Sex talk
Speaking of Mr. Right

Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

No matter how much we may claim otherwise, most of us have a picture or two of the Perfect Mate tucked somewhere in the back of our minds.

"I don't want much," says one gay bachelor. "Just a guy who's romantic, funny, loving, great company, handsome, and strong." He grins. "Oh, and has a big ol' whanger." Not much to ask.

Setting impossible standards is one way to ensure you never have to go through the stresses of maintaining a long-term relationship. On the other hand, it can be disastrous to hook up with someone you know in your heart isn't right for you, just because it seems better than being alone.

So where do our ideas of the unsinkable dreamboat come from? One observer of the scene shares his thoughts: "We're influenced by stuff in the general atmosphere, from fairy tales to TV ads. Your average young man in the 1960s, for instance, was much more likely to find a long-haired hippie type attractive than someone would today."

So that's it? We get our ideas of the ideal guy from sitcoms and magazines? "That's not surprising, really," he says. "But it doesn't tell the entire story. Some of our feelings about the ideal mate go really deep. It sounds like a cliche, but some of it goes back to childhood – teachers you admired, best buddies, family factors like your relationship with your dad."

A guy's concept of Prince Charming can change over time, especially if no boyfriend-bearing stallion gallops over the horizon. "My idea of the perfect man has really changed over time," relates a fellow in his mid-40s. "Actually, I no longer have one single idea, but I'm just not interested in the perfectly groomed party boys I found so attractive 20 years ago. These days, 'sweet' and 'romantic' mean more to me than 'outrageous' and 'gorgeous'."

That can go for sex, too. Some guys have stringent requirements. "You can tell a lot about a man from the way he gives head," says one of them, "and I could never fall for someone who doesn't know how to suck dick." Most of us, though, are more willing to keep our options open – yesterday's big bottom can turn into today's terrific top.

If you look at that guy who made you melt 10 years ago and think "Nothing special," it's not that your previous worship of him was mistaken. People change, their needs and values change, and there's nothing wrong with that. If, on the other hand, you're still lusting after men who remind you of that fellow who rejected you a decade ago, it may be time to reassess just what you're looking for...and why.

The gay dating scene can seem like an endless casting call for a movie that will never get made. Says one disgruntled veteran, "Men can be so fussy about what they want, without ever being concerned about what they have to offer." Yes, dreaming of Mr. Right has its charms, but taken to extremes, it can be destructive. Rather than thinking no one measures up to your standards, it's not a bad idea to try a bit of flexibility, a dollop of emotional generosity, and a spirit of adventure. Who knows? Just like in some stupid Hollywood romance, you may discover that Mr. Right has been right under your nose – or between your legs – all along.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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