Being as I am someone who just turned 29 recently, I know all too well about the bear app culture affecting my generation and others. With the age that I am, I didn’t live through a world where the norm was meeting a guy at a bar, cruising at gay hot spots and relying on a rotary phone in order to connect with a potential dating prospect or hook up one per se. With the internet generation in full swing, we were introduced to gay chat rooms back in the day with AOL amongst others that slowly shifted into gay men’s chat sites such as Gay.com, Manhunt, Adam4Adam and of course the original one for bears… Bear411.
When the app culture became apparent, a lot of those websites sort of became antiquated and made room for prevalent bear apps such as Scruff, Growlr and Daddyhunt. One of the earliest articles on this site was why a primarily bear friendly app (Scruff) was better than a primarily twink friendly app (Grindr). You can read that here. There has also been the epic debate on dating in the bear and gay world and seeing if its extinct or evolving, where most people I have asked had strong opinions on one or the other. Question is when it comes to extinct or evolving, do bear apps help or hurt that cause and are they the reason for the downfall of long term dating and monogamy and the rise of open relationships, polyamory and so much more?
As a preface, the question asked above does not mean that I am judging how each individual man wants to find a significant other or others. The “New Normal” has come in, and when it comes to bear apps, you can find whatever new normal works for you and go for it. There are incredibly positive points when it comes to using those apps. It doesn’t always have to be for dating or fucking, you really can find someone of similar interests and develop a great friendship out of it. Heck, it happened for me multiple times. When it comes to sex, you can find out ahead of time if what you are into mutually works with the other person (or persons) so when it comes time to get naked there isn’t any awkwardness and its really straight forward.
Dating however on these apps seem to come with a ton of blurred lines. The common complaint that I hear from a ton of my single friends is that it is hard to navigate a dating site when a good 50 percent (or more) of the men on there are in an open relationship or partnered. They don’t understand their usage for the site if they already found someone, and just find that they are really on their to find a 3rd for them or just a hookup which negates the purpose of a dating app in their eyes. You also have the “keyboard warriors” who hide behind these apps and can be whomever the hell they want to be including catfishing multiple men into thinking they are the guy you are talking to but really aren’t. Take it from me as someone who has had imposters in Raleigh, New Orleans, San Francisco and even NYC- you really wonder who the fuck you are talking to on here and if they aren’t who they say they are then why are they doing this?
After polling my friends about this, the responses were chock full with how they view each side of the spectrum. A lot of them pretty much said “It is how you use the apps”. One person who was pro apps said “I met my ex of three years on there. What’s killing long term dating are people who are in love with falling in love”.
Take a look at the colorful responses from other like minded individuals on how they viewed bear apps in the modern world-
“I think it kills the expectations of something long-term. This includes friendships. Not that it isn’t possible, but it just seems like a majority of people would rather hide behind keys or just move on to the newest thing. It’s frustrating at times because guys at times are so stuck in their criteria of who is “allowed” to talk to them, that it just kills the vibe. Granted I cannot speak for everyone, just my own small experiences.”
“I think it depends on the individual. It is what you make it…”
“I have had a love/hate thing with those apps. I don’t see the them as “dating” apps to be honest. To me it’s just a social thing. Window shopping. Digital voyeurism. If I meet someone for conversation, maybe some fun then it’s all good. Should I get luck and manage a date? Then it was a pleasant surprise. Oddly enough I’ve made many new friends off of them both in the ether and in the real world. So that’s something.”
“I’d say NO. People use apps differently. Some use them for hookups. Some use them as a way to interact with other men when they are not part of or venture into the “scene”. Some use them because they fear rejection and it’s faster to find someone into them and there is less anxiety than an in person rejection. Some use them to seek a specific type who are into the same things they are or are compatible with (ex: fetishes, builds, sexual preference, endowment, gym, hair color, eye color, sports, hobbies, age, health status, etc…).”
Flashback:1970s- “are sexy clubs and bath houses killing long term dating?”
Flashback:1980s- “is cocaine and dance clubs killing long term dating”
Flashback: 1990s-“is ecstasy and circuit parties killing long term dating”
Flashback: 2000s- “are Internet chat rooms killing long term dating?”
Flash forward 2020s- “are virtual reality sex bots and the fact that no one leaves the house anymore killing long term dating?”
“It’s all a crapshoot but when 2 people click, and have a healthy sense of their individual selves want to make it work, they do.”
“Why blame the apps…blame the dick heads on them”.
Clearly this is something that every person isn’t going to agree on. Question for you though, with the digital world in full swing and here to stay (for as long as I can see it), what will it do to modern dating in the 21st century?