Gay and Lesbian Dating: Why It Can Feel Difficult

Gay and Lesbian Dating: Why It Can Feel Difficult

When you’re gay or lesbian, dating comes with its own set of challenges. There are the challenges of finding networks of people who feel comfortable recommending someone to you.

On top of that, the online world adds its series of challenges. There are specific gay and lesbian apps, but many of the other apps that have historically been used for straight folks have begun offering their platforms to the gay and lesbian communities as well.

Some of the challenges that people face while dating in these communities can include not being out, increasing self-esteem , dealing with complications of online dating such as being ghosted , etc.

Superficial Intimidation in the People Store

Using apps is a wonderful resource. There is no better way to look for a bunch of other singles or people who are interested in dating. There are some challenges on the apps though. The most common one that I see in my practice is the social media aspect of these apps. There can be a lot of superficiality that can make dating seem intimidating. This can lead to a lot of loneliness and really make you doubt yourself.

Dating apps among gay men are also often focused on hookups, which can be frustrating for men who are looking for something more long-term. Obviously, adults can decide what they want to do and whether or not they want to date, hookup, etc. However, it can be difficult to find people who are looking for long-term relationships, as well as make it seem like the pool is smaller when there are so many also looking for hookups in the same space.

People also can get into a headspace of comparison when they’re in spaces that are like social media. People can start to feel as if they’re not attractive enough or good enough to ask others out, etc.

Finally, the apps lead to a lot of ghosting. Without any closure, your self-esteem issues are more likely to impact you. It would be great if this wasn’t the case, but it’s something to gauge your expectations.

Family of Origin

How accepting or unaccepting your family was to you with your authentic orientation can still impact how you see yourself dating. People will feed into ideas of heterosexual gender roles, struggle with identifying what they want in a relationship and sexually, and also struggle to put themselves out there. Some may not feel very connected to the gay or lesbian communities in their area, which can also impact how people date. Dating is different when people are of the same gender. You have to identify relationship goals and desires that aren’t as dictated by heteronormative traditions and ideas of a relationship. Obviously, those ideas can come with their own baggage, but not having them can make it trickier to identify what you authentically want.


Thankfully, HIV is a treatable diagnosis that makes it possible for gay men to date without fear. However, the HIV stigma from the 80s and 90s still permeates through the community. This can make it shaming to share your positive status, as well as it leading to unnecessary rejection and isolation.

There are also a lot of politics around HIV prevention, which can impact how people can go about taking care of themselves, talk openly about prevention, etc.

Do Your Best at Accepting Rejection

If you date, you’ll face rejection. I wish I could tell you there I some way to make this painless, but that just doesn’t exist. Work on accepting it for what it is. Of course it’s hurtful, but it’s part of dating. Keep in mind why you’re in this arena and work on further using these rejections as an opportunity to find out what you really want.

Have Realistic Expectations

Everyone has a range of what they want in a partner, but give your fantasies up. There is no perfect partner. This is toxic thinking that will only lead to resentment and a never-ending pursuit. Use a first date as an opportunity to see if the person is good enough to go with on a second date. Then do the same on the second date. This can help you from over-idolizing someone new, while also keeping you grounded to the present.

Learn and Grow

Dating can be tough. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll miss stuff. You’ll get hurt. Learn and grow from these things. What new boundaries have you identified? Why did things fail? Where are you too flexible? Too rigid? What are the “must haves” vs. “wants” in a relationship? Keep exploring this and use failures to identify these things.

With the proper understanding and self-insight, finding a substantial relationship as well as steady partnership does not have to be as difficult as it may seem.

If you’re in Texas and looking for a gay or lesbian affirming therapist , please feel free to contact us to learn more about how we can help. We can help you explore struggles, heal old wounds impacting your dating life, and improve your self-esteem.

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