There’s a lot of dating-gray-area, and while a lot of people blame the internet (“She texted me one but I don’t know if we’re still hanging out on Wednesday!” “She winked at me, but didn’t respond to my message!” “We have two friends in common on Facebook, but I don’t know if she’ll think it’s creepy if I say hi!”) Some of this is just human nature and the time things take to unfold and settle into their own pace.
More than most people, though, lots of lesbians seem to avoid clarifying their needs or intentions. While there are some women who are looking for relationships, and some looking for A Good Time, a lot of pain and suffering could be avoided by articulating which of these (or both) you are looking for. That being said, it’s fair to say that if someone isn’t texting you back, she’s blowing you off, and it’s better if you burn her phone number (or delete it) if it’s only going to bring you suffering. But if you are wavering somewhere in the middle, here are some things to consider:
How do you feel when you’re around each other?
Is she engaged, interested in you, responsive—0r not? People are not usually pulling an elaborate scheme in their interactions, and if you can pull back a little bit, you can usually figure out if she’s interested/bored/practicing dating but hasn’t made up her mind about you.
Time takes time.
It does take a little while to let the emotional relationship between a couple of people develop, regardless of their long-term dating/friendship trajectory. Giving your dating situation a little room to breathe while you feel it out is never a bad thing.
You get to clarify and set expectations.
If you are looking to date around and want to have a Sunday-sex-and-brunch buddy, and your date is looking for a one-and-only to pick out curtains with, these two are not the same thing. It’s great to clarify your hopes and expectations. The greater tension lies with people who are looking for approximately the same thing but trying to measure and feel out whether this relationship/this person is a good fit for the time and place they’re in.
Not being willing to talk about things can be a dealbreaker.
There are plenty of folks willing to date/engage sexually/generally carry on but decline to specify what exactly is going on. Some people can hang out with this, and find the lightness and low-pressure nature of it all to be really fun.
There are lots of reasons ambiguous dating situations crop up—serious reasons include things like internalized homophobia, and lighter reasons tend to be closer to things like just being between dating situations and just exploring what comes along. There seems to be a divide here. For some folks, dating is always a conscious effort, whether due to insecurity or logistical challenges. For other folks, and I think this happens most of all to very good looking or very chill people, dating situations seem to just turn up.
It’s important to be clear what your endgame is and pursue that accordingly. It does you no good to wring your heart out over when-will-she-text-me-back, and it’s poor dating strategy to be vague about what you’re looking for. Tell people with words what they can expect from you. Tell people with words what you are looking for. Stop wasting the pretty lady’s time and stop hanging around with people who can’t give you what you need.
Maria Turner-Carney is a therapist and writer in Seattle. You can follow her at seattlefeministtherapy.com/blog.
First featured February 29, 2016.