How to Tell if Your Best Friend Is a Lesbian

Two Methods:Attempting to Deduce Her OrientationAsking Her Directly

While a person’s sexuality is strictly their own business, it is natural to be curious about your friend’s inclinations. This can be a tricky situation, as you don't want to jeopardize your friendship by making any assumptions or accusations. However, approximately four percent of the United States population identifies as LGB, and over ten percent identify as having had same-sex attractions. [1] The most respectful way to go about resolving this apparent question is to observe your friend's behavior carefully and offer support. If neither you nor your friend have an attraction toward each other, then your friendship should suffer little impact, though the matter can become confusing and difficult if there is an unreciprocated attraction.

Method 1
Attempting to Deduce Her Orientation

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    Consider her relationship history. A series of brief, noncommittal, or largely non-romantic relationships with men can indicate a lack of sexual interest in men. Alternatively they could indicate some other dysfunction or dysphoria. Try to recall if she has had a sustained interest in the opposite sex if you have known her throughout puberty. Patterns of behavior or avoidance can indicate preference far more clearly than stated preferences.
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    Pay attention to small signs. Notice the way other people flirt, hit on you, or communicate that they're interested in dating, and see if your best friend does any of the same things towards women. Potential signs they’re attracted exclusively to women include:
    • Using solicitous body language with other women (touching, closeness, checking other women out).
    • Preferring homosocial contact.
    • Making jokes or comments about dating or being attracted to women.
    • Never mentioning being attracted to a man.
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    Explore her comfort level with LGBTQI+ media and environments. Observe her reactions to depictions of fictional and real-life same-sex couples. Her comfort level and familiarity with the material can indicate identification, revulsion, or uncertainty. If she is unsure of or questioning her sexuality, exposure to the culture and possible romantic partners can help make the question easier to resolve for her as well as you.
    • Some women have issues with their sexual identity stemming from upbringing and might attempt to overcompensate feigning revulsion to homosexuals or attraction to a single/the opposite sex. People often become defensive about their identity and are sensitive to attempts to question it or bring it into focus. Remember that whatever her orientation, it is essentially fixed. Reorientation therapy has little traction among therapists or demonstrated efficacy, though there are people who report unwanted same-sex attraction.[2][3]
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    Pay attention to her other close friends. It is quite possible she is seeing someone and not being open about it with you. This is not a slight. Physical closeness with a particular friend, large amounts of time spent alone with a particular friend, or relationship-type activities (dates, going out for meals, movies, dancing, drinks) all are possible indicators of a more intimate relationship than she might be comfortable admitting publicly. Don't go overboard with inferences, after all if you are a straight woman and have intimacies with your best female friend it is not fair to infer anything about your sexuality.
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Method 2
Asking Her Directly

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    Select a safe space for this discussion. Privacy, security from eavesdroppers, and comfort are all key factors to look for. Depending on your location, your friend’s upbringing and financial/housing situation, you might have to take precautions. Being a homosexual still exposes people to severe stressors like bullying, workplace, intrafaith, and legal discrimination, and inviting these consequences should not be done lightly.
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    Ask her directly. If you're concerned about her (e.g. she seems to be suppressing herself), or if you think she might be attracted to women, be direct about your concerns. Note that some people may become offended if their sexuality is questioned publicly or at all. You should treat the matter as delicately as the context requires, and understand you might upset your friend.
    • Approach your friend with openings that establish the confidence and safety of your discussion. Some starter ideas include “You know I’m your friend and you can tell me anything,” “I think you might be keeping something from me, are you attracted to women?” or “You can trust me with anything, and I think you haven’t been honest with yourself about your feelings for other women.”
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    Let the discussion end. She might not be ready to talk about it, she simply might not be homosexual, or there might not be much drama or rigmarole if she is an out homosexual. Let it go once the conversation is over, and don't let it change your friendship. Accept that some people feel the need for a safe, same-identity space to express their feelings about their sexuality, and discomfort discussing the topic with you is not a personal slight.[4]
    • De-escalate any potential conflict in dialog by affirming her identity, whatever it is. Some de-escalating phrases include “Well, that’s fine, you can be who you want to be, we don’t have to talk about it,” “Don’t worry, it’s your business, I am here for you,” or “I’ll always support you for who you are.”
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    Pursue her if you believe there is a mutual attraction. The attraction might not be mutual, and it might be better for your friendship to remain as such, so be prepared to be rejected romantically. Your friendship does not necessarily imply any romantic feeling on her part, as is the case in heterosexual relationships.
    • Tackle this awkward territory with simple questions that don’t leave things unsaid or unclear. If you are attracted to her, approach her like any other woman. You can try openings such as “We could maybe go out sometime, on a date or something?” “I was wondering if you might be attracted to me, because I am attracted to you ?” or “I wonder if we should try going out, since we’re great friends?”
    • Let her down gently if she has an attraction to you that is not shared. Your best friend likely won’t feel particularly excited about entering a romantic relationship with a straight person, so this makes it easier. Simple declarations can keep the air clear and the relationship firmly grounded. Some openers include: “I’m a heterosexual. I’m as attracted to women as you are to men,” “I think of you as my best friend, not as a romantic partner,” or “I’m not attracted to you, but I love you as a friend.”
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    Use compassion. Mental and physical health outcomes for non-heteronormative people improve with a stronger, accepting support network.[5] Just as your friend respects your sexual identity, you should respect hers. If she is your best friend, very little about this information should change your friendship. Support her, be an ally, and value her as a human being.
    • Being supportive in this context is crucial, but don’t go overboard. Her identity does not impact your identity, nor does it turn you and your peer group into activists for queer causes. You can voice support for her relationship choices, with simple affirmations like “I think you two are a great couple,” “You seem so much happier lately,” or “I’ve never seen you so comfortable with yourself.” This style of affirmation can build and reinforce perceived comfort with a new identity and its attendant social pressures.
    • If your friend is dealing with negativity towards this identity, it is possible to support her still. Introducing her to other lesbians, requesting she seek the help of a therapist, encouraging a positive self-concept, and encouraging her to embrace her sexuality as part of her identity can all help produce positive outcomes [6]


  • Remember that sexual orientation is a part of self-identity. Your friend does not desire to alter her orientation any more than you do. If she tells you her sexual orientation, do not doubt or question her, but respect how she would like to be identified. Positive reactions are more likely to help her sense of well-being and personal growth.[7]
  • If she is homosexual, don't assume she's automatically attracted every woman. It is deeply silly to think that she would be attracted to every woman; she has preferences like anyone else. Do not start acting awkward over something that is ultimately not your business, as it could jeopardize the friendship.
  • Avoid hate speech. You would not use hate speech toward your friend. It is fairly simple to refer to her sexuality straightforwardly and without offending her. Creating conflict through use of hate speech will likely provoke a negative reaction.[8]


  • Do not attempt to question or alter her reported orientation. There is little evidence that reorientation therapy is anything other than a desperate attempt to cope with a hostile religious or social environment. [9][10][11][12]Non-heterosexuals are not mentally ill nor are they suffering from a phobia of an expected sexual or gender role.
  • Don't rely on stereotypes to determine her sexuality. People are not stereotypes. Support for her identity and relationships are critical to maintaining both the mental and physical health of your friend. Don’t impose undue stress or difficulties on people experiencing multiple kinds of oppression within society.[13]
  • Don’t out people. It is her business who knows who she is attracted to, and it is outright dangerous in many areas to publicly identify as a homosexual. [14] There are often extremely negative professional or social complications that result from the experience of coming out, and it is not your place to thrust them upon your friend.[15]

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Categories: Friends | Friends and Family of LGBT