Lesbian Secrets: How to Talk to GirlsI once started a four-year relationship by asking a cute butch what time it was.

I once heard one of the most attractive, articulate and funny lesbians I knew say, “I don’t know how to talk to women!” I’ve heard that echoed by straight men too – we don’t know what to talk about with people we’re attracted to.

Like teenagers (hell, like tweens!), even the most sophisticated and self-confident lesbian can get a little, um, tongue-tied when she’s with someone she’d like to be swapping spit with. I am not the most sophisticated or self-confident lesbian, but I don’t have trouble coming up with small talk (or, for that matter, really big talk). Here are a few things I’ve figured out ideas that help me get the conversation underway.

It doesn’t really matter what you say.

By the time I’ve noticed someone and come to the conclusion that I want to try talking to her, it’s likely that the feeling is mutual. Sometimes it’s because we’re at the same party and have friends in common, and sometimes it’s because we’re at some kind of activity where everyone is brought together to do something, and sometimes it’s because we’re in a lesbian bar and we’ve both had sufficient liquid libations (fizzy water, gin, CBD vapes, whatever) to make encouraging eye contact.

I once started a four-year relationship by asking a cute butch at the bar of Wall Street, the big lesbian bar in Columbus, Ohio, if she knew what time it was. She didn’t even look at me before she replied, nodding down at the wristwatch of another woman who was right, directly, beneath my nose: “It’s eleven-fifteen.” She turned back to ordering her cranberry juice, but I giggled and got her attention back. I laughed because, if I hadn’t been so intent on talking to her, I’d have SEEN that there was a timepiece right in front of my nose; instead, I grabbed at the first thing I could think of to get her to talk to me.

She turned back, we both laughed together, and then we danced. If I hadn’t had the courage to speak up, I never would have met the woman who would become my first real, long-term girlfriend. It didn’t matter that what I said was blatantly dopey and unnecessary: it worked.

Cleverness is over-rated.

How many times have you been hit on by someone with a fancy, obviously rehearsed pickup line? Never, right? That’s because that only happens a) in movies and b) to straight women who look as if they should be in movies. A friend of mine, a very tall, slender woman with long curly hair and a particularly sweet face, was once asked by a male stranger: “Are you a dancer – or an angel?”  She laughed in his face, and we laughed harder later about it.

Instead of trying to come up with a brilliant observation on the beer, she’s drinking or a podcast you’ve just heard, just say something you might say to a casual friend, someone you’re not hoping to fall in love with (or into bed) with. You know, say something boring like, “How’s it going?” or “How was your day today?” You’ll impress her more if you don’t seem to be trying to impress them.

Breathing helps.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat. This subtle yet powerful technique assures a steady supply of oxygen to your brain and keeps you from fainting at her feet – NOT a good first move. If you can remember to breathe while talking, the whole time, and while listening to her talk, your interaction will probably go well.

If all of the above fails, go ahead and order one of those books by creepy men about how to pull chicks. The techniques in there won’t work, but they might give you something to laugh about next time you want to talk to a girl.