In light of the Stephen Port serial Grindr rape and murder case, we question whether our judgement is clouded by the urge for quick sex?

You’ll constantly hear gay men bitch about the pitfalls of dating – specifically gay dating – in the 21st century. But that won’t change the fact that two minutes later you’ll probably see them scrolling down their feed of guys on Grindr, or Hornet, or Scruff, or Planet Romeo, or sometimes: all of the above. Why? Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. And it’s a sad truth that if you don’t board the app-wagon, then you get left behind in a trail of dust.

So we sign-up and browse, ’cause they’re convenient, everybody else is doing it, and messages/swipes give our validation a little daily boost. The trouble with conversing with 2-Dimensional profiles is that you often can’t get a sense for what kind of person they are. Text messages are often misconstrued because it can be how the reader interprets what is said. But when using these apps where casual sex is the norm, we should already have our guard up. Imagine if a guy walked up to you in a bar, and said “U hung?” or “Bareback?” – it goes without saying that you’d be like what the fuck? Before making a swift exit. But somehow because they’re hiding behind a screen, it’s acceptable?

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That’s a red flag straight away, girl. SWERVE. Not only are they probably at the base of the totem pole in the social caste system, but they’re probably still crawling with sperm from their last encounter.

But once you’re involved in the app-world, it’s very easy to get caught up in a cycle of meaningless sex and a damaged self-esteem. Quite simply, because most of these men aren’t looking to date. And so even the ones who would prefer to go for drinks, and see if anything develops, can wind-up surrounded by men that only want one thing. And we are red-blooded men after all, so when there’s sex on a plate, there’s often no qualms about saying no – especially if you’re horny and find the guy is attractive. But are we letting the convenience of casual sex, and the temptation of our animal urges override our judgement of our own safety?

You can speak to anybody who’s used a hook-up/dating app and ask them to tell you about one of their misdemeanours; I’m fairly certain they’ll have several. Because it happens all the time. You rock up to someone’s house and they don’t look like they’re pictures, or say weird shit like, “my mum helped me decorate.” Yeah, I’m sure she helped you hide the bodies too, but I’m not available for your Norman Bates shit. And the fact that these apps are just crawling with vermin like Stephen Port, makes it even sadder that it’s taken something like this to happen for Grindr to issue warnings.

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Grindr can encourage you to be safe, but only you can put it into action. When you’re chatting with a link, ask yourself a few questions, “do they sound normal?”, “do they look normal?”, and as a general rule, meet him in public (for an ice-breaker, as discussed in Attitude) , have a drink and then go back and bang, if you’re convinced he’s not a basket case. The thing is, unstable people like this, have the ability to masquerade as everyday people, which is why anything that doesn’t sit right, is a direct warning from your gut.

When our friends go off to get their willy wet, we’d frequently say “be careful”, which they’d interpret as “wear a condom bitch!” but that’s obviously not the biggest danger anymore. Because the apps are so instantaneous, it’s easy to get carried away – but just remember that if you’re not 100% sure, you’re urge to shoot your wad could cost you your life.

Anthony Gilét