If you identify as an LGBTQ+ woman and you’re using dating apps, you’ll know it’s a jungle out there—especially for women seeking women on lesbian dating apps.
Catfishing is prevalent, unicorn hunters abound and if you do happen upon a genuine match, it’s do or die as far as first moves go. But one should dare to hope and know that love, friendship, and the perfect combination of chemistry and romance can be found online if you know where to look.
The reality of the online dating world is that many sex apps and dating websites are geared towards heterosexual dating and experiences, and while it’s possible to use them as an LGBTQ+ woman, it’s clear in many cases that functionality and user experience haven’t been designed with lesbians and women seeking women in mind.
Feeling as though your wants and needs have been considered as somewhat of an afterthought isn’t exactly an unfamiliar feeling for women in the LGBTQ+ community, but the good news is that there are some brilliant dating apps out there created with queer women and non-binary people in mind.
What’s it like for an LGBTQ+ woman using apps?
A recent study found young lesbians are among the most affected by mental health issues within the LGBTQ+ community, due to feelings associated with isolation, erasure, and identity. Amy Ashenden of LGBTQ+ youth charity Just Like Us says, “As lesbians, we have a lack of community spaces, funding, and low visibility in the media. It is hard to find and connect with other people like you. Pre-Covid, lots of gay spaces catered for men and were not that trans or lesbian inclusive. Lesbians are at the intersection of sexism and homophobia. You’re not meeting your gender expectations because you’re attracted to women. You have a double pile on of things to navigate.”
“I love and loathe being a woman seeking women on dating apps,” says Gen, an app user from Sussex. “I love it because it feels impossible to meet women in real life being a femme. Queer women assume I’m straight and the line between flirting and being friendly is too thin for most women to notice when I’m hitting on them. Meeting via a dating app allows a gay baseline to be set. We know the other is flirting, not being friendly, and it’s easier to convert the interaction into a date. It feels unromantic to pitch it as efficient, but it really is!”
Apps created specifically to combat the issues that LGBTQ+ women face are out there, and they’re easy to use. But whether you’re seeking a relationship, a hookup, a regular playmate, or something else, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the rules and community standards of the app you’re about to use and set your own boundaries before you dive in.
How to stay safe while using dating apps
“We have all struggled at times to find the right match on dating sites,” says Gillian Myhill, Co-founder of the BARE dating app. “However, the lesbian community encounters many problems when dating on the variety of dating apps used by all genders and sexual orientations—frequent complaints about couples fishing for threesomes or even men attempting to sway them away from their natural desires.”
Looking out for your own physical and emotional well-being is critical when it comes to online dating. The process can seem dehumanizing and reductive at times, so be sure to check in with yourself and remember you’re so much more than a selection of photos and a few lines of text. Making snap judgments about other people is something we all do, but apps encourage a culture of quick decision-making.
It’s fine to take your time and to remind those you’re matching with to take their time, too. Don’t allow anyone to pressure you to meet, send photos, sext, or do anything you don’t feel comfortable with. They don’t control you, and you can close the app and put the phone down at any time. No one has the right to make you feel pressured or disposable.
It’s also worth checking whether the person you’ve matched with is verified. This means they’ll have provided identification when making their account, so they are who they say they are. Catfishing is a huge issue in the lesbian dating world, with many people using fake photos and pretending to be someone else to match with and speak to LGBTQ+ women.
Always look for verification and authentic images but be respectful of those who might not be “out” and therefore might prefer to share a photo of their face in a private chat, rather than on a public profile. Katie, an app user from Worcestershire, says, “I’ve used dating apps in the past and it’s affected my relationship with my physical appearance. I became insecure about it and I worry I won’t be taken as seriously if I portray myself in more of a masculine way. The gender spectrum is vast and even though someone looks a particular way, it doesn’t always mean they are that way. People’s previous comments when misinterpreting my appearance have added to my insecurities, so I think we all need to be more understanding.”
How to choose the right dating app
We’re all looking for different things when it comes to dating and for this reason, no two apps are the same. There are plenty of options for women seeking women, whether you’re single, coupled, experimenting, polyamorous, or just curious to look around and make new LGBTQ+ friends. But it’s not just your preferences that matter. Your identity and how you choose to present yourself to others may have an impact on the app you choose to use too.
Married LGBTQ+ influencers Whitney and Megan Bacon-Evans, known to their fans as Wegan, found love online. “We co-founded our dating site Find Femmes in 2015 in response to our followers asking how to find love, because as a femme you tend to slip under the radar. Femme visibility has certainly grown over the last few years, which is great to see and we’re honored our platforms can help girls and women realize they can be feminine and gay; something a lot of them struggle with reconciling.
“There’s no real obvious way of showing you’re LGBTQ+ when you’re femme, short of writing ‘I’m into women’ on your forehead. Even in gay bars, you’re often presumed to be straight. At least online you can make it very clear you’re into women, especially of course if you’re signed up to a site as niche as ours. We originally met each other on MySpace so it’s safe to say things have massively improved since then!”
The best lesbian dating apps for queer women and non-binary people
Her is one of the most well-known lesbian dating apps. It’s half dating app, half a social network, although this does sometimes make it a little confusing to know who’s sliding into your DMs for friendship and who’s looking for more. Then again, if you’re a woman who dates women, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the mix of camaraderie, mutual appreciation, situationships, and friendships that blossom when women who are attracted to one another connect.
Hinge describes itself as the app that’s “designed to be deleted”. It prides itself on facilitating lasting matches and takes a thoughtful approach to match users with a mix of algorithmic swiping and personal prompts. Obviously, it can be used for more casual experiences. But, if you’re just looking for good sex and nothing more, it’s worth being upfront if Hinge is your tool of choice
Zoe was voted the best LGBTQ+ app in 2020 and it’s easy to see why. It’s simple, easy to use, and does the job. There’s no specific gimmick or goal when using this app, it’s just a dating app for lesbians with a swipe-to-match functionality. If you’re a woman who dates women, this app is a great entry point to the world of online dating.
Bumble is the original female-focused app. However, these days you might find more couples “looking for a third” or curious women switching their preference from men to women than meaningful LGBTQ+ connections. With that said, Bumble is an industry leader for a reason and the smooth functionality, BFF, and Biz options, along with the sheer number of active users worldwide, make it worth downloading for a look around. With this app, women make the first move, but if you both identify as such, it’s anyone’s game.
Similar to Bumble, Victoria offers networking and friendship opportunities but also acts as a conduit for romantic connections. It’s described as an app for creatives, dreamers, and entrepreneurs and is essentially a high-minded members club for “premium” people, providing opportunities for days out and hosted events.
Lex, an app for the queer community, is lonely hearts meets Tumblr. No images, just small text-based messages on a noticeboard that displays posts based on your age range and location preferences. It’s beautifully simple, nostalgic, and romantic, but if you prefer the quick-swipe, image-based style of matching, this may not be one for you.
Taimi boasts a very detailed onboarding process that’s inclusive if a little long-winded. Choose your pronouns, whether you’re looking for a woman, someone who’s non-binary or gender fluid, a trans woman, a trans man, or someone else. List your interests, your personality traits, and then go. There’s an in-app newsfeed and option to live stream so it’s basically Facebook meets Tinder for the whole LGBTQ+ community.
Pure is a creatively styled hookup app populated by people looking for fun, so you’ll find many more shades than gray here. Users are upfront about what they’re looking for, which could be anything from someone to explore bondage for beginners with to a BDSM partner, and you post “ads” instead of profiles. Download and use it with an open mind and clearly defined personal boundaries. Casual sex is as healthy and normal as female masturbation, even if in the past we’ve been exposed to a lot of shame around it. This app celebrates sex positivity, consent, and personal choice in a refreshing way.
BARE is a new LGBTQ-inclusive app that focuses on body positivity and consent. It doesn’t shy away from the sexier elements of online dating and encourages games and safe photo sharing—ideal if that’s one of the sexual fantasies playing on your mind. The tagline is “dating for the open-minded” so there’s no particular impetus on hookups or relationships. The aim is to have fun and not take things too seriously.
Skirt Club is technically a membership club for bisexual and curious women, but it also has an app. The app features groups, connections, and a private chat function where women can flirt and be themselves. So while this isn’t a dating app and can be used for friendship and networking, Skirt’s women-only parties are infamous for romance, hookups, and exploration and the app provides an online space for these things too. The only drawback? This community is more focused on lifestyle, kink, and curiosity. It could be a great opportunity to play out the sex stories in your head or find someone to try the best sex positions with, but not a go-to if you’re looking to fall in love and find “the one”.
A dating site and community specifically for feminine-identifying LGBTQ+ women more commonly referred to as “femmes”. A recently launched extension of Find Femmes, The Femme Edition, is an online publication for and by the femme community, that also features a bespoke Matchmaking Service for those serious about looking for their perfect match.
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