Obviously if you’re in a lesbian chat room or a gay bar, the problem of making sure your prospect really is gay goes away, but what about when a cute coworker catches your eye? No one wants to risk an embarrassing rejection when all you wanted was a date, and heaven forbid you insult them by accident when asking if they “swing” your way. Is there a code of conduct or instruction manual on how to get that important – and potentially awkward – detail out of the way? Not really, but we have some suggestions that might help the situation.
Don’t Make it Your Opening Line
If the first thing anyone asked you was “What’s your orientation?” you wouldn’t find them very charming, interesting or unique, would you? Off that first impression, do you want to spend more time with them? No. So don’t be that person. If you’re interested in someone, make your opening intriguing as a standalone, and then shift into the question. This gives them a reason to be interested if they share your orientation, and breaks the ice so the question isn’t so sudden.
Just Be Honest
Confidence is something every potential date will be impressed by, so don’t make the situation more awkward than it needs to be. Rather than being vague or treating it like it’s a too-sensitive subject, just be clear in the innocence of your question and standpoint. If you’re simply asking about sexuality because you’re interested in them and want to establish that fact before you move forward, let them know. If you hope you won’t offend them, or don’t have experience asking this question before, share this. They’ll appreciate the honesty, and may even find your candidness charming.
Ask Them When You’re Alone
Sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s not to be talked of in hushed tones like it’s a death in the family. Still, some people have very good reasons for keeping their sexuality to themselves. Their boss, family, community, or friends might have a prejudice against them for revealing their sexuality, or they might have had a bad experience sharing that information publicly in the past. So when you walk up and ask the person you’re interested in while they’re standing in a group of people, they may be offended, feel threatened or answer dishonestly. Instead, wait until you’re both out of earshot – on your break, or away from the crowd – to bring it up in conversation, so the answer they give is one they only give to you, and one they’re comfortable giving just to you.
Do Not Ask Someone Else
You may be tempted to ask their friends, colleagues or even family members what their sexuality is to avoid the potential embarrassing rejection face to face, but remember: don’t. They may not have shared this information with others, but may be willing to share it with you as a potential first date. If they have shared it, it’s going to make you look less confident and therefore less appealing. More than anything, it’s going to make the situation awkward, since those loved ones or co-workers are now involved in your romantic affairs. Who wants that?
Accept the Answer – No Excuses
No matter what answer you’re given, accept it. Don’t ask them if they’re “sure,” don’t insist that they “look” or “act” a certain way, and most of all, don’t ask if they want to give your specific sexuality a try. The important part of being polite is respecting others’ boundaries and accepting that they know themselves better than you do. By simply nodding, giving a quick “okay,” and moving on, you’re establishing yourself as a decent person they can easily interact with in the future without the uncomfortable tension. Even more so, by knowing what your response to rejection will be in advance, your approach will take on different characteristics. You won’t seem too forward, threatening, and any insulting nuances to your body language will be absent. You’re respectful and accepting; it’ll show, and may make them more likely to accept a date if they share your sexuality.
Someone’s sexuality doesn’t define them, and it shouldn’t be a touchy subject. But it’s certainly something you want to know before you start laying on the charm, only to discover they’re definitely not interested. If you approach this question with the right perspective, you’ll come across as polite, mature, and respectful. These are the characteristics that will keep from ruining a friendly or professional relationship, and more importantly – make you more appealing in that first impression, which may earn you a date.