want to call, don’t call

I'm sick of all this passive-aggressive dating

Credit: Xtra files

Having recently re-entered the “scene” after a prolonged period of sexual hibernation, I was delighted to learn that some things never change.



All the old emotional landmarks are still out there – the twitchy tension, the defensiveness, the fast come-ons and the equally fast retreats. If ever a community lived and died by the mixed message, this is it.



There’s the guy who insists you call but doesn’t return your messages.



There’s the guy who complains avidly and vocally that you haven’t called him, though he could have called you and hasn’t, leading you to suspect that what he’s really interested in is not the finer points of your personality, but rather a little ego fluffing. (“Call me so that I know I’m desirable.”)



And then there’s the guy who goes home with you but doesn’t appear to want sex. This is my favourite (irony fully intended). I call these guys The Logs, because they just lie there, lifeless except for their derelict dicks. For the life of me, I will never understand the appeal of this passive approach to sexuality, popularized in the 19th-century under the trade name, “Just lie there and think of England.”



It seems to lack a certain excitement, not to mention mutuality. Indeed, to the untrained eye, it might even suggest a lack of libido. But then I still labour under the illusion that sex is a pleasure to both parties.



But the worst and most puzzling aspect of gay dating is the phone number that isn’t a phone number.



Call me crazy, but I tend to think of a phone number as an invitation, a first step in forging an acquaintance. In the gay world, however, it’s often quite the reverse, the hastily scribbled equivalent of, “Let’s do lunch.”



I understand people who exchange phone numbers at a party or on the street and then never use them. They changed their minds, they got cold feet, they developed a sudden aversion to intimacy, they suddenly remembered they already had a boyfriend. These things happen. So what?



I also understand tricks who walk out the door without a backward glance, let alone a forwarding address. The message there is pretty clear.



I even understand people who give out a phone number in a bar because it’s easier than saying, “I’m not interested.” None of us is quite as “adult” as we’d like to be.



What I don’t get are the guys who trick out with you, have no intention of repeating the encounter, and still leave their phone number. And not even a fake number, but a real one. What’s that about? I mean, if you’re not interested, say “Thanks,” and leave. You’re under no obligation. We weren’t talking “marriage” at 2am last night at the Barn.



And yet guys still leave phone numbers when they mean the opposite, leading to much misunderstanding and a general feeling of being jerked around.



I still remember a trick from years ago, who, much to my surprise, insisted on getting together again, and then spent the next two weeks coming up with ever more inventive excuses as to why we couldn’t. He didn’t even have the decency to use transparent excuses like, “I’ve got to wash my hair.” He kept coming up with vaguely plausible excuses like,”My brother’s in town,” so that I never knew exactly where I stood. Was he really busy or just uninterested?



Of course, a good rule of thumb is: If they want to see you, they’ll make the time. But hope springs eternal.



I know, I know. It’s a bit much asking people to be honest and straightforward in matters of the heart. Most of the time, we don’t have the foggiest idea what we ourselves want, let alone the ability to tell others.



Still, he could have saved us both a lot of trouble just by exiting without a farewell glance. But, no, he had to cover his guilty little gay ass.



And that’s what it’s often about, I think – guilt. The standard party line is that we’re all out there screwing around like crazy, having a great time and feeling free and easy about it. But most of us carry just enough conventional morality to make casual sex somewhat suspect. So we toss out a phone number and pretend that we wanted romance and respectability when really all we wanted was a little short-term action.



And maybe that’s okay. Maybe craziness and confusion are just part of the mating dance. At least if you exchange phone numbers there’s the possibility of further engagement. And if the other guy doesn’t want to pursue it, well, at least you can have a long and meaningful chat with his voicemail.