LGBTQ dating in the real world isn’t something openly televised or given exposure on media. Everyone deserves a love story, but let’s face it: dating within the LGBTQ community isn’t a cakewalk. Fortunately, some shows like First Dates feature everyday people, men, and women across the rainbow spectrum, going on blind dates—real-life scenarios perfect for a few lessons on dating.
This is especially true for those just coming to terms with their sexuality and are unsure where to start. There are a few options to kick off the quest for love, from LGBTQ-friendly bars to online forums and dating apps. Still, the experience can be quite nerve-wracking without some kind of guide. In the spirit of Pride Month this June, here are five practical tips from people’s experiences to help kindle the chance for romance:
Know Your Comfort Level
The LGBTQ community is vast with many levels of coming out. Simple gestures such as holding hands or hugging in public may already be an issue for some, while others may avoid dating in certain places for fear of being seen by family or friends. If you are similarly on the shy side, you may feel more comfortable dating someone equally reserved. It’s understandable that courage can take time, and there’s no shame coming out step by step.
Consider Safe Spaces
The typical coffee shop or restaurant isn’t bad for a meet-up, but if you want a sure-fire, LGBTQ-friendly place in Metro Manila, here’s a few you can consider. Fred’s Revolucion is one among other establishments in Cubao Expo, Quezon City, that signed up for the Safe Space Campaign in 2013 to show commitment in the fight against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Another is Uno Morato, a cultural hub, coffee shop, and bar along Maginhawa Street, Quezon City, where LGBTQ dates would not feel out of place. In Poblacion, Makati, Commune offers great Philippine coffee and conversation for any and all visitors. There are plenty more places like these where you and your date can feel more secure opening up, so be sure to look up LGBTQ-friendly spaces online when planning a casual meet-up.
Chances are your date is just as anxious, more so if you two are newly out and new to the dating scene. In that case, it’s ok to tell your date that you’re nervous to help lighten the mood. Break the ice further by asking basic questions about work, school, hobbies, or future plans, and don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. Being too cautious would only make you look boring, disinterested, or untrustworthy. Should you talk about politics and religion? Some advice against it, but if you’re serious about finding a long-term partner, you would want to know whether your values and principles match. Just keep an open mind and stay cool even if the other one takes a stance opposite yours. Do watch out about getting too personal once the ball starts rolling, like suddenly talking about bedroom fantasies or exes if there are any. You want your date to feel safe, not pressured, objectified, or plainly creeped out.
Set Realistic Expectations
It’s not wrong to have standards when dating but remember that no one is perfect. Don’t let a stringent checklist or ideal preference stop you from enjoying the company of new people. It’s also important not to be too self-conscious, so be yourself and laugh a little. Who knows, your date might just find you attractive and you click from the get-go. There are a few red flags, of course, like if your date is rude to the wait staff or has terrible hygiene. Otherwise, be confident and have fun.
Drop a Message
Even if a first date isn’t successful, it’s polite to say something after. Most people today, including members of the LGBTQ community, resort to ghosting—suddenly disappearing from contact without explanation—hoping to get their message across, but imagine being in that other person’s shoes. Rejection is tough, and it gets tougher if you don’t know why. Always follow the golden rule. Send the other person a message saying thanks for hanging out with you, and that you think you don’t match or didn’t feel a romantic connection. On the other hand, if you liked your date, be sure to say that you enjoyed the evening and are interested in seeing him or her again. Don’t sound too pushy, though. Your date is also evaluating you, so give the other person a chance to accept or deny the offer of a second meeting.
Want more tips on how to go about dating in the LGBTQ world? See how aspiring couples take a shot at love on First Dates, Tuesdays at 8:50PM, first and exclusive on Blue Ant Entertainment.
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