Opinion: Putting your vaccination status on your dating app profile is a boner-killer
During the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the many challenges that we’ve had to navigate is dating. But, when it comes to dating, what may be in store for us in the months ahead?
While vaccine solutions are being rolled out in some parts of the world, there’s obviously still a lot of variation in where countries are at in terms of their experience of Covid-19.
I’m in the UK, and after extended periods of lockdown and over 127,000 Covid-related deaths, things are slowly opening back up and we’re cautiously starting to explore this new-normal.
What’s enabling us to end lockdown and to try and restart our lives is that the vaccine rollout seems to be going pretty well here in the UK.
So far, everyone over the age of 45 has been offered a vaccine, as well as people working in jobs that might put them at risk. Plus people with health needs that might make them susceptible to the virus have also been vaccinated. That includes people living with HIV.
We know that sex didn’t stop during lockdown, but there were more barriers than normal to connecting with other guys, getting together and getting off.
Those barriers are starting to slowly be removed. It’s game on.
But should we all be putting our vaccination status in the bio of our dating app profiles?
You can see why it might be tempting.
We’re at a point in the vaccination roll-out where lots of people have been vaccinated, but lots of people haven’t.
Are you minimising your risks by limiting your hook-ups to people who have been vaccinated? Does it make you more attractive to other guys if you’ve been vaccinated?
Lots of people obviously think so. You don’t have to look much further than Twitter or Instagram to see guys posting about getting the vaccine. That’s all translating into behaviour on dating apps.
Scroll through the profiles of the guys near you and you’ll see plenty of Vaccinated Tops and Vaccinated Bottoms, and profile references to vaccination status.
There’s a couple of reasons why, for me, this is a total boner-killer.
It’s probably worth pointing out that I am absolutely pro vaccination. I’m also in favour of talking about vaccinations and encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. Vaccines save lives.
But linking vaccines with our sex life – making vaccination some kind of sexual pre-condition that must be met – isn’t helpful.
For me, it triggers all the trauma associated with HIV stigma. While we now have effective medication to treat HIV, and we have the double-barrel protection of U=U and PrEP to minimise transmission risks, we still see the remnants of HIV stigma playing out on dating apps every day.
People describe guys who haven’t tested positive for HIV as being “clean”. People actively discriminate against people with HIV. HIV – a virus – carries with it a lot of emotional and moral baggage. Those scars have not healed.
The only way that I can really rationalise Covid-19 in relation to my sex-life is to think of it as one of the range of STIs that are part of the landscape of gay dating.
What I’ve learnt from my experience with STIs is that nothing beats a bit of personal responsibility.
Whatever you say in your dating app profile, what matters is what’s going on with me and what risks I’m prepared to accept in order to fulfil my need for intimacy.
I get regularly tested for STIs. I want to go into any hook-ups fairly confident that I don’t have anything that could be transmitted to someone else.
If I start to experience any symptoms of an STI, I get tested, get treated, and advise anyone who may have been exposed that they should do the same.
Whatever you’ve got on your dating app profile is fairly irrelevant. You say that you’re STI free? That doesn’t mean much because I don’t know you’ve been up to since your last test.
It’s not that I’m assuming that random guys that I’ve met online are probably lying to me, it’s just that I’m not going to rely on you to tell me what my risk is. I know about my health, and I know the negative consequences of what you could give me.
Telling me that you’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 is about as useful as telling me that you’re on PrEP – it doesn’t change my risk assessment. I can’t confirm any of the information that you’re giving me. It’s still up to me to make the decision whether to have sex with you.
The answer is probably going to be yes, but it’s still my decision to make.
Bottom line – let’s all get vaccinated but please don’t put it on your dating app profile. Let’s just focus on hooking-up and getting off.
How do you meet guys online?
Whatever stage of the dating game that you’re at, one of the main ways to connect with other guys is to put the technology to work.
But how does online dating actually work?
One of the most efficient methods for connecting with other guys online is to put the technology to work and set up a profile on a dating app.
Here’s a few things to think about when setting up your dating app profile and getting started with using it to connect with guys.
Your profile photo – first impressions count
If you’re going to have any joy with dating and hook-up apps, you’re going to need to think about photos.
The starting point is your profile photo. While some parts of the world are understandably a bit more cautious, most guys will show their face in their profile photo on a dating app. You don’t have to do that, but you’re less likely to meet guys that you’re into if you don’t. Take your lead from what everyone else is doing in your area.
Your profile photo is the first impression that guys on the apps are going to get of you. It should accurately represent you, but you also want to be putting your best foot forward. Make sure you’re bringing your A-game and some decent lighting to your profile photo.
Your bio fields – what do you want guys to know about you?
Make sure you complete as many of the bio fields as you can. Be honest and authentic with the information that you include, but there’s no need to write an essay.
It’s okay to positively describe the kind of guys that you’re into, but don’t be offensive. Don’t be racist. Don’t body-shame. Don’t femme-shame.
Try and let a bit of your personality show through, but there’s no need to overdo it. If you’re not sure what to write, check out a few of the profiles on the app that catch your eye and see if the style that other guys have used for their bio might work for you.
On the app, you can set some search fields so that you’re able to focus on the kind of guys that you’re looking for and the ones that are close by.
Next steps – time to be proactive
Once you’ve got your dating app profile set up and ready to go, don’t sit back and wait for guys to contact you.
No matter how good your profile photo and bio is, there’s lots of reasons why you may not be appearing in the search results of the guys that you’re into. Be proactive.
Scroll through the guys in your area and send a quick message to anyone that you’d be interested in seeing more of.
Lots of guys will send a first message of something like “Hey”. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s totally acceptable – it’s a low-risk way of seeing if someone is online and encouraging them to look at your profile. If they don’t respond, take the hint and move on.
If they do respond, look for ways to engage them in a bit of banter. Compliment them on something in their profile photo, or ask them a question about something in their bio, or something that you think they might be interested in.
Keep your tone light, upbeat, and fun. Be a bit cheeky. A bit sexy is good, but don’t be sleazy. You’re looking to build rapport, to see if there’s enough of a connection between you to start thinking about the logistics of meeting up.
What are you looking for?
This is a question you’re probably going to get asked a lot, and it’s a good idea to ask yourself this ice-breaker before you even open the app.
Some days you might be looking for a quick hook-up, while others you might be more interested in meeting someone for a proper date, or the prospect of a longer-lasting relationship.
Knowing what you’re looking for will influence and shape the interactions that you have with other guys.
It’s always best to be upfront and honest when someone asks you what you’re looking for. If you just need a Mr-Right-Now, there’s no need to be coy about it. Giving a guy mixed signals or inaccurate intentions will only lead to confusion and misunderstandings later on.
Dating apps like Gaydar have a feature where you can upload additional photos to your profile, and you can keep these private or public. Additionally, when you start chatting with a guy on the app, they’re inevitably going to ask you to send some photos.
There’s two main reasons why guys will ask you to send photos. Firstly, it’s a way of checking that you are who you say you are. If you can’t send photos that confirm that you’re the guy in the profile pic, then that’s going to raise some red flags. Secondly, guys are going to ask you to send pics because they want to see you naked.
Should I send naked pics?
You’re under no obligation to send anyone naked photos of yourself. If someone is pressuring you to do that, and it’s making you feel uncomfortable or uncertain, then it’s probably best to end the conversation.
Whatever platform you’re using, once you send someone naked photos, it’s impossible to control what happens to them. It’s fairly common for private photos that you’ve sent as part of a hook-up conversation to somehow end up on the internet.
In some professions, having naked photos in the public domain – photos that could be seen as embarrassing or compromising – could negatively impact your career. It’s best to proceed with caution.
The reality is that when it comes to connecting with other guys, some level of naked photos will generally be required in order for you to seal the deal. One way to handle it is to send separate face and body shots – that way, if the photos go public then your naked photos aren’t as easily connected back to you.
What are the rules of sexting?
Sexting is just a combination of sex + texting, or sexy texting. It’s totally up to you how you go about it.
Some flirty or filthy texting or chat is a great way to get to know each other and to build up the anticipation of what’s going to go down when you get together.
The crucial thing for sexting is that you both need to be on the same page. There’s no point in you sending sexy messages to someone if they’re not responding with the same kind of energy.
If you’re chatting with a guy on a dating app, your first few messages will generally give you a sense of how flirty or filthy things are going to get.
If things seems to be going well, and you want to turn the heat up a bit, be proactive. Make the suggestion or make it clear that you’re opening the door to take things further.
A good starting point is to ask him what type of porn that he’s into – that encourages a frank discussion about sex and allows you to discuss some fantasies that you might share.
Another option is to ask him to tell you about his fantasies, or his hottest real-life experiences. Be prepared to match his descriptions with the same level of detail. This is not a time to be coy, but also you don’t want to go too extreme unless it’s clear that you’re both in the same head-space.
If you’re in the middle of a sexting exchange and he’s slow to respond or stops replying to your messages, don’t take it personally. Maybe he’s not alone or maybe he’s not somewhere where sexting is appropriate, or maybe he’s not as into the conversation as you first thought. Move on and shift your attention to someone else. Remember, there’s plenty of horned-up guys out there who are looking for ways to blow off steam.
It’s time to put the technology to work.