3 Problems You May Face When You’re Someone’s First Girlfriend

If you are a girl’s first girlfriend, you probably have so many questions. If she only dated men before or identified as straight, you might be thinking, “Does she really like me? Will this last?” If your relationship is new, it’s normal to have a lot of questions, and there are also some issues that can arise precisely because it is a same-sex relationship. We’ll help you break down three common problems that might come up if you’re a woman’s first girlfriend, and how to deal with them.

1. Your girlfriend may be figuring out her sexuality

This is especially true if your girlfriend identified as straight or only dated men beforehand. If you’re someone’s first girlfriend, it’s possible that she didn’t realize she was attracted to women before—or she knew, but still hadn't come out or chosen to label herself.

If this is the case, you might be dealing with the question, “Is she gay, straight or bisexual?” This is such a personal choice, and it all comes down to how she feels. She may want to label her sexuality now or take some time to think about it. She also may not want to use labels at all.

If you’ve been dating women or identified as queer in the past, you might feel insecure now that you have a girlfriend who isn’t sure. Lucy Hallowell, a writer for AfterEllen, cautions people to be sensitive to their partner’s feelings. “They may not be one hundred percent comfortable with what dating a woman means for their identity,” Hallowell says. “It can be anything from no big deal for them to a totally earth-shattering experience.”

Macey Lavoie, a graduate student at Emerson College, says that she didn’t realize she was bisexual until she started dating a woman. “I realized that I liked other girls physically,” she says. “Another big part about it, for me, was realizing I need someone I can mentally really connect with above all else.”

On both sides of the relationship, this can be a confusing time. If your girlfriend is the one trying to figure out her sexuality, give her space, and offer to just listen if that’s what she wants. If you have insight into how you knew you were queer, you could also be a good resource for her. You can help your girlfriend figure out how she feels because you've been through the process yourself. Even if your SO ultimately decides she doesn't care about labels, or that she identifies differently from they way that you do, it's still helpful for her to have you as a support system.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Coming Out in Your 20s

2. Your girlfriend may not be out to everyone

Coming out is something that many couples go through together, especially if one or both partners weren’t out before the relationship began. If you’re someone’s first girlfriend, this may or may not be the case.

If it is, and your girlfriend is coming out for the first time, try to act as a support system rather than pushing her to come out earlier than she’s ready. “Let your girlfriend take the lead,” says Hallowell. “If she's ready to come out, you can be there or support her in the ways she needs. That may mean a pep talk before or a hug afterward. Try to remember coming out is something she needs to do for herself and realize it's not really about you.”

Although it may be difficult, especially if you have already come out, as long as your significant other being closeted isn’t hurting you, you should really try to be supportive. Your SO may be coming out in stages as she feels comfortable, and it will be different for every person or group she comes out to. Sometimes, friends and family react differently to this news depending on their personal beliefs, and it's helpful to be a steady source of support as your girlfriend navigates the situation.

Dana Piccoli, an entertainment critic and pop culture writer for AfterEllen, warns people against making their partner feel like they have no choice but to come out. “Think back to when you were coming out,” she says. “What would have made it easier or more comfortable for you? Pressuring someone is not helpful.” Even if it may be hard to be patient, especially if you've been out for a long time, it's not healthy for your relationship if you make your girlfriend feel like she has to come out in order to be with you. 

However, if being with someone who isn’t out is hurting you emotionally, you need to take a closer look at what you’re willing to deal with. Your girlfriend may not feel comfortable coming out for months, even years, and it’s not up to you to tell her when to do so. If you can’t be on board with that, it might be better to reevaluate the relationship. Try to decide if being with someone who isn’t out is a deal breaker or not, and then make the decision without putting any pressure on your girlfriend.


3. You and your girlfriend might be in different places sexually or romantically

Whenever you’re in a new relationship, there is always a period of learning about what the other person likes and wants in a romantic and sexual relationship. This is true if you’re someone’s first girlfriend, their fifth or their seventh.

Still, it can be especially difficult to deal with this if you have been with other women and she hasn't. It can cause insecurity in the relationship if you’re not careful. Your SO may or may not like public displays of affection, but your insecurity can turn your girlfriend not wanting to hold hands into, "Is she actually into me or not?" very quickly, if you let it. 

Try to remember that your girlfriend might also be feeling insecure, because she may not have as much experience romantically and sexually with other women. Macey says this was something she dealt with when she was new to dating women. “You’re still understanding this new part of you, or part you haven’t explored, and here you have someone who has already dealt with that,” she explains.  

It’s important to build a conversation around this instead of letting it cause insecurities for each of you. Talk about each of your likes and dislikes, both in romance and in sex, if you plan to have sex. Are you asexual or celibate? Have you had sex before, or do you want to? Do you like public displays of affection? Do you hate being showered with gifts? These are all starting points for conversations you can have in this new relationship.

“Communication is key,” Piccoli says. “Don't be afraid to talk about the things that make you nervous, or scared, or happy or turned on.” Luckily, this is one aspect of a new relationship that tends to be universal, so try to shut off the insecurities that may come from being someone’s first girlfriend. Any new relationship is about learning what makes you and your SO happy, and that’s what you should try to focus on, instead.

It can be difficult navigating a relationship where one partner has never been with women or identified as queer before, but with a lot of patience and support, this can be a great bonding experience for the two of you.