So, you’ve got a smart phone, you’ve downloaded a dating app, you’ve put a cute picture of yourself up and you are ready to look for a date with some fab queer womxn online! But is there a little bit of hesitation mixed in with your excitement? Some fear of safety, some confidence ki khichdi? This is normal.Online dating is still new so there’s not a lot of tips out there. But if you’re a queer woman? Phir toh there is even less to help you out. But aise hi toh nahin we are Agents of Ishq. So we asked some queer women to draw on their experiences and help us put together helpful things to keep in mind as you embark on your online dating adventrues (psst - some flirting tips also included)! Everyone we asked felt comfy on different apps. But bottom line? Search for your own comfort level, think about what your needs, trust your instinct. Here are some things people said, but remember it’s their individual experience. “With women looking for women, there are a lot of fake profiles on all platforms. I am more inclined towards Bumble. Even Tinder tho, since Tinder is the more popular one. But Bumble feels a little safer to me.” - Akriti, 22 “I think, Hinge is better [than Tinder.] People I know have met on Delta and OkCupid. I think they are the hotspot so to speak. I myself try to not date people who are too involved in the community. So I prefer Hinge. I find a lot of people who are not the part of larger academic/activist circles I work with on that app.” - Akansha, 28 “Tinder has a lot of women who are looking for a woman for their male partners, I would ask to be wary of that. On Tinder, all I found were women trying to convince me that their male partner found me very hot and we should have a threesome. Like almost every next profile.”- Akansha, 28 Don’t be too quick to share details like your phone number, private email and address. Protect your privacy at different levels. Such as: “Use hangouts or snapchat to dial / call if they ask you for a number or any mode of contact” - Krishna PS, 25 "Meet people in public places in the daytime. Especially if it was an anon profile. Many people aren’t out and don’t have super public profiles, so I wouldn’t ask you to avoid them completely. Just be safe." - Anon, 24 “Verify profiles. Some people are very open to moving onto a new platform like Instagram, Facebook, which are more verified spaces - but even there I’ve seen profiles with 10k followers, which if you notice, posted all their posts on the same day, so that’s a red flag. If you don’t want everyone you match with coming onto your Instagram, I ask them to do something very specific - like take a selfie while holding an L on your forehead (you can make up anything as long as it’s very distinct), ask them to upload it and then take it down. This is like facial recognition so I can see you’re a real person and that can happen through the app itself, which I think is always a plus.” - Akriti, 22 “Look them up on LinkedIn. Usually there are men operating girl-friends or fake accounts...to find out mostly just ask, if not try reverse searching their profile pictures on Google :) - Krishna PS, 25 "This is not a woman to woman dating thing per se but one of the things that I do now is check people’s names and run it with sexual abuse, sexual history because I have found out I almost went on dates with people who’ve been accused of sexual abuse or rape, legally in the system - so I do a lot of net verification as well. But that’s more for men, I don't usually check for women because I’m hoping women are not as heavy perpetrators. "- Akriti, 22 "Don’t feel guilty about getting out of a conversation that’s giving you catfish vibes. Just politely say bye." - Anon, 24 It’s A Match! Now What?So! You’re being careful, and you’re matching with people. Now what? Now this! “Cut the small talk I guess. Queer TV shows/ movies are a great conversation starter. Even discussing celebrity crushes.” - Anon, 22 “I think the 36 questions is a great space to start. I’ve been doing something similar before I even heard of 36 questions but they just have a better formatting which is a great space to start.” - Akriti, 22 “General online dating wise, basics only - it may feel weird to write a bio and put up picture and make this mini elevator pitch presentation about yourself but in today's date, that's one of the ways to have a conversation with people before having an actual conversation” - Priya Dali, 24 “Be open! You don’t need to figure out if you ‘like’ like the person in just a day!” - Anon, 24 I find that it helps to have a conversation about expectations and what it is that you're looking for even if it's a vague answer. Text anxiety is a thing and lack of clarity can screw you up.” - Priya Dali, 24 “Be yourself and own your space. We get very insecure and caught up thinking about what we will say etc or what we are looking like but if we pause for a moment and remind ourselves that the other side might be equally anxious, it makes it easier. Pace the conversation when texting - like check if your boxes look about equal in size. Reciprocate if they sent you something flirty. Intelligent Memes to express awkward sexual tension. Allows people to talk about it lightly. Sending hearts on their insta stories when it's meaningful so they remember you exist. Especially at night. Lol. But don’t overdo it to the point of clinginess. Complimenting goes a long way. Women are not used to it and usually refuse to take it, but you must when you get a chance. Not too many but whenever you can put one in, you must. And the last bit is to actually show intent to flirt, and not shy away from it because of fear of rejection. The daring of it gives a high otherwise you will forever be friend zoned. Also if you are clearly flirting then the other side also knows what you want and to think of you like that or not. And they act on it accordingly."- Rupali, 35 "Try and meet within 2 weeks of matching (Tinder turn around time lols)" - Krishna PS, 25 "One of the things people get stuck on that online texting stage and my general advice is that when I’m seriously on the app to meet people or go on dates, I make sure that if I hit it off with them, I see them in that same week, or even the same day - the more immediately that you get off the platform and get into real life, the more fun it is." - Akriti, 22 "If you’re not someone who enjoys conversation or sitting and talking, meet at a place where you can do fun things instead of just sitting across each other and drinking. Like I went to a board game night on a date once. I’m trying to move towards dates that are sober because I’ve mostly been on dates that have alcohol involved. One thing I liked to do was buy MRP liquor, mix ourselves a drink in a bottle and walk around the city. And since I’ve lived here for long, I know it's nice nooks and corners." - Akriti, 22 (Lockdown special tip!) "Netflix party app is also great to enjoy a film experience and get to know each other since you can comment side by side. Over a period of time, the person begins to feel familiar."- Rupali, 35 "Pacing your drinking (if you are drinking on a date) so you don't get too drunk before them helps."- Rupali, 35 "And if you don't feel much of a connection with someone then at least reply to them and end an open conversation. Don't NOT reply to people."- Priya Dali, 24 "Checking in before hugging or touching let's them know you are mindful of their consent."- Rupali, 35 "Confidence and a smiling demeanor go a long way."- Rupali, 35 "Asking them questions and allowing them to speak. People love being listened to. A question which is obviously not invasive, but interested in their thoughts."- Rupali, 35 "Political gathering/or planning around feminist or queer concerns is a good way to meet new people. Not dating per se.My access was easier because I am from academia. Lot of people are vocal in that world.If you're really struggling to express yourself, support and social groups help. A lot.Facebook communities are another place. My ex found me through one and contacted me. These groups are just a community of people where they talk about about relationships and - thanks to gay men everywhere - men mostly . There's something like Harmless Hugs and some others. I find them through suggestions - both FB suggestions and other people telling me about them."- Akansha, 28
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