2 young women sitting on a beachHere are 5 handy tips to help you navigate the dating world.

Dating is a minefield, with many a malfunction just waiting to happen. Everyone has their Deal Breakers: smokers, kids, age gaps, and a number of cats. There’s so much that can niggle away in an otherwise perfect match. But wait! There’s more! As if dating wasn’t hard enough already, life decided to throw in some extra issues for us lady-loving ladies. Thanks, life.

1. The Ex Connection

All lesbians are aware of the perils of dating someone your ex has had their hands on, and it just isn’t worth it. Performing a background check to make sure you don’t have any exes in common with your date is a uniquely gay Deal Breaker, but a necessary evil. Sitting down over your first glass of Chardonnay and listing your recent partners in the order of how much you care(d) about them is seat-squirmingly awkward, but it’s undeniable – Having an ex in common is riddled with issues. Definite Deal Breaker.

2. The Scene Queen

Knowing the bouncer, the bartender, and the bulk of the crowd in the gay club is great when you’re single, but if you’re serious about finding someone, you slow it down. So if all of her Facebook pictures are taken by the professional photographer at your local lez-club or she’s on first name terms with half the staff, she’s probably still in single mode. If you’d like to have your heart slowly and sorely broken, be my guest and go ahead.  Falling for someone who has spent months playing “Lesbian Dating Musical Chairs” is the quickest way to a broken heart, a third cat, and probably an STD. Bringing me nicely to –

3. The STD Illiterate

Yes, lesbians can get goddamn STDs and we need to stop thinking we can’t. Dating a girl who is haphazard with her sexual health is a Deal Breaker and, and although it’s an awkward conversation to have, you need to know before you get active that she’s wise with her choices and regularly checked. Dental Dams are the recommended weapon of choice for lesbians, but although I’m supposed to publicly advocate such measures I sure as hell have never used one. They’re a bit like cling-film for the vagina and can sort of kill the mood. However, sexual safety is really damn important, because if it goes wrong, it can go really wrong, and fast. You can’t un-do herpes, HPV, or HIV, so don’t be stupid. Make sure you’re dating an actual grown-up who doesn’t believe that “Lesbians don’t get STD’s,” which is like when my 16-year-old sister told me she couldn’t get pregnant on her period. *Facepalm*.

4. The Straight Woman

As Alex Vause once said in OITNB, “Rule Number One – Don’t fall in love with a straight girl”. ‘Nuff said. Just as dangerous are the “experimenters” who take it too far. Now I’m all for women testing the waters (it’s filled many a happy Sunday) but tend to frown when I see them leading someone on. It’s a simple rule of thumb – If she’s not telling anyone about you (“My parents are religious”, “I’m going to do it when we’re more serious”, “They don’t know I’m gay yet and I’m waiting for the right time”) then she’s not planning on telling anyone about you. Give yourself a modicum of self-respect and make sure that, if you’re in her life, you’re actually in it, and she’s Out Of The Closet. Be with someone who wants to shout it from the rooftops.

5. Bi-Haters

Not naming names, but I once had someone tell me that “Bisexuals are dirty. Let the Bi Girls date each other and leave the real lesbians alone” and it was everything I could do not to poke her swiftly in the eye. It echoes “Let the Blacks date each other, and leave the Whites a pure race” and is the most backwards opinion in the LGBT community I have ever heard. Whether someone is a Gold Star lesbian or Bisexual (damn right that’s a capital B), there’s no pecking order, and bi-hate is poisonous. It’s a friendly fire and has to stop. We have enough hatred to contend with; let’s leave the judgemental glares to the uninformed, shall we? And not within the very community that’s supposed to embrace freedom of sexuality. Bi girls are here to stay and coming to a Gay club near you – please don’t spill anything on our pretty lace dresses.

The list could go on. From the lady with an Instagram for her cat to the Serial-Monogamist (learn to be happy on your own for two minutes, won’t you?) there are so many Deal Breakers that are unique to women and lesbian dating, so consider yourself forewarned!