A conversation with that guy who disappeared…
By Bobby Box
My name is Bobby Box and I am a Grindr flake.
I’m not active on the apps right now, but let me tell you, when I was on the digital meat market I was flakier than a stale croissant.
I exhibited my worst behaviour when I first moved to Toronto roughly two years ago. As every Grindr user knows, when you’re visiting or new to an area, you’re a shiny new toy that all the boys want to play with. This rush of attention is addictive, and I was more than happy to chat and send a few suggestive photos. In most cases, this was the furthest I would go.
I wanted to go further, but my insecurities always prevented me. Do my images accurately capture my appearance? Is my apartment clean enough? Do I suck at sex? Am I going to have to deliver on the filthy things I texted?
These are some of the many thoughts that raced through my mind after agreeing to a hookup. The noise from these thoughts – combined with the sexual preparation, making sure my apartment was in order, and the nervousness that comes with meeting someone new – would always outweigh my desires.
Anthony, 28, has only had the courage to meet with three men because his insecurities make him feel unworthy of sexual attention. “I often think: why would a guy like that want me? He’s perfect and I’m not even close to that or to anything that he wants,” he says. “I think the main reason I flake is fear. But it’s not about them, it’s about me and my insecurities.”
Fear is also what keeps Baker, 27, flaking. “I would consider myself a new gay, and not very experienced,” he says. “This is intimidating when hooking up on Grindr because most guys are very experienced.”
Baker’s other reasons are more selfish in nature, citing distance (he will not hook up with somebody more than 20 minutes away) and “circumstances” for flaking. “Chatting up a complete stranger can be exciting and fun when ‘needs’ need to be met because it’s a way to get off,” he says. “Once that need has passed, I normally don’t feel like hooking up with whoever I’m chatting with.”
“Sometimes I’m just not horny,” says Mike, 28. “I try not to do this anymore but there have been many times where I’ll plan a hookup days in advance and if that day comes around and I’m not horny, I will cancel that plan. If I’m not in the mood to fuck or get fucked, I’m not going to go through with it.”
When this happens, Mike will generally say something like “Hey, I’m not in much of a mood to have sex tonight, but if you want to hang or grab a drink I’d be down.” He is often turned down because the person is just looking for sex.
The cost of flaking
What flakers fail to consider is how this behaviour makes the other person feel. “If someone is flaked on, they might experience a sense of rejection, which is hurtful and can trigger existing feelings of insecurity,” says Daniel Olavarria, a New York City-based clinical therapist who regularly works with LGBTQIA individuals. “They might also feel frustrated with the perceived lack of consideration that was shown by the person who bailed.”
Because sex tends to be more prone to impulses, Olavarria argues this could be a reason for the heavy collection of flakes on apps like Grindr and Scruff opposed to more traditional dating apps. “Just as quickly as someone decided to shop for a hookup, they can just as easily change their mind,” he says.
Olavarria believes another reason could be that apps make it easier to dissociate emotionally from the fact that there is a person on the other end of the interaction. “While we intellectually understand that there’s a human being on the other end, we feel emotionally removed, which can be reflected in our behaviour.”
To ease the impact of flaking behaviour, be as communicative as possible. “The truth is, people have the right to change their minds,” Olavarria says. “I don’t want to see anybody following through on hooking up because they feel that they have to, or that they owe somebody something. If you change your mind, communicate that to the other person as soon as you can.”
The message doesn’t have to be lengthy or even require an explanation: just let the other person know you won’t be coming so that they can go about their day. Of course, if there’s short notice, an apology is always good form.
“Sure, they might be upset, which is totally understandable,” Olavarria says. “They may even share some choice words with you. But remember that you are not responsible for other people’s reactions; you’re only responsible for how you treat them. So long as you are operating within your values by being considerate and communicative, then let them work through their own emotions.”
Everybody has their reasons for flaking and everybody has a right to flake if they feel any sort of way – and the other person is free to feel angry if they choose to. No side is right here. What we have to do better is be more mindful of the other’s feelings, because there’s a real person behind that headless torso.
BOBBY BOX is a prolific freelance journalist in Hamilton, Ont. He currently works as contributing editor at Playboy.com and has had the privilege of speaking with the world’s most recognized drag queens, including, most recently, Trixie Mattel and Alaska Thunderfuck. While proud of his work, Bobby is not above begging. He asks that you follow him on Twitter at @bobbyboxington.
A conversation with that guy who disappeared…