I'm Zachary Zane, a sex writer and ethical manwhore (a fancy way of saying I sleep with a lot of people, and I'm very, very open about it). Over the years, I've had my fair share of sexual experiences, dating and sleeping with hundreds of people of all genders and orientations. In doing so, I've learned a thing or two about navigating issues in the bedroom (and a bunch of other places, TBH). I'm here to answer your most pressing sex questions with thorough, actionable advice that isn't just "communicate with your partner," because you know that already. Ask me anything—literally, anything—and I will gladly Sexplain It.
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Dear Sexplain It,
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I met a guy on Scruff, and we’ve been furiously sexting for a week straight, sending nudes and personalized videos. Everything was going great, and we made plans to meet up IRL next week. Well, I just realized his Snapchat username was on Scruff and I ended up doing some social media research only to discover that he has an extremely offensive Twitter account that doesn't remotely align with my progressive beliefs. (There was even some homophobic stuff on there.) The account hasn't been used in a while, and I guess it's possible he's had a total awakening, but still, my attraction is completely gone.
He’s still texting me, and we’re supposed to have this date coming up, and I don’t know what to say or how to cancel. Help!
— Sexting a Troll
Dear Sexting a Troll,
What a bummer! I'm just imagining how upset I would be if I had a crush on someone, only to learn they had internalized homophobia and other hateful beliefs. Luckily, there are plenty of other gay men out there who love sending nudes and don't actively eschew being a decent human being. (I'd argue that's the majority of queer men.)
I agree that you should cancel. The cool thing about dating is that you don't owe anybody anything, and you should never do something that makes you uncomfortable. The question is how to go about said cancellation.
It comes down to your personal preference whether you decide to ghost, make up an excuse, or truthfully explain why you no longer want to meet. They're all valid options! So I’m going to go ahead and break down each option here, so you can decide how you want to proceed.
Let’s start with ghosting:
While there’s a chance—albeit a slim one—that his politics have drastically changed since he stopped using the account, your attraction to him is gone. I don’t think it’s coming back, even if he had some big awakening. So rather than engage with him, you can totally ghost. He's most likely still a hateful jerk, so feel free to block his number and move right along.
But I get that ghosting gives some people anxiety, regardless of how shitty the recipient is. You might get antsy knowing he’s waiting at the bar for you because you planned a date, and you stood him up. So it may help your anxiety to say something to him, which leads us to our next two options.
Making up an excuse:
If you decide to make up an excuse, the key is making a permanent excuse—not something temporary, because you don't want to leave room for rescheduling attempts. If you say, “Hey, things have gotten serious with another guy, so I’m not going to be able to talk or meet up,” he might say he still wants to be friends. If you say, “Hey! I’m really swamped with work, so I’m going to have to cancel our date,” he may follow up in a couple of weeks asking if work has calmed down and if you’re free to meet up. Then you’re back at square one.
Instead, I recommend expressing that you don’t want to see him, without explaining why. (This isn't really an excuse as much as a rejection, but you get the point.) You can say, “Hey, I’ve actually changed my mind and no longer want to meet up. Sorry.” Then keep it moving. If he replies asking for an explanation, don’t reply. This is different from ghosting, FYI! (It is wild how many people misuse the term “ghosting.”) You told him you’re done, and in your situation, where you’ve only been sexting for a couple of weeks and haven’t met up IRL, I don’t think you owe an explanation as to why. If he demands to know why—which, given his Twitter, he might—you can block his number and carry on with your life.
Telling him the truth:
Of course, you can also tell him the truth. When I showed your question to licensed therapist and writer Jor-El Caraballo, LMHC, he noted that calling this dude out could be a cathartic experience.
“Queer people have to contend with a lot of homophobia online and in real life every day; with that, it's valid to confront this person straight on for the sake of standing up for yourself and your community,” Caraballo says. “There can never be enough of calling out bigotry and homophobia in the world. We desperately need to keep fighting that fight. Being assertive in this way can be incredibly healing. Ghosting won't give you that.”
You can say something along the lines of: “I’m going to be honest with you. I saw what you’ve posted on Twitter over the years, and I have no desire to go on a date with someone who’s small-minded, homophobic, and hateful.” Short and sweet!
There’s a decent chance he responds with something rude and hateful. If he has no problem saying horrible shit online, I don’t think he’ll have any problem telling you how you’re actually the awful, small-minded person. In this scenario, I recommend you block and move along. No one has time for that type of harassment.
If this form of confrontation evokes incredible anxiety, then this won’t be a cathartic experience. If you’re going to spiral, wondering if he’s going to publicly post the nudes you sent him in an act of revenge porn, then don’t call him out—go back to options one and two. While I’m all for standing up for the queer community, my focus is on you and your mental health. (After all, you are a member of the queer community!)
But if you think you have it in you, let him know: Bigots don’t get laid.
Zachary Zane is the author of Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto and co-author of Men’s Health Best. Sex. Ever. He writes “Sexplain It,” the sex and relationship advice column at Men’s Health, and is editor-in-chief of the BOYSLUT Zine, which publishes nonfiction erotica from kinksters across the globe. His work has been featured in New York Times, Rolling Stone, Washington Post, Playboy, and more.