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10 dating tips for lesbians looking for love 

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Oct 24, 2023

10 dating tips for lesbians looking for love 

Dating is one of the many ways we get to experience our community as queer people. We have so much to learn about ourselves from getting out there. 

We were all taught the rules of straight dating while growing up, in school, on television, from our friends and family. To find lesbian dating tips, you have to look much harder. From flirting to first dates to relationships, each stage has a distinct lesbian vibe. I hesitate to describe it as harder or easier — it’s just different

When I was growing up, I found straight dating deeply confusing. When I was coming out and learning how to date women, I felt something click. The things that made me weird to men made me an asset in LGBTQIA+ spaces, even beyond dating. To this day, I’ll find myself in a straight bar experiencing the stares of men, and I just find myself thinking, “you don’t get it. My vibe isn’t for you.” 

If you’ve just come out, I’m happy you’re here! I wish you lots of queer joy in your dating life and beyond. If you’re looking to brush up on your skills because you’re dating a new woman, go get her! 

Here are some tips and notes about dating as a lesbian. 

What is lesbian dating culture like? 

Like any philosophical dilemma that gets to the heart of the human experience, answering the question “what is lesbian dating culture like?” will take a lifetime of research. 

We’ve all been on the apps and had the following exchange:

Her: you’re so pretty!

Me: no stop you’re so pretty!!

And then we never speak again. How the hell do you explain that? 

Lesbian dating is a paradox. We long for each other into eternity, and then we move at lightning speed to rent the U-Haul. Sometimes we ghost because we’re afraid of conflict, and sometimes we string someone along for too long because we’re, once again, afraid of conflict. We can’t tell if someone else is gay, but we spend hours planning our own outfits to make sure they can spot us in the wild. It can be great; it can be hell. 

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re ready to figure out the scene for yourself, and that’s the best way to learn how to date women. 

Gay flirting 

Lesbian couple talking on the beach

Before we get into gay dating, we have to start with gay flirting. Flirting is what? Fundamental. 

Lesbian flirting is a distinct skill, different from straight flirting, of course. Get those romantic comedy scenes out of your head because we still need a great lesbian RomCom. You’re going to have to make it up as you go along. 

In my experience, queer women and nonbinary people are often too modest to admit when someone is flirting with them, and by the time they say something out loud, it’s probably pretty obvious. 

“A girl is being flirty with you if she makes intense eye contact with you and she touches your knee. If you want to initiate something, kiss them on the cheek…The friendship/relationship early confusion thing doesn’t happen if you communicate your intentions.”

said Megan Wallce, editorial director for Gay Times.

10 queer dating tips 

Lesbians, wlw couple on a date at the aquarium

Source: Pinterest

1.   Set your expectations

Before jumping in, it’s good to set boundaries for yourself, starting with safety. I’ve found myself letting my guard down more when I’m meeting women or nonbinary people compared to cis-hetero men. On a first date, I still make sure to share my location with a friend and check in on myself as the night goes on. It’s also good to know what you’re looking for and communicate that to the person you’re dating. 

2. Where do I meet gay women? Balance the apps with dating IRL  

Apps like Her have revolutionized queer dating. We can now self-select into an LGBTQIA+ dating pool, seeing all the people who might be interested in us where we live. They’re far from perfect — “just here to find friends,” “straight couple looking for a third” — but hey, it helps. 

It’s important to approach the apps with realistic expectations and an understanding of what you want. And the best part of apps is getting off of them, so ask them out! 

And if apps are a tool, we can have other options in our toolkit, like joining a club with people who share your interests. And there’s always the option of looking confused at a boygenius concert. 

3. If it’s a date, call it a date 

Your first challenge, if you choose to accept it — ask her out on a whole lesbian first date. 

“Let’s hang out” might feel like the cooler option in the moment, but if you’re an anxious little gay like me, you’ll be kicking yourself down the line. 

May I offer: “Do you want to go on a date?” And then follow it up with a time and place. 

Of course, it feels vulnerable. But the worst that can happen is they say no, and then you have clarity. 

4. Don’t use all your ideas on a 24-hour first date

This one is for the U-Haulers. Don’t waste all your date ideas on a marathon first date. I have done this myself and then ended up watching Love Island on the couch for the second and third dates. 

These days, I like to take my time. Start with a walk in my neighborhood, then a week later, show her my favorite restaurant. Maybe for a third date we can go to a museum or find a hike nearby. Could I do all of these things in one day? Yes, but why? 

Sometimes I have to remind myself to savor the beginning of a relationship, when you get butterflies seeing their name pop up on your phone, when you’re planning all week for that date on Friday, when this new person is a beautiful mystery who you want in your life. It’s a magical time. 

5.  Ask lots of questions 

Research shows that asking questions accomplishes two main goals of dating: learning about each other and setting a good impression. If you’re looking for inspo, we have an article that dives into some of the best questions you can ask your date! Approaching dating with a spirit of curiosity also alleviates some of the pressure and sets the tone that you care about the other person. So ask, and you shall receive! 

Come prepared with things you want to learn about the person: their friends, their favorite things, how their day was. The follow-up question is also your best friend. It feels good to have someone express interest in your thoughts and feelings, and it does not feel good to go on a date where they ask you nothing. 

Lesbian, wlw couple on picnic date

Source: Pinterest

6. Make the first move

This is my favorite piece of dating advice. Be bold. Make the first move. It’s hot. 

In queer dating, you are released from the gendered norms of who asks who out, and sometimes this leads to a stalemate. How do you escape the “you’re pretty/you’re pretty/now ghost” paradigm? Step up and tell them how you feel or ask if you can kiss them.

I know it’s a risk. You’re nervous, she’s nervous. But in the words of MUNA, “If you never put it on the line, how am I gonna sign for it?” 

I almost always make the first move, and it’s seriously worked out for me…other than a couple instances of utter humiliation. I’m kidding — when I get rejected, I always survive. And I still have no regrets. 

7. Don’t ghost — but don’t string someone along 

Ghosting and stringing someone along are two common challenges in lesbian relationships, but they both come from the same insecurities. Sometimes we fear being honest will create an uncomfortable situation. 

Listen, I get it — we are conflict-averse gays. I have been on both ends of ghosting and haunting. But I know from experience that these moves only exacerbate the situation. 

If you find yourself thinking, “maybe I’ll just ghost,” you know what you want from that other person. Or maybe you’re telling your friends, “I’m not into it, but I just don’t know how to end it.”  Take a moment to collect your thoughts and communicate with the other person. You know you’d want them to do the same. 

9. Take time to get to know the person 

Just because you fall hard and fast doesn’t mean you know this person inside-out. It’s quite the opposite. 

I’m not telling queer women that we can’t fall fast. That’s like telling a fish not to be wet. But continuing the trend of clear communication and expectations, keep in mind that you still have a lot to build as you continue dating. 

9. Be kind to yourself 

Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves when it comes to dating. As a queer person, maybe you are also navigating coming out and expressing yourself in a heteronormative world. It can be overwhelming, and you can acknowledge that. 

Also, dating burnout is real, and it’s okay to take a break to focus on yourself. The endless swiping, unrewarding conversations, and awkward dates can be exhausting and increase anxiety over your love life. 

10. Be patient 

Lesbian dating can be hard! Even with apps and more spaces to be queer, it can still be a lonely world to be gay. There are just fewer out LGBTQIA+ people in the world, which becomes painfully obvious when you’re swiping through the same 15 people on every app after two days. 

I wish there was a solution for the numbers problem — maybe a bunch of lesbians should move to the woods together and live off the land and then we’d all be in the same place. But I know from experience that sometimes it just takes time. And trust me, it’s worth it. 

There is unfortunately no manual for lesbian dating. We have some shared experiences in these streets, but there will always be a new challenge or triumph to face in your love life. I will never meet someone and immediately know if they’re the one. It’s always an experiment, but I find this is a way to take some of the pressure off and enjoy the experience of my queerness. 

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Catherine Henderson is a journalist based in Chicago. She has worked at a wide variety of newsrooms, including The Denver Post, Chalkbeat, Business Insider and In These Times, covering education, career development and culture. Catherine holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, exploring Chicago, reading LGBTQ lit, and analyzing internet trends.

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