Lemarc Thomas – Managing Director of Seventy Thirty, Exclusive International Matchmaking – explains how to find lasting love in 2015…
Gay men, like everybody else, have an innate desire to love and be loved. We want a meaningful long term relationship built on mutuality. Yet, in the quest to find our dream romance, we sometimes close our minds to possibility.
Matchmaker to the world’s rich and powerful, I engage in conversations about love every day. Not only with our successful clients, but with everyone; friends, family, colleagues and the many random people in life. I listen to their relationship history, stories about trying to find love, what they are looking for and, sometimes, what they have to offer. I pry into everyone’s life and if we’re not talking about them, it’s about their friend who is “amazing and single” – no, the two are not mutually exclusive.
“He’s good looking, funny, has a good job, smart, really nice, maybe a bit shy sometimes but charming. I don’t know why he’s single!” Maybe it’s not about him; maybe it’s about what he’s looking for.
Reviewing our qualitative interviews with successful gay men (from the young professional to the multi-millionaire) about what they are looking for, we pulled out some of the common themes. The first three (listed below), often act as our gateway criteria before we consider the next three, more deep routed themes:
- Attraction: Consistent with research, gay men, similar to straight men, value physical attraction more than straight women do. Most gay men give quite specific detail on what they find attractive. Often preferring one who fits into a particular (usually their own) sub group, having a certain body type and ‘look’. “I like bears and he has to be big and bearded.” “He has to be muscly, I wouldn’t date someone who hasn’t got a fit body.” “He needs to be Caucasian, I’m not attracted to other ethnicities.”
- Masculinity: The majority of gay men are turned off by effeminate behaviour, they want a man to be “straight acting” and “not camp”. Research suggests that gay men prefer typically masculine men, with ‘manly’ faces and voices. Men who identify as preferring the ‘top bunk’ prefer more feminine faces and shorter partners.
- Sexual Roles: Some gay men identify exclusively with a particular sexual role and therefore want to find a partner with the opposite sexual role preference. Even those who express the desire to switch sexual roles, may identify more with one rather than the other. We seem quite fixed on defining people by their sexual role preference, however, if we find a connection with someone, might we also find sexual compatibility through exploration regardless of role preference?
- Relationship Roles: Most gay men want an egalitarian relationship. We are more likely to negotiate power within the relationship than straight people, which is the recipe for a healthy relationship.
- Personality/Values/Background: Gay men come to Seventy Thirty seeking a similar level of achievement (although, some will trade off success with looks), a similar level of physical fitness, health, education, as well as similar background and values.
- Goals: The majority of men, when looking for love, want a monogamous long term relationship. They are usually open to marriage and children depending on their partner.
Working with clients in the matchmaking process at Seventy Thirty, we explore what is important in a relationship, what are those core factors imperative for long term compatibility and subsequently, what factors are more negotiable. When you know your non-negotiable core factors, such as values and goals, stand firm – but, recognise that everything else is flexible and open-mindedness is needed when considering factors, such as attraction and interests.
Valentova, Stulp, Třebický and Havlíček (2014) discussed how preferred and actual partner characteristics may differ; we do not always end up with the person who fits all of our ideals. They suggest the mate selection process usually involves various trade-offs. This does not mean compromising on compatibility, but rather on recognising that strengths in some areas make up for weaknesses in others.
The research conducted by Velentova et al 2014, focused on height preferences in gay men. Roughly 50% of gay men prefer to meet someone taller. Only about 25% are looking for someone shorter. The maths here equates to a simple logic: either we demonstrate flexibility or we are not going to find what we are looking for.
Whilst focused mostly on height, this research brings up some interesting truths, which I’m sure they won’t mind me paraphrasing:
- With so many characteristics taken into account when seeking a partner, it is unlikely that a particular individual will satisfy all of them
- Annoying rivals may get in the way of obtaining our most desired partner
- A desired partner may (be foolish enough) not reciprocate the attraction shown toward them
- As a sexual minority, there may be a bigger discrepancy between our mate preference and actual mate choice than among heterosexuals – because the pool to choose from is much smaller
- When our preferences are all quite the same, they are unlikely to be met for most of us
Eesh… Maybe that’s enough ‘real talk’ let’s get to the point; mutual attraction… a deep connection… true compatibility… future commitment… It’s out there and reachable but the barrier might be our minds. Simply being open-minded might help us achieve our goals. We have fought so hard for equality and tried to dispel the stereotypical gay image, have we in the process, idealised the image of the modern gay man to the extent of ostracising the majority who do not fit that image?
Attraction, masculinity and sexual role preference seem to be the gateway for allowing someone into our hearts. Of course, the other factors (personality, values, background and goals) are equality, if not more, important to us – but before we get too deep, the surface level stuff need to be satisfied. What if we switched it around? Make our core requirements the gateway criteria and see if attraction follows. If we open our minds and broaden our view, we might find the one we never knew we wanted.
He might be shorter than expected but when he stands on his morals, he’s the tallest man in the room. He may look a little different than you expected, but he’s still the only man you want to look at. He might not have the perfect body, but he is so comfortable with himself that he shows you how to love your own body. When he’s with his friends he giggles like a girl, but when he’s in the bedroom, he’s all man.
My colleague Sue recently pointed out that kindness and warmth are the most desirable traits in any kind of relationship. She said they are considered even more important than pysical attractiveness when selecting a romantic parnter. “Professort Arthur Aron, whose research interests include discovering determinants of successful long-term romantic relationships, states that being attractive “doesn’t help that much”, suggesting that people tend to fall in love more readily with kind people. Furthermore, he argues that kindness is the strongest indicator for a successful long term relationship.”
If you want to be attractive, be kind. If you want to find love, be open. Surely that is a better strategy for love… and life… and two very simple ideas we can take into 2015.
With a background in Psychology, Lemarc Thomas runs Seventy Thirty, Exclusive Matchmaking Agency – with a team of Psychologists coaching and matching those of affluence and influence around the world.