There’s a whole world of possibility out there when it comes to making true, meaningful, in-person connections – but things increasingly are going to start online. As online dating becomes the go-to way to meet other prospective partners, more people than ever are turning to Tinder, Match, and Bumble to quickly find and chat with people in their area and look for that elusive “right” match. But what about the unique considerations and needs that come into play for those wading into LGBTQIA+ online dating? If you’re looking for some advice on how to navigate online dating as an LGBTQIA+ person – and what to look out for – you’re in the right place.

If you’re entering the online dating pool, you’re hardly alone – a 2022 Pew Research Center survey found that LGBT adults were far more likely than the general population to have used dating sites and apps. Among this section of the overall population, 51% of LGBT people have used a dating site or app, including 24% who had used at least one site or app in the past year.

So Many People, in So Many Places

Whether you’re looking for the bear of your dreams on Scruff or putting up your profile on HER, one thing is clear from the start: Successful LGBT online dating is going to start by determining the right platform for your needs. Not all dating apps and hookup sites are alike, and it’s important to figure out what you’re looking for to help narrow down where you should devote your time and energy. Defining what you want – and being open to that definition changing as you go based on your experience – is crucial.

New apps and options are coming out all the time, and as the range of platforms grows, so, too, does the diversity that’s possible to find and connect with online. While LGBTQIA+ people not long ago were stuck with limited options, such as Tinder only allowing users to identify as either “male” or “female” as recently as 2019, things are rapidly changing, and more platforms than ever are open to gender identities and gender attractions of their users.

Luckily, the stakes are fairly low when it comes to testing out different dating options. Many apps and sites have free, lower-tier registration options, or free trials. Take advantage of this low barrier to entry and test out different apps – and find the one or two you really want to focus on, rather than waste your time on a site that isn’t going to get you connected to the kind of potential relationships that you want.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

First impressions matter, and that’s especially the case with LGBTQIA+ online dating. Don’t just fill out your profile – put some thought into it, carefully considering everything from your profile pictures (yes, you need to actually include pictures in your profile!) to how you talk about yourself, your past, and your future goals. The goal is to be honest and authentic, but also present yourself in a good light.

A good profile is an instant way for others on your platform of choice to start to get to know you and quickly determine if a connection might be possible. You should try to present a few details about yourself that make you stand out – things like unique hobbies or interests, interesting facts about your goals, that kind of thing. But this isn’t the place to overshare, so avoid the temptation to make a laundry list of things and people you don’t like or trauma-dump all of your past relationship baggage onto first-time visitors to your profile. Instead, think about what makes you, well, you, and be genuine. Show people why you’re an interesting catch, and you’ll stand out online.

Another important note that shouldn’t need to be said is to be honest. If you’re 50, don’t say you’re 35. If you’re looking for NSA fun, don’t lead people on with suggestions that you’re looking to seriously date or find a spouse. If you don’t like Game of Thrones or Taylor Swift, don’t say that you do. Lying this early in a connection with a person is a major red flag, and instead of making yourself look better, you’ll likely just set yourself up for relationship failure in the near future.

Be Open to the Possibilities

Love is a funny thing, and it has a tendency to strike at unexpected times. Keep this in mind as you brand out into LGBTQIA+ online dating. Be true to yourself and your passions, yes, but don’t limit yourself right out of the gate. Be open to all of the possibilities around you, and embrace those moments of genuine connection when they happen. You might end up dating someone you hadn’t previously considered, or finding love in a person you never would’ve expected.

This same advice also applies to first-date activities. Maybe you’re not really the type to drink coffee, but they suggest a coffee shop. Have a tea or juice and enjoy the conversation! Get dinner at a restaurant you wouldn’t normally choose and embrace a new experience. If you find an exciting connection, but the other person is a long distance away, follow your heart, and know that if it’s meant to be, you’ll figure it out when you need to. Be true to yourself, and don’t back down on your convictions – but try to keep an open mind, too. It just might lead to the connection you truly need.

Enjoy, and Have Fun!

Remember that what you think you want and what you actually want might change along the way, so embrace the spontaneous side of online dating and go with the flow. The whole point is to have fun and enjoy yourself, whether you’re hooking up with new people or searching for a lasting true love with your future one and only. If you’re not having fun, you need to change your approach.

It won’t always be smooth sailing. You might be in store for some awkward chats or first dates. But you should be able to look forward to embarking on your online dating adventure, and look back on your time online with pride in how you handled things that came your way. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. But building a new relationship or friendship is rewarding and important enough to put in the time and energy and make it happen.

Be Your Best Self for Online Dating and Life in General

If you’re wondering how to navigate LGBTQIA+ online dating, it comes down to one major goal: Following your heart and being yourself. This is an adventure you’re embarking on for yourself, ultimately, and this is the moment to be genuine, open, and honest – with others, and with yourself. No one is perfect, and that’s why it’s also important to not set the bar too high.

Go with the flow, and you’ll figure it out along the way. But if you find yourself struggling, whether it’s with online dating or life in general, know that you don’t have to go it alone – even if you’re single. Remember that connections come in all types and options, and don’t forget about the importance of making friends as an adult. Put yourself out there and others will connect with you, too.And help is available from professionals when needed, too.

Whether you’re trying to explore polyamory, find help for anxiety or depression, or get a helpful, supportive person on your side as you make your way through the daily challenges of modern life, including adult bullying, someone can be there for you. At Inclusive Therapy Group, we pride ourselves on offering mental health and behavioral health help and support, informed by the unique needs and challenges of the LGBTQIA+ community. Our team of counselors know what you’re going through, and we’re here to help. We offer convenient and accessible telehealth services, making it easy for you to connect with a new trusted partner sooner than ever and get the help and support you need. Contact us online or call us at 954-281-2565, and we’ll be here for you.