I live in a high-rise filled with people that I rarely engage with. Sometimes we’ll chat in the elevator about the weather while our dogs gingerly sniff each other’s genitals until the doors open and we go our separate ways. In the city, where I’m constantly surrounded by people, I frequently find myself in these situations. It can feel strange to chat with neighbors––as though I’m already invading their privacy by coincidentally sharing a wall.
In recent years, my friend circle has dwindled because many have moved, become parents, or consumed by their career. So, I started searching. The bars in the city are far more crowded than the streets––and often just as isolating without a group. I don’t know many guys who date from the bar scene anymore, let alone find good friends there. Since meeting people in the city doesn’t come easy, I downloaded Grindr on my phone. At first, I was reluctant. I’d never heard of guys using it only to make friends, but I thought I would give it a shot anyway. My profile specifically states that “I’m just looking for friends,” and only about half the guys don’t read the text––which, I think is a pretty good ratio.
The biggest obstacle I’ve found from finding friends online is explaining that I’m actually just looking for friends. I’ll have a ten-minute chat with a guy who seems to have a ton of mutual interests, and then he texts me an unsolicited wiener shot. As nicely as possible, I redirect the conversation, sometimes even commenting politely on his junk––if it’s nice––out of courtesy, of course. Though once the air clears, I’ve already seen which of his testicles hangs the lowest and, for some reason, that now makes things weird for him.
On rarer occasions, a guy will become enraged about my mission for friendship. A few months ago, a gentleman with a photo of an almond as his default pic, heavily questioned my truthfulness. He believed that I wrote “friendship” as a method to “screen out old queens.” I still don’t know what that means, but I’m glad it didn’t deter me.
Even though I feel like some guys don’t believe my intentions, Grindr has worked out in my favor. Over the past few years, I’ve made about ten great friends from the app. Most are guys that live in my building or nearby, and like it says on our profiles, we share a lot of the same interests. Perhaps, that’s the benefit of using Grindr over meeting in-person. At a bar, I can’t see who my fellow beach bums are or where the travel-holics are standing. Admittedly, it does take a bit of work to search for friends online, but the hunt has been worth the effort. For the ones that don’t work out, at least I got to see some nice wieners.