Man is a social animal. Forty thousand years of evolution taught our male ancestors to spend lots of time with one another, mostly for hunting. That’s why it’s perfectly natural for straight men to enjoy the company of their male peer group.
Go to any college campus, where social life is at its most spontaneous, and you’ll see this instinct being played out all the time. Even if there aren’t fraternity houses on campus, there will still be groups of guys studying, or sitting around drinking beer and shooting the bull all night. All this without any homosexual anxiety. So if you feel anxious about spending time with another guy without being perceived as gay, get over it. As a man, you need the friendship of other men. It’s perfectly normal.
(By the way, women seem to automatically recognize the same thing about themselves. That’s why they so often go out with female friends, and nobody thinks they’re lesbians for doing so.)
The other problem men have is that, after college, the opportunities to socialize with each other dwindle to almost none. We’re all so busy these days that it’s almost impossible to speak to even your kid’s third-grade teacher without scheduling the time in advance. The modern concept of “man dating” is really nothing more than blocking out some time with your buddy in the same way you’d make an appointment with your dentist.
It’s worth pointing out that man dates are usually very casual, in that one guy does not go into a great deal of preparation for the sake of the other, which makes sense. If guys are friends, and if it’s just the two of them, there’s rarely any need for such preparation. With larger groups of guys, of course, more preparation is necessary when you’re organizing an activity, but in that situation it’s no longer a man date, strictly speaking.
Also, many straight men have male friends who are openly gay. A guy can be fun to spend time with regardless of his sexual orientation. It all goes back to our being social animals. Many guys who get married or live with a girlfriend make the mistake of trying to get all their emotional support from that one person. That’s like trying to get all your nutrients from a diet of only beans.
And that, my friends, is why real men go on man dates.