How to tell if a woman is interested in you, for lesbians…
Differences in socialization, lack of role models and internalized homophobia can make it difficult for women to let you know that they are interested in you. Here’s how to make it easier to tell…
Let her know you are queer / lesbian & available
Yes, you are signalling with your fancy assymetrical haircut, short nails and sensible footwear, or whatever the local lesbian uniform is where you are. She may not be speaking the same language, or you may not be as obvious as you think you are. If a woman doesn’t know you are not straight, she is a lot more likely to assume you are straight, because it’s scary and or embarassing to potentially hit on a straight woman.
Don’t wait for her to make the first move anyhow. There is not a designated person who is supposed to make the first move in lesbian dating – and most of us grew up in cultures where women were supposed to wait for the other person (assumed male) to make the first move. This means that 90% of the time, it’s your turn to let her know you’re a big homo and think she’s cute. I don’t make the rules.
But wait, isn’t this about how to tell if she is the one wanting to make the move? Yes, but if she doesn’t know you are les/bi/queer, she’s likely not going to do anything to let you know she’s interested. Some women won’t even let themselves feel whether they are attracted to a woman unless they know or are sure she’s gay. Make it easy for her.
Is she asking you out?
Straight women ask one another out for coffee or to catch up over dinner all the time. A lesbian is not going to do that to another known lesbian without making it clear that it’s not a date if it’s not, unless the other woman is her good friend or ex and she’s certain you know it’s platonic. It’s like straight people – if she is asking you out for something that would read as a date if you were a single straight woman and she was a single straight man, then it’s likely a date.
You can always put on your big girl panties (or boxers) and ask flirtatiously “is this a date?” if you’re not sure. A phrase I use if I might be interested is “Are you asking me as a friend or is this a date? I’m good with either”. You can say “as friends?” if you are not wanting it to be a date. Either way it bears clarifying.
If you are not comfortable with being that direct, you can always go on the maybe date and see if the conversation topics or body language feel dately. If they don’t, it is likely not a date, or she is too inexperienced or ambivalent to express her interest directly (common with the newly out) and you’ll either need to clarify if you’re interested in her or treat it as a friend-date (despite any evidence to the contrary) and slow down seeing her again if you’re not.
Is she touching you?
Covid protocols aside, a strong sign she is interested in you is unnecessary touch. While there are some women (like me) who are huggers and touch everyone, touching your arm, or the small of your back or your hair or face is a dead giveaway she is flirting with you. If you are not interested, ignore it, or move away. If you are, then return the touch and watch her body language.
Ask her out
The most conclusive way to find out if a woman is interested in you is to ask her out on an actual date. Yes, it can be terrifying. Yes, it’s against every gram of presumed-straight childhood and teen socialization, but it’s very effective, and it makes you look gutsy and confident. It can also be pretty sexy. It bears repeating that there are really no rules about which woman is supposed to do this. Femmes can ask out butches. Femmes can ask out femmes, although you want to be super clear it’s a date here because some femmes cannot even imagine that a femme would want anything other than friendship with another femme. A similar assumption can also apply to butch on butch dating. I have also had several butches even claim that they never know or notice when a woman is interested in them at all, unless she’s extremely direct. So directness is not a bad thing.
Call it a date. eg: “Would you like to go see Hannah Gatsby with me as my date when she is in town next month?” If she’s not interested, she will say something like – “I’d love to see Hannah Gatsby (who wouldn’t) but…” and she’ll let you know she can’t date you – she is seeing someone, or she’d be into going but just as friends. That sucks, but then you know, and there’s something kind of liberating about that. You claimed your attraction and sexual agency, whether the other gal was into it or not, and made it easier for the next time. If she says she has plans that night, assume that she just turned you down unless she turns around in a reasonable length of time and asks you out. If she is interested in going on an actual date, then you have a date with someone who is definitely interested in getting to know you that way.