Dating as an LGBT person can feel like walking through a minefield. While it’s easier for young queer people to date, hook up, and fall in love nowadays, they have to navigate a rapidly evolving culture – one that involves social media, dating apps, and changing attitudes towards sexuality and gender.
While you’ll find a ton of lesbian love quotes and advice on dating online, we’ve prepared an updated, 2021 version on navigating lesbian love, sex, and relationships.
The Basics Of Lesbian Dating
There are some dating experiences that are unique to lesbians. To get through the initial stages of dating, one ought to:
Learn About Different Lesbian Identities, But Don’t Be So Rigid About Them
Not all lesbians subscribe to the archetypes, but for those that do, it can be an integral part of their identity. So it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the different types you may encounter in the wild (read: your local lesbian bar or cafe). You have your femme/lipstick lesbians, butchy femmes, futch lesbians (those are the ones that are smack dab in the center of the scale), soft butches, butches, and stone butches.
Keep in mind that, again, not everyone is strict about or even cares for these labels, especially as gender lines blur and non-conformity becomes more common these days.
Throw Those Cis-Normative “Dating Rules” Out The Window
Can femme girls ask other girls out, or should they wait to be approached? Should butch girls get the bill, or can couples go dutch? Should you play hard to get or message your date right away? The answer to all those questions is it shouldn’t matter.
Not only are these conventions outdated even by hetero standards, but there is also no point in enforcing them between two girls or non-binary lesbians. If you’re interested in someone, don’t be afraid to make the first move. All that says is that you’re a go-getter.
If you don’t know how to go about paying the bill, most queer couples either split the check or agree to let the one who initiated the date pay. And when it comes to communicating with the person you’re dating, just remember to be kind, thoughtful, and treat them the way you want to be treated.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Whether you’re dating for hookups or looking for some serious lesbian love, you have got to bring your A-game. Dating as a queer person is hard enough as it is – you have to deal with coming out to your friends and family, weed out the straight girls from the queer girls, and put up with discrimination. Don’t make it any harder for your dates by acting inconsiderate, lazy, or uninterested.
Show up to your date on time, dress to impress, express genuine interest in your date, and listen to them when they share details about their life. Don’t try to compare your dates to your ex-girlfriends and try to be honest about how you feel about them. If you don’t like where your date is going, just be direct and upfront about it. More often than not, they’d rather you graciously bow out of the date/relationship than ghost them.
Lesbian Advice On Dating Online: Do’s and Don’ts
Online dating has made it easier for queer people to find love in a safe environment, free from the judgments of others. But online dating has its pitfalls, too. Here are some do’s and don’ts of dating online:
Don’t: Rely On Tinder Alone
While some of your friends may have struck gold on Tinder or Match.com, bear in mind that, for lesbians, getting a decent match is like finding a needle in a haystack. This is because Tinder and other online dating apps have become rife with poly couples looking for a third – not necessarily a bad thing if you’re into that – and creepy dudes who can’t take a hint.
There are a myriad of lesbian dating apps out there, as well as apps for queer women and non-binary folks, including Her, Scissr, Fem, and Lesly. But these aren’t nearly as popular or widely used as Tinder, so it might take a while to find a match in your area. If you’re okay with non-exclusive dating apps, Bumble, OkCupid, and Hinge make good alternatives to Tinder.
Finally, don’t write off social media either. There are tons of women who have found each other over Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Look for lesbian-focused Facebook group pages.
Do: Spend Time Picking A Good Profile Picture
Take it from Robyn Exton, founder of lesbian dating app Her – most of the time, a good profile picture is all it takes to get a like or a swipe right. But what exactly counts as a decent photo?
A good profile photo is one where your face can be completely seen – that means no group photos, sunglasses, or filters – and where other users can pick up on clues about who you are and what you’re into. If you’re looking for a best friend to go on adventures with, showcase one of your travel selfies. If you want to connect with women who love animals, take a cute photo with your fur baby. You get the picture.
Do: Be Authentic
This may sound like lazy, generic advice, but you’d be surprised by how many women tend to forget this. When setting up your bio or getting to know someone over chat, don’t embellish your story or make stuff up just to seem impressive. The point of dating is to find someone you like who likes you for you. After all, you don’t want to spend the rest of your life keeping up a lie, right?
Be genuine, be vulnerable, and learn to laugh at yourself – things will fall into place once you do.
Don’t: Take Things Too Personally
Rejection is a natural part of dating. – even more so in online dating, where you open yourself up to a much larger dating pool. Try not to take every rejection too personally. Remember, just as you have your own set of wants, needs, and expectations, so does the person on the other end of the screen. You won’t be able to tick all those boxes for each match, just as some of your matches won’t feel completely right for you.
Love In The Time Of COVID
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it changed the way that we live and love. But that doesn’t mean dating is completely off the table. Here are some tips for dating during the pandemic:
Be Prepared To Have Long-Distance Relationships
The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered virtually all of our relationships long-distance. And when it comes to new romantic prospects, you might have to expect the same – at least in the initial stages. This is especially true if you live with someone who is high-risk, like an immunocompromised relative, children, or elderly family members.
In the getting-to-know-you stages, stick to remote dates over FaceTime, Zoom, or Messenger first. There are also online multiplayer games and long-distance app-controlled sex toys for those who want to do more than just talk.
But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be alone until the pandemic ends. Long-distance relationships can and have worked for many people. They just need a bit more work, trust, and communication. And once you’re ready to take it to the next level with your girlfriend – in pandemic times, this means meeting face-to-face – then you can go ahead and…
Set Distancing Expectations From The Get-Go
We all have different levels of risk tolerance, and this can change throughout different phases of the pandemic. Before agreeing to meet up, it’s best to have a conversation about what you’re willing to do with your dates – whether that means restricting dates to strictly outdoors, being strict about keeping masks on, and potentially forming a bubble down the line if things get serious.
Sure, it may not be the most romantic thing to talk about, but it’s essential if you want to feel safe and comfortable throughout your date.
When Things Get Serious, Have The “Bubble” Talk
Gone are the days of the U-Haul lesbian stereotype. In COVID times, it’s all about the bubble.
If you’re ready to take things to the next level, you can talk about forming a bubble together. A social bubble is a small group of people you allow physical interactions with. Remember, you have to keep your bubble small for it to work and everyone in it has to be strict about following infection control measures. So only have the bubble talk when you’re really ready and when you can be sure that you trust your potential girlfriend to hold up her part of the bargain.
Communication Is Key
Communication is key in any relationship, at any point in one’s life – pandemic or not. But communication is especially important during these times because our actions can directly impact the lives of our partners in very real ways.
If you think you might have been in contact with someone who got sick, let your partner/s know immediately. If you’re worried about putting each other at risk by engaging in physical contact, don’t be afraid to have that conversation. The right person should understand and listen to your concerns.
Lesbian Dating Mistakes To Avoid
Small dating pools, safe sex, and love addiction – learn how to avoid making mistakes in these three realms:
Dating A Friend’s Ex-girlfriend
If (like any card-carrying lesbian) you’ve seen The L Word, you should be familiar with The Chart – a visual representation of how the lesbian dating pool is so small that pretty much anyone who is lesbian, bi, or questioning is somehow connected by a hookup or a relationship.
If you’ve been active in your city’s lesbian dating scene for some time, you’ll know that The Chart is more than just a fictional plot device. Sometimes, it will feel like you’ve dated or know someone who has dated every other lesbian in your area.
But does that mean it’s okay to date your friend’s ex? In most cases, it can lead you into a pretty sticky situation, so it’s best to avoid it.
Of course, you and your best friends can lay down some ground rules about making girlfriends out of friends and exes and friends of exes. That way, there is no confusion about what counts as boundary-stepping.
Having Unprotected Or Uninformed Sex
Most public school sex ed classes won’t give you any helpful lesbian dating advice. The first kiss, first time in bed, safe sex –unfortunately, you won’t find much helpful information on this in health class.
Don’t worry. Let’s cover some basics.
Firstly, the first kiss. Plucking up the courage to lean in and go for the kiss can feel like an impossible task. But remember, life is not like a movie. Mistakes happen. People get awkward. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying! And don’t forget to ask for consent. Yes means yes, and no means no. And if you don’t get an enthusiastic yes, don’t push it.
Next, let’s talk about protection. When engaging in sexual activities with a new partner (or someone who has multiple partners), you can use dental dams, female condoms, and latex gloves to prevent the risk of catching and spreading STIs. Ideally, you shouldn’t share toys with your partners. But if you do, use condoms and be sure to wash and sterilize them properly before and after use.
Finally, let’s discuss contraception. Just because you’re a lesbian, it doesn’t mean you can rule out pregnancy altogether. You may or may not sleep with someone who has the reproductive system that could cause pregnancy. If you do, make sure to be on some form of birth control, whether that be condoms, pills, injections, an IUD, or whatever else works for you.
Compromising Too Much For “Love”
One of the most enduring lesbian stereotypes is of the clingy couple that moved in way too fast and never broke up. There may actually be some truth to that!
According to Dr. Lauren D. Costine, author of the book Lesbian Love Addiction: Understanding the Urge to Merge and How to Heal When Things Go Wrong, lesbians may be more prone to “love addiction”. This addiction can lead to reckless behaviors, problems maintaining relationships, and codependency.
If you feel like things are moving way too fast, like you’re sacrificing too much of your time, money, and even personality, or if you feel like you’re “losing yourself” in a relationship, hit the pause button before it’s too late. Healthy relationships don’t feel like intoxicating roller coaster rides that don’t let you off when you feel like you’re going to be sick. They’re nurturing, don’t ask for too much, and are places to grow.
The Bottom Line
We hope you’ve enjoyed this roundup of lesbian dating advice. And remember, you’ve got this! As long as you keep these do’s and don’ts in mind, you’re well on your way to finding true and lasting companionship.
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