The Hook Up: I might be bi—how the hell do I meet other women?

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I’ve identified as straight my whole life. I’ve had some bi-curious leanings before, but never fully explored it outside of some making out with girls in college. I’m now 28 and single, and realizing that I maybe want to have the opportunity to figure this sexuality/am-I-into-chicks shit out. But how? I don’t want to misrepresent myself (or my ability or experience), and don’t want to make anyone feel used. What’s the etiquette on this?—Bashfully Bi-Curious

Dear BBC,

Twenty-eight is a great time to explore sapphic spelunking—as nobody calls it. You’re old enough to have been around the block a few times, but young enough to, like, still want to leave the house after 10 p.m. (A fun story: I once turned down a hot girl’s sexual solicitation solely because it was 11 p.m. and GRANDMA NEEDS HER SLEEP.)

Here’s what you should know when exploring the wild world of women.

Prepare for dating women to be a little bit harder

Women are socialized to not be aggressive when it comes to flirtation, dating, making the first move, etc. When dating men, the assumption is that they will do all the “move-making.” With women, though, you have to take charge. And yes, I’m putting the responsibility on you, because even though you are probably less experienced than your potential partners, it’s better to get in the habit of taking the lead, because…

NO ONE MAKES THE FIRST MOVE

I’m exaggerating and I’m not exaggerating. An example from Tinder: 13 women have “matched” with me (meaning we’ve both swiped right/expressed mutual attraction). Exactly one of them has actually sent a message. One.

As a wise woman (Ursula the Sea Witch) once said, “If you want something done, you have to do it yourself.” This includes risking potential rejection and awkwardness. But it is worth it. Fear gets you nowhere. Action begets, well, action. So …

Egg up and put yourself out there

In whatever way is easiest for you. If you have queer friends, ask them to introduce you to other queer women. (WE LOVE PLAYING MATCHMAKER!) If you’re more comfortable seeking companionship online, then go online. If you want to meet women at the vegan anarchist knitting circle, then crochet the night away! Queer-friendly bars, concerts, roller derby events, and dance parties are also options.

FullSizeRenderilllustration by Natasha Miren Terbraak

Be honest but don’t go overboard

In all likelihood, you’ll probably want to set something up online. Here, I’d encourage you to experiment a little with what you say in your profile. Be honest, but stop short of making yourself look bad. As with a resume, emphasize your stellar traits and what you bring to the table, instead of what you lack. Frame yourself always in a positive light. Because you are great, and we should all do this, even if we have less experience than we’d like.

Know what you want

The one sour experience I had with a bi-curious girl was because she wasn’t forthcoming about her intentions—she was looking for a one-night stand; and I was like, “I WANT TO WRITE SONNETS ABOUT YOUR COLLARBONES.” It didn’t end well. Knowing what you want and stating it on your profile helps to prevent these kinds of misunderstandings.

If you’re interested in mutually respectful hookups, say so. If you want to start off as friends or take things slow, say so. If you’re not sure what you want, you can say that, too! In fact, it might behoove you to start your dating search by looking for other girls who label themselves as bi-curious (on OkCupid or Craigslist, for instance). It might be nice to ease your way in with another newbie. Or it might not. You’ll have to experiment (pun unintended). Just don’t expect her to make the first move.

Try not to get too drunk

I know, it’s scary to kiss someone or even go on a date without tipping back a little social sauce. But if you’re drunk, it’s going to be way harder to tell if you actually like the person, or if you “like them” simply because your inhibitions are lowered (AKA you like everyone! Wheeee!) So bear that in mind. If you don’t want to kiss her after a few drinks, that’s probably a sign you shouldn’t.

Remember that dating is dating

At the end of the day, dating men and dating women isn’t so different. The goal is to have fun, learn something about a new person, and find out if you’re compatible enough to want to hurl your naked bodies together at some point in the future (possibly later that night). To that end, don’t force it if you’re not feelin’ it, and try not to overanalyze every interaction that doesn’t go well. Some dates will go poorly—that can’t be helped. It’s simply a part of life. On the plus side, if they’re zany enough, you’ll get a fun story out of it at least.  

Like the time this one girl turned down a hottie because it was 11 p.m. What a loser.

 Anna is a freelance writer in Oakland. Get overly personal emails and haiku from her at tinyletter.com/annapulley. Or Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at askthehookup@gmail.com 

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