Despite the stereotypes of gay men, Mike has never been into the bar scene.
“I’m simply not the outgoing type,” he says, asking me to only include his first name for fear of making his private life too public. But after a 10-year hiatus from the dating scene, this shy 37-year-old was itching to find someone to build a life with.
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Chatrooms and online dating sites — another often used hook-up arena — weren’t his style either.
“I didn’t want to waste my time with someone who wasn’t going to tell me who they are,” he says.
For Mike, the ideal would have been to meet someone through a friend, but in the end it was Entre-nous Network, a same-sex matchmaking service, that helped him meet his partner who he has been with for two years now and will soon be moving in with him.
Patricia Ross, a client services representative with Entre-nous Network, believes the legalization of gay marriage and the current research to support the good parenting skills of gay parents are helping Canadians become less ignorant of gay couples.
“Gay couples are really no different than straight ones, it’s really just a partner of choice that varies.”
Ross, who has been with Entre-nous almost from its inception three years ago, says one of the biggest challenges of gay dating is where to meet a partner.
“Nowadays with society … our wires don’t cross,” says Ross. “We walk into an elevator and somebody starts talking to you, you look at them like they’re nuts. It’s tough with opposite-sex dating, it’s even tougher with same-sex dating because walking down the street you wouldn’t know if someone is gay or straight. A lot of people really aren’t going to walk up and ask.”
Through a screening process both over the phone and in person, Entre-nous tries to find out what somebody is looking for and what their past relationships have been like before matching them up with people from their database. If, after hearing about a potential match, both clients are open to an introduction, their numbers are exchanged and the match can take it from there.
“If there was something that didn’t sound right on either end then we would cancel the introduction and (go back to the evaluation stage),” says Ross. “One thing people don’t focus on enough is the personal side of their life. We focus on our career and our home, but we don’t often pay attention to certain patterns that occur (in our dating life). We use feedback from clients in order to create a learning curve to find out what their true preferences are.”
For Mike, it took three matches before finding the man with whom wants to spend his life. For others willing to give such services a try it may take more. “Just be sure to ask all the questions you have and find out how things work,” says Mike.
After all, we could all afford to spend a little more time making sure our dating lives find their happy endings.