If there's anything good about so many available dating sites and apps, it's that online dating is no longer considered taboo. Of course it's annoying when our friends cling to their phones obsessing over a potential date, and sure, it's not easy to concentrate on all the beauties Israel has to offer while traveling around, when the "incoming message" folder is on fire. We blush, we explain ourselves, we might even say a white lie or two, but let's face it: Israel might be a small country, but there are plenty of fish in the sea, especially when it comes to gay dating apps.
"Not into hookups - only serious guys!" - says the description on their Grindr profile, which of course most people won't read at all. Unwanted "xxx pics" and booty calls are part of the game, but these guys often express how much they loathe gay dating society, they refuse to engage in casual hook ups, and if they find out you are a tourist they won't even engage because for them separation means complications. Their profile picture shows a nice guy wanting to share love - but their high expectations and lack of spontaneity often pushes them away from finding the one who they could make the dream come true with.
The Playful Couples
Poor ever-busy Tel Aviv couples with overrun schedules, simply not having the time to even squeeze in a quickie between a brunch and a meeting. They are forced to look for convenience outside of their relationship. Some of the long term partners have a reputation already - these guys have been on dating sites for years, and most of them play separately and together as well as threeways and many other ways. A significant amount of the local singles have slept with (at least) one of them, so half of Tel Aviv knows all the info when it comes to size, shape, technique, and of course the name of their dogs.
The Macho Tribe
"Send photo with first message!", "Only XL!", "No feminine guys!", "Only muscled men", and, a favorite: "Real man for real man!" These profile descriptions belong to the peeps who take being gay to the next level and they refuse to date visibly gay men. As absurd as this sounds, they are the fastest growing tribe, and thanks to them, being on Grindr feels like being back in high school, being bullied by the popular jocks in gym class. Their profile picture is a close up of their abs, most likely taken at the gym. Don't take it personally if they block you for saying hi. They do it to everyone with 10% or more body fat.
The Kinky Ones
Some people don't even bother describing themselves to the public - they simply stick a pig emoji on their Grindr profile. For the layman, this might mean the person is for animal rights, or he is referring to the body structure of his desired man, but in the gay world, a piggy means someone who is into naughty stuff. And somehow the Middle East is full of them. Without getting graphic, if someone wishes to play with multiple partners and would be up for doing so by leaving his door open, waiting in the bed naked for someone to come by, in Tel Aviv he can arrange the party within a matter of hours. It's not uncommon to receive invitations for "friendly gatherings" of different kinds the instant one gets online in the White City. And it's all good... just stay safe, and watch out for each other.
The Secret Society
The most exciting ones (yet). Some of these guys are bi-curious, others are happily (?) married, and of course there are the ones who come from religious backgrounds, or were raised with conventional values. In Jerusalem, Grindr is like a chess board: every second guy has a blank, black square instead of a profile picture, and most of them are Orthodox Jews or Muslim Arabs. Forget the rules - the classic "hey, send pics" line won't work with them. If you want to meet them, you'll need to expect a blind date situation. It might even be a sign-language date, because some of these guys are so far from western society, they don't even speak English. In exchange, you're in for an intimate culture swap, and an opportunity to peek into a world usually desperately hidden away from openly gay society.
The Social Butterflies
If meeting up with a stranger for sex is the new normal, why would it be weird to meet a stranger for coffee in Jaffa's flea market, or for a pre-party drink on Dizengoff Street? Forget the stereotypes about everyone looking for sex, and open your heart and Grindr profile in front of fun and fabulous people, simply wanting to socialize. How to recognize them? Their self-description is catchy and it makes you smile, and they most probably use a far-fetched, overly-Instagrammed selfie as their profile pic, linking all their social media profiles so you can get to know more about them in one click. For most people, looking for friends on dating apps sounds like going out for brunch in a jewelry store, but hey, Audrey had breakfast at Tiffany's, right?
The most popular gay online dating options in Israel are the Israeli developed Grindr, the old time classic Planet Romeo, and the local favorite Atraf - all of them available as apps as well.
If you've had enough of the regulars on these sites, you can always check out Craigslist for Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, where mostly tourists and traveling businessmen are searching for some instant love.