Relationships / Flirting

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“I want to make friends with/potentially date a woman in my grad program. I met her during orientation, and I was immediately drawn to her enthusiasm and wit. I’m taking online classes from out of state, but I will move to campus in the next semester. She’s on campus now. We are Facebook friends, but we haven’t talked much. How can I start getting to know her without coming on too strong/only talking about school? P.S. I know she’s at least bi because she mentioned an ex-girlfriend. I am also bi.”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Claudia Astorino Says:

Well, hellooooo there, Anonymous!  As I write this, it’s a beautiful Friday—the sun’s out, it’s not freezing-my-butt-off cold, the weekend’s nigh, and I’m feelin fine! In celebration of this OMG IT’S ALMOST SUMMER weather, enjoy this silly classic Muppets video I love, “Mahna Mahna.” Hey, is it cool if I call you Mahnanymous?! I SURE HOPE SO (cuz I’m doin it).

So. Mahnanymous. Having crushes can be S T R E S S F U L L L L L, but they can also be kind of fun problems to have. I mean, cute folks! Daydreams! Nervous flutters!  POSSIBLE SMOOCHES (if you’re into smooches—hello, lovely asexual friends)! Or a rad new platonic friend! Lotsa good stuff can come out of crushes.

If you’re a grad student, then you’re likely going to be spending a TON of time with at least some folks in your program. With these folks, you’ll be: in class together, in the department together, in the library together, having study parties together, having actual parties together, and generally hanging around one another ALL THE DANG TIME. As long as the folks in your department aren’t particularly cliquey, you will have approx a zillion billion opportunities to make friends with and get to know your fellow grad students.

Including your crush. *heart eyes emoji*

The fact that you’ll be coming to campus next semester gives you perfect excuse to contact her—and the fact that you’re already Facebook friends gives you a low-key way to do so! I’d suggest contacting her via Messenger with something like the following:  “Hey there! This is Mahnanymous, from [your grad program]—it was great to meet you at orientation! How are you liking [the program so far, particular class, place your school is in]? I did my first [length of time] online, and am excited to be moving onto campus next semester! It would be great to hang out when the new semester starts—want to get [coffee, a beer, a doughnut] together sometime? Hope you’re doing great!”

BOOM! And just like that you started talking to her—GO YOU!


If she takes you up on that hangout, that’s great! But if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have AMPLE opportunities to talk. See above: you’ll be around your fellow classmates 23 ½ / 7. And the fact that you’ll probably be doing at least some of the same work means that you can use work stuff as an excuse to hopefully talk about non-work stuff! Ask her if she wants a study buddy at the library, to work on homework together, to bone up for your upcoming exam. AND REMEMBER, YA CAN’T WORK *ALL* THE TIME. Ask if she wants to take a break to go get coffee, a beer when you’re done, a doughnut (YOU CAN SEE I’M NOT TERRIBLY CREATIVE, BUT YOU GET THE POINT, RIGHT). Tell her you really wanted to go see this movie, this cool exhibit at a museum, this great restaurant, this show—does she wanna come too?

Y’all, I have gotten a lot of crushes on women I met through school, and this chat-and-chill method has def worked for me. I had crushes on some women and then ended up not having any chemistry with, but remained either great classmates or my besties. And, my dear Mahnanymous, it’s worth mentioning that my amazing girlfriend of 5+ years? I met in class during grad school. I said hi cheerfully when I saw her, even though there wasn’t time to talk besides that. I paid attention to when she was in lab and tried to study around the same times she did. When I needed a break, I asked if she wanted to grab something from the corner deli, or walk around the block a few times. I invited her along when I hung out with other students in my class. And eventually, I asked if she wanted to go on a date. AND SHE DID.

One last thing you should think about, Mahnanymous, as you get to know your crush: dating someone/breaking up with someone in the same academic field has major pros/cons. Dating someone that’s in your same academic field can be fantastic. There’s something amazing about dating someone who just GETS IT: who knows the words you’re using, who can intelligently pick apart theory, who can act as a sounding board for your ideas. IT’S GREAT.

That being said, if you break up with someone in your grad program, you’ll still see them regularly. In class, in the lab, at seminar, at journal club. And well into your academic career—at the conferences every year, at the symposia you organized, at the women in science workshop you’re going to. You should ask yourself: Is this person awesome enough that I’m willing to date them knowing that I’ll have to see them forever after we break up? First things first—talk to your crush! Save that ish for later!

Well, Mahnanymous, I hope this helped!  Good luck talking to Crushy McCuteface, and best of luck in your grad program! <3


Claudia Astorino is an intersex activist living in NYC and a Point Foundation Scholar for LGBTQ students.  Claudia is the former Associate Director of Organization Intersex International’s USA chapter (OII-USA).  She coordinates the Annual Intersex Awareness Day (IAD) events in NYC and writes for Full-Frontal Activism: Intersex and Awesome (her personal blog) and Autostraddle. Follower her on Twitter @claudistics

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“How do I stop giggling and running away from pretty girls? It’s embarrassing and I’m an adult.”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

I am about to change your whole world in a few sentences. Are you ready?

You see a pretty girl, you giggle, you run away.
Such is life.

Now… just turn around and WALK BACK UP TO THE PRETTY GIRL and say, “I am so sorry I have this thing where I giggle and run away from pretty girls.”

You see?
You see what I did there?

Even if you run away and giggle again, you’ve flirted! You’ve done it. It’s all going to be okay. You might even say a few more sentences the next time you return from a giggle-flee! If she’s meant to be, she will think it’s the damned cutest thing she’s ever seen (I’ve never met you and it sounds pretty damn adorable to me).

You probably just took your lemons and made a lemondate. Tada.


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“Okay okay okay, so y'all have covered how to be cute and such in coffee places, school, and random places and such. But how in the world do you get someones number at the gym, when you’re all sweaty and gross. Like what do you do when you see a cute human walk in and you’re like 'NO WHYYY,' because you look a hot mess.”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

Okay okay okay, I’ve got this:

Bring a picture of your non-sweaty self to the gym, along with a pre-written note and a pen.

The pre-written note should read: “I would love to get your number, however the circumstances of my sweaty face are less than ideal. Please see the attached photo for a representation of more ideal circumstances. You can write your number below if you would like to get a coffee sometime or you can draw a picture of a sad dinosaur if you are not interested. Thank you.”

Have these items at the ready, and when cute human arrives, drape a gym towel over your sweaty head and walk (carefully) over to them. Hand them the note and the pen. Remain under your towel.

Good luck.


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“What are some cute (and respectable) ways to casually flirt with someone you’ve just recently met and might be interested in?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I think the most respectable way to flirt with someone is to treat them like they are a person you would like to get to know… which shouldn’t be THAT hard bc they are just a person you would like to get to know.

The worst thing you can do while flirting is to assume that you are entitled to a positive response. There is nothing worse that not being into someone and then being made to feel bad about it! I don’t think that’s where you’re coming from, which is dope. You’re starting off just right.

When you see someone you’re immediately attracted to, whether they’re on a stage, making your coffee, teaching your yoga class, sitting next to you on a bus – they’re still a person you don’t know AT ALL. So treat them like a person you don’t know AT ALL, but you’d like to GET TO KNOW. That’s the trick. Here are some examples:

“I love that shirt, is it from Topman?”
“I just wanted to say, the point you brought up in class was EXACTLY what I’ve been trying to say for the past month, thank you for having good words inside your brain.”
”Hey – I saw you in GUYS N DOLLS last week and you were hands down my favorite.”
(Those are conversation starters)

“Do you have any interest in getting coffee with a complete stranger?”
“I wrote my number on this piece of paper because I had the urge to ask you out, but didn’t want to do the uncomfortable thing where you have to answer right away and in front of people, so, if you’d like to – you have the option. If you don’t want to – no harm no foul, I will still make great jokes every morning when I order the same latte.”
“I would love to ask you out either as a new friend or an official date, if you’re comfortable or into either of those things.”
(Those are ways to ask a human out)

The great thing about all of the examples I just gave you? It doesn’t matter how nervous / awkward / uncomfortable you are because you’re being respectful and sweet and kind. THAT’S ALL ANY OF US WANTS. IT REALLY IS. No one wants to be approached in a way that automatically makes them feel disrespected, uncomfortable, forced into something, etc. If you can avoid making someone feel that way, you are doing a great job.

The fact of the matter is, in flirting or asking someone out, or whatever… you want the person to walk away feeling flattered and respected. It doesn’t matter if they wanna settle down and marry you, go on a date with you, see you ever again, NONE OF IT MATTERS. It’s one second in time, it’s a passing convo, it’s a quick ‘what’s up,’ it isn’t anything that matters (yet). Might as well make the person feel really good about the moment, you know? And practice makes perfect, if the first 20 times it doesn’t work, but you walk away feeling really good about the way you approached the person and you know they feel really good and nice about they way you approached them, you’ll only continue to get better at flirting because you’ll feel fucking great about the way you’re doing it!

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“Hi! Over the past couple of years I’ve really come out of my shell. I’ve changed my fashion, come out to my friends and family, etc. Something that still bothers me is that I’ve never been on a date before. I just turned 21 and it’s starting to really bug me. I don’t know how to get out there and meet people, and now I’m concerned that my total lack of experience is going to bother people. There’s tons of cute girls out there but I don’t know how to talk to them! Any advice?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I THINK YOU SHOULD USE PRIDE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. June is pride month in so many places and there will be events, fundraisers, street fairs, shows, etc., for all the queers!

If you don’t feel comfortable in a party environment, contact the local LGTBQ center (if there isn’t one in your city, try the closest big city you can find) and see if they need any help this month! Sometimes people will need help for one day, or two nights, or just one week and they’re calling on their friends, family, and coworkers to do their bidding. They’d be stoked to have someone like you who is trying to get out there and meet people.

ALSO, you can come up with a game for yourself called “meet 15 cuties today” and literally walk up to cute girls and say, “Hi, I’m trying to meet at least 15 cuties today and I was wondering if you’d like to be one of them?” Some people will be like ‘haha no,’ but GUESS WHAT?! You will probably never see them again, so who cares, they were just very good practice. AND ON TOP OF THAT. Some people will think it’s so sweet and say yes immediately, no hesitation, and will be so honored to have been a part of your game.

OOOORRR You can say Dannielle from specifically requested that you ask a stranger to go on a date with you. If that doesn’t work, you can just blame me forever.

Kristin Says:

I support all of these ideas, and I want to say two more things:

FIRST: Your lack of experience is not going to be a turn-off to people who you’d want to date, so take all those fears, pack them in a little satchel, and toss them over your shoulder into the river. I assume you are near a river. Seriously, if I met someone today who I liked a ton and they had never dated anyone I would be like COOL GREAT STORY, ANYWAY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE OUT? (Spoiler: I probably wouldn’t say that bc I am married but you get my point.) If they judge you bc you’ve dated less than them, they can go right in that river-bound satchel, too.

SECOND: If you are afraid to talk with your mouth right away, use dating apps! Then you get to develop the initial stages of #connection over the world wide web and you can work up the courage to type out “Do you want to meet up next week for a coffee?” and hit send and then sit in the dark looking like this:

…until they reply “YES,” and you look like this:


Hi! Our advice is always free for all to read & watch. Help us keep this gay ship chuggin’ by donating as little as $1/month over here on Patreon. xo