It hasn’t happened for awhile so I was a little taken aback when I got the call.

“You have to talk my friend’s little sister! She’s dating this guy and everyone knows he’s gay except her!”

You have no idea how many times I’ve received a call like this. And no, I am not Dr. Ruth, I am your average schmo who has managed, no less than four times in her single life, to date a gay man. To my friends, this makes me an expert on the subject, hence the phone calls. And since I have yet to meet another person who has beaten my record, I tend to agree with them.

And it’s not just that I dated a guy who later then came out of the closet, it was that I was the last woman they dated before coming out of the closet. So after years of reflection, jokes, and analysis-with said men as they are the only men I have remained friends with after the demise of a relationship, I feel uniquely qualified to list some “indicators” that you might be dating a gay man.

Mind you, this is in no way to disparage my gay male exes. The simple fact that I am still friends with all four of them (except maybe you, “S”, you talked me into chemically straightening my hair which resulted in a nuclear explosion I have yet to recover from, and don’t deny it, you know you did), should lend a certain amount of credibility. And my exes and I are all in agreement that while women should always be friends with gay men, it’s generally best not to date them.

I realize times have changed in the last 8 years since I was out swimming in the dating pool, but dating, as always, is still tricky stuff. Discovering who you are as a person looking for a life partner is trickier still. Coming out of the closet, well, that has to be the hardest damn thing ever. So I offer these little tidbits as lesson in efficient and economical dating for the single girl. Obviously, these rules aren’t hard and fast, just something to think about if you have other suspicions percolating:

Gay Boy Lesson #1:

I was a tender, teen-aged, tomboy and in my freshman year of high school I dated a guy from my neighborhood. “C” was this super cute soccer player who lived a few blocks over. I was awkward and just learning how to wear dresses, so the fact that he was interested in me was a shock. But we dated and everything was bliss except for the fact that he never seemed to want to kiss me. No braces at the time and I was meticulous about my dental care, so I wasn’t sure what the problem was.

Well, he eventually did make his move, in the darkest corner of my parents’ front porch, which is exactly where all the action stayed. If there was even the slightest sliver of light, then any chance of making out was a no-go. This of course leads me to:

Indicator #1 That You May Be Dating a Gay Man: What happens in the dark never strays from the dark. Unless you have some seriously devoted and honest friends who can tell you to your bean that you are one butt-ugly hag, if the guy you are dating has to be in complete and utter darkness to lock lips (like say, in a closet?), then you need to move one to greener pastures.

Gay Boy Lesson #2:

“D1” happened along a few years later. I was junior in high school at this point and I was introduced to “D” via some friends who attended another school. “D1” was tall, dark, handsome, and mysterious. He totally rocked out the tortured, teen-aged, artist persona and I fell for it faster than you can say “Morissey”. My first hint really should have been that he taught me how to apply liquid eyeliner in a perfect cat-eye swoop and how to straighten my hair with a curling iron, but hey, I admit it, I’ve always been a little slow on the uptake. But the second hint was that “D1” had a friend “K” that always seem to hang around. We go on a date and “K” was there. We go to the coffee shop (the thing to do in Detroit during the late 80’s when you are too young to go to bars) and hey! There’s “K”! Try to make out during the movie and my boyfriend is staring at “K” who is staring right back.

Indicator # 2 That You May Be Dating a Gay Man: He is waaaaaaay more into his “guy friends” than he could ever be into you. Now an adendum to this would also be that if your guy friend needs stimulus to kiss you, like say, the presence of another guy, then refer to the advice offered a the end of Indicator #1.

Gay Boy Lesson #3:

Oooooo, this brings us to “S”. “S” was a tricky case. I was in college and finally thinking that I had developed a sense of gaydar when “S” evolved onto the scene. I say “evolved” because I had known “S” for since junior high. He was baaaaad. He dated every female friend I had and with horrific results yet, they still loved him and wanted him back. It is no mean feat at the age of 22 to love ’em and leave ’em and have them begging for more, but “S” was that guy. He brought out the evil in women. All my female friends who had fallen for his line of crap would lie, cheat, and steal to get him back and thought nothing backstabbing any close female friend in the process.

I only remained friends with “S” for one simple reason: although he left, abruptly, every female he ever dated, the fact was, he really liked women. I mean, he treated them very well. He really and truly enjoyed their company. His only crime was that he was a man-whore and I could hardly fault him for that if I wasn’t dating him, now could I? That, and he was really fun to go shopping with which he would do, at a moment’s notice. 24/7.

So, of course, I make the mistake, eventually, of hooking with “S”. And it was all fun and games until the sex. That and the fact that he talked me into cutting off all my hair and really loved the fact that I was into body building at the time.

Indicator #3 That You May Be Dating a Gay Man: He has lots of relationships with women but finds no satisfaction in having sex with any of them. I’m invoking the “China Rule” on this one. If a billion Chinese say noodles are good to eat, then statistically speaking, it’s hard to argue otherwise. So, if “S” has had sex with over 20 females, and I’m convinced there’s more, and he hasn’t enjoyed a single instance…well…then…

Indicator #3 Adendum: If he also talks you into cutting off all your hair and really loves the fact that you are into body building, in short, if your boyfriend finds you more attractive when you look more like a dude and less like a girl (and I admit, I was heading down that road), then Ricki’s gots sum splainin’ to do…

Gay Boy Lesson #4.

This leads us to “D2”, whom I thought was gay from the start. A really successful musician who was only doing the music gigs until he could become and arts and drama teacher in Canada. He dressed like a prince and had more “product” than Liberace. We met after a performance at a charity event and after hours of revealing ourselves as movie fanatics, he asked me out to see a film. Since I was convinced from the start of his orientation, I felt no compulsion to refuse. I thought we’d go as friends. We had a fabulous evening of dinner, drinks, movie, and window shopping and it wasn’t until he walked me to my door and planted one on me that I had any inkling of anything being remiss.

Of course, when he kissed me, I thought: “WTF!? You’re gay!”. But this was also 1996 and the emergence of the Metrosexual Culture (although this is before the actual term “Metrosexual”), so I thought maybe I just read the situation wrong. But everything screamed that he was gay, so I dated him until I could find out what was really going on.

And what went on was Indicator #1, #2, and #3 (plus the adendum). So add to this #4:

Indicator #4 You May Be Dating a Gay Man: His apartment. Palatial with a water view, white walls, wall to wall white shag carpeting, and broken plaster reliefs of male anatomy everywhere. Seriously, it was Greecian shrine to the male body. That’s innocuous if you are Samantha on SATC, but not so much if you are a guy.

**Side Note: D2, who is contributing editor to this entry, denies that the carpet was white and wishes to point out that it was “ecru”. I would like to point out that he is only serving to further my initial argument.

It was after “D2” that I decided on an about face in my dating choices which led to a terrific series of a-hole, jock, jackasses. Luckily, after an intervention from both “C” and “D2”, who were dating I might add (seriously, only in my life could this have happened, and don’t either of you try to deny it! You know you were!!!), I was led back down the road of sane and normal dating.

Of course, this leads to Sailor Man and it’s been happily ever after…relatively speaking.

So there you have it. That’s my story. I’ve said it before, dating is tricky. If you have your doubts about your guy’s true intentions, then address them quickly so you can get on with being best pals. And they are. The exes that is. They are some of the best pals a girl could have and I love them all dearly.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get my weekly fix of Neil Patrick Harris in HIMYM. “C”, “D1”, and I are totally obsessed with him…of course.