Small country, plenty of fish – An inside look at gay online dating in Israel
If there’s anything good about so many available dating sites and apps, it’s that online dating is no longer considered taboo. Hell yes, it’s annoying when our friends seem to cling to their phones obsessing over potential dates, and sure it’s not easy for a tourist to concentrate on all the scenic beauty that Israel has to offer when your “incoming message” folder is on fire…
We blush, we explain ourselves, we might even say a white lie or two, but let’s face it: Israel may be a small country, but there are plenty of fish in the sea, especially when it comes to gay dating apps. My post was published in last month’s print version of Time Out Israel, and re-blogged by our coolest friends in Canada, Size Doesn’t Matter. Here we go…
“Not into hookups – only serious guys!” So says the description on their Grindr profile, which of course most people won’t read at all. So the lovebirds’ sad fate is to receive unwanted “xxx pics”, and bootycalls, just like everyone else on these sites. They often express how much they loath gay dating society; they refuse to engage in casual hookups, and if they find out you are a tourist they won’t get into it because for them separation means complications. Their profile picture shows a nice guy, wanting to share love – but their high expectations and lack of spontaneity often push them away from finding the one who could help them make that dream come true.
The playful couples
Poor, ever-busy Tel Aviv couples, not being able to coordinate their schedules, simply not having the time anymore to squeeze in a “quickie” between a brunch and a meeting – they are forced to find relief outside of the relationship.
Some of the long term partners have a reputation already – these guys have been on dating sites for years, and most of them play separately and together as well: up for three-ways and many other ways. A significant amount of Israeli singles have slept with (at least) one of them, so half of Tel Aviv knows all the stats on size, shape, technique and, of course, the names of their dogs.
The macho tribe
“Send photo with first message!”, “Only XL!”, “No feminine guys!”, “Only muscular men”, and my favorite: “Real man for real man!” These profile descriptions belong to the peeps who took being gay to the next level and they refuse to date visibly gay men. As absurd as this sounds, they are the fastest growing tribe, and thanks to them, being on Grindr feels like being back in high school, bullied by the “cool guys” in gym class. Their profile picture is a close-up shot of their abs, most likely taken at the gym. Don’t take it personally if they block you for just saying hi. They do it with everyone above 10% body fat and under 19 centimeters.
The kinky ones
Some people don’t even bother describing themselves to the public – they simply stick a pig emoji on their Grindr profile. For the layman this might mean the person is a spokesperson for animal rights, or he is referring to the body structure of the desired man, but in gay world a piggy means someone who’s into naughty stuff.
And somehow, the Middle East is full of them. Without getting graphic: if someone wishes to play with multiple partners and would desire to do so leaving his door open, waiting in bed naked for someone to come by, in Tel Aviv he can arrange such a party within a few hours – it’s not in the least uncommon to receive invitations for “friendly gatherings” of various types from the instant one gets online in the White City. And it’s all cool… just stay safe, and watch out for each other.
The secret society
The most exciting ones (yet). Some of these guys are bi-curious, others are happily (?) married, and of course there are the ones who come from a religious background, or were raised with conventional values. In Jerusalem, Grindr is like a chess board: every second guy has a blank, black square instead of a profile picture, and most of them are Orthodox Jews or Muslim Arabs. Forget the rules – the classic “Hey, send pics” line won’t work with them. If you want to meet them, you’ll need to get used to the fact that this will be a blind date. It might even be a sign-language date, because some of these guys are so far from western society, they don’t even speak English. In exchange, you’re in for an intimate culture swap, and an opportunity to peek into a world usually hidden from openly gay society.
The social butterflies
If meeting up with a stranger for sex is the new normal, why would it be weird to meet a stranger for coffee in Jaffa’s flea market, or for a pre-party drink on Dizengoff Street? Forget the stereotypes about everyone looking for sex, and open your heart and Grindr profile to this tribe of fun and fabulous people, simply wanting to socialize.
How to recognize them? Their self-description is catchy and it makes you smile, and they probably use far-fetched, overly instagrammed selfies as their profile pics, linking to all their social media profiles so you can get to know more about them with a single click. For most people, looking for friends on dating apps sounds like going out for brunch in a jewelry store – but hey, Audrey had breakfast at Tiffany’s as well.