I don't know how to be gay.
December 24, 2009 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm a twenty year old gay woman. For 2010, I want to learn how to flirt with other women.

The problems are...

- I fail at making friends with women, but I'm an expert at befriending and flirting with men. All of my friends are, and always have been, men.

- I feel like I'm "lesser" than other women. I feel like I'm this unclean, perverted person because I'm attracted to them - like I'm an impostor and if they knew I found them attractive they'd find me repulsive.

- I'm incredibly shy around women.

Yes, I'm single. I want to change that! I want to learn how to flirt with/attract/ask out other women. I've never been flirted with/asked out by a woman in my life. Help!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I feel like I'm "lesser" than other women. I feel like I'm this unclean, perverted person because I'm attracted to them - like I'm an impostor and if they knew I found them attractive they'd find me repulsive.

I hate to state the obvious, but have you been to any gay events or clubs? A lot of your anxiety would probably be lessened if you knew for sure that the women around you were also gay. Go and let other women flirt with YOU, and you'll see how it's done. (You'll also see just how clean and unperverted they are, and hopefully it'll make you feel better about yourself.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:31 PM on December 24, 2009 [7 favorites]

As I understand it, drinking helps a good deal with combatting shyness.
posted by musofire at 1:47 PM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

As I understand it, drinking helps a good deal with not vomiting on people you find attractive.

musofire's absolutely right in my experience, but, you know, try not to binge.
posted by sandswipe at 1:57 PM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Its universal--eye contact, smiles, light touching.

You just have to try when you don't feel 100% confident. Don't wait for that feeling.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:26 PM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yes, you need to go to lesbian places, where everyone is in the same boat with the same little man.

The shyness might be tough to overcome. Then again, it might vanish as soon as you find yourself in a place full of women who assume you're a lesbian (no need to confess anything) and are happy about it (the more the merrier) and may be ready to approach you rather than wait for you to approach them.
posted by pracowity at 2:32 PM on December 24, 2009

Nth-ing the "hang out with lesbians" suggestion.

Also, you're 20. Many, many people of all sexual orientations are absolutely crappy at flirting at this point in their lives. Nothing to it but to do it. You will make a fool of yourself every now and then (far less often than you think), but you will also meet some amazing women.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:58 PM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hi, I'm a queer male, but I would recommend non-bar queer places too. Look out for womens' bookstores, queer community centers, bowling leagues, local queer mailing lists, and please attend the local gay pride parade (my favorite part are all the families!).

Being gay is pretty awesome and there is a lot more to it than going to dark bars and yelling at people over loud music.

Good luck!
posted by khedron at 3:40 PM on December 24, 2009 [4 favorites]

so the other day, i was at work showing off the new harley-davidson boots i got. i was pretty excited. a female student (kind of butch, a little chunky, cute) who was working with one of my colleagues at a table nearby made eye contact with me and smiled. it felt like a definite flirt. i am straight, but i smiled back anyway: she liked my boots! nice. every time i glanced that way, her eyes were on me, and when she'd notice i noticed, she'd smile again. it was definitely flirting, and it was rather enjoyable. so from the other end, a light flirt is delightful, lesbian or not.

that whole "lesser, unclean, perverted" mindset? chuck that overboard. oh, sure, there will be some pinch-faced church-going women who will not respond well, but they aren't your problem, are they? it wasn't like you were fixin' to go out with them, right?

start with eye contact--just make yourself do that, at least for a couple seconds, even if you don't do anything else then. a smile is nice if you like what you see. if you can manage that after the eye contact, excellent. practice this with non-critical women, and then when you're with someone you have a yen for, it'll feel more natural.

heck, you may even make some straight woman's day!
posted by miss patrish at 3:56 PM on December 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

Or for fucks sake - great suggestion sandswipe - just what the world needs: another underage (assuming the poster is in the states) drinker who is socially awkward and looking for courage in a bottle.

I didn't know how the hell to flirt with anyone, let alone women until I was well into my twenties. I did happen to brush up on the activity in a bar. After my first relationship went bust I spent a little too much time in one of Chicago's dyke bars - what worked for me was a distraction. Billiards. I picked up a pool cue and got good. First it was just something that broke the ice. Eventually I got REALLY good. So good that I put myself through a semester of college by winning tournaments and other *ahem* things.

Girls started coming up to me. They liked the confidence that I'd developed with my game. And that confidence spread. Today I'm a consummate flirt.

Yes. Much of it is in the eye contact. Become comfortable making and, most importantly, maintaining brief periods of eye contact. Don't stare/gawk, but linger. Linger is a key word in all flirtation whether it's a look, a touch or a kiss. In two seconds of linger you can pack an awful lot of unspoken meaning. It's a natural response for many people to look away as soon as someone meets your gaze. Don't.

If you're looking at someone you would like to know more/better and they meet your gaze you should smile. You can maintain a demure stance if you lower you blink slowly then look at the object of your desire again with a slightly crooked smile. It lets them know there was a purpose to your look - that you were trying to get their attention. AND that you're brave enough to let them know it.

If you've been introduced to someone and you already have their attention but need to take things to the next level then you will want to "linger" with touch. This means you've got to get comfortable being near someone and actually touching them. The easiest way to introduce touch is in gaining someone's attention. If you're in a small group simply reach out and touch her forearm or her shoulder and say her name and ask her a question or introduce a topic.

Now lets say you have gotten to the point where you're engaged in conversation, etc but you don't know how it's going. You could simply ask, but if flirting is problematic then I assume being blunt is too. At the end of the evening you will need to say that it was a pleasure to have met and that you should do it again. When you do this last bit you may want to kiss her cheek and you guessed it - linger!

Look, smile, touch. These are my words of wisdom. Hope they help.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:57 PM on December 24, 2009 [8 favorites]

Like others have said here, you will likely grow into confidence - and having a bit of patience and compassion for yourself in the meantime will probably help you make it through those crazy early 20s. I agree with FlamingBore that gaining confidence in something ostensibly unrelated to dating will raise your confidence over-all, along with giving you something to talk to women about, not to mention that your competence will make you unbelievably attractive.

For specific flirting tips (and although I am a queer woman, I dont' think my flirting style is specific to my orientation), eye contact - a moment past your initial discomfort zone, plus a warm smile will go a long way. And yes, touch, touch, touch!

Basically, FlamingBore has covered this all already, I should just be chiming in to say I have confidence that this will get easier and more fun. Woo-hoo!
posted by serazin at 6:50 PM on December 24, 2009

Or for fucks sake - great suggestion sandswipe - just what the world needs: another underage (assuming the poster is in the states) drinker who is socially awkward and looking for courage in a bottle.

Legal age for drinking where I am is 18. Got some proof the OP is in the US?

OP: Anyway, it sounds like you have the flirting part of the equation worked out, if you have no hassles at all flirting with men. The suggestions to find queer folk your own age is a golden one - depending on where you are, there may be a youth oriented social club worth going to. Check out the queer street press in your area or hit the Google and see who's doing what. You can also find social groups oriented more towards hobbies than age - this is an Australian list that has interests as diverse as crafting, sports, bushwalking and salsa dancing. I can't imagine it would be terribly difficult to find a similar list for your region, depending on where you are, of course.
posted by Jilder at 5:08 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh how I empathize. I've been there. I'm still a shy awkward mess around women...especially if I know that they're queer...which is why I think that telling you to go hang out at queer places isn't that helpful. But I'm not nearly as painfully awkward as I used to be.
Read Intimate Connections by David Burns. It's a little dated, a little heteronormative, but it's got some great stuff. I never had a girlfriend before I read it, and since I've had three. And I'm way better at not feeling like a totally inadequate perv around the ladies. It's got great tips on flirting and such.
And if you don't read it, then take this advice: start dating a lot of people. People aren't that smart and don't know what they want, so when they see that other people want you then they'll want you too. This might sound cynical or something, but it's true. So date people that you're not even that into if that's all you can do at first, and you'll slowly build yourself up to those totally rad queer gals who make you nervous.
Godspeed young dyke.
posted by whalebreath at 6:00 AM on December 25, 2009

Read Intimate Connections by David Burns.

That was the very reason I suggested eye contact, touching and similing. Let me also add easy compliments.

I was totally amazed when that shit worked. Like very well.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:11 AM on December 25, 2009

@FlamingBore: I can see I worded my response poorly, but what I meant was that if the user finds themselves going for a while without making a fool of themselves and vomiting, and then they start drinking, they will start making a fool of themselves and vomiting. Drinking too much is very bad, and telling people to find courage in the bottle (advice I frequently hear myself) will lead to shame, pain, and worse. I'm sorry if this was confusing.

That said, one beer or one glass of whatever you like isn't going to kill you, and if you take it slow, it can make a party more fun.

I can't speak for all of the other advice here as a straight male, but the answers that suggest meeting new people are always good advice. You have to be around people to learn to deal with people.
posted by sandswipe at 7:39 PM on December 29, 2009

I'm a queer woman who struggles with feeling clunky and masculine around some of the women I'm attracted to, and while hanging out with other queer women has mitigated that somewhat, I still fall all over myself when I see a really cute girl. One day I told an attractive friend about this feeling, and she looked at me like I was from Mars and told me that I didn't look clunky and masculine. That definitely helped.

I think it helps to realize that these feelings are outside you - you're projecting them onto other people, and you have no way of knowing if they find you attractive unless you make a move and see how they respond. If you go around thinking everyone finds you unattractive and don't talk to anyone because of that, and then bemoan your singletude, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy!

For me, the essential parts of your question are the bits people haven't focused on as much - namely "I fail at making friends with women" and "I'm incredibly shy around women." If you conquer these two, the rest will come naturally. Take women off their collective pedestal and get to know them as regular old people before pursuing one as a love interest. This will make you more confident and comfortable around women in general, and less intimidated. As you become friends with women, flirting with them (queer and straight, everyone likes a little flirting) will become more ordinary; you'll likely be able to practice your moves on friends, and some of those friends may become love interests.

Good luck!
posted by Devika at 10:54 PM on January 21, 2010

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