For all the talk about sex and relationships, there's been surprisingly little research around LGBTQ singles and dating, but that's finally starting to change. Match surveyed over 1,000 single LGBTQ singles between the ages of 18 to 70+ across the United States, who are not currently in a committed relationship, to find out about all facets of their dating and love life. It was carried out by evolutionary biologist and gender studies professor, Dr. Justin R. Garcia from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and it provides some pretty interesting insights into the dating world.
As someone who only had relationships with men— albeit not that many— up until recently, I remember feeling pretty unsure and overwhelmed when I first started dating women. A lot of the surprises were pleasant (yay for no awkwardness about splitting the bill!), but it would have been nice to have some idea what lay ahead. I'm not saying that all lesbian dates are the same, it obviously comes down to the person, but a little introduction would have been helpful. It probably wouldn't have stopped me from spilling my drink on myself, because that's just who I am, but it would have been helpful. And this survey provides some of that insight.
Garcia agrees, telling Bustle, "I think the findings from Match's LGBTQ in America study can be informative to many people — as the data show, many face a difficult time coming out with their sexual orientation or gender identity, and some people struggle with acceptance in some communities... exploring our gender and sexuality can often be difficult or confusing, so knowing what others have experienced can be reassuring to know you're not alone — that there are other people with similar attitudes or experiences."
So here are some facts about LGBTQ dating. But first, check out the latest episode of Bustle's Sex and Relationships podcast, I Want It That Way:
1. Many Singles Are Looking For Something Serious
I don't mean in terms of the date, I'm talking about relationships. "Nearly half of the LGBTQ population in America identifies as single, and a vast majority of these singles, some 80 percent, are seeking a committed relationship," says Garcia. That's a really high percentage. In fact, 53 percent of gay and lesbian respondents have always wanted to get married.
2. Log-On For Love
Most people— 56 percent— said they had dated someone they met online and 46 percent had met their last date online. That percentage was even higher within the transgender community, where 65 percent date online. I found that when I was interested in pursuing something more serious with a woman, online was great because there were just more possibilities there than in my daily life. "Other findings relate to how people meet each other: over the last few years we've tracked how people use the Internet to meet potential romantic partners, and it appears that LGBTQ singles turn to the Internet at much higher rates than straight people," Garcia says. "For those who are sexual and gender minorities, finding partners can often be a challenge, especially in certain regions of the U.S., and the Internet can make it easier and safer to find others with matching interests and experiences."
3. A Kiss Is Probably In The Cards
I've never felt more old-fashioned. Fifty-seven percent of respondents expected a kiss on the first date, while 25 percent expect a full-on makeout session. I once ended a date with a high-five. People are different.
4. ... But Don't Expect Sex
Only nine percent think that the first date will lead to sex— which is down to 2 percent when it comes to lesbian respondents. In fact, 30 percent expect no physical contact at all, so I guess my high-five is looking a little racy now.
5. If You Initiate The Date, Be Prepared To Pay
I don't agree with this one, but apparently 62 percent of people think if you suggest the date you should pay.
6. But Splitting The Bill Is Usually Safe
This is more my speed. Forty-four percent said that it's better to always split the bill. Like I said, one of the great things about dating a women is no patronizing man insisting that he pays because my big boobs and weak upper body strength mean I couldn't possibly be financial responsible for myself.
7. Sexting Is Fun... But Not For Lesbians
This was interesting split — 50 percent of respondents had sent sexts, but the number was highest in bisexual women (64 percent) and lowest in lesbians (22 percent). Does anyone else think this must have lead to some pretty uncomfortable exchanges? But there are definitely worse relationship problems.
The bottom line? There's more research that needs to be done, but this is a great start. "I'm really excited by these findings, as some confirm existing ideas about LGBTQ dating, and others provide totally new insights about diversity in people's social and romantic lives," Garcia says. "There were a lot of surprises in the data, in part because we were doing a study that hasn't been done before!" Here's to more where this came from.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (7)