Hook-Up App Rules

I was visiting New York City for a few weeks and despite my disdain of hook-up apps, I felt as though it might a more effective way to meet people in the city. My preference was to meet others in person, but I’m traveling alone for the next few months and wouldn’t mind some company. Plus, I have a budget to follow and can’t afford to go to bars each night. I downloaded the apps again, quite nervously, realizing the need for moderation this time as I've proved in the past I can be compulsive with my use.

My apps of choice were Scruff, Recon, and Daddyhunt. No sooner than 60 minutes after downloading them, I was having 13 conversations at once across the three apps. One was with a guy named Steve from Brooklyn. He had this natural look that got me, not too muscular just pleasantly fit with soft brown chest hair. He shared two nudes of himself: he was in a tub full of water in one with his cock floating on the waters surface, and in the other he was grabbing his cock playfully with silly expression on his face, but was fully erect.

Turned out he was from San Francisco but moved here for ex who was already living in New York. He missed California, but decided to stay in the city even after the break up just to give it a chance. As we continued to chat, on-and-off, for the next two days I also learned that he loved to camp (real camping, he claimed), he had a dog named NorCal, and worked as a physiotherapist.

By the third day I caught myself checking for messages from him every 2-5 minutes and so I knew it was getting out of control. I decided that if I was going to allow myself to continue to use the apps, I was only allowed to check it every hour. This wasn’t easy but I soon got used to it.

I took long walks daily through New York to familiarize myself with the city. I started in the Lower East Side where I was staying and went up to Greenwich, then to Chelsea, across to Union Square and back down through the East Village. Not only did these walks clear my head, but also they made me feel far more connected with the city. They were my favorite part of the day.

While walking one time, I checked Scruff to see whether Steve had messaged me. He hadn’t but I did get a message from this guy in the East Village as well as a hot bear from Queens. I began messaging with them both but before I knew it I was back at the place in the Lower East Side. It was silly to think that I'd spent most of my walk staring at my phone rather than enjoying the city. After that I promised myself that I wouldn’t use the apps while I’m out.

I’d offered Steve my phone number and tried to make plans to meet on several occasions but he always seemed too busy. He finally committed to a Thursday, but the Thursday turned to Sunday, and on Sunday he just ignored me. He messaged me Monday saying that he got sidetracked and maybe Wednesday, and so started the endless chat loop. It was a shame because he seemed like such a nice person, and sexy too, but I knew that I had to give up on him. Perhaps he wasn't over his ex, I don't know, but he had no intention of meeting. That was obvious.

After 14 days of using the apps I'd spent endless hours and effort, though I hadn't met a single person. I was about to delete them again when I got a message from this guy named Phil in Chelsea. He looked like a rugby player, rough, with his shaved head and stocky frame, but his smile was tender—it was that smile that got me. He was originally from Louisiana although he'd been living in New York for a year now.

I wanted to avoid an endless conversation again so I asked just enough questions to figure out if he was somebody that I’d want to have a drink with. Through these questions I learned that he’d lived in New York previous, but moved to San Francisco after for a few years. He came back because he missed the city, claiming that it was the best place in the world. He took a bit of a chance because he hadn’t lined up work before arriving and it was months before he finally found the job as an architect—he had to wait tables to make ends meet. He struggled a bit to make a go of it but things were turning around for him.

“Do you want to grab a drink tonight?” I finally asked.

“Sure,” he said, suggesting a place in Chelsea.

As I got ready to meet Phil I thought that as much as I detested hook-up apps they do have some use, but only some. If nothing else they allow us to connect with others who we might not otherwise meet. It was crucial for me to adhere to my new set of rules to continue use, and I slipped sometimes but like any addictive tool, I was learning that moderation was key.

By Mike Miksche Mike's work has appeared in Instinct, The Gay and Lesbian Review and Daily Xtra. His first novel, Paris Demands, is out now by Lethe Press


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