in an article about datings apps and queer women, a phone whose screen has two heart emojis with a kissy face emoji in between them

Online Dating as a Queer Woman Sucks

Navigating dating apps, even those made for queer women, is extremely difficult in a heteronormative environment.

We all want to find someone we can call our person. But when it comes to the 21st-century dating pool, LGBTQ+ people are drowning in a never-ending whirlpool of talking stages, poor dates and deceiving dating apps.

Thankfully, life preservers are thrown out in the form of numerous dating apps for the LGBTQ+ community to choose from. Tinder and Hinge, of course, are the most common and widely used apps for all. But, there are few dating apps without cisgender and/or heterosexual users for lesbian, bisexual and pansexual womxn to choose from. Her is an app predominantly for womxn — those who identify as female. Yet the downside, in my own experience on the app, has been that there are still men present, even when the app is advertised as for womxn only. These men are usually unicorn hunters, or heterosexual couples who are looking for another partner. The same occurs on BiCupid, a site for bisexual and pansexual people to use. Other notable dating apps include Taimi, Lex and Thurst according to Cosmopolitan.

You get the idea. There are plenty of fish in the sea of dating apps, but many focus on heteronormative styles of dating and only work for those in the queer community who want to date men. However, these apps often do not work for lesbians, bisexuals and those in-between.

As a lesbian, I can attest to the pain of dating apps and how they seem to rule the way we meet others these days. When I was still convinced I was straight, it was easier than shooting fish in a barrel to get a date with a guy (though, let’s be real: It was never a date for them so much as a way to “get some”). Since 2020, I can count on one hand the number of dates with womxn that I have gone on thanks to dating apps. Granted, having a smaller number to count means that the connections I have made have been longer-lasting. In fact, some of the womxn I have met have gone on to be decent friends of mine. Even better, these apps create good networking opportunities.

Still, having tried the top three womxn-focused dating apps, the atmosphere remains strongly heteronormative. Often, profiles must be left-swiped due to unicorn hunters — a term used to identify those heterosexual couples looking for a third party to join them in sexual matters. Her, Bumble and Taimi have plenty of those. It would be nice to say that it isn’t too difficult to find a decent person to go on dates with, even when avoiding the “hunters.” However, online dating success stories are always out there — just look at TikTok’s Lesbian-Tok or talk to your friends who might have met their person online. Nevertheless, dating apps are often a minefield and it’s a struggle to find a good date who wants a real relationship.

For queer womxn, wading through these dating apps also comes with misconceptions and even inner-community phobias. People shy away from prospective bisexual and pansexual dating partners due to false stereotypes, such as the misconception that they are serial cheaters. Other reasons for avoiding bisexual and pansexual users include the denial that these orientations are real, the belief that all bisexuals are into threesomes or the idea that they want strictly non-monogamous relationships. These damaging stereotypes can cause the dating scene to be as slick as an ocean oil spill. For lesbians, other ideas invalidate our identity (such as the claim that we haven’t met the right guy yet) or send false messages, like that masculine lesbians must date feminine lesbians or that heavier women are not desirable.

Taking a step back, let’s look at the stereotype that seems to populate the dating pool in general: that dating women is easier than dating men. As Kasandra Brabaw of refinery29 put it, “Queer dating isn’t like going to a buffet — you can’t just pick any random woman, and then live happily ever after.” Dating women comes with the same trials and challenges as any type of dating. LGBTQ+ people face a multitude of challenges, from mental health and homelessness to domestic abuse and suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35% of straight women have been subjected to violence, stalking and even rape at the hands of a partner, compared to 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexuals.

Dating apps only add to the pressures of queer womxn relationships. There is the pressure to be better than men, to not uphold the ideals of heteronormative relationships and to make it seem easy. I can truly say, after my own first out relationship, trying to be anything more than what you are is bound to wreck the ship. I tried everything to reject what I had seen in straight relationships, but in the end, that type of behavior did not work.

The same can be said for these apps. If you push the narrative of someone who seems too good to be true, then are you really presenting yourself in the best light? LGBTQ+ dating is a whirlpool of desire to find your person. The pool spins out of control though with unicorn hunters, sexism and heteronormative ideals presented through the users and framework of the app itself. Dating apps, in the end, receive mixed reviews no matter your orientation. The only advice I can give for these apps is to be safe, no matter your experience. When you go on your first date or hookup, let a trusted friend know your location and outfit and set up a “get out of jail code” in case you need to leave the situation. Even when dating women or members of the same sex, remember to take precautions to keep yourself safe.

Rebecca Trevathan, University of Texas at Austin

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Rebecca Trevathan

University of Texas at Austin

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