I am a 27-year-old gay male living in Seattle. I have been in the hookup scene basically since I was 18 years old. At that time I was hooking up with multiple partners never using a condom. In the year 2016 I decided to keep track of the number of different sexual partners I had, that number at the end of 2016 was 172 different sexual partners only using a condom once or twice. I contacted Gonorrhea and Chlamydia during that time. I used various sources to hook up, Grindr, Scruff, and BBRTS, BBRTS is a website that is for gay men that like BB sex. This year I decided not to keep track and found another website called Sniffies that is also for more of the public scene, however most men on there don’t use condoms.
I am HIV- and been on Prep since March 2016 and I got in every three months to make sure that my kidney and liver functions are all okay and since I am there I get tested for everything else. I just recently tested positive for Chlamydia and gonorrhea again and I find myself sick to my stomach with it all. I take full responsibility for my actions but I just don’t know why I am constantly having multiple partners, and using my extra time all on these hookup apps. I feel like I am broken, I want a bf—never had one and never even been close, the only thing I am apparently good at is hooking up.
Please tell me what I should do or what I can do to make myself feel less broken? Is there something wrong with me? I would love some advice on this. Please.
Sick Of Losing Out
As a wise woman once said...
"Enough is as good as a feast."
One person's "enough" is another person's "too little" or "too much," of course, so we all get to determine our own personal enoughs. But I think you need to make "enough is as good as a feast" your motto and mantra going forward, SOLO, because it seems clear that the amount of sex you're having adds up to way more than enough. More importantly, the amount of sex you're having—and the number of STIs you're contracting—isn't making you happy and/or isn't coming bundled with the affection, intimacy, and lasting love you say you want.
Now there are guys out there who've met the loves of their lives—the .64s they've rounded up to The Ones—in bathhouses, via hookup apps, on Grindr, Scruff, etc. And there are partnered guys out there who enjoy hooking up with scores of randos with or without their boyfriends and/or husbands along for the ride(s). But you've been at this for nearly a decade, SOLO, and what you're doing isn't working for you—it's not making you happy—and I think you wrote hoping I would urge you to take a break and/or change course. And I think you should do at least one (take a break) and possibly both (take that break, then change course), SOLO, in the interests of both your mental and physical health. (And while I'm relieved you're on PrEP, SOLO, HIV isn't the only sexually transmitted infection out there. As you know. And since drug-resistant gonorrhea is a thing, you might want to
consider start using condoms.)
I would also recommend finding yourself a therapist who is sex-positive, SOLO, someone you can open up to about your fears, your choices, and your compulsion to keep doing what you're doing despite the fact that it's not making you happy—at least not at the moment. A good, sex-positive therapist who works with gay men won't slut-shame you for doing what most gay men do, i.e. having more than one sex partner, but they can help you figure out why you're doing what you're doing and, if necessary, give you the support and tools you need make changes if the choices you're making are compulsive or self-destructive... which, to be perfectly frank, they seem to be. (There's no shame in contracting an STI, of course, and you're getting tested and seeking treatment, which means you're being responsible.)
Finally, SOLO, hookup apps, like all apps, can be a major time suck. In advance of getting a therapist (you could start your search here), set limits and stick to them. Don't sit there scrolling for hours; if you feel yourself getting the itch to do something you're sure you'll regret after it's over, go rub (that) one out. It'll help if you prioritize activities that keep you off your phone and force you to interact with fully clothed human beings. People (usually) don't date people just because they have great sex together (although that happens—see all those guys who are partnered with men they hooked up with); people tend to date folks they have things in common with (guys who wind up together after having great sex always have other things in common). As I said in February to Love Starved Black Girl:
Finding the right man to fit your wants/needs/desires/fantasies is hard. People have been crying over this love stuff for thousands of years—and keeping my ass in business for tens—so you're not the only person on Earth who feels this way. Hell, you're not the only person on your block who feels this way. The trick is not to get bitter. And the easiest way to avoid bitterness, LSBG, is by getting out there doing shit. Right now, today, without a man. Keep meeting up with guys from apps for quick coffee dates, of course, but get out there and do shit you enjoy without the goal of meeting the "right" guy every time you leave the house. Because if the stars all align, LSBG, you could find yourself in the right-guy-place at the right-guy-time.
So, SOLO, get help from a professional, work on feeling better about your choices (by coming to a deeper understanding of the choices you're making or by making different choices altogether), get out there, do shit
and meet men who may troll for dick from time to time but aren't trolling for dick right now.
One last note: Not to be a fogey, SOLO, but—again—please consider using condoms. PrEP is fantastic and more alternatives like it need to be developed, but HIV isn't the only thing out there.
(Sorry—couldn't find a video clip of Mary Poppins saying it.)