Why does it seem like if you want to successfully date a guy from Boston you have to move from Boston to make it happen?
Why is it so hard to get a date in this town?
Everyone says ‘lets get together!’ but nobody wants to do anything if it doesn’t involve sex.
How do you make friends in this town where everyone already has their ‘circle’?
This isn’t from Sex And The City and I’m not Carrie Bradshaw. This is what I hear from people in Boston
I moved to Boston in 1994 and I had a few friends in the area. Two were girls and we hung out as much as we could but they had dates and lives etc. I loved them and was happy to hang with them but I didn’t really integrate into their social circle. A buddy of mine ended up moving here for a year, we hung out a lot but he wanted to do very little besides go to the bars get drunk. I mean that’s fine, but I wanted to lift with someone or go hiking, or explore the city or God forbid go to an actual movie. The people I worked with were amazing and I made special friendships that I cherish. But we didn’t live anywhere near each other and they had their lives in place.
The gym I joined was great and full of people as serious as I was, but they were all townies and no one talked to me, or talked back if I tried to engage. No one, and I mean I’m not some intimidating musclehead or anything. So I kept my head down and just lifted my weight.
My roommate was really friendly and always invited me to tag along with her and her circle of friends who included guys and girls. But it was always kind of a veiled invite. Like “we may be here or there, and always end up at this place, its right down the street”. The 2 times I took her up on it, I never managed to find them and it became clear that to Boston locals ‘right down the street’ was code for ‘anywhere within a 5 mile radius’.
I was also not the person I am today. I was insecure, reserved, not used to not having my own squad around and I still thought I was straight, so there was that. Hard eye roll.
Fast forward…I’m gay, I’m out to my wife, I’ve met some really great people and established a group of ‘acquaintances’. But it wasn’t until I actually moved from the family house that I had been able to establish really strong bonds with people. And that wasn’t easy as they all had their own groups of friends. There was a lot of ‘hey lets definitely get together, call me during the week. Let’s have lunch. We’ll have you over!’ And the like. Those invites rarely panned out.
But I don’t hold this over anyone’s head. I had kids and a budget and those two things don’t jive well with gay culture so my entry was slow. But I love being social and it’s never something I really was able to achieve as a ‘straight guy’.
I didn’t join the sports league, I don’t have a gay chorus-ready voice, and my availability to go gay day tripping or Sunday Funday was non-existent as my kids were growing up and I know other dads that ‘integrated easier’ than me but that was a matter of choice. I blew off Boston pride last year because my kids were headed to the beach with their mom and that sounded infinitely more fun than the block parties. No regrets, choosing my kids or a beach over anything else is always a win. But that’s me.
I didn’t date in Boston. I was married, I had kids, I came out, it was a while before we separated and I moved out. I met a guy in NYC I clicked with right off and spent some amazing years with. When that ended a man I knew as a friend turned into something more. So while I can’t speak to why dating in Boston sucks, or just sucks for some, I can vouch for what I witness or hear. And I can call on the coven and ask them what the deal is.
I thought this would be easy. I had heard so many people have so many bad things to say about dating in Boston, but when the polls closed the data varied vastly. So I had to ask..
Is it Boston or is it you?
Some of the stories I hear of people trying to break into social circles in Boston are just as difficult as mine because of the that one thing:
The Townie Effect.
If you’re not from here and have you’re circle why should we open ours to you?
Unless of course you come here as a Boston sports fan, or if you play sports, then it goes like this:
Move to Boston
Move into new place
Start New job
Join a gay sports team
Socialize with gay sports team
Attend Pride and/or applicable gay-type Ptown theme week
Make yourself available for coffee, dates or sex
Boom you’re good.
But what if you don’t like sports?
Ohhhh…well then. You really are a horse of a different color.
A few of the people I polled for this blog came from out of state and knew people here. Its easier to assimilate of make friends and get to know people when you have a built in wing man for sure. But that doesn’t guarantee success with friends or dates.
One such man is Scotty. I love Scotty. He came to town and knew one of my closest friends and he was not like everyone else out there. He’d be happy to be just standing by watching me (no, I mean like not me but other people) make a fool of themselves on the dancefloor. He had some dates and was usually pretty chill about it. He played flag football and was big and buff and blond, and he has this southern accent… yeah Scotty was popular wherever he went but I liked him because he was actually a really great guy. And when he met his really great guy, he locked in and we never saw him again. Well it wasn’t quite like that but he was happy and spends the majority of his time with his man, their dog and at their house in Ptown. He made it.
Another case in point was much different. I was in Ptown at an outdoor bar chatting with some friends and this young 20-something kid bounces up. He grabs my hand and shoves it in his ass-crack. I pulled it out and gave him some side-eye (no Scotty, I didn’t just make out with this one!), so he turned to my friend and did the same thing. One of the other guys told him to bounce on by the adults are chatting. Later that fall this young man moved to Boston and was also friends with some friends of mine. He joined our circle and would go out with us but he really had a different attitude. He was always harsh on the people of Boston because he couldn’t find friends with things in common or dates with guys he liked.
He liked a very specific type, his scope was narrow. But not impossible. But he was the type to find them on the hookup apps or the club events and then ask for dates after sex.
He also ‘dissed the friend groups he was establishing, and quite easily. It was autumn and guys in Boston were on this Friday-Night-Pot-Luck kick. Rotate people’s houses and have friends for dinner. This young man hated them. He wanted to go out to the bars Friday but “no one goes out Friday in Boston, uch…”
I had a pang of jealousy because honestly no one invited me to these and I knew all the people and was friendly with them. But just the same had I been invited I’d have likely said no because Friday night was movie night with my boys and I’m not missing out on Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 just for pansy pot-luck.
This young man lasted about a year and a half in Boston and never found that one tall rich muscle daddy bear that likes to go out on a Friday night. I’m sure he’s happy in NYC where there is a higher tolerance for bouncing bumbles.
Some of the people I polled lamented that if it wasn’t a sex-based situation then people weren’t interested. If the sex was really good they’d be up for that again but ‘coffee or dinner over the weekend?’ and something suddenly came up.
So why is this?
One of the guys I know who had a very difficult time with the gay men in Boston moved to the opposite coast in disgust, another moved from Boston and found the west challenging but not necessarily better, although his Boston experience wasn’t bad at all.
One had a horrible time, and gained an unfortunate reputation, and one came, saw and conquered the social scene. Made a ton of friends and dated a lot of great guys.
Chatting with this guy Neil years ago, originally he moved here with a bf and it was difficult to make friends and when he was eventually single he made it very clear he wasn’t entertaining anything if it didn’t involve coffee, a good beer or an activity that allowed us to get to know each other. He stuck to his guns and didn’t just jump into the sex pool to find men he liked. So dating wasn’t so tough when he set the expectations. While his current town has a smaller population, he finds it much more friendly than Boston.
I talked to a lot of guys before I wrote this and expected to call it ‘Bashing Boston in The Best Gay Way’ but really its been great for so many people. Two guys had positive things to say about Boston dating but mixed on finding friends. They both lived in NYC but one found it so much better and one found it just exactly the same people. So what does this say?
“Yeah but…” is a constant theme in my story however I can say this: I know some great guys here but it hasn’t all been easy. The two besties I mentioned earlier? One travels for his job and is always away. The other just decided not to be friends with me at one point. It took a long time to get over that. My friend circle was tightly tied to him and my wanting distance from him meant being distant from a lot of others. Ironically no one seemed to notice my lack of presence enough to reach out. I’m not complaining, just an observation.
So last summer I decided I just needed to find someone that wanted to go to the movies, get takeout, play backgammon or go car-shopping for no reason. And not have any expectations other than just friendship. With all the people I knew in Boston you wouldn’t think it would be so tough but it was. I remember getting an invite from a great guy one night but thinking “I want the DQ but then I just want to go home”. He was disappointed.
And then, I saw this guy on my ‘people you may know list’ on facebook. I hit him up and after a lengthy bout of harassment - the kind I would have blocked someone for right away - he agreed to meet for a drink. I liked this person. He liked me. It was weird because we just sat there and got to know each other with no intentions other than maybe being friends and that wasn’t even a given from the start. We started to hang out and we didn’t even talk about sex. Weird. Okay time went by and we ended up together but it was after a mutual respect and understanding was established. And after a lot of movies and bad take-out and three long weekends driving around the state car shopping. Yup. I liked him, eventually more than just a friend and I wanted him around all the time.
There is a vast amount of great men in Boston and everywhere, and some people’s experiences are based on their expectations being too high or too low. That goes with finding friends or lovers.
But looking around at the wonderful people I know who have longed to love and have love to give and just want to be around someone with similar interests it is clear:
If you can’t find common ground with people, through sports, movies, song, art, comic books or other social activities then you aren’t looking in the right places. I shouldn’t have to spell this out but social media is the new yellow pages, look up Boston gay sports, boston gay chorus, boston gay dads, boston gay social scene or #thingstodoinbostonwhenyouregay. Somewhere out there is someone who likes the same things you do and whether you are from here or just moved here you can find them if you really try.
It’s not Boston. It’s you.
It’s about your attitude
It’s about your availability
It’s about your openness
And its about your smile.
I’m not lying with that last one.
Granted Bostonians are a tough lot and the gay community is very inter-judgemental. But it can be NYC, Atlanta, Houston, San Diego, Denver, Chicago or Gary, Indiana it is what you make of it. Okay not Gary, Indiana, even Superman won’t help those people. But you get what I mean.
Be open, be available, and smile at your barista and tell him you just moved to the area and maybe he’ll buy your triple mocha no foam latte or let you know about the gay social event Thursday nights at Lawn on D.
And if you really want a date, a real date, put the apps down. Post less pics of you flexing and more of you smiling, and then go out and meet some people, get outside and people-watch, take that shade of your face and smile and let the world know you’re happy and secure with yourself.
Your attitude alone will draw a crowd.