I first heard about the shiny penny syndrome when living in West Hollywood. I didn’t really have to ask for a definition because not only is it relatively self-explanatory, but it makes perfect sense when referring to men on the gay scene. Although, apparently it’s so rife in WeHo, the term is more common than the UK – and y’all thought LA was shallow?!

Shiny Penny Syndrome occurs when you’re dating a magpie that can’t keep his eyes off someone sparklier. Mhmm, it’s all fun and games until a twink with a twinkle minces past. Like, where do you even get off having a jawline so chiseled it’s distracting my date? Rude. The premise is that it’s based solely on their initial impression, and often not worth anything more than a quick play with; a magpie with a shiny penny. The problem in gay society, is that there’s always someone hotter, younger and fitter on the next Grindr screen.

Modern dating only adheres to that notion. We fuck without names, we date without genuine intentions and we often opt for the easier option (because the grass is always greener, right?) And very often men believe they can do better. Y’all wanna fuck with horses when you can have a unicorn?! Madness.

And while this may make the future of dating sound bleak, it does offer a reasoning as to why men will just bounce in and out of your life so quickly. If he suddenly goes cold on you, before spending hours, days, even weeks beating yourself up and wondering what went wrong, just remember that it could be something as simple as a shiny penny spreading their legs a little quicker, and stealing yo’ man from beneath you.

The fact that we’ve become a sea of sexually active profiles searching for love and lust and everything else our body can handle, means that anonymity is more common. And, as HoPo writer Juliet Jeske suggests, “people have a tendency to behave badly and get away with it”; men can just disappear from your life without a trace, move on quicker and compartmentalize their true feelings, because they’re swimming in shiny pennies. But really, who wants to date a magpie anyway?

There’s little anyone can do to change the tide of dating, apart from knowing that having something more to offer than a sparkly distraction, will attract somebody far more genuine. Someone that’ll realise a shiny penny doesn’t have shit on a diamond.

Anthony Gilét