By Ben Henry @NotAgainBen

Whether you’ve had it and binned it, got it and hate it, or use it every night to get yourself laid, at some point or another every gay man has come across the app with a bad reputation – Grindr. 

Put into literal terms, the app itself should be something of a horror. What’s creepier than logging on to an app to see something akin to Jack the Ripper less than five feet away? But whether you loathe it or love it, chances are you use it. A bad reputation has to come from somewhere and it’s pretty obvious where gays target their hatred for the app – “it’s just about sex!” 

If you want to get laid, Grindr’s your A-Z directory for an intimate one-on-one, a feeding-time-at-the-zoo orgy or just your general bag and shag. But what if you’re looking for something with a bit more substance and a bit less dick? But not having much luck, eh? Is it really Grindr that’s to blame, or is it that ‘just looking for friends but here’s my dick’ picture you’ve been sending to every man and his dog...

Rule #1

The profile picture 

Now this is your weapon of mass allure. This is essentially your first selling point. We’d all like to think that our personality counts for something, but unfortunately Grindr is more meat market than upmarket. You need something to reel those fish in. Having said that, this is not a cue for you to spread your legs in your favourite jock. Your profile picture gives your first statement, so crack a smile on it and highlight your best features. And remember: HIDE THE JOCK IF YOU WANT MORE THAN JUST THE COCK, NO RACY PICS IF YOU WANT HIM TO STICK. I could go on... 

Rule #2

Here’s my dick. Oh, and hi. 

Surprising really, isn’t it? Barely a week goes by without me choosing to introduce myself to a stranger genitalia first. Under normal, everyday circumstances, who drops their knickers to give you a glimpse of the goods before so much as a “hi, how do you do?” If you want more than a pump and dump, this first rule should be pretty obvious. Surprisingly, greeting a man beaver first will not lead to candles and flowers. It might get you a quickie in the backseat. 

Rule #3

What you want and what you don’t

Knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do. OK, so you want a date. But are you looking for a casual fling or a relationship thing, a wedding ring or a cock ring? Once you figure out what it is you’re after, you can go about ignoring the things you’re not. Looking for a serious date? Best to ignore that cretin who’s sent four dick pics and an ass shot just in case. 

Rule #4

Be you. Or the best version of...

If you’re trying to score a date, there’s no use imitating somebody else to make yourself more appealing. Your cover’s going to be blown when you’ve painted yourself as James Bond if you’re more James Corden. However, that’s not to say you can’t paint the best version of yourself. Be careful not to take it too far though. I once spoke about Manchester United to appeal to a supporting suitor. This resulted in a date at Old Trafford. I spent 90 minutes plus extra time hating myself.  

Rule #5

Don’t exaggerate, just embellish. 

Do not make anything larger, thicker or overly unrealistic. When you get down to it, you’ll be outed as a professional bullshitter. Of course, this relates to more than penis size. Not that you’ll be flashing that of course, we’re trying to get you a date here. Realistic embellishment is key if you’re attempting to make yourself more appealing. Tell him you don’t date often. Don’t tell him you went on one last week. 

Rule #6

Keep it clean. Or at the most PG. 

An extension to rule 2. Not greeting somebody with a willy wiggle is a start, but if you’re attempting to create a date opportunity, keep it in your Calvins. This is a fine line, because at the same time you don’t want to appear as the frigid Sister Sinless of the Virgin Mary Convent. Flirting was invented for a reason. Give him a reason to want to see more. 

Rule #7

A mystery is exciting until it is solved

And finally, one last nugget of advice – don’t give it all up front! Men are very fickle creatures. Don’t give them enough and they’ll grow bored. Give them too much and it’s mission accomplished – on to the next one. Ever slept with somebody on the first date and they haven’t called back for a second? Wake up sweetheart. Putting it all out on the table, jocks and all, leaves you very exposed and with nothing left to offer. Give him enough to keep him interested, not enough to push him to his next conquest.


We’re not fools here at FS. We know that talking about HIV and safer sex on Grindr/Scruff/Tinder might be a bit of a mood killer but it needs to be done. 

Here’s why:

In 2013, 3,250 gay men were diagnosed as HIV-positive.

A third of new HIV diagnoses are in gay men under the age of 30.

About 16% of HIV-positive gay men don’t know they have it. 

What does that mean?

If someone says they are ‘neg’ this does not mean they are. They may think they are but you never know. It takes a lot of trust to have unprotected sex with someone. Having bareback sex with someone because ‘they seem like a nice guy’ will not stop you from becoming HIV-positive. 

How to talk about HIV without killing the mood.

You clean?

Where do we start with this one? Not only is asking someone if they are ‘clean’ extremely offensive (why? because you are saying that HIV-positive men are dirty) but it’s pretty pointless. 

The vast majority (about 80%) of gay men who become HIV-positive do so from having bareback sex with someone who doesn’t know they have HIV. So that guy who says he is HIV-negative, might not be. 

So what’s the magic answer? Ideally, as a sexual health magazine, we should tell you to ask someone when they were last tested, do they know their status, etc… If you feel like you are confident, to do this then, yes, this is the best way to talk about HIV and safer sex. 

However, if you feel like this is something you can’t do then here is one simple thing you can do:

Put your last test results in your profile description. For example: ‘Last test, 29/11/2014 all neg’. It’s short and sweet and to the point. This tells people that you are conscious about your health and will break the ice about talking about safer sex. Your last test result may not reflect your current HIV status if you have taken any risks. 

If you are HIV-positive:

Disclosing your status can be a difficult thing to do on apps. If you want to let people know you are living with HIV, put your HIV status in your bio. For example: ‘HIV+ and undetectable’. You may get some ignorant questions but people only ask them because they don’t know. 

If you don’t want to talk about HIV:

Use condoms and plenty of lube when having sex with every new partner. If you’re negative then test for HIV and other STIs on a regular basis. It’s recommended you test at least once a year but if you partake in risky sex then you should test on a much more regular basis. It takes HIV roughly four weeks to show up on a test.

If you’re positive, undectable and on medication the risk of passing on HIV is low, but you may pick up other infections if you have unprotected sex.