By: Rebecca Kling
This is Ecstatic Kling, a sex column for the LGBTQueer community. Written by a queer identified trans* woman, this column will come from a Queer perspective but is open to questions from all. Whomever needs the answer, be it you, your friend, or “your friend.” All bodies, all genders, all sexualities.
I’m just awful at flirting. I spent so much time in middle school imagining my crushes were in love with me that now I second guess every signal, hint, and sexual tension filled moment. It’s bad enough with men but even worse with women! Girls are just NICE to their friends. Like, I would totally tell my straight gal pals, “Hey, you look hot tonight,” so how am I supposed to react when this lesbian I’m into makes similar remarks to me? Are we flirting, or just friends? I HAVE NO IDEA!!
First and foremost, this lesbian is hitting on you. I am telling you that via my authority as a sex advice columnist . Sure, there is some wiggle room and nothing is certain in this crazy world. But your straight gal pals know there’s no flirting when you compliment them. This lesbian (presumably) knows that you are potentially into her when she’s complimenting you. That’s not the kind of compliment that’s dropped, sans flirtation. Think: if your hot bi friend told you this story, what would you think was going on?
More broadly, please let me know if you figure out the secrets to flirting. My flirting receptors (the specific brain cells which determine whether or not someone is flirting with you – you can look it up in this month’s issue of Popular Science ) have always been on the fritz. Before I transitioned, I didn’t feel comfortable/sexy in my body, so had difficulty believing anyone was flirting with me. I was always surprised if I learned someone found me attractive, because I felt so unattractive. Since I’ve transitioned, I’ve become better at feeling good about my body and my appearance, but not much better at telling if someone else feels the same way.
But you didn’t write to me to hear me bitch and moan about my problems. So lets see if we can figure out this whole flirting thing.
My tactic, if you can call it that, is to be open and honest: I have said, on multiple occasions and to multiple women, “Are we friendly-flirting, or flirting-flirting?” I honestly mean this question, and want to know the answer. Without that honesty, it would just be a creepy pick-up line, but because I’m able and willing to accept “Oh, we’re just friendly flirting” it’s a conversation starter. (And I have had to accept “just friendly-flirting” as an answer, and be OK with it!)
Flirtation is often seen as a game, and ‘game’ to me means ‘I don’t have a fucking clue what is going on.’ I don’t think that needs to be the case! It is entirely possible (and super hot!) to be flirtatious and direct, all while having fun. It’s scarier, and you need to be willing to accept that not everyone you find attractive will find you attractive in return, but it can be less frustrating than just hoping you figure out someone else’s signal. This also takes advantage of the somewhat-true jokes about women over-processing and over-sharing. It’s more socially acceptable to pitch questions to other women about flirting, and to try and establish what’s actually happening, so you should do so.
You also have my permission to turn that question around to your lesbian friend: “Wait, I’m having a little trouble calibrating. Was that flirting, or just a compliment?” Or, more directly and also more flirtatiously, “You look hot, too. Want to go dance?” (Or play board games, or go see a movie, or fly kites, or whatever you’re interested in.)
I hope that helps! Flirting can definitely be scary, but I promise you that you aren’t surrounded by people who secretly know exactly what they’re doing; we’re all just making it up as we go along.
PS – Do not Google “how to flirt as a lesbian” and expect anything helpful. This WikiHow article is particularly awful, although the stock photos are pretty hilarious. But advice like “When she is asleep begin to cuddle with her”? That is SO AMAZINGLY NOT OK! (Although I did also find this Autostraddle article, which is worth reading. As is lots of stuff on Autostraddle.)
 – I have no such authority
 – This is most certainly a lie