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Overcoming LGBT Dating Challenges

by Tori Lewis on December 10, 2011
Sophomore > English and Feminist Studies > Stanford University
Photo by Michelle Rattinger > Senior > Psychology > The George Washington University
Photo by Michelle Rattinger > Senior > Psychology > The George Washington University

Dating is dating is dating. It’s fun, and awkward, and exhilarating. This is true for pretty much everyone, regardless of sexuality. But while some things are the same, there are particular challenges to dating as an LGBTQ college student. 

Small Circle

As with being a member of any group, things can start to feel small as you explore your options dating-wise. While the LGBTQ dating scene might have felt huge at the beginning of freshman year, especially compared with high school, it can grow increasingly small as you get to know and date more people.

Dating people from off-campus or from other nearby schools can make this circle suddenly expand. Dani White, an undergraduate at UChicago, said that she has a rule: don’t date people from on campus. If you do decide to date within the community, try to keep things to yourself – word can spread and by the time you’re done with this person, everyone you know will have all the details on your potentially short-lived relationship.

Looking for a partner

Looking for love in the LGBTQ community is not all that different from the straight community – it’s about looking for someone with whom you connect and are attracted to. 

But there is an added difficulty… we live in a society which assumes that people are heterosexual. If you’re looking for someone who isn’t, you might have to do a little detective work. White likened finding a partner to playing “Inspector Gadget” – you have to figure out their sexuality before pursuing them. 

“I'm tired of only heteronormative people having that privilege and space to go after someone they like and not even thinking to think twice about the person's sexuality or worrying about it.” White said. “I want that too.”

The great thing is that the more comfortable you are with your own sexuality, the more comfortable you’ll feel with asking others about theirs.

Dylan Maurer, a student at NYU, sees an additional difficulty in this process of finding an intimate partner: “I think the queer dating scene has made hooking up fairly easy, but finding a partner fairly difficult,” he said. He noted that this isn’t only true of the queer community, but also affected by age and other factors.

The Big Date

So you found someone you’re interested in, and they agreed to go on a date with you! The big first date is both the most exciting and the most nerve-wracking part of the process. 

While a lot of magazines about dating don’t talk about dating as an LGBTQ-identified person, there are several places online that deal with the specific difficulties involved.

This amusing list from AutoStraddle is a great run-down of the dos and don’ts for girls dating girls:  “Do put some creativity and thought into the date,” recommends “Sarah H.” Another great resource is talking to people who have been there, done that. They’ll be able to ensure you that it’s really not as scary as it seems!

But, after soliciting advice from everyone you can find and reading online dating articles until your eyes water, don’t forget the most important piece of advice: “Have fun!”

Remember, practice makes perfect. If you’re recently out, it may take some time to get used to dating in any community… and that’s totally natural!

And dating in the LGBTQ community can be great, according to Maurer: “I would definitely say that the best part of dating that is unique to the LGBTQ community is the openness,” he said. “We do as we please, and we stay fabulous!”

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