10 Tips for Dating When You Come Out Later in Life

Nov 05, 2021

10 Tips for Dating When You Come Out Later in Life

Queer Dating Tips to Know Before You Put Yourself Out There

Coming out and diving into the dating scene can be difficult and daunting at any age, but especially if you come out later in life.

In the modern age, you may not know where to find potential partners, how to strike up a conversation, or what to say.

When you’re putting yourself out there and being vulnerable with someone new, it’s always going to be a little scary.

But we’ve put together a few tips to help you make that leap of faith!

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What Qualifies as Later in Life?

Later in life is a pretty broad term, and there’s no specific age that puts you in this category.

Do you feel like everyone around you came out years before you did? Did you have a long-term heterosexual relationship or marriage before you came out? Do you feel like all the LGBTQ+ people you see represented in the media are younger than you?

If you relate to any of these questions, you can probably count yourself as someone who came out later in life.

Most of the coming out stories we see online, on television, or in movies are about high school students and young adults.

If it took you a little longer to figure out your sexual orientation or gender identity, or just to be open about it, it’s totally normal to feel disconnected from the queer community.

Whether you’ve just come out or considering it, take a look at these tips for coming out of the closet and diving into LGBTQ+ dating.

10 Tips for Coming Out of the Closet

Coming out of the closet is a process, and it’s different for everyone.

However, you choose to do it and however long it takes is okay. Your journey is extremely personal, and you need to do what feels right for you.

Take as long as you need.

The LGBTQ+ community will be here when you’re ready.

It’s never too late to come out.

Sex & the City star Cynthia Nixon came out as bisexual aged 41.

The Matrix director Lilly Wachowski came out as a trans woman at 49.

Star Trek’s George Takei came out as gay at 68.

Actor Lily Tomlin came out as gay when she was 74.

There is no timeline for coming out. When you’re ready, here are some tips to help you on your journey.

1. Consider Your Generation

There are certainly generational differences when it comes to attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people.

Generally, older generations can sometimes be less understanding, because LGBTQ+ identities weren’t discussed the way they are now.

With better representation in the media, younger generations are more familiar with the many different ways people identify.

But don’t let that put you off if you’re older!

Being authentic and vulnerable takes bravery.

While some people might take a little while to understand what your identity means if they really care about you, they’ll do the work.

And it’s by no means always this way! People can surprise you!

2. Some May Already Know

One of the most common reactions people report after coming out, particularly later in life, is loved ones saying they already knew.

Sometimes this is just a reassurance that nothing will change between you now that you’ve come out. Sometimes those we love can see the signs before we do.

With lots of people, their internalized homophobia and shame prevent them from seeing what was right in front of them all along. 

People might drop hints if they have a feeling you might be LGBTQ+, like asking if you have a partner at the moment, rather than asking if you’re dating a man or a woman.

They do this to make you feel safer coming out to them, so know that you have their support if you notice someone doing it.

They could be a great starting point if you want to come out to someone but aren’t sure who to come out to first.

3. Different Ways to Identify

There are many, many different ways you can identify.

Nowadays, hundreds of different labels describe sexual orientation, gender identity, presentation, and romantic attraction. 

Perhaps do some research and see which terms feel right to you. If none of them do, that’s okay too.

Describe your sexuality and gender however you want – there are no rules.

4. Be Clear with Your Intentions

Suppose you’re thinking about dipping your toe into dating for the first time since coming out. In that case, it’s important to understand what you’re looking for and communicate this with a potential partner.

Many people starting out in the dating pool want to experiment with dating different people to explore what they want. That’s totally valid

But be sure to be open about this with anyone you’re dating.

If the other person is looking for something serious and you’re just looking to play the field for a while, they may feel let down if they find out further along the line.

So be upfront and explain where you’re at. Most people will have been in your position before and will be understanding.

5. Communicate Your Dating Style

Similarly, think about what your dating style is and be open about that.

Perhaps you’ve come out as polyamorous, or you want to explore polyamory to see if it’s right to you. Telling people can help manage expectations and keep everyone on the same page.

Do you tend to only date one person at a time, or are you just looking to explore different options and experiment with dating?

Letting people know where you are at will help you understand each other better and make sure you’re both getting what you want.

6. Talk about STI Testing

No matter how old you are, it’s important to stay safe.

Many people have never been educated about sexual health when you’re LGBTQ+, so do your research first if you’re not sure.

If you’re experimenting and having sex with multiple partners, try to get tested between each one if you can.

This will ensure that if you do get an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection), you can catch it early and treat it before you pass it on.

Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it with potential partners. Ask when they were last tested or how many people they’ve had sex with since their last test.

It’s important to prioritize your sexual health.

7. Trust Your Gut to Find the Right Partner

Trusting your gut can get you a long way in dating.

Even if we’re not exactly sure why, some people will just feel right, and some people won’t.

Whether you think that’s your subconscious, your intuition, or something else, pay attention to these feelings when you’re dating. 

Sometimes there’s not a spark right away, but it’s still worth pursuing to see where it goes.

Sometimes it just doesn’t work, and that’s okay too.

8. Get Involved in Your Local LGBTQ+ Community

If you’re not ready to dive into dating yet, just meeting and spending time with other LGBTQ+ people or in queer spaces can help you feel a part of the community.

It’s common for people who come out when they’re older to feel disconnected from the community and not have many other queer people they can talk to. 

Get involved in an LGBTQ+ charity or local organization. Perhaps your workplace has an LGBTQ+ group you can join.

Being in LGBTQ+ spaces and connecting with people who understand what you’re going through can go a long way in helping you understand and accept yourself.

9. Follow Queer Icons on Social Media

If you’re not sure how to connect with LGBTQ+ people in real life, following other queer people on social media can give you that sense of connection to people like you.

Lots of queer icons and influencers have close-knit communities of followers who chat in the comments, share their content, and find community that way.

There are plenty of lists online of influencers doing great work in the community. HER has put together lists of bisexual and lesbian icons, many of whom have big LGBTQ+ followings!

10. Ways to Explore Your Sexuality Without Dating

Don’t worry if you’re still figuring out your sexuality or gender identity and you’re not ready to date just yet.

Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is not just about dating and having sex; it’s also about connecting with people like you who can relate to your experiences and journey.

Have a look online for other ways to connect.

You could join an LGBTQ+ book club or go to an LGBTQ+ book store, watch queer films and TV shows, get involved in an LGBTQ+ charity or community organization.

Take your time and do what you feel ready to do.

Try One of These Unique Ways to Come Out

There are lots of different ways to come out, and different approaches might work well with different people.

Whether you keep it simple or go all out, pick what feels right to you based on your knowledge of yourself, the person you’re coming out to, and your relationship with that person.

If you’re looking for a unique way to come out, have a look at our ideas here.

Find Your Inner Circle with HER

HER is not just a dating app – it’s a way to connect with other LGBTQ+ people that live nearby.

Finding your own community can be a vital source of support and give you people to share your journey with.

HER is a safe space for dating, finding friendships, or joining like-minded communities.

Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it on HER!

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Forever an explorer, Komal still considers herself a California girl at heart and isn't sure she'll ever leave. She gains and loses hobbies every half-decade and has already amassed several different lives. From neuroscientist to creative consultant, she's had many titles - but the one that has stuck is Content Manager at HER. She hopes we get close to world peace and that society will continue to be a queerer, freer place. You can follow Komal on IG @callmekoms

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