Dating Download: Three Lesbians Try Lex and Get Sexy With Words

Dating Download is a new ongoing series where Shelli, Dani, and Drew try out the latest or most overlooked of dating apps so you don’t have to. Today they’re giving you a review of the Lex dating app.

Drew: Maybe we should start by saying whether these ads were our first Lex ads or if we’ve used Lex before.

Shelli: This wasn’t my first Lex ad. I made one when it was originally over on Instagram as Personals. I honestly forget how I discovered it but I think someone may have sent an article my way about it and I was hella interested. I kind of really miss the original format and the days when it was over on Instagram — I understand the need for the separation and for it to hold its dykey own in the App Store — but you kind of end up on Instagram anyway.

What about y’all? First time diving into the Lexicon or already been there, done that?

Drew: This actually was my first Lex ad! I followed Personals because my ex was really into it. We talked a lot about what our ads would be if we were dating, but we were monogamous so it was all speculative. I remember rarely seeing ads that I liked and then when I did I’d click on the handle and not be attracted to the person. So when we broke up creating an ad wasn’t high on my dating app to do list. And when Lex was created I didn’t jump on it.

I joked that I was too shallow for Lex, but I actually don’t think it’s shallow to get a lot of vibes and energy from a person’s picture! Anyway, a month ago I was banned from Tinder and tweeted about it and Jen Richards told me to join Lex and she met her fiancée on Lex so who was I to argue?

Dani Janae: This was not my first Lex ad. I’ve actually done many. I was very into it when it first became a thing on Instagram and loved the attention and followers I would get as a result, but I rarely met anyone I was interested in dating because they were usually too far away.

I got on Lex pretty soon after the app launched because I loved the idea of a text-based platform and being wooed by someone’s wit over their face. I’ve gone on a couple Lex dates that usually ended in mutual rejections/silence after so I haven’t met my wife yet but I’m still hopeful.

Drew: Oh yeah I should clarify back in Personals days I did find people who seemed cool but they were all far away. I didn’t know yet that falling for people in other states and countries is actually a major part of queer dating. lol

Shelli: Drew, I agree — I don’t find it shallow to get vibes from someone’s photo. Needing to be physically attracted to someone doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible person. Back when Lex was Personals on IG, I originally just read the ads and didn’t have any intent on reaching out to anyone as I was fresh out of a breakup, but when I posted one and got responses I immediately went to their profiles to see if the attraction was there.

Drew: Right! But here’s the thing. I am a writer so actually as I started writing this ad I was like oh I like being able to present myself this way…

Shelli: Dani I know that you are seeking a Taurus wife, I can promise you that your witty, hot, Taurean queen is just an ad or two away.

Dani Janae: Oh yeah I always check IG to see if the person is hot or not. Thank you for your support Shelli!

Shelli: That’s exactly where I was about to go with it.

Drew: Soooooo many people don’t include their instagram handles though!

Dani Janae: So many!

Drew: I simply am not going to message or respond to someone if I have no idea what they look like. Who has time for that! Their ad would have to be like next level amazing.

Shelli: I think we all had the same response to that — no IG handle, no response. And I don’t think it was just for reasons of physical attraction at least it wasn’t for me.

Drew: No you can learn so much about a person by how they present themself online!

Shelli: I have the same worry I have on any other dating app — a bunch of cis men will find a way to sneak into my lesbian inbox. On Lex though it’s easier for them to hide.

Drew: Ah that’s a good point. I’m so trusting I hadn’t even considered catfishing. I was just like oh I need a vibe. But that’s really true!

Dani Janae: Oooo I never thought of that!

Drew: I think if someone messaged me and their message was really good I might reply without an insta, but their message would have to be really really good. It takes energy to have that initial dating app convo. If I don’t know if the attraction is there why would I waste either of our time?

Shelli: When I was creating my ad it wasn’t necessarily to attract dates but, as Dani said earlier, it’s nice to have some attention. So I didn’t really worry about settings when it came to age or location but I did want to see if people could follow directions. The app being so text based you’d think they would be able to but only 3 of the responses I got did what I told them to and gave me a compliment or told me about skincare.

Drew: Come on people !

Shelli: I wanted to talk about the feel that y’all got from the app.

Lex is supposed to be an app that is mostly directed towards lesbians. When it was originally released, so many of us, including myself, were excited because it felt like we were finally getting an app that would allow us to cruise, flirt and, honestly, fuck. Gay men have so many of these apps (Grindr, Scruff, etc) but they aren’t really available for us. I felt that original wave of hookup excitement but as time passed and I would check Lex here and there — it went from people posting about wanting to get fucked for the entire weekend their roommate was away to looking for someone to hold hands with for 7 hours straight — and this was in a pre-COVID world.

When I got back on this time for our review, it kind of felt the same. I know we live in a time where we can’t be physical but it felt like the app was full of sweetness and not enough sex — did yall get the same vibe?

My last thought on it though – I’m not sure if an app did come out where It would tell me if a dyke was 0.08 miles away from me I would use it. Mainly for safety reasons and worrying that cis men would hop on and try to do me harm in some way. Ugh, it fucking sucks to have that fear.

Drew: Okay so I love when I’m wrong and I have to say that I was wrong about Lex. Because I sort of love it?? I think I underestimated after so much time on Tinder how great it would feel to be on an app that really feels like ours. I don’t disagree with your assessment. I’d say most of the ads are either like “hold my hand gently” or “stick your fist inside me and call me daddy” and sometimes I’m like both things sound cool but can we like get a bit more about you?? So practically speaking I guess I haven’t had the best luck but I’m just so charmed by the whole thing!

Two out of the three people I talked to are people I previously knew in community and it was sort of great to “run into them” especially during the pandemic when that can’t happen otherwise.

I will say… I sort of wish there was a limit of one ad per person per month instead of SIX. Sometimes the feed gets clogged with one lonely queer looking for some cuddles posting over and over.

Dani Janae: Shelli, I feel that 100%. The first months of Lex were frenzied and horny and I loved it so much. Even if I didn’t match with anyone I loved the energy. Now it’s people talking about longing and dread and looking for roommates? The shift has been so disheartening.

The new lesbian stereotype is that we’re all cottagecore softies that just want to snuggle but I’m a slut who wants to spit in someone’s mouth and I KNOW that’s hard in a COVID world but it’s not impossible.

Drew: Maybe LA is better?? It’s been a real mix for me. Or maybe I just don’t know how good it was in its beginning.

I do have a few ummmmmm notes that mostly fall into like app experience stuff. I wish that you could mute a profile. Like okay I looked at this person’s insta and I’m not into them MUTE never see them again on Lex. And I wish there was a way to keep track of where you are in the scroll? I guess if you could mark an ad as seen and then it disappears from your timeline that would help.

Dani Janae: Being able to mute would be lovely, especially for people that post lots of ads that I don’t vibe with

Shelli: Drew, WOW. Yes, Yes, Yes to muting a profile. As I was scrolling, you are right — I would see 5 different ads from the same account asking for the same type of hugs in different verbiage.

What I did really like was the ease of flagging or reporting a profile, which I unfortunately had to do a few times.

Drew: I also think the messaging feature in general isn’t great. I feel like pretty quickly I want to be like okay either this is a no or let’s move this to texting or insta. I wish also you could have a setting where you don’t see ads from people who don’t attach their insta! Like I think there are these really simple tweaks that would drastically increase the time I spend on Lex. I would even expand my settings beyond LA and look for queers all over like in Personals days if the app was more user friendly and I could narrow who I’m seeing more.

Dani Janae: Would agree with that point about a setting to not see profiles without insta attached. I feel like Lex is going for this minimalist set up but it could benefit from having more settings.

Shelli: I think the app is trying to lean into the whole vibe of back in the day where you can sit on your couch and circle the ones you want to respond to while having your morning coffee, but in doing that and making it minimal they left behind some of the features you have to focus on to create a good dating app experience.

Drew: Yes, totally. The thing is we DO have more options now and while the throwback quality is nice in some ways I think there can be a middle ground that takes some useful features from other apps.

Shelli: I’ll just go ahead and say it — I wish they would revert back to placing the ads on Instagram.

Drew: I wish they’d pick like a few ads a day to post on Insta at least. haha

Shelli: Can we chat about the POC representation on the app?

Dani Janae: If I’m not mistaken I remember there was a moment where personals asked you to put if you were white or not in your profile. It was after they got into trouble for lack of POC representation and a Personals for QPOCs was made separate from the original leadership. The dating app crowd seems to lean very white in my area and Lex is no different

Shelli: I’m in Chicago and my responses were also mostly from non POC folks. It wasn’t surprising but it was disappointing. It also goes back to not wanting to see people who don’t have an instagram in their profile — or who do but happen to be private and have Louis Belcher set as their profile photo.

Can’t you only sign up using and IG?

Drew: I’m not sure if you need an insta to sign up? But I do think considering Personals started with needing an insta bringing that back would be kind of nice !

Shelli: Last thing to chat about — did anyone have any connections?

Drew: Well, okay, so one of the people I chatted with didn’t have an insta attached. Hahaha. But I already knew her!

I talked to three people and ignored a whole lot of others. I think some of that is I’m just in a pickier than my usual picky place dating app wise right now.

There was only one stranger I talked to, I reached out based on her ad, and we had a nice chat, but then it fizzled as it often does especially in a pandemic. With Covid cases rising it feels even less likely to actually meet up with someone right now and that can make dating in general feel kind of hopeless.

So it’s weird because I feel pro-Lex after this experiment but it didn’t actually WORK in the most traditional sense. I’m going to keep it on my phone though and continue to check it a couple times a week.

Dani Janae: I didn’t have any luck with Lex this round. I’m blaming the pandemic. Oh I did match with someone my friend hooked up with and we decided it was in our best interest not to pursue each other. lol

I think I’ve just gotten very picky and I know what I want. So I don’t waste time entertaining could-be’s. Lex had a lot of could-be’s but was mostly flat out “no’s.”

Shelli: I ignored quite a few ads too, mostly because like I said, people couldn’t follow simple directions of giving me a compliment and telling me about plants. What did happen though was the few black folks I chatted with I decided to invite to the care kit giveaway that I had and some of them showed up! It was really dope to turn that experience into one where we could connect on a different kind of level and that it happened because we met on Lex.

Drew: Yes! I think because it feels like a queer space I feel very fluid re: outcome with people. I guess I feel that on all apps, but it seems more likely I’d make a friend on Lex than Tinder.

Shelli: I agree, it’s more of a friendship based app now more than anything and even though I am glad to have the connections that I did make that’s not what a dating app should be known for.

Drew: I’m also absolutely posting my ad on my insta when this review comes out because even if Lex is no longer on Insta I sure am and my hot mutuals should be reminded that I am single.

Dani Janae: Co-signing that

Shelli: If you’re looking for a friend vs. a fuck (virtual or non) then maybe it’s the place for you but damn, first we lose lesbian bars and now dating apps too… WHEN WILL IT END.

Drew: I’ll be interested to see what Lex looks like post-pandemic. I think even the most vanilla cottagecore of our community might be feeling wild in 2022.

Shelli: Or maybe it will turn into some sort of marketplace where people are bartering for couches and vaccines.

Dani Janae: I’m also interested. Hopefully everyone will just be overcome with lust and want to fuck again.

Drew: We can dream!

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  1. This was interesting/ fun to read…also, to anyone else who has zero energy/ desire to create and curate a social media presence – I’m right there with you in the no IG corner. It’s a small table, but it’s cozy, we can have great conversations, and it’s pretty private ;) Can I get you a drink?

    • Same. I understand wanting to see what people look like, but it seems odd to just dismiss people who’ve chosen not to participate in social media. I quit because it was harmful to my mental health. I like our cozy no IG corner just fine, thanks.

    • Saaaame. It’s probably a larger table than most people assume! Plain old introversion, protecting mental health, hating the performativity, and also limited internet access from a rural area – so many reasons not to deal with social media. I always have a moment of cognitive dissonance when people talk like they legitimately expect everyone to be on facebook or instagram.

      Really interesting to read about people’s experiences with Lex, though.

      • Yes! Accessibility and also safety are two things that really came to mind. For plenty it can be and/ or feel unsafe mentally or physically to be on social media. And also, not wanting to be instantly judged on appearance can be another, or just feeling uncomfortable with sharing images right away.

        There’s as many reasons for people not wanting to be on social media as there are for those for whom it works and it’s accessible to!

        • SAME. If social media works for you, that’s great! But I find it draining and exhausting (beyond the very valid points re accessibility you raise) so I just don’t, which is also valid. I’d love a seat at your table :)

          • The table’s booked for all of us – come have a seat! The conversation is great and if you order food you don’t have to photograph it before you eat it 😜

        • Thanks for bringing this up, Snaelle! Accessibility is defintely a big issue here, I have ADHD and had to quit all social media because I just couldn’t deal with it. I love not being on social media but sometimes I do feel excluded!

    • For reeeeal, thank you, and what everybody else said.

      Also personally I really dislike the whole instagram vibe and culture, and that’s cool if people do but I want to be able to exist outside of that. There’s already a bunch of stuff that’s not accessible outside instagram, I feel like that’s plenty? It feels to me like there’s a certain homogeneity that creeps into stuff that’s focused around instagram, and more importantly, I like being able to access things.

      I totally get why people would want/need to see it but there are also reasons why people would not want to share OR see it. I guess we can stay in a corner but I’d still like to have a corner. Or, maybe not. Tbh I only ever looked at Lex once and was so deeply disappointed specifically because the vibe felt very social media to me. It felt like a bunch of people subtweeting back and forth with instagram vibes built on history with tumblr and facebook and I was like, right, I deleted all those things for reasons….. I have no idea what I want on so many levels, but not that!

    • Sidling up to the no IG table too!

      I don’t have it and I’ve still enjoyed Lex even though not a lot has come of it yet (and I’m currently taking a break from it).

      Maybe Autostraddle should launch their own dating app (although is that what all the options in your profile are supposed to be for?)

    • Glad to see the instagram avoiders in the comments because it seems like it’s almost a requirement to have a twitter or instagram for queer online dating and as someone with no interest in putting my irl self out there like that it’s discouraging. glad to hear others feel the same way!

    • Thank you for making this table. I read this article and was really disappointed with the lack of compassion or thought for why people don’t have social media. It honestly makes me want to avoid articles by the authors in future.

      To the authors – I am interested in dating and meeting people, but for my personal *safety* (survivor) and health, I deleted my social media. Also, considering how Facebook owns Instagram, it’s also a privacy and security issue. It’s an accessibility issue. Forcing trans and queer folx to opt in so a capitalist company can commodify them while supporting cishet white supremacy is not ok.

      I want to date using queer apps and it hurt to read that people “don’t have time for that,” don’t have time for me and others on the margins. That you want settings to ensure that we aren’t even seen. It just really sucks.

    • Late to the party but as someone with much education on the inner workings of the tech sphere (and other colluding agencies), I’m encouraged by others here in the comments choosing to opt of social media and engage in other spaces. I don’t have social media for security and privacy concerns and sometimes I wonder if that will create issues while dating so this comment section is giving me hope.

  2. Obviously everyone’s experience will be different, but I highly recommend Lex! I posted a thirsty ad at the beginning of this year and ended up with a hot AF girlfriend. We’ve been together 8 months! There are definitely people on there looking for relationships and genuine connection, as well as hot hookups.

  3. I love the concept of Lex but find the reality to be endlessly disappointing!

    I’m never attracted to anyone and I also find it super offputting that people don’t have their IG linked to their profile. I absolutely can’t flirt with someone unless I think they’re hot.

    Also I feel like the Lex is where queer originality goes to die. I simply cannot read the same 10 cliches over and over. Plants, cats, tea, tarot – rinse and repeat. Please I beg, can everyone stop being so twee. It’s dull and I’m not turned on!!

  4. Muting would be nice. Since Drew & I are in the same area I have an idea who she is talking about. I’ve only met two people from Lex. The first person I met apologized for giving me a hug goodbye a few minutes after it on the phone. Very odd, but didn’t work out as friends. I am fb with 4 other queers from the app but no communication at all(the first add was her idea to talk on fb but then never did). Also, in my experience it seems like there is a lot of people looking for cis femme or top leaning switches.

  5. Also in the non social media camp. I don’t have instagram because it forcibly links to Facebook and I won’t sign up for any dating app that links to your Facebook either (so no Tinder for me).

  6. For the people who don’t have insta and don’t want it: the app could instead require users to submit 3 pics. You can get a lot from 3 pics and people devoted to remaining anonymous could post kittens or flowers or other things.

    Also all the people on Lex posting their terrible poetry need to stop. Just let us have one damn space where we can cruisepost without clogging it up with overflow from your journal.

  7. Lex is cute! I just joined today (so maybe itll get old quick) but I’m having fun with it so far. I love seeing what others are thinking and how they describe themselves.

    I’ve already run across another queer I know…because SMALL ASS WORLD. Lmao.

    I love the text only, maybe cause I’m not interested in finding anything other than conversation.

  8. I used Lex for a few months pre-pandemic (Dec. 2019-Feb. 2020) and as an ace spectrum person it was AMAZING because I get basically nothing from looking at people’s pictures. I didn’t have any relationships come out of it, but I went on a bunch of first dates, made some friends, and joined a new RPG group! I found it useful for finding people who vibe with really specific interests.

    • Yeah I was looking forward to going to some of the meetups that were being planned in my area just as the pandemic hit and I will definitely give it a go when it’s possible again.

  9. FASCINATING. I had never heard of this app but I’m enamored. Maybe it’s just pandemic feels, but I would take an app for finding queer friends! Or sex! Or just…people!!!! I miss people! …yeah 2022 might be wild.

    Also, I feel like as helpful as pics are in sussing people out, I would be very interested to see what happens without them and the potential barrier to entry to online dating they present for people. I always feel horribly represented by my pictures – my partner of 3 years also verifies this for me this frequently. We met on a dating app but it took me ages to try one. Def don’t have an instagram. But I have some great plant stories. My aloe vera got a legit sunburn, did you know that was a thing?

  10. Thank you for this very thorough discussion. You’ve just persuaded me to decide to try out Lex as my first WLW dating venue, even though I’ve never used Instagram before. I try my best with photos, but am better with words. I’ve never been with women (or people of any gender), so a friendly, easygoing approach and a dating pool of “cottagecore softies that just want to snuggle” currently sound appealing to me. I know my kinks, but I don’t yet really know what I want in terms of sex and romance.

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