Mixed Signals in Dating: “I’m Not Sure If She’s a Lesbian—How Should I Ask?”

No matter what your sexual orientation is, “mixed signals” are one of the most frustrating experiences in dating. It happens when you’re not sure how someone feels about you, because they’re inconsistent in their behavior towards you.

In addition to the normal dating challenges, as a lesbian, you have the added challenge of figuring out whether the woman you’re talking to is actually gay. Unless she comes out and says it (or has it listed on her profile somewhere), sometimes you really can’t tell. You don’t want to just ask her directly, because you don’t want to offend her. If you’re in this situation, you’re not alone.

Let’s look at what mixed signals are, why they happen, and how you can gain clarity on what’s actually going on between you and the other person. And yes, we’ll also dive into how you can ask if she’s a lesbian.

What are Mixed Signals in Dating?

It looks something like this:

Sometimes your date is “hot”; sometimes they’re “cold.”
Sometimes they appear to like you; other times, they back off and show no interest.
Sometimes they’re flirty; sometimes they’re standoffish.

This person is inconsistent in how they’re showing up for you. You always feel “in the dark” about where you stand with them. Depending on how emotionally invested you are, their inconsistency can be painful, confusing, or frustrating.

If you’re not sure if she’s a lesbian, this can add more confusion. You wonder, “Is this a friendship? Is this a budding romantic relationship? Is she attracted to me?” The fact that you’re not sure may indicate that you’re getting mixed signals.

Why is Your Date Giving You Mixed Signals?

When someone is crystal clear about what they want, they won’t waste any time on something that doesn’t match that.

If someone is sending you mixed signals, it could be because:

They don’t know what they want; they’re confused
They just got out of a long-term relationship and are still processing their emotions around it and aren’t emotionally available
They haven’t had enough dating experiences to know what they’re really looking for
They don’t know themselves well enough (maybe they’re bicurious but haven’t admitted or acknowledged it?)
They lack emotional maturity

What’s more important is to get clear about what’s going on in YOU . Mixed signals can also reveal that you don’t know what YOU want.

How to Gain Clarity

It may seem counterintuitive, but the first step is to get clear on what YOU want , first. What do you ultimately want? What’s your end goal, outcome, or desire that you want from your dating life?

For example…

Do you want to find a long-term partner?
Do you want to date just for fun? (no strings attached?)
Do you want to date multiple people (or have a non-monogamous relationship ?)
Do you want to have “friends” whom you’re romantically attracted to? (Or will that drive you crazy, so you actually DON’T want that?)
Do you want to be with someone who makes you feel confused? Or do you want to be with someone with whom there’s no confusion in how they feel about you?
Are you just exploring to figure out what you want? (that’s perfectly fine too)

Knowing your desired end goal will help you make better decisions in dating. It’s like putting a boundary on what you’ll allow into your experience.

You may need to have some difficult conversations, or make a decision to not see someone anymore if they don’t want the same big things you want (like a relationship).

Mixed Signals Can Indicate a Lack of Clear Communication

Either the other person isn’t communicating clearly with you…or they ARE communicating, but you’re not hearing the message.

Let’s say you want to find a long-term partnership and you’ve had some conversations with your date around this topic. If she blurts out something like, “I don’t see the point of relationships” or “I’m not sure I’m ready for a relationship right now” or anything derogatory about being with someone long-term—that’s a clear sign she’s not ready, or isn’t looking for, a relationship. Don’t expect her to change her viewpoint for you. Don’t wait around for her to change her stance. (That’s a recipe for going insane.)

Let’s say you express to your date that you really like her and enjoy spending time with her, and she says something like, “I want to be a good friend to you”—take that seriously. She’s telling you she sees you as a friend.

During the dating process, always pay close attention to what the other person is telling you—in both their words and actions. Take what they’re “saying” seriously.

How Can You Tell if She’s a Lesbian?

If a woman is a lesbian and she likes you, she may flirt with you. However, many single queer women are baffled on how to tell if a woman is interested in her! Part of this has to do with understanding social flirting cues and knowing what lesbian flirting looks like . Many women don’t actually know if a woman is flirting with them or not!

Take the Butch-Femme Quiz

take the Butch

Quiz me!