Venus: queer flirting, dating and sex


Illustration by Meher Yeda

The Daily’s Opinion desk presents Dear Venus, a weekly sex and love column.

Venus, Columnist

Hey babes,

As spring sets in, I know y’all are about to have some fun and spicy stories about your sex and love lives. But unfortunately, not everything is a huge success right away. Have a worry or a wonder? Send it to me here and I’d love to help you process whatever’s going on for you. Although some submissions I’ve already gotten are surprising, they’re never unrelatable! 

For today’s column, I’ll be discussing three different submissions about dating, flirting and having sex as a queer person, specifically for non-men who date non-men.

I’m a queer woman and whenever I want to flirt with another woman I feel like a predator. I know it’s just internalized homophobia or something, but I don’t know how to stop feeling like this. Is this common? Or am I just gross?

— Queer & Confused

Looking for advice on first dates with women! I’ve recently started going on dates again and struggling to break the barrier between friendly compliments and flirting. I feel like sometimes it borders on objectifying and sometimes it doesn’t seem sexual/romantic enough? I also feel like girls are always so complimentary with each other anyways so on a first date I never know how to express that I’m interested in hooking up without being blatant? Also looking for any and all advice on how to be more ~smooth~ any good flirts appreciated! Also WHY does no one ever talk about safe sex for lesbian women?? 

— Fumbling Flirter 

I’ve just started seeing a girl and we’ve started, like, you know. Doing stuff. And I’m really scared to initiate anything. I’ve never been with a girl before. What if I do it wrong and she laughs at me?

— Distressed D–e

Dear Queer & Confused, Fumbling Flirter and Distressed D–e,

Damn, I’ve been there. These feel like pretty universal experiences to me, so know that you’re not alone. I wanted to address these submissions together because you have similar questions, while also being at three different stages. 

Flirting. Is. Hard. For everyone. But especially if you’re trying to unpack internalized homophobia and compulsory heterosexual tendencies within yourself. The fact you’re conscious about the potential dangers that come with flirting probably means you’re not being predatory. Most people with a marginalized gender identity know men use predatory flirting tactics all the time. Recognize what behaviors have made you or your friends uncomfortable in the past, and be sure not to repeat them. Otherwise, I would say don’t worry about it too much. Listen to yourself and know your attraction to women doesn’t make you “gross.” 

Now that we’ve established that wlw (women-loving women) can and should flirt, let’s get to how. Coming across as flirty can be difficult because women and queer people already have a complimentary culture. Here are my favorite tips for making a compliment flirty.

Instead of complimenting their aesthetic, make the compliment about the person. Expressing attraction is not inherently objectification. Obviously, be respectful and be aware of how people react to different forms of flirting as you’re building rapport. Have fun with it! If you’re having worries about anything, it’s best to be honest and just do a vibe check so you can stay on the same page. Additionally, if the person you’re crushing on does something you like, let them know! That way they’ll know what you’re comfortable with, and they’ll probably keep doing it. 

Finally, if your flirting is successful and you’re starting to think about having sex with the person you’re seeing, I’ve got some advice for making the experience the best it can be for both of you. Be honest about where you’re at! Let your partner know your experience level, your expectations and what excites you. Ask them to share the same information with you so you can have sex that’s fun and comfortable for everyone. This can seem daunting, but it’s as simple as saying, “I really like making out with you and I’m excited and nervous to maybe do more. I’ve never had sex with a girl before, so can you tell me a bit about what you like and we can take this slow together?”

I’ve said this to sex partners, and I’ve had sex partners say this to me. Not one single time did we laugh at each other. If someone is going to make fun of you for your level of experience, they probably aren’t the person you should be sleeping with. That being said, sex doesn’t have to be serious! It’s a learning experience no matter how many times you’ve done it, and some of my best sexual experiences are ones where we were able to be in the moment and laugh with each other. Because honestly? Sex is weird and silly! So it’s more than okay to pause, talk, ask questions and laugh together.

There’s no such thing as “doing it wrong.” The difference between good sex and bad sex is communication and listening. But also … don’t be afraid to put your whole mouth on it (unless that’s not what they’re into). 

Hope this helps all of the fumbling flirters out there! Also, keep an eye out for next week’s article where I’ll be responding to the question “WHY does no one ever talk about safe sex for lesbian women??” Safe sex is a big topic and deserves its own week. 

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, comments or need advice please fill out this Google form and check The Daily’s opinion section each week to read my response. 

Venus can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.