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Should I tell them it's my first time?

When you're new to queer dating, sometimes anxieties run high. Here are some helpful tips to consider when it's your first time (Hint: You're already doing just fine).

So you're new to queer dating and sex? Hi, welcome!

I started exploring my queerness when I was 25. New to the world of queer dating and sex, I felt immense pressure to “disclose” my newbie status— to stamp “I’m new here!” on my forehead in big block letters. Now, I have so much tenderness for that part of me, the one who didn’t feel queer enough to even use the word “queer,” who believed I owed people an explanation and felt obligated to warn them about my lack of experience. 

I wish I could have told the me from 2017 that I wasn’t alone (and that I didn’t owe anyone shit). Many folks who are new to queerness feel anxiety about if, when, and how they should tell dates and potential sexual partners that they’re not a veteran gay. If you’re one of these people, I see you, I get it, and you’re not alone. 

So… should you tell? Here are some things to consider in your dating journey:

This is (NOT) My Confession

Cue Usher circa 2004. Being new to queerness is not a confession. It’s not a dark, bad, embarrassing secret that you’re required to admit to someone else. There is nothing inherently wrong or shameful about being new to queerness, period. 

Entering into the world of queer dating can be a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. It's an opportunity to explore new parts of yourself, new desires, interests, pleasures, and relationship dynamics without being confined by heteronormativity. Being new to queerness is a sign of your curiosity, courage, and strength— you’re pretty badass. 

Get Curious

If you’re debating telling others that you’re new to queer dating, get curious about the feelings coming up for you.

  • What are you hoping will come from sharing?
  • How might it serve your connection with yourself and the other person/people?
  • Do you want to share, or are you feeling pressure or obligation to share?
  • What are you worried might happen if you don’t disclose that you’re new to queerness?
  • What are you worried might happen if you do?
  • Where did you learn that you’re obligated to tell others about your dating history?
  • What would it feel like if you didn’t?

Explore your assumptions, beliefs, and anxieties to better understand what’s coming up for you (which can inform what you need and what you choose to do). 

Setting Boundaries

Communicating about your wants, needs, and boundaries and discussing sexual health are necessary components in dating. But being communicative doesn’t mean that you have to tell everyone everything about your life (especially if they haven’t demonstrated that they’re worthy of the information). If you decide it feels aligned and authentic to share more about your history and identity journey, share away! 

But remember: Your identity journey is just that—yours. Whether you're planning your first queer date or have been playing the queer field for years, the decision to share details about your dating history is entirely yours to make. You are not obligated to share intimate details of your life with anyone else unless you want to. 

The Here and Now

Dating is about building connections and getting to know someone on a deeper level. Instead of fixating on past experiences (or lack of experiences), or worrying about disclosing your level of experience with queer dating, see if you can bring your awareness to the current moment. Allow yourself to enjoy getting to know the person/people you’re on a date with, authentically. Maybe this can be an opportunity to explore new connections without the weight of expectations or judgments.

If you’re having anxious thoughts that are making it difficult to stay in the present moment, Casey Tanner (@queersextherapy) offers some wonderful reframing exercises to try. 

Own it

There is absolutely no obligation to disclose that it's your first time doing anything. And, you may still want to share! Perhaps you value being transparent with your partner(s) or believe that sharing this information will help facilitate open communication and trust. Maybe you’re working to own your late bloomer identity and are excited to practice sharing it with others free of shame. Or, maybe you want the support and guidance that can come from owning that you’re new at something. There are valid and empowering reasons why you might want to disclose this information— but you don’t have to share! 

Above all else, know that whatever you decide is perfectly okay. There is no “right” way to navigate the world of dating. There is no “right” way to be queer. You’re doing great.