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Cupid, Please Take Your Aim at Me

Phil Henricks Talks Valentine's and Online Dating

By Troy Maillis


Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and Cupid is taking aim. So what is it that you are looking for this year? Love? Hot sex? A new relationship? Prince charming to come sweep you off your feet? Unfortunately, we don’t live in a fairytale and this is not a Taylor Swift song. Finding love, or even a date, in the gay community can be as challenging as convincing Helena Bonham Carter to dress like a princess come Oscar night. Being single on Valentine’s Day can either be a blessing or a curse. Will you celebrate this day of love by loving yourself, or will you go off the deep end and drink yourself into oblivion? Finding love—or sex for that matter—online is nothing new in our world. You get to pick and choose who you want to talk to and who you ultimately want to meet up with. You are the conductor of your own private symphony of lust and abandon. Phil Henricks, Head Of North American Market,, recently opened up to Mark's List about Valentine’s Day, online dating and the future of finding that someone special in the viral world. Hey, Cupid’s arrow may only be one click away.


Does traffic and membership generally increase around Valentine’s Day? If so, how much?


The beginning of the year is always crazy busy. After 10 years in this business, I can tell you January is always the busiest month for a lot of reasons. New Year’s resolutions (out with the old, in with the new…boys), guys rebounding from holiday blues, the winter blahs and of course, Valentine’s Day right on the horizon. All these things add up to guys getting a bit more serious about romance. More “LTR,” than “NSA.” For a lot of guys, especially up north, a snuggle buddy sounds really good right now, so they’re out husband hunting!


How do you think Valentine’s Day differs for gay couples and straight couples?


Not much, really, if we’re honest. Everyone loves a Valentine’s Day card, extra attention, a sweet date and a nice box—of chocolates. Even the most “masc jock” has a soft spot for romance. That said, I don’t think gay couples–in general because frankly, like straight guys, we’re men–take it as seriously as the ladies do. Girls get crazy, whereas guys are pretty low-key or even forget. At least until they get home.


Why do you think so many gay men look for love and/or companionship online as opposed to finding it in public?


We’re busy. Whether you’ve got a corporate gig, are a personal trainer or waiter, everyone’s strapped for time. A great number of us, regardless of our profession, are online the greater part of a day, so it’s easy to just hop online, sniff around and weed through your likes and dislikes–your preferences–online. It’s also a godsend for guys who are too busy or live in remote areas, as they now have a shot a meeting their true love, in ways they never could before online dating. But once you’ve met that nice guy, it’s all about downshifting from the instant gratification of the internet to the real-time work and patience of dating.


How much has online dating increased over the last decade and what does the future hold?


Ten years ago online dating was virtually taboo, the wild west of dating. Now, it’s totally respectable and expected. If you meet someone who doesn't have at least one profile on a dating or social network site you wonder what’s up, what’s he hiding? As far as the future goes, it’s all about mobile. We’re no longer chained to a laptop, thanks to devices like iPhones and iPads, both of which support our spanking new Gaydar App (plug, plug), which will be available for the Android this Spring.


Do you or have you personally used gay online dating sites to meet “the one”?

I have memberships on several sites and have met some of my closest friends, best “dates” and a few exes—all online. It works for me on a lot of levels, and I think this is true for a lot of guys.


Do you think online memberships are leaning more towards legitimate dating instead of just hooking up? Or will online dating always carry a stigma of trolling for sex?


I think guys who think online dating is purely for hook-ups haven’t spent enough time checking out the variety of dating sites available to them. There are a variety of sites out there covering the spectrum from frisky “drop ‘em!” “NSA” play, to serious “I want the ring!” Gaydar offers both. Guys who dismiss online dating sites as hook-up sites are as much of a throwback as guys who used to resort to cruising dirty bookstores. As Flannery O'Connor famously said, “A good man is hard to find,” and as Mae West retorted, “"A hard man is good to find”—but ya gotta look!


Is HIV-positive friendly? Do you think there needs to be more online dating sites for HIV-positive men to meet others?


Gaydar is very HIV-positive friendly as are most sites. Gaydar handles the HIV+/HIV-/Safe Sex issue somewhat differently than other sites. We don't ask users to state whether he is HIV+ or HIV-. Instead, we have a Safe Sex pull-down tab on our profile pages from which guys can select “Always,” “Sometimes,” “Never,” or “Needs Discussion.” At the end of the day, when you consider issues like frequency of HIV testing, the 3- month window of abstinence to be sure the results are accurate and drug use, the real issue is do you engage in safe sex or not? The choice is yours. HIV-/HIV+ or HIV+/HIV+, with 6,000,000 members, chances are you’ll find a compatible sex partner. And when you do meet, look each other in the eye, put down the cocktail and talk about it: Get comfortable with each other as men, not bodies, even if it’s just a “NSA” fling. No post-orgasmic remorse!


Have any couples written in to thank for getting them together?


Yes, we get many emails from happy couples around the world. We even have a photo in the office of a couple from Boston that met on Gaydar and got married. What are some elements of a profile that would render it unapproved? Oh brother! We’re pretty relaxed, but we do have a list. Here ya go, straight (ish) from the approval room: Pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, kiddy porn, violence, mutilation, police uniforms, weapons (guns, knives, AK47s, grenade launchers), drugs—basically, all the fun stuff—plus, celebrity photos not posted by the celebrity himself (hello Boy George!) and then, of course, boring practical things like copyrighted material, links to other dating sites and photos containing contact details.


What makes different or more appealing than other gay-member sites?


Well, 6,000,000 members worldwide for starters, as we like to say, “lots of fresh faces from around the world and around the corner." As an international site, it’s not only great for guys looking for local dates, but also for guys planning a trip. Hit the travel button, enter your travel plans and arrange to have a friendly face greet you on your arrival! Gaydar profiles are very flexible and allow members to truly express who they are and what they’re looking for, plus upload up to 26 photos and even videos. Strut your stuff, display some wit, be honest, nice and for God’s sake, smile! We really try to make it as easy to be yourself, because that's the key to dating success. Additionally, our App is fully integrated with its host website, allowing App and web users the exact same access to its profiles and options—pretty cool and convenient. No parallel profiles! We’re in the process of giving the website an extreme makeover, which will be ready for the big reveal this Spring. Finally, the first month is free full access, so for those lonely hearts out there, time to jump on Gaydar and find your honey. Or, er, stud! ump on Gaydar and find your honey. Or, er, stud!

About Phil Henricks

Phil Henricks, Head Of North American Market for the UK-based A bit of a pioneer, his previous titles were Director of Marketing at–a position he held for five years during which he was responsible for the site’s tremendous growth and peak in the marketplace–and, before that, Promotions Director,, which was the forerunner to Manhunt and similar.

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