Bumble India’s Healthy Queer Dating Guide for LGBTQ+ Communities
Bumble Inc. was founded with safety and respect firmly at the centre of our mission. We aim to foster an app that’s inclusive for everyone—including our LGBTQ+ communities in India. It’s crucial that you feel seen, heard, and understood.
Bumble has teamed up with experts in the LGBTQ+ space in India to create a Healthy Queer Dating Guide to support kind, equitable relationships for everyone. This project was created in partnership with Social Media Matters, supported by Rangeen Khidki, Sappho for Equality, and Official Humans of Queer.
The Guide also includes personal insights from LGBTQ+ folks across the gender and sexuality spectrum in India, who’ve been through the highs and lows of the dating experience and can now share their advice.
Navigating The Early Stages
- How do I start a conversation when I feel nervous talking to new people online?
Starting a conversation with a new match is one of the most exciting parts of the early stages of dating, but can also be nerve-wracking. It’s natural to want to build up courage and confidence to open up to someone new. When there are a million ways to make the first move on Bumble—how can you choose the right opening line? Consider starting by keeping it light and fun. You can choose to share a GIF or play Bumble’s Question Game feature that allows you to shuffle through pre-written questions you can send to your match. You can also discuss shared interests highlighted on your connection’s Bumble profile to break the ice. Bumble’s new Compliments feature is a simple, kind way to start a conversation by sharing what you like about someone’s profile. If you’re still seeking a nudge to kick things off, check out our round-up of 21 questions to ask a potential date!
- How do I create a positive first impression on the app, especially when I don’t feel confident?
First impressions go a long way. After a few texts, you’ll want to know more about each other’s interests and values. An easy, effective way to do this is to use Interest Badges. Let potential matches know you’re proud to be part of the LGBTQ+ community and prioritise equality by adding Bumble’s LGBTQ+ Rights and Trans Rights Badges to your profile. Discussing your beliefs and passions is a great way to keep a conversation going. Remember, it’s absolutely ok to be vulnerable and share how you’re feeling at the start of your chats; it’ll let your match know they can open up as well.
To foster a kind, respectful conversation from the start, be mindful of your connection’s headspace and let them express themselves and have a chance to talk. Consider holding off any discussions of bad previous dates or relationships gone sour until you’ve had time to get to know each other.
Sudheer (He/Him): “I feel nervous and uncomfortable initiating conversations, so even though I’m not a fan of small talk, I use that until I find a common interest to talk about. I also have a few icebreaker questions to understand someone’s interests. For example, the most preferred question I use is to ask someone what their three genie wishes are! It’s almost always a good conversation starter!”
- How can I set clear dating expectations and boundaries when connecting with people online?
Even though transparency in dating might feel foundational, it can be difficult to put into practice. It’s helpful to be clear about what you’re looking for to find someone like-minded who’s on the same page as you. As daunting as it might sound, it’s important to tell the other person what you want or expect from them. Since dating expectations usually aren’t always clear, drawing the line yourself will also help establish trust. If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, be clear about that as well. While setting the tone at the beginning, make sure to respect your connection’s boundaries and privacy.
Aliya (she/her), who found a meaningful connection on Bumble: “You have to show up as your full, complete self while setting boundaries. Be honest about them because you are setting them. If you don’t set your boundaries, you are going to screw it up eventually! There are no steps or a handbook. You have to practise kindness and honesty towards yourself and them.”
- Show interest and make them feel comfortable
Being liked is a great feeling—and showing interest indicates that you’re genuinely looking to forge a connection. Try to pay attention to your date’s cues about their comfort levels, and ask if you feel uncertain. When it comes to conversations, sticking to open-ended topics (versus getting very personal and intimate straight away) can help in getting to know each other better. Remember, a date doesn’t have to be an expensive dinner. A low-key walk together or a cup of coffee can be just as memorable!
- If I’m prioritising my emotional or physical needs right now, how do I communicate and navigate that with a date?
Reflecting and communicating to your online match that you’re prioritising your emotional needs over physical needs is important—and vice versa. Talking it through may encourage your date to share how they’re feeling, which will help set boundaries and will allow for a deeper understanding of each other’s needs and desires.
Aliya (she/her): “Communication—SHAMELESS communication—is so important! If it’s about physical needs for you at a particular time, there’s nothing wrong. But again, the other person may have different priorities, so you just have to bring it up. But unlike boundaries, we’re usually way more scared and more ashamed, or shy even, to have this conversation. I know I was. However, I’m blessed with a partner who has been vocal about their own priorities in our relationship, same as me. They brought it up by simply telling me what they’ve been feeling about our connection, communicating that they needed more time and wanted to take it slow. I wanted that same exact thing but I was way more scared to say this. So my advice is, don’t be afraid to say it in whatever way you believe you can best express your needs.”
How do I ask someone out on a second date when I’m not sure if they like me?
- Communicate after the first date
Doubts and uncertainties are what make us human. Feeling unsure about asking a match out for a second date is absolutely normal—but don’t let it hold you back. After the first date, send a simple message letting them know you enjoyed their company, or that you had a great time. Consider sharing a compliment. From there, you can kindly check in with your date on how they’re feeling, and ask if they’re interested and open to meeting up again.
- It’s okay if they’re not interested in you. It’s not about you! There are many reasons for a date to decline a second meetup. Just take as much time as you need to brush yourself off, and know that there are other great connections around the corner.
Kindness in Conversations
- How do I navigate online dating interactions while being kind?
Allow time and space for conversations, and listen. Be open-minded and patient. Always ask if they’d like to share when the topic turns to a past relationship or other personal history. Keep in mind that asking for consent is imperative, even if you’ve been intimate with your match before. A person’s feelings about engaging intimately can change from month to month, and even day to day. The bottom line: always ask first. Read up on Bumble’s consent guidelines, and learn about asking for digital consent when your intimacy is virtual.
- How do I know if my connection is emotionally available right now?
Expressing your own emotions to your partner is as important as understanding theirs. Begin with taking ownership of your feelings so you can create a safe space for your match. Above all, be a listening ear. Making an effort to understand your partner’s emotional landscape will help you move forward with greater compassion.
- How do I kindly communicate that a match has misgendered me in the early stages of dating?
If you were misgendered, start by telling your match that they used an incorrect pronoun or gendered language that made you feel uncomfortable. Focus on why it’s important for you to clarify your pronouns and gender identity. Remember that your date might have a complex relationship with their own pronouns, so be mindful of when and how you have this conversation.
If someone doesn’t have pronouns listed on their profile and you’re not sure, use their name. If you’d like to know their pronouns, simply ask them directly. You can also share your pronouns when you meet or talk for the first time, which may prompt them to share theirs, too!
Krit (He/They): “One of the first things I let the person I’m talking to or dating know is my pronouns to ensure they don’t misgender me. In a few cases when they still misgender me by mistake, I let the other person finish and then gently remind and correct them by saying “my pronouns are he/they”. Sometimes I wear or carry things (badges/stickers) in which my pronouns are written, and I just smile and point at it when I’m misgendered. If the person I’m dating misgenders me frequently, I try to ascertain whether they don’t realise the importance of pronouns in general—or don’t realise the importance of pronouns for me. In the first scenario, I explain the importance of using correct pronouns in being respectful towards other people’s identity. In the second scenario, I let them know that my pronouns matter to me and that I’d really appreciate it if they’d try to keep my pronouns in mind and use them correctly. Additionally, I would tell them that I feel valued when they use the correct pronouns. This has always worked for me so far.”
How do I deal with rejection? Moving on feels too hard.
- Redefining Rejection
It’s totally normal to experience rejection while dating. Don’t take it personally. Rejection has nothing to do with who you are as a person. Consider that your date may not have been a good fit for you. Sometimes rejection can feel like a huge blow to our self-esteem, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Think of it as a chance to find someone who’s a better match for you.
- Moving On
It’s important to pick yourself up and keep moving forward. Keep an optimistic and open mind about your dating life, and see a rejection as merely a stepping stone to meeting the right person. Take care of yourself, and indulge in what you’re passionate about.
Yash (He/They): “Remember that rejections are part of the process, and with patience and persistence you can find meaningful connections. It might take time but keep trying. Sometimes moving on is the hardest thing to do, but take a pause, sit down, and say to yourself that you love you the most! It’s also important to process your feelings since only then you will know it’s not on you.”
Navigating Dating When You’re Not Out
- How do I date when I’m not ready to come out?
Your decision to come out—or not—is personal and valid. In this situation, it’s important to prioritise privacy while still allowing space for connections. Communicating that you’re not out publicly and setting your boundaries in the early stages of dating can be helpful. Remember, only share that you’re not out if you’re comfortable doing so. There’s every chance your Bumble match will know exactly what you’re going through and how you feel.
Aliya (she/her): “Please clarify to the person you’re not out. There’s no shame. It will actually help you connect with the person with ease, because the person you’re going out with is probably out of the closet and knows exactly how you feel—or is still in the closet, so knows exactly how you feel!”
Bhavadharini (She/Her): “I am not out to my family or most of my friends, so for all intents and purposes, I am still in the closet to the wider world. If there are no ties or common friends or family between me and another potentially queer person, I usually drop them my number and leave the option open-ended for them. It does have its risks, but kabhi kabhi life me risk lena toh padega na?”
Nipun Angrish (He/His): “Coming out and dating are not mutually exclusive. Whenever you’re comfortable, it’s better to share with your connection that you’re not out so that they understand you and feel you. And ask your connection about their situation if they’re comfortable to share. If they’re not empathetic, then you know it’s a big red flag. Then it’s not on you, it’s on them. At the same time, not being out should not be a reason for you to be emotionally unavailable.”
For more information on healthy queer dating, check out:
Rangeen Khidki Foundation