Dating and forming strong relationships can be hard for everyone regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, but there can sometimes be extra considerations when it comes to building happy and healthy LGBTQ relationships. Here are our top tips to keep in mind to help you to avoid common pitfalls.
LGBTQ Relationships: Real Dating Advice
- If you’re using dating apps, choose carefully
You already know that when you’re searching for a partner in the LGBTQ community, you’re fishing in a smaller pool than most straight cis folks are. The best way that you can boost your chances of success in finding love is by picking the right toolkit!
If you’re looking for fast results, choosing an app that caters specifically to your orientation could be the best bet. But be aware that, depending on where you are located, you might find that some of the dating apps built with the LGBTQ community in mind are under-utilized in your area.
If you decide to widen your search a little by using a mainstream dating app, make sure to pick one which offers a highly sophisticated search function, so that you can quickly drill down to see only people that you are interested in having a relationship with. However, beware of ‘unicorn hunters’, especially if you are a woman!
As Jacqueline Gualtieri points out, sometimes a woman who is part of a straight couple will create an account to look for someone to join them. “Any lesbian on Tinder now knows the frustration of swiping for hours, hoping to match with someone, and only getting matches that lead to messages asking if they’re interested in a threesome,” she says. Wise words! No one likes feeling slow-played, so be sure to stay on the lookout for anyone who might not be what they seem.
- Don’t dismiss ‘straight culture’ dating concerns as irrelevant
Many common dating tips are focused on straight culture, which means they can be totally disregarded by the LGBTQ community, right? Well, actually, not necessarily. It might be tempting to dismiss heteronormative stereotypes out of hand. But be careful; assuming that LGBTQ relationships will not come up against any of the same challenges as straight relationships could be a big mistake.
“We live in the same patriarchal, heteronormative society that dictates how partnerships should work, and just because you’re both women—or both men, for that matter—this problem doesn’t disappear; it simply manifests itself in different specificities or nuances,” says Trish Bendix in Harpers Bazaar. This is a great point that drives home the importance of LGBTQ couples actively choosing the terms of their partnership. The fact that there isn’t a ready-made gender roles playbook that governs expectations in LGBTQ relationships is a good thing! That said, it’s still important to communicate your needs and wants to your partner, in order to make sure that your relationship kicks off on the terms that suit you best.
- Set boundaries and share preferences early
Perhaps you’re the kind of person who can’t wait to go public on social media as soon as your heart is aflutter! Or, maybe you’re the type that likes to take things slow, and only introduce a new partner to friends, family and colleagues once you’re certain it’s going somewhere. To avoid unnecessary friction, it’s important to discuss your preferences with your partner. How do they feel about PDAs? Is being ‘social media official’ as soon as you become an item a big deal for them, or do they prefer to keep their private life a little more, well, private?
Plus, make sure to ask yourself the questions that are pertinent when it comes to choosing your perfect match. Would you ideally want that person to be ‘out’ to everyone in their lives? Would it be a dealbreaker if they weren’t? Different preferences when it comes to how to present as a couple and to whom might seem small and insignificant, but they can add up to bigger problems down the road. Communicate clearly, early and often to make sure that you are on the same page as your partner, and that things stay that way!
Above all else, follow your heart (but let your head have a say, too!)
However you identify, whoever you fall for, good relationships are good relationships. If someone makes you happy, then dive in! Just remember to check in with yourself – and your partner – on a regular basis to check that your needs are being met.