How To Deal With Mixed Signals

how_to_make_a_move_slide1_annaIllustrated by Anna Sudit.
I’m a gay woman, and I have a huge crush on this girl at my neighborhood coffee shop. She gives me free coffee about half the time and we’re semi-flirty but she seems to be like that with everyone, so I can’t tell if she’s gay or just an irresponsible employee. I’ve been rejected by straight girls before so I want to be sure before I make my move — how can I figure this out?
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Routh Chadwick, Life Coach and Licensed Master Social Worker:
"I hear your frustration. One of the tricky parts of same-sex dating is the fact that the pool is smaller, and often cliques tend to coagulate in the same establishments. So, if you get tired of the same faces and start looking in less obvious places, it can be hard to tell if the object of your affection is on the same page. It would suck to lose out on love (or a free-coffee hookup) by making assumptions, so just remember that the dating game is not risk- or pain-free and you might just have to risk being rejected again. Sorry, but the reality is there is no sure way of knowing without asking. I mean, you could ask her about Tegan and Sara or something, but the LGBT community has come too far to rely on stereotypes just because you’re scared! Rather than putting yourself all the way out there and asking her on an actual date, how about a casual invitation to hang out and get to know her better so you can approach the topic from a more subtle angle?
"You’ll be 'safer' that way, but since you say this seems to keep happening to you, I wonder if you’re drawn to straight women for other reasons. If this is a pattern for you, perhaps there is a part of you that enjoys the challenge of seeing if you can lure a woman over to your side. Or, maybe subconsciously, you seek out unattainable women. As a therapist, I’ve learned time and time again that what people say they want and what they actually want are often totally different things. As much as you might want to not be rejected by straight girls, there’s something that keeps drawing you back so do some reflecting.
"Sometimes that kind of pattern is a repetition of a rejection from the past. Oftentimes, it’s a sign of a fear of intimacy and/or commitment. Putting someone on a pedestal who will never love you in return is the surest way to avoid intimacy. Or dating a straight woman who will 'experiment' with you and then leave you is a sure way to avoid commitment. It sounds like your crush is strong enough that you might have to take the risk and approach this woman. Even if she is gay or bisexual, she may not be attracted to you. If she is straight, then perhaps this is an opportunity to look and see if you are in fact setting yourself up for rejection. If that’s the case, it might be time to open yourself up more and allow true intimacy into your life with someone who will be able to return your affections. You might have to try something different — online dating if you haven’t done it (where you can be sure everyone is playing on your team) or gay-centered activities you haven’t tried before. The more fun you can make the process, the easier it will be to find what you’re looking for."

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