Good Bi Love: 90 Days Without Grindr

8/27/2018

istock/Eva-Katalin

My therapist tells me I pathologize my own sexual behavior.

Here’s an example of a conversation I’ve had with her at least half a dozen times.

I say I’m worried I have a sexual compulsion problem. She says in order to have a problem or addiction, the behavior needs to adversely affect one’s life.

I tell her that sex is a time-waster. She then asks if I do everything that I want to do throughout the day. Yes, of course I do. I go to the gym and see my friends in the evening. I go out on dates regularly, when there’s someone I’m potentially interested in having a serious relationship. And I always work 50-60 hours a week.

What would you do if you weren’t having sex during your off times, she’ll ask. Candidly, I reply, watching reruns of comedies on Netflix.

So, what’s the problem? You’re safe. It relaxes you. You meet people that way. It’s fun. And it doesn’t interfere with any other aspect of your life.

I then say I don’t know – and we laugh together.

Well, for the entirety of Pride month, I decided I was going to delete Grindr. (FYI, I don’t have any other sex/dating apps on my phone: only Grindr.) I actually think my therapist rolled her eyes when I told her I deleted Grindr. (It’s okay, we have that type of relationship!)

I figured June would be the ideal month to delete my account, since I had my best friend/ex-girlfriend visiting me from Holland for two weeks, was writing at least 25 pieces a week, and had a number of Pride events I needed to cover for Out.comPride.com, Rolling Stone, and the list goes on and on. I also figured it’s the easiest time to meet others and had started dating this guy too… so didn’t want to distract myself with other men.

June flew by, and since I had no time to breathe, let alone peruse Grindr, I hadn’t even realized that I’d deleted the app. I was also surrounded by friends and was meeting plenty of new people through various Pride events. So I decided to keep it deleted for all of July too, and except for a re-download at 3 AM one drunken evening (morning?), it was no issue. I simply found myself watching TV and masturbating more often.

As the end of August approaches, I think I will be re-downloading Grindr again, although perhaps I won’t keep it on my phone permanently. Download it when that post-gym horny urge strikes, and then delete it when I’m done with my business.

Here is, however, what I’ve learned from deleting Grindr for three months. I know we’ve all seen these types of articles written before — how one’s life drastically improved after deleting Grindr —but I’m letting you know now this is not my take. I also want to note that this is the first time since I’ve downloaded it at 22 that I’ve had it off my phone for more than a week. Lastly, I’ve met, dated, and had sex with “hoards” of men off the app. (I’ll let you decide how many “hoards” is.)

That said, here’s what I realized:

1. De-stressing and relaxing isn’t the same as time-wasting

As a young millennial in NY with severe FOMO (fear of missing out), I hate wasting time. I didn’t uproot my life and move 3,000 miles away from my friends and family to stay at home and watch Netflix or have casual sex with guy after guy. But I’ve realized through deleting Grindr that there’s a difference between time-wasting and relaxing. I work my ass off. I write an average of 90 articles a month. I go to the gym at least three times a week. I support my dozen friends who are drag queens and musicians, seeing all their shows. I have to attend and cover a bunch of nightlife events and galleries for work.

With all that’s going on in my life, I need to decompress. I need to binge watch a season of American Horror Story on Sundays and let my brain relax. Similarly, it is fine, arguably good, to have casual sex if it helps you unwind. If sex is the only coping mechanism you have to calm down when you’re stressed, and it’s the only way to regulate your moods, then alright, that’s problematic. But otherwise, enjoy it. Get your socks off.

2. Sex holds multiple purposes

Following up a little on my last point, there are different kinds of sex. There is de-stress sex, which is honestly more of a form of mutual masturbation with another person (even though you’re having sex with them). This is fine as long as the other person is on the same page as you. (And when you meet guys on Grindr who say that have 15 minutes on their lunch break, then yes, they’re not looking for a passionate love-making session with their future boyfriend. So it’s clear you and he are on the same page.) There’s also love-making. There’s “I’m so attracted to you, holy shit, this is amazing sex.” There’s exciting, locker room cruisy sex, and so on.

As long as you’re able to separate the types of sex – meaning that having casual sex with a bunch of different people doesn’t interfere with the sex you have with someone you really care for (in other words, you can still make love and not just bone), then you’re fine.

3. You know when you’re using the apps too much

I always used to make it seem like there’s this perfect balance when it comes to using apps, and few people can find that balance. Most of us, over- or underutilize them. Honestly, you know when your app use is getting out of control. I am currently on the other side of the spectrum, underutilizing apps, which is why I think I will shortly resume using Grindr again. (I just want to hit my 90 days because I told myself I would. I’m at 87 days right now to be exact.)

Previously, I was using Grindr more than I liked. Now I think using it more would be beneficial. With that knowledge, this bi Goldilocks is going to start using Grindr the right amount.

4. Sex with multiple people may be contributing to your relationship issues, but it’s probably a symptom and not the root

Right after I deleted Grindr, I met this guy and we started dating. Because I had just deleted Grindr I was sleeping with significantly less guys as we dated. I always wondered if having casual sex influenced my relationship when I did really like a guy. Turns out, no, it wasn’t the crux of my relationship problems. While it might not help build my relationship with the men I date, it wasn’t the root of my issues. I’ve realized it’s likely a symptom of some other issues – ones I’m working on – like some commitment issues I think I may have.

Alright, I know this column might not be as universal as other pieces I’ve written, but I think the take away here is this: don’t pathologize your own sexual behavior. You know what’s healthy sex for you and what’s not. You know if casual sex is beneficial to your wellbeing or getting in the way of your relationships.

And don’t be afraid to be introspective and try having more or less casual sex to help understand the various positive roles that sex can have in your life.

Zachary Zane
Zachary Zane a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, speaker, YouTuber, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, relationships, and culture. He's a contributing editor at The Advocate Magazine, a columnist at Bi.org, and currently writes for The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Out Magazine, and PRIDE.