Coming out can be one of the scariest things that a queer person will ever go through. Depending on where you live, at what stage you are in life, your relationship with your family and countless other factors, coming out to those around you can be absolutely nerve-wracking. For those who may be coming out today, we embrace you for your bravery and hope that you are surrounded by love and support on this momentous point in your life. If you happen to be listening while someone comes out to you today, we thank you for being kind and generous.
In honor of National Coming Out Day, we spoke to Robyn Exton – founder of HER, the world’s largest dating app for queer women – to put together a guide to online dating. Whether you’re a baby gay who has never dated someone of the same sex before, or you’re simply new to the online dating game, one piece of advice remains the same: have fun, relax and just be yourself.
Read on below to see Robyn’s guide to online dating, and head over to our interview with the founder to learn more about what it takes to run a gay empire.
What advice would you give to a woman going on HER for the first time?
Make your profile pic work for you – Most Likes happen just because of that one picture. Don’t use a group picture, no sunglasses and don’t use a filter that covers any part of your face. A profile pic that works well will be a game changer.
Like anyone and everyone – Sending a Like costs nothing. You make someone feel good, you’ll have a chat, you might make a new friend, they may be the love of your life. People put way too much pressure on a Like, but you’re much better off chancing it and seeing where it goes.
Follow up – Don’t be a flake. If you get a match, send that message! You came here to meet people so keep the conversation going.
Go to an event – If you’re not sure about swiping quite yet, head to one of our online events, either for tips and tricks on dating or to meet other queer folks in a more relaxed group setting.
For women who have perhaps never dated other women before, what tips can you give for overcoming jitters or awkwardness when getting started on HER?
HER is really popular for making friends and building community so don’t put too much pressure on yourself that you have to get romantic right away. Add people as friends, join some communities and start to attend events. As soon as you have some new queer friends it’s much easier to start figuring out you’re flirting and chat game when you’ve got a friend to bounce ideas off.
If someone you’re speaking to is ready to meet in person but you’re not, what should you do?
You should never put yourself in a position you’re not comfortable in. Let them know it’s not the right time for you, but also have a think about a video date. Since COVID, we’ve seen so many more people use video dating as an interim date – build a bit more intimacy and connection without jumping to in-person yet.
What is the secret to having a successful first date?
Relax – We put so much pressure on ourselves to make the date great, to be great, to have a perfect night. As hard as it is, the more relaxed you are, the more authentic your connection and conversation will be. Take some deep breaths, talk yourself down, realise it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out.
Questions – Get to know the other person and get ready to share a bit about yourself. You can prep a few backup questions beforehand if it makes you feel at ease if the conversation ever gets tough (e.g. Where do you want to travel to after COVID? What are your passions? How do you feel about the latest series of The L Word?)
Plan an end time – Having a stop time can really help either get you out of a bad date easily, or cut it while it’s short and build great anticipation for the next date. You can plan something afterwards (even if it’s just a call) that gives a clear end time to the date.
What would be your advice for dating amidst COVID-19?
Always date online and try to avoid in-person meetings. I know it’s tough and when you’re excited about someone you really want to meet, but right now we recommend not doing that or delaying it for as long as you can.
Be clear about distancing expectations with your date before you meet up – mask expectations, any boundaries you have around physical contact, outdoor settings, etc. It’s much easier to cover these before you meet and nerves get in the way.
Date with intention – you’ve got more time to think about each person you’re dating and what you like and don’t like about them. Use that time to really think about what kind of person you’re looking to meet, the qualities you’re looking for and hoping to connect around. You’ve got a chance here to build something really strong by moving at a slower pace so take advantage of that.