How to Date Girls: 10 Simple Rules for Properly Courting a Lesbian

You might imagine that dating a new woman will be a lot like starring in your very own girl-on-girl romantic comedy: you’ll be asked out in some quirky yet perfect way, your date will clearly express interest in you and be a master of seduction, and when you finally have sex, it will be like the 4th of July in your pants and Christmas in your heart (or Hanukkah, whatevs). Well, WAKE UP, DAYDREAM BELIEVER.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But wait! Who could be better at seduction than a woman? Women are basically the main reason that date night and Valentine’s Day were invented in the first place!” Well as it turns out, apparently everyone is better than lesbians.

I think we all have our own lesbian dating horror stories that we like to tell our friends as a warning of things to come. Like the time a girl’s ex showed up and wanted career advice, or when you realized the girl you were dating was emotionally unavailable because she was having an affair with her married friend. Whoops!

Courtship Autostraddle DoodleThe thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. If we could just collectively raise the bar a little and invest as much in the art of dating as we do in the art of Facebooking, maybe lesbian courtship could be a brave new world. But this isn’t Russia circa 1917. The revolution won’t come overnight, so let’s start small with some of the main DOs and DONTs.

DON’T Overshare

For the love of getting laid, stop telling dates about your exes! In particular, don’t use your exes as some kind of weird parable for what you actually want from someone. Just say it. If you want someone who can articulate their feelings like a big girl, just tell your date that. Don’t tell them some long, awkward story about how your ex was emotionally constipated and couldn’t say “I love you.” Save that shit for your therapist or your bartender. Nothing puts a girl’s libido on pause like an overshare.

DON’T be cheap

Because you’re a lesbian, there’s an automatic assumption that you’re cheap. Fight the power. And while there are certain women who’ll need to change panties when you pay for the $300 dinner, for most women it’s the thought that counts. After all, a picnic in the park can be even sexier than maxing out your credit card at Momofuku. Lay down the cash where it matters most: pay for her cab home (in the morning), bring a great bottle of wine, or buy her a small gift.

DON’T have bad boundaries

There are oh so many ways that lesbians can have bad boundaries, but right here I want to focus on one: DO NOT bring a date to a girl bar or a girl party. Your date does not need to meet your ex, or all your friends, the first few times you go out. I know it’s hard, but resist the urge to merge for at least a month. Putting someone in a potentially socially awkward situation from the get-go is zero sexy.


Now that we’ve pinpointed some of the biggest lesbian dating DON’Ts, let’s talk about the DO’s. I’m going to skip over the obvious stuff, such as showering beforehand and not texting during the meal (although with some dates I’ve been on, these things weren’t as apparent as one might think/hope).


DO ask her out directly

Don’t say “we should hang out.” If you want to ask someone out, ask them out. Don’t allude to some hypothetical situation in which you could share airspace with them. Ask them to do a specific activity at a specific time and place. Preferably an activity that is reflective of something most people enjoy (i.e good food) or something that they have mentioned enjoying in conversation.

Courtship Autostraddle Doodle

DO have something to talk about

Ideally something that doesn’t pertain to being a lesbian, girl parties, the people you know in common or your ex girlfriend. This means, as part of your preparation for the date, you may want to read a book, the newspaper, or cultivate a hobby.

DO put some creativity and thought into the date

Think of your date as your canvas; it’s going to say a lot about you. Are you creative enough to do some Googling to find an interesting restaurant followed by an out-of-the-box activity? I know it’s easy to say “let’s get a drink after dinner,” because there are a million bars and nothing creates fake intimacy like booze, but try to think of something else.

Go Time:

DO bring something cute

Victorians used to call it a love token, lesbians should call it flowers, wine or something you saw that made you think of her.

DO ask her about herself

When she answers, ask follow-up questions that indicate your intent listening and the fact that you have a base line IQ that enables you to respond in an intelligent manner. If you know what she likes, consider learning a little more about it ahead of time and hint that you did so. Now she’ll know that you did extra work so you would have a better context for her love of vintage camera-collecting. Even if it’s not your passion, it won’t kill you to learn something new.


DO text her or call her after the date to tell her you had a good time.

Doing this doesn’t mean that you’re too available or that you want to marry her. It’s simply a polite way to indicate to someone that you enjoy their company.

DO keep it secret, keep it safe.

Obvs you’re going to talk to your besties about it, but try to refrain from buying an ad on Facebook. The greater lesbian community does not need to know who you are dating or what you did on your date.

Courtship Autostraddle Doodle

Now that we’ve covered the basics, the idea is RINSE AND REPEAT. With each stage of dating you build in a little more, assuming you like her and aren’t planning on trying to direct her into the friend zone (that’s a whole separate article). And remember, even after you’ve “got her,” you have to keep her. Maintain the momentum that got you here, otherwise it’s like dating blue balls….and no one wants that.

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Sarah H

Sarah has written 4 articles for us.


  1. what about tweeting in a protected twitter account – or writing posts like this one when you’re in a long distance relationship but you don’t actually mention that you’re in one and instead deflect attention away from yourself by getting other people to dish on their expensive booty calls:

    what do you do when you were born with the inability to shut up? advice pleez.

    • Grace, talk to your friends about it until they want to vomit, but do not blog about it. Just think about the ramifications of that if she follows you on tumblr/twitter/whatever and you don’t know it and then she sees it? If I read a girl’s blog who I went on one date with and she had written a huge post about me and the date, I would likely be like “heh, it was really really nice meeting you………….” Do you know what I mean? Just annoy the shit out of your friends, but don’t put it on the internet. Wait till it’s been going well for at least 2 weeks to a month before you start blogging.

    • Lololol Grace, then by goodness do NOT stop talking because someone like me will come along and feel awesome that she’s not alone while simultaneously finding you attractive and adorable! ;)

      The qualities I’m looking for in a girl are the same qualities I’m building stronger within myself: honesty, playfulness, and being the real you as often as humanly possible in all situations because life is literally too damn short and everyone deserves to be loved in their most natural state (despite their run-on sentences).

      I’m a firm believer that because I find this state most attractive in a woman, other women may very well feel the same way, and thus my greatest chance of finding my next partner and also my greatest chance of appearing most attractive to women, is a cliché answer: quite literally to be myself. Do whatever you think and feel is best no matter what anyone says, all that matters is your opinion at the end of the day :) It feels like life and dating are supposed to be more complicated than that, but it really has become my unwavering answer to most everything now. I hope my ranting did something for you lol if not thanks for your post!

  2. yeahhhh sarah4! especially “Doing this doesn’t mean that you’re too available or that you want to marry her. It’s simply a polite way to indicate to someone that you enjoy their company.” being nice to a girl doesn’t mean you’re crazyinlovetoosoon, it’s just being nice. more girls need to learn this.

      • But why would it be boring? You like her, she likes you, you’ll find something to talk about, it’ll be GREAT.

        If all else fails just ask questions so she can talk about herself, people love that. You’ll get to the end of the evening and she’ll be like “You’re a great conversationalist.” p.s. in this scenario it’s 1953

        • I find small talk inherently boring. This may be because the bulk of the small talk I am forced to engage in occurs at networking events where I have to emit loud, fake guffaws as responses to jokes that have clearly been re-told since, well, 1953 or so. I am fine with asking questions, but I find that it often doesn’t lead to a lasting conversation but just one-sentence responses followed by that dreaded awkward silence.

          Thing is, just like e, I get intense about conversations and like to dig deep. A lot of people don’t like that, obvs. The tray of cookies idea might be feasible, however.

          • Personally, I think the best thing is to find something to discuss that isn’t distinctly personal, like dating history or traumatic childhoods, but that she is emotionally engaged in, like a book, a movie, politics, ethical or philosophical dilemmas, something that gives you insight to her thoughts, feelings and point of view without being invading or over-shearing. Share some opinions, and she’ll give you hers. Even if you don’t really find the topic interesting, watching people talk like they care is the best thing ever.

    • Small talk baffles me, I never know what to say or how to keep the conversation going so you don’t have those painful, awkward silences.

      It might help if I wasn’t a shy introverted loner with a serious amount of anxiety when it comes to being social.

      • I can relate, I’m quiet & terrible at small talk. I find that a good way to compensate is to put all of my energy into appearing chilled & attentive. I just think that when people are at ease they feel a lot less awkward about being the one who has to dominate the conversation, you know? You still have to give them something back, even if it’s just a good ear and some good vibes.

        Anyway that’s not going to work for everyone, but it mostly does for me.

    • I’m not good at small talk either. Re-read the article, I did. Its really common sense and having respect for your date. I just have trouble getting my mouth to say what my mind and heart want to say.

  3. Ideally something that doesn’t pertain to being a lesbian, girl parties, the people you know in common or your ex girlfriend. This means, as part of your preparation for the date, you may want to read a book, the newspaper, or cultivate a hobby.

    It seems like such a simple concept, so why does no one know it? Thank you for saying it! I have written the word “lesbian” so many times by Friday afternoon that I just don’t even want to hear it out loud ALL WEEKEND. Yes, we’re lesbians. That’s why we’re on this date together. Let’s talk about Harry Potter.

  4. I definitely brought my current girlfriend to my friend’s party on our first date.

    In my defense, we’d successfully completed the activity we set out to do and neither of us wanted the night to end but I was too chicken to bring her home just yet.

    I’m the exception to the rule though, refraining from merging is really solid good advice.

  5. Fantastic! I think I may have broken most of these when my wife & I were dating! Fortunately, she married me anyway. Lol. I will definitely pass this along to my unmarried lesbian friends:)

  6. I think a dedicated dating column would be a great addition to autostraddle! I nominate Sarah H for this! I really enjoyed reading this, but it was a tough reminder for what I now have ahead of me :( at least this will get me off to a good start! thanks Sarah!

  7. Thank you for nomination Sara. I like it. Also for those of you who don’t know about the hilarity that is ok Cupid quick match you need to get on that. It’s one of my go-to methods for making myself laugh after a bad day.

  8. This is so great!!! (Only problem is… I’m moving to NYC where I know absolutely no one, thus I have no one to date. Maybe learning how to be less of an awkward human/meeting people in general should be in order first?)

  9. hmmm i seem to have moved from “lets see each other” to “lets be friends” :( so now how to i get out of that stage and back to the lets see each other?? I blame the kids. I have 1 girl and she has 2 girls and we seem to get stuck doing a lot of “friend” type of stuff. last week we took the kids swimming.. not much for being able to make that romantic. “hey kids lets make a sand castle so me and mommy can have some alone time in it”

  10. i’m thinking i should give this “dating” thing a try. I’ve always just been the type to fall into lust and merge after a week of sex and a few trips to ihop and the pet store.

    time to bake some cookies, research some local events, and wait for a cute girl to ask me if I like cheese.


  11. You know these rules apply to all humans and not just lesbians, right?

    – Don’t overshare
    – Don’t be cheap
    – Don’t have bad boundaries
    – Ask her out directly
    – Have something to talk about
    – Be creative
    – Bring something cute
    – Ask her about herself
    – Call or text afterwards to say you enjoyed the date
    – Don’t tell the world what you got up to

    I know as a straight male I’m not exactly your target market but I’m pretty sure all of these points are valid if you’re asking out a straight woman too. Maybe that’s just me pursuing That Straight Agenda™ though. ;)

        • Uh, little harsh? A bisexual friend showed it to me. I’m just saying that these criteria shouldn’t be considered lesbian-exclusive. Is a girl asking a guy out supposed to do the opposite? :)

          • Totally agree, Gav. I think that’s kind of the point though.

            A lot of lesbians / bisexual / whatevercantaccomodateeverybody women who are new to the idea of dating other women can freak out a little over “not knowing what to do” but in reality the “rules” of dating women and not looking crazy is essentially the same as dating men and not looking crazy.

            It’s just comforting to get that same advice from other women who have been in the same situation and lived to tell the tale :)

  12. 1. I loved the Harry Potter comment. I agree you can’t date em if they hate HP!

    2. Advice was pretty damn good. It just sucks when you live in a city in the middle of the country & everyone knows everybody. Not enough Lesbians where I live damnnn.

  13. Ha. What we really need is a lesbian version of the movie Hitch, with Will Smith. Has anybody seen it…no…anyone? /sigh. Well, it’s really good. But this article reminded me so so so much of that…haha. Should have read this before going out on some dates… Try asking her out to the movies (at least I did that right: a set time and date and purpose) and getting the train times wrong, and winding up in a very boring town about an hour before the movie was supposed to start…so we went to Dairy Queen, because I’m just a winner like that. Oh and the movie? How To Train Your Dragon… no, I’m not twelve.

  14. One thing that helped me a lot with small talk is being told “ask open-ended questions” is only part of the phrase. It’s actually, “Ask open-ended questions you’re actually interested in knowing the answers to and then stay out of your head long enough to listen to the response”. (This also applies to answers. Give answers expansive enough to help move the conversation along.)

    So no asking “Did you survive snowpocalypse?” Instead, “What did you do to survive snowpocalypse?”

    Assume she says, “I was trapped for three days so I polished off my last bottle of jenever” (the best gin EVER). You have to listen. It matters if she says it dispiritedly, so you can respond, “Bad luck. How did you get it originally?” and hopefully you’ll get a nice little story about a trip to Amsterdam (or at least LikkerWorld). If she says it happily, then you can ask how she spent her time home alone with a jenever buzz. (Reading, listening to music, cleaning the house naked-it’ll give you something else to talk about.)

    If, instead, she gets bothered and explains that her co-housing didn’t get a turn to use the only truck fitted with a snow plow until three days in so she was stuck and Mary forgot to buy the lentils when it was her turn to shop last month so they couldn’t even make a decent chili, well, the conversational possibilities are endless. What you ask depends on what you’re interested in. What does she think is essential to a decent chili? How are responsibilities shared at her co-housing? How does she think factions will line up at the inevitable all-house meeting to discuss the legume/snow plow challenge?

  15. After having crushed on my first girlfriend for a couple of months- and having her crush on me with us both being totally oblivious- we finally just got all the awkwardness over in one night with the help of a few drinks, and got together. We jumped straight in and there was never official dates, or..working to like each other, trying to find things to talk about..

    That said, we’re over, and I’m completely mortified by the awkward first few dates, getting-to-know a girl thing.
    Sigh. Am i alone in this?

  16. I like that this has come up again. I currently need this advice to properly court the girl I hooked up with last weekend.

    Haha I like the “when you finally have sex” thing…UM ALREADY DID THAT NOW WHAT.

    Is anyone else bad at waiting to have sex? The last couple of girls I’ve met I’ve exchanged a few messages with on Okcupid (don’t judge me, it’s Northern Indiana, there is no gay scene), started texting, met IRL, and then had sex within a couple days. Seriously.

    It’s like “you like me, I like you, on the first date we made out in your car, so logically the next step is fucking.” BUT MAYBE IT SHOULDN’T BE. I DON’T KNOW.

  17. I’m guilty of a lot of these oops. I decided to take your advice and I broke the cardinal sin of texting twice in a row so ask her out more directly.

    I’m holding autostraddle responsible for the outcome. :P

  18. In the small talk bit one thing I’ve done is to go to a video store. Just plainly ask her. “Hey, let’s go to the rental place and see what movies we have in common?” followed with maybe. “We can get some popcorn and maybe go for a walk.” It’s a great way to see if you have the same tastes and commenting about the movies you can get to know her, joke around at the expense of the movies and not each other stuff like that. You can even use that to segway her into you asking her if she’d like to go see something new.

  19. Usually when I’ve been brenda-ing a girl and it’s going well, I mention that either I’m Buddhist or that I do art with people mental health issues and this promptly is the last I’ll here from the lady. These are good things that I’m very proud of, why is it so off-putting??!

  20. All of this sounds like a female’s guide to dating a female, not a new lesbian’s guide to dating. Straight males could probably follow the same steps and properly date a straight woman.

    And I felt like shooting myself at the word “obvs.” Who uses that besides 15 year olds?

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  66. Love this article!! So cute with the infographics too. I am newly out as a lesbian with little to no experience seriously dating women, but feel overwhelmed with options in a city with a large queer population and don’t know the ins and outs yet😨😅Would like to avoid the typical mistakes so ty ty 💓.

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