The Men I Meet On Grindr: The Lover’s Threshold

Why are same sex relationships prone to falling apart?

Serge (not his real name; an RPG character reference) took a long sip of coffee from his mug in some indie (and unpretentious) coffee shop somewhere in suburban Makati as I scour my brain for every possible answer and angle to this pressing query. His brows were furrowed, probably searching his brains for an answer to the question, too. He and I first talked on Grindr last Saturday. What initially caught my attention was how yuppie he looked on his display photo where he was wearing winter clothing against an autumn backdrop. But what made me message him was the question on his Grindr headline: What’s on your playlist?

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Me: A case of you.

Him: Who sang it?

Me: Joni Mitchell.

Him: Not familiar haha. Wait Jowy Atreides? (Jowy Atreides was my Grindr profile name, a reference to a character from Suikoden 2, an RPG game.)

Me: Yeah. Riou, Nanami and Jowy.

Him: Damn! Suikoden 2. Viktor, Flik, Sierra, Luc.

Me: Haha. Neclord. Star Dragon Sword. Leknaat.

The rest that followed was probably the geekiest conversation I had on the dating app.

Since we got along quite well, he and I exchanged contact info and decided to meet the day after at a restaurant in Estrella Street that music bands and gay men frequented (an odd combo, really). The place served bagnet, an Ilokano dish that I really enjoyed (to think I’m Kapampangan and we have a standing rivalry with Ilokanos culinary-wise including). We had a pretty zestful discussion of our favorite role-playing games. He even brought his laptop so we could play games in case we run out of things to talk about.

It turned out though, we could never run out of things to talk about. Serge and I share a lot of interests and hobbies which gave me enthusiasm to talk. He was a UP graduate, I’m a UP graduate student. He was a volleyball player (a utility spiker), I’m a volleyball afficionado. Not to mention we’re both RPG-loving gamers who spent most of sophomore high school midnights playing Ragnarok. Our first meetup was the total antithesis of a date I had a few years back in college when a crush of mine asked me out but the date ended up a disaster after we found out that we do not have a single, common interest. But Serge and I, everything just fell into place.

We finally decided to make space for other waiting customers in the restaurant and moved to the nearby coffee shop. The restaurant and the coffee shop have the same owner whom Serge was friends with. We’re given 20% discount for all the stuff we had. We sat on a low couch next to a coffee table. Less than an hour tackling an array of topics – the distinct features of old and new volleyball, alternative OPM, marijuana and public sex at UP Diliman – a woman seated on a nearby table approached Serge and kissed him on the cheek. I looked up to the girl and to my surprise, it was Kitchie Nadal. She and him had a relatively brief business talk and then Kitchie went back to her seat. We went back to talking and our little conversation got become more serious.

I started asking him about his relationships and vice versa. He mentioned he only had one partner all his life and that was way back in college and then took a hiatus from dating. I’m not sure why though. Was the breakup really that messy? He said the relationship only lasted for two months which, in my own opinion as a gay man who’s been dating for almost ten years, is too short of a time to get extremely traumatized by the split, run for the hills and take a break. He’s two years older but I guess I’m more experienced. So instead me making the questions, he was the who did most of the asking.

One thing: gay guys who are romantically inexperienced are scary. These people still don’t know what they want. Take my ex for example. We were together for almost two years before finally realizing what he wanted: kilig. This thought led me to ask Serge if he’s really sure about wanting to be in a long term commitment. He said he was. I asked why. He said he feels like he’s not getting any younger and he needs someone to be with. Though his answer was relatively one-sided, I thought it was fair enough.

And then we finally reached this one uncomfortable question which many people have attempted to answer yet remains a mystery, like Neil Armstrong landing on the moon: Why are same sex relationships so prone to falling apart?

According to Serge, we all have a threshold for satisfaction in a relationship. Some people are just easily satisfied while some aren’t. May mababaw ang kaligayahan, meron din namang hindi. And when these two kinds people become involved in a relationship, all of hell could break loose.

Just imagine: if you’re a guy with a low satisfaction threshold, this could dictate how much effort you’re going to give in a relationship. You’ll probably think making him sundo at the airport when he returns from a business trip is good enough. But what if your partner has a higher satisfaction threshold? He would want more than sundo. He would want you to bring flowers, make him hatid to his place and have sex. Both of you turn up disappointed.

If Serge’s theory is valid, then the next question that needs to be answered to resolve this long standing dilemma of gay men is, what influences the threshold? What makes my threshold higher than yours? Bakit mas mababaw ang kaligayahan mo kaysa sa akin?

I can think so many different things. Experiences. Philosophies. Priorities. Maybe as we experience more, our threshold rises. The more we feel, the more we do not. We always look for something new, become more adventurous and venture on unprecedented heights. Once we reached a certain height, we aim for more. It’s our curse as human beings. We can never be too satisfied. We can only teach ourselves to be contented.

Maybe it’s our priorities. To some, finding a partner isn’t that important. After all, you do not get paid for having a partner and enduring all the heartaches that come with it. But career? You get paid. You get promoted. You get fulfillment. Family? They will always love you back no matter what. Friends? They’re always there for a drink when you need them (I guess). But partner? Takes a lot of work. Takes a lot of energy. Takes a lot of effort. So instead of looking for a long term relationship, some play safe and resort to hookups and one night stands. To them, one who has a full time job cannot have a full time man. That’s the key to having it all. Or is it?

While I will always be a Carrie at heart, I’ve started to become more open to compromises and perspectives without forgetting what my ideals are. These ideals will serve as my guide, but they aren’t my only consideration anymore. After all, a relationship isn’t just about u, it’s about us. It’s not just about whether or not the house is beautiful for you, but it’s a matter of can the two of you be happy and build a home there. It’s not about I want to be loved, it’s I want to give my love someone without losing your pride and respect for yourself. Seeing the world in different colors and not just mere black and white is the key to having it all. Yes, we can have it all. It only depends on what having it all means to you.

Serge and I continue to be friends. He invited me out again last night but I was busy with work. We might meet again soon when time and money permit it. I’m kind of on a budget right now. Contrary to popular belief, it’s more expensive to be single in this city than be a plus one.

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