The idea of finding your first girlfriend can seem really complicated, especially if you’ve just recently come out (or if you’re not fully out yet). Rest assured, though – it’s not quite as difficult as it seems, although it is definitely going to be a little intimidating the first few times. If you’re really shy, it might always be intimidating, but as you start to build your confidence, it shouldn’t be so bad.
Wondering what you need to do to get a girlfriend? Well, there are three basic steps – get her, woo her, and then keep her.
But it’s a little more complicated than that. There are a lot of mini-steps required, and we’d like to take a minute to sum up the basics.
Step One: Find someone.
Obviously, if you want a girlfriend, you’re going to have to find a woman to date. It can be difficult to determine what women are even interested in women in the first place – especially if you’re attracted to femmes. Don’t worry – there are ways to gauge her interest before you get in too deep. (And it’s always better to know before you fall for her!)
Join an LGBT-themed group in your local community.
Many places have dedicated LGBT-themed groups. These groups are usually targeted towards the at-risk youth of the queer community, but this isn’t necessarily the case in your area.
You may be able to find out about these groups from friends, or they may be listed in the newspaper or phone book. Of course, a quick search of “LGBT group” and the name of your city may help. If you are in a very small town (like I am), you might have to travel to a neighboring city, but you should be able to find something.
Try out activities you are interested in.
The best relationships can start when both partners are interested in similar activities, such as art galleries or hockey games or whatever you’re into. There’s bound to be another woman who’s into it, too. Keep in mind that, unless this is a specifically-LGBT activity (such as a drag king show) there is no guarantee that the women you meet there will be interested in other women – keep your expectations fair and be open to the idea of new friendships.
Some of our favorite places to meet new people are animal shelters, book clubs, or the movies. Truly, the opportunities are limitless if you’re willing to invest the time, so give it a shot!
Join an online dating service.
It amazes me that there are still people who think that online dating has cheapened the experience. The truth is, the internet offers a great way to connect with people from all over the world, and if you aren’t preoccupied with the distance, you’re certain to find a woman who meets your exact preferences.
Even if you’d prefer local ladies, there’s a very good chance that the perfect woman is right around the corner (so to speak) and you just couldn’t see her. Make sure to follow our online dating guide when pursuing this outlet!
Visit a gay/lesbian bar.
I generally advise against looking for a serious relationship at a bar, as it’s a situation often influenced by alcohol, and there’s a general expectation of bad decision-making. However, that’s not to say that any relationship that starts in a bar will be a disaster – my mother and my step-dad have been married for over 20 years, and they met in a bar.
It’s best if you don’t go to the bar with your male friends if you’re cruising for a girlfriend – the general impression of a male/female duo in a gay bar is that they’re looking for a threesome. Even if you know that’s not the case, the women you pursue might not be able to tell, and they may be put off by seeing you enter with a man.
It’s also best if you don’t ask for more than one phone number per night – if the women you’re interested in are still paying attention to you, it will come across as if you’re trying to play the field. Remember, they can’t see your intention – only your actions.
Know the signs that say she’s into you.
Paying careful attention to the woman’s body language and word choice can help you determine whether she’s interested or not. Eye contact, the tone of her voice, and even whether or not she’s physically facing you are good signs. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between “into you” and “being nice” – so, when in doubt, ask!
If she says no, she’s not interested, accept it and consider having her as a friend (if she’s interested in taking it that far). Friendships are important to our mental health, too, and we often find ourselves forgetting that when in pursuit of a deeper connection.
Ask her out!
There’s no set-in-stone rule as to when to ask someone out (as long as she has definitely shown interest). Whether you choose to ask her out right then and there or if you decide to wait and call her, you will have to ask, or the “relationship” will never progress to the next level. While it’s perfectly acceptable to ask her out while you’re still face-to-face, it’s widely believed that calling too soon after will make you seem clingy.
I personally don’t like this stigma, because it implies that playing a role is important to getting a relationship. Instead, I advise that if you want to see her again, you act! If she feels the same way, chances are she’ll be flattered that you were excited about it. But if she’s not, don’t pressure her. Give her a little space to process things. It might take her a little longer than it took you.
Step Two: Have your first date.
If you want to start a relationship with someone, it’s almost always going to start with a single date. Obviously, if you’re looking at entering a long-distance relationship with someone you met online, there is a completely different format for your date – but many of the same rules still apply. (Namely, #4-8, and half of #1.)
Take time to look and smell nice.
First, allow me to clarify: You shouldn’t go out of your way to present an image that isn’t true to who you really are. If you don’t normally wear makeup, don’t wear makeup. If you don’t normally wear dresses, don’t. These things may make you self-conscious if they’re uncomfortable to you, and this lack of confidence will definitely show through. If you’re the type to switch it up between dressy and casual, it may be helpful to lean further to the dressy side, but make sure it stays appropriate for the date’s location. (For example, you wouldn’t wear a suit to the movie theater… So don’t.)
You should give it the same amount of attention that you intend to do with any other date, should this turn into a long-term relationship. You should also make sure you’re showered and well-groomed – no exceptions.
Don’t be cheap.
If you’re going on a physical date (as opposed to an internet date), you don’t want to appear like a cheap skate. However, it’s not a good idea to spend more than you can afford, either. If you’re working with a limited budget, aim for activities that don’t require a monetary investment, but will help you get to know each other better.
Great examples of inexpensive dates include a picnic in the park, or a coffee shop. (Personally, I’m a sucker for a woman who can make a good sandwich, and I’m definitely a coffee lover.) Either of these will be less expensive than a dinner date, but they don’t cheapen the experience like a date to the drive-through would do. (Seriously. Drive-through dates can wait until you’ve experienced the joys of cleaning up after each other.)
Pay. (Or at the very least, offer.)
The general rule of thumb in same-sex relationships is that the person who invited should pay. If you’ve been following along with our advice – that means you. It’s important to choose something that fits in your budget and doesn’t make her uncomfortable. Many women will be uncomfortable with the idea of being treated to an expensive date with a brand-new partner.
Some women aren’t comfortable with the idea of having someone else pay their way at all – so if she expresses the desire to pay her own half, you shouldn’t push the issue. Simply say that you wouldn’t mind paying her way. If she insists, drop it and let her pay her half. You want to make sure she’s comfortable, and some women don’t like being “spoiled”. (I happen to be one of them.)
This is probably the most important tip in all of this: BE YOURSELF. If you start the relationship off with a lie (because pretending to be someone you’re not is definitely a lie), there are two possible outcomes:
- She will eventually find out that you were lying, and question everything you ever said to her.
- You will have to keep up the act so she doesn’t find out, and you will question everything you ever said to her.
You should present the best version of yourself, naturally, but you should never exaggerate or make things up. Further, you’ll want to make sure that she likes you for who you really are, and the best way to do that is to be the real you from the very start.
It seems so simple – but sometimes, awkward silences happen. It’s important that you know how to fill these silences without making things even more awkward. The best conversation starters are the ones that have universal appeal. As you get to know each other a little better, you can discover other things to talk about – but in the beginning, keep it simple. You don’t always want to come across too controversial.
Don’t get me wrong – I am all for debating, and I know a lot of other women who are, too. But on a first date, debating has the potential to sound like arguing – which is not a good choice, and will most likely put a roadblock right in the middle of your relationship goals. It’s safer if you wait until there’s a mutual attraction and understanding in place.
Ask her about herself.
Don’t just talk about you – invite her to talk about herself. You want to make sure it’s a fairly even mix, but if she wants to lead the conversation (and you don’t mind), let her! Some women enjoy having someone listen to them, and most women hate being interrupted. If this relationship has a future, there’ll be plenty of time for you to share your side, too. And if there’s no future, there’s no reason she really has to know the intimate details of your life.
One caveat here, though. If she doesn’t want to talk about something, do not push it. Most people are not willing to open themselves up completely to someone on the very first date, so you shouldn’t expect her to. You definitely shouldn’t pressure her if it seems like the topic is sensitive to her – it could cause her to shut down completely.
Decide how to end the date.
If you’ve been paying attention to all the little signals during your date (hint: you should), it should be apparent what direction the date has taken. If a second date seems promising, feel free to ask – but if you’re not sure, it might be nice give some time to think it over. The two of you may even decide to end the night with a kiss – or possibly even more. There is no right or wrong answer here, as long as both parties have their feelings accounted for.
If the date went really bad, it’s best to not even try. While the second date is infinitely more telling than the first date, a failed first date will rarely result in a better second date. Sometimes, there’s just no spark, and that’s not something you can easily fake. If you find yourself in this situation, head back to Step One and try again.
Step Three: Create a relationship (if it seems like a good idea).
Well, you’re here because you want a girlfriend, not just a date. Right? The two processes start out the same, but there are a few extra steps involved if you want to show her you’re in it for the long-term.
Call and ask her out again.
This seems pretty simple – if you want to get her locked down as your one-and-only, you’re going to have to go on more than one date. As we stated above, the second date tells a lot more about a person than the first date does – especially since the two of you are a little more comfortable with each other now. Don’t ask for another date the same day as your first one – make sure to give her a day or two to process how things went so that she can make a better decision.
If she says no, thank her for her time, and end the phone call. Staying on the phone after she has turned you down will just be awkward and comfortable for both of you, so avoid it unless absolutely necessary. (Hint: It’s very rarely necessary.)
Repeat step two.
If she says yes, you’ll want to go through all the same steps as outlined in Step Two above – but this time you have a little more information about her to help plan something spectacular. Of course, most likely the second date isn’t going to completely blow her out of the water, but the potential is there.
It’s important to realize that you might have to go on a lot of dates with this woman before you’re completely sure that you want to continue pursuing it – and that’s okay, as long as you’re honest about your intentions. Don’t treat it like a job interview – there’s no such thing as the “perfect candidate” here and it’s unfair to her if you try to find one.
Ask if she’d like to be your girlfriend.
Once you’ve got a good feeling about the nature of your relationship, ask to make things official! Not everyone is interested in having an official relationship, though, so be warned that there’s a chance she could say no even if everything went perfectly according to plan. If you really like this woman, but she doesn’t want to put a label on things, consider whether you would be willing to pursue something “unofficial” with her. In many cases, an undefined relationship could be the best you’ve ever had.
But even once you two do decide to make things official, there’s a very broad definition of what that really means, so it’s essential that the two of you establish clear boundaries, expectations, and goals for the relationship. This doesn’t necessarily have to happen at the same time as you make things official, but it should happen early enough to avoid any problems.
(Oh, and if you do get a girlfriend… Make sure you deactivate all your dating profiles.)
Take care of yourselves, and each other!