Try telling your date something like, “This is new to me, but I’m excited to try it out!” This can help set the tone for experimentation (and ongoing check-ins can’t hurt, either).
When you start dating after coming out, it can feel difficult at first (or, ahem, forever) to tell the difference between hanging out as friends versus going on a date. Especially if you meet IRL, instead of on a dating app. Once, I got as far as scheduling what I thought was a date, only to double-check her social media before meeting for coffee and realizing that she was definitely straight. It can also be tricky to tell the difference between a simple compliment and flirting. I can’t even tell you how many times a cute person has complimented my dress or my lipstick and I’ve been plunged into confusion, unsure whether they’re being friendly or flirtatious.
If you’re hesitant about where a person stands, it’s always OK to ask for clarification. It may sound strange at first, but consent practices can begin long before sex or even kissing is involved. You can even ask permission to flirt. Try asking, “Would it be OK if I flirted with you?” This can be especially important for people whose appearance doesn’t immediately scream gay.
If you’re shy, asking a question like that may seem impossible. In that case, being up front about your identity may save you some stress and help others read your intentions accurately. And no, you don’t need to run out and get an undercut to fit in (unless you want to rock one); an enamel pin or two on your lapel or purse can go a long way.
You can also make the flirting question a bit less direct and more playful. Try, “Are you flirting with me?” When someone gives you a compliment. If they are flirting, it’ll give them a chance to double down, and if not, it’s easily laughed off.
Dealing With Rejection Can Feel Intense
In a way, coming out can feel like going through puberty again, with all of the confusion and intensity that comes with it. Lamont White, a gay matchmaker, tells Elite Daily that this intensity can also mean rejection hits harder. It’s worth noting that dating rejection plified for LGBTQ+ people in general – largely due to experiences being rejected by friends, family, coworkers, or others during the coming-out process. This is yet another reason to go slowly while you’re trying new things.
There’s seldom a way to make rejection fun, but you can reduce the sting by making sure there are areas in your life where you feel fully accepted. Having a supportive community – and even engaging in hobbies you feel proud of – can help remind you that your happiness doesn’t rely entirely on dating success.
Going On IRL Dates Can Feel Different, Too
Depending on where you live, it can sometimes feel like there’s a spotlight shining on you when you’re out with a sweetie who doesn’t match people’s expectations. Even though I’ve always lived in some of the most LGBTQ+-friendly cities in the country, I’ve never completely lost the butterflies in my stomach when on a visibly queer date.
I vividly remember an experience from a few years ago. I was sitting at an outdoor table eating pie with my girlfriend, and some kids were playing near us, getting kind of rowdy. Their mom stepped in to wrangle them, and at first, I trans dating Canada was expecting to hear something awful, like, “Get away from those perverts,” because that’s where my anxiety brain always goes. But instead, she said, “Stop interrupting their date.” I was floored. There was no big fuss made. It was simply a fact that we were on a date, and she wasn’t trying to hide that from her children.