Six Tips For Online Cruising That Could Mean The Difference Between Life And Death

hqdefaultThe internet is a scary place — that’s a scientific fact. Too often we’ve reported on online hookups that go from hot to hellish, and they have even resulted in death. And while these extremes are rare, there are a number of other bad outcomes that can and do happen when people decide to have a quick tryst from a website or app.

The safest thing to do is just avoid it altogether, but it seems clear that semi-anonymous hook-ups aren’t disappearing any time too soon. So with that in mind, here are six tips for staying safe and sane when you get the urge for digital cruising:

1. Shed the shame


The number one problem when it comes to hooking up online is the shame factor. All too often guys compartmentalize their lives so that acting out on lust and desire is relegated to that “dirty little secret” part of the self. Just look at how many “headless torso” profiles are out there. Try putting your best face forward. We are who we are, and sexual desire is a part of being human. When you’re out in the open, you’ll tend to make better decisions that more accurately reflect the whole you, and in turn put yourself in safer situations.

2. Communicate


This can be tough. Spontaneity can be very sexy, and being asked “so what are you into?” can be a bit of a drag. But look at the situation objectively — you’re about to meet someone you don’t know and get very intimate very quickly. You’ll do yourself a favor by opening up lines of communication. “I only play safe.” “I’m positive.” “Do you have any toys?” “When were you last tested?” These are all entirely appropriate questions during the chatting stage, and how the other person reacts to honest talk may speak volumes about whether you actually want to meet in the flesh.

3. Try the truth(ish)


There is nothing worse than showing up for a hookup and having to do a double-take when the guy who answers the door looks absolutely nothing like his photos. Look, anyone who’s playing the field online is going to engage in some amount of deception. We try to present the best possible image of ourselves, it only makes sense. But be reasonable. A photo from eleven months ago when you were ten pounds lighter? Go for it. Saying you’re 29 when you’re 31? Unnecessary, but hey we aren’t going to judge. Using a photo taken during the last millennium? Please.

4. Meet in public


Not enough guys actually do this one, and we get that it’s a bit harder when it’s 2 a.m. (which isn’t a great idea to begin with), but meeting in public will do more than just give you an “out” if you need one. When you meet in public, it’ll feel very “real.” And that’s a good thing, because it is real.

5. Talk first


A 10-minute conversation will tell you so much about a person, and you owe it to yourself to make sure that you aren’t dealing with someone crazy. It doesn’t have to be a deep conversation, but just by chatting a bit you’ll pick up on body language, chemistry and overall sanity. Your pants can wait a few minutes to come off.

5. Don’t be afraid to bail


If something feels wrong, trust your instincts. Let your analytical mind be louder than your horniness. Bailing can be super awkward (less so if you meet in public), but there is absolutely no need to feel obligated when negotiating hooking up. The sex may be casual, but the decision to have it certainly isn’t. A simple, “I’m sorry, but I need to leave” will do. You don’t owe this person anything.

6. Stock up

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 2.26.09 PM

This is so easy. Just bring condoms with you, and never rely on the other person to supply them. When things escalate and you realize they don’t have any on hand, you won’t ever have to have that “should I or shouldn’t I?” moment.

Related Stories:

The Queerty Guide To Hooking Up Online

Bathhouses And Beyond: A Brief History Of Gay Cruising

Nude Pic Etiquette: Five Tasteful Tips To Photographing Your Junk

The Seven Most Annoying Grindr Guys And Two Who Might Change Your Life

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  • Raphael

    The last one does not make any sense! If it is to all of us follow these tips then, who will provide the condoms in this case? I can not trust the other person, but if the other also follow this tip, then he should not trust me either, right? In this case, we do not use condom?

  • spanky

    @Raphael: Idiot

  • buffnightwing

    Here’s another one: If you have a boyfriend or roommate or friend, leave the phone number of the guy, his address and name on a piece of paper at your place, so that someone knows where you are.

  • jd2222248

    @spanky: I agree! :-)

  • Black Pegasus

    The first Tip about the headless torso is a bunch of bullsh!t.

    If you want to display your face on a hookup app or dating site then that’s your business. But why should I volunteer my face and full identity to everyone on a hookup app when chances are, these b!tches are just window-pic shopping with no real intent on hooking up.
    Another problem is, after you met these guys (that’s if you can actually manage to do so), you may not see them again after the sexual curiosity has been satisfied. Face photos are for Facebook, NOT Grindr or Jack’d.

    That’s just my opinion.

  • Teeth

    @Black Pegasus: I agree. And my agreeing to screw is not my agreeing to give you an identifying picture for the rest of my life.
    For rest of it, meeting in public is the only smart answer. It’s not foolproof, but it’s better than giving Mr. Goodbar your GPS location. Oh, and #6 is stupid. We’re all HIV= now, so skip the condoms.

  • Beachhouse

    @Raphael: … what the hell are you even saying? Go read it again. You clearly didn’t understand.

  • Tracy Pope

    Numbers 4, 5 and 3 should have been 1, 2 and 3 I believe. Number 5 is a given. Number 1 is absolute crap. Shed the shame? WTF? It isn’t about shame.

  • Saint Law

    @Teeth: “And my agreeing to screw you is not my agreeing to give you an identifying picture for the rest of your life.”

    So…what do you send them? A pic of someone else? An avocado? The Kremlin?

  • tdh1980

    @Saint Law: Yeah. I don’t get that line of reasoning either. If attached to that hot body is the head of someone who looks like Quasimodo, most men will be less inclined to be interested, so providing a photo of one’s face is a reasonable service. Moreover, this pervasive fear that every user of these apps is saving and trading other people’s photos for nefarious reasons is largely unfounded. It has been my experience that behind almost every headless torso is a man who has an issue with being gay.

  • Chris

    @buffnightwing: I agree; this article was supposed to be about safety: Let someone know where you are going and text him/her how to track you down, if necessary.

    Having been gone with someone to a seedy area, asked for money, and escaping only after I jettisoned my glasses (I always keep a spare pair in the car trunk), I would also add that going to a “neutral” site should be on this list — hotel room, bath house, etc.

  • pressuredrop

    I suppose everybody has the *right* to upload a faceless profile, but it shows a major lack of confidence and is inherently unattractive.

    I mean, who actually responds to them, besides other faceless profiles?

  • Daniel-Reader

    Headless photos are just straight guys (and gay guys on drugs who need cash) looking to rob gay guys, closeted guys who cannot handle safe sex, std carriers who don’t want those they infect to find them afterward, fake users (such as girls) who just want to gawk at real gay guys, and more. These individuals have major issues so avoid them. Also, the last piece of advice is smart. Always have condoms. Remember the more inshape a person is the more likely they’ve hooked up a lot and greater the chance of being a carrier of all sorts of things (straight people reading this should pay attention given the stunning and staggering amount of herpes straight people give each other. Seriously straight people what is up with that? protect yourselves). Be happy and safe everyone because you are worth it and deserve to have a good time without all the bad people running around.

  • edwardnvirginia

    @Teeth: All HIV=? think about that again, dear ones! …

    … we are all also all Millionaire= if only we had that much money; and we are all Olympic Champion= if we all had the right stuff; etc

    The concept is a tautology: it means no more than the definition of it. And, the DEFINITION is that “an HIV positive person can achieve undetectable levels after undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART). A level of a person’s HIV viral load is what causes them to be more or less likely to transmit the disease. An undetectable viral load reduces the likelihood of transmission by 96 percent. Once a person achieves an undetectable status, it is possible to remain at this level provided that the person is compliant with their ART medication.” ( from the proprietary website for ‘Hivequal’: ) So, think about that my dears: IF a person has sustained ART – with the regular medical visits that requires to verify efficacy of treatment; IF a person has maintained a measured undetectable viral load – MEASURED BY DOCTORS, regularly, not measured by ‘how I feel today’, etc; IF a person if telling the truth about himself to others; and IF a person maintains absolute respect for the wishes of her/his partner; …

    … all of that is part of the definition of HIV=.

  • QJ201

    What BS

    Does his “story” change? Gay, not gay, bi? not sure?

    Does he act too needy or wildly inconsistent?

    Does he seem high?

    is he terrified of HIV or cavalier about barebacking?

    Red flags all of them

  • Tracy Pope

    For my boyfriend and I there is no issue about who we are but we do get repeated requests for more pictures.
    Our experience has been that if one or two pics is not enough, they’re probably collectors.
    Your experience is obviously not the same as ours. That is not a reason for us, or anyone, to post our pics the way you choose to.

  • Teeth

    @Saint Law: umm.. like I said.. meeting in person, not with a GPS app

  • Teeth

    @edwardnvirginia: Queerty keeps promoting that stupid “HIV =” campaign, which I am obviously mocking

  • tdh1980

    @Tracy Pope: I was referring to those whose main profile picture doesn’t include a head shot. No one said anything about providing people with an entire photo album.

  • wpewen

    At 57 yrs I’ve had my share of pickups, some pretty wild stuff, no SM but…

    First take on this style of “hooking up” was yuk. Too easy. Too risky. Potential for “fakeness” really high. This from someone who HAD to go to discos, etc. not that I wanted to. Later it was bars and congeniality (generally) with people I could scope out. Many get conservative with age, I always had a streak of it despite being a sex maniac and for me it was good.

    All this opportunity with internet and phone-just cause it’s there. I’m just as horned out as I was at 25, and could probably get some decent action if I wanted to go look (short bearded daddy, young looking…) but I’d think twice if it meant being online. Rather go to a beer bar and look for another man-I dig the smell.

  • Tookietookie123

    When I met my now boyfriend in real life after talking online for two months I 100% knew it would be him because when we were barely texting, I asked him to take a photo of himself holding a paper with my name on it. He took the photo an I did the same and when I met him in real life, there wasn’t any fear or anything about him being a middle aged man and we went on a date and we’re now together. I highly suggest this photo confirmation to avoid cat fishing.

  • Bob LaBlah

    And to think it seems just like yesterday when the safety of a bathhouse was compared to online hookups. Personally, I choose the bathhouse. The price for entrance IS reasonable considering that rents, upkeep and salaries have to be paid.
    In exchange for a safe place to keep my wallet and I.D. ( a picture I.D. is required of everyone who enters along with a video camera at the entrance desk) I think it is a bargain at $20 to $25.

  • Gusteau

    Should really take the bail rule to heart. Had sex once with a guy who looked so much worse in real life than on his pictures. It’s wasn’t so bad, and our talk was really interesting, but would not have sex with him ever again. Unless he loses weight and stops smoking, then maybe…

  • buffnightwing

    @edwardnvirginia: This is not the topic of conversation. stick to the topic. Please!

  • o.codone

    @wpewen: Bravo. I just want to go out and look for a guy myself. When I find the guy, I know what to do. I don’t use the apps. I love the smell of beer and p*iss. And, I miss the street corners where the hustlers used to hang. Another love of mine. I bet these young guys have never even seen a street corner with hustlers. Oh, the 70’s. Sex was never the same after that.

  • Teeth

    The other thing is that the hunt is kind of fun– this fast-food version of a fast-food version of sex just gets dumber and and dumber. I’d rather jack it, if I am THAT tired. Sex cruising is FUN, done correctly and safely. I’m sort of past it now, except for rare moments.. but the adventure, the hunt, the sleaze, the scent, it was all part of it.. not like ordering a pizza.

  • Mark Jenkins

    @Teeth: You’ve hit the nail on the head, Teeth- Sex today is just like ordering a pizza- the thrill of the hunt, and pursuit- is kinda gone…

  • Mark Jenkins

    Re: the face pic issue- I much prefer a face to go with the body- at least you know more or less what you’re getting- they only mystery after that is- Are they good at using what they’ve got?

  • michael

    Hmmm… we seem to be missing the obvious here.
    I don’t have Grinder (so I can’t comment on it) but I do use Manhunt and adam4adam.
    Your open/public pics are body shots only.
    After you connect with a guy who’s body/personality seems ok/trustworthy,
    THEN you both open your private/face shots for the final “judgement.”
    That way, you are not revealing your online cruising habits to just anyone/everyone who logs on.
    I’m not at all embarrassed about the cruising, but I don’t want an enemy/employer seeing my face online.
    And it should go without saying, you should never include a pic that shows both your face and pecker in the same photo
    (unless you want it shared all over Twitter.)

  • Throbert McGee


    Queerty keeps promoting that stupid “HIV =” campaign, which I am obviously mocking

    Aha, now I’m up to speed. Like edwardnvirginia, I somehow managed to miss the “HIV =” campaign, and thought you were being serious about “skip the condoms.”

    (Mind you, I would personally tend to “skip the condoms” for an Internet hookup — because the idea of having anal sex on a first-time encounter is unfathomably bizarre to me. If it’s gonna be a semi-anonymous, possibly one-time thing, let’s stick to mutual J/O and making out. We can discuss other stuff if we decide there’s enough chemistry to take things to the “semi-regular sex buddies” stage…)

  • vive

    @Michael, you have “enemies”!? How dramatic, you sound like my brother. :)

    As for cruising habits, just put “dating” or “friends” in the profile if you feel ashamed to be seen “cruising.” Lots of guys look for relationships online and that is pretty socially acceptable even in conservative circles. And you can still cruise. :)

    I will seldom even respond to a faceless profile unless they send a face picture (or unlock one) with the first ping, and I think most guys around here are like this. When I have responded, they were almost always guys who were sneaking around behind their girlfriends’ back (or boyfriends’ but mostly girlfriends’), or guys with weirdly preserved bodies who are trying to put one over on you regarding their stated age. Not that I didn’t go through with it with a cheater a few times, but I feel kind of guilty about it when I do.

  • michael

    “you have “enemies”!? How dramatic, you sound like my brother. :)”

    Haha! I don’t know anyone who I consider an enemy… never have.
    I enjoy the gay community in all of its various permutations –
    even the crazy/trendy/kinky dudes are fun to observe from a distance.

    But, I do know some people who consider me an enemy for whatever reason
    (on Manhunt, the reason can be as simple as politely declining to “come over right now and f**k me raw.”)
    Some people are just funny that way.

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