“What attracts a woman to another woman?” my friend, Jo, wondered out loud a few weeks ago. She’d just confessed that she was attracted to a female colleague. Jo is in her mid-40s, has identified as straight her whole life, and is married to a man. Now, she was suddenly attracted to a woman and confusedly wondering, “Why am I attracted to another woman?”
Human sexuality is no longer bound by rigid social constraints and binaries. Sexual and/or romantic attraction, too, has become far more fluid. You could have been attracted to men for most of your life, and abruptly feel a female-to-female attraction.
Maybe it’s the new girl who’s joined your office and smiles at you. Maybe it’s your best friend who you’ve known all your life. Either way, you could be battling a married woman crush on another woman situation, losing sleep over what it is about her that attracts you.
So, what are some unique traits and characteristics that attract a woman to another woman? We spoke to clinical psychologist and social worker Devaleena Ghosh (M.Res., Manchester University), founder of Kornash: The Lifestyle Management School, who specializes in couples counseling and family therapy, to get some insights.
Signs That A Woman Is Interested In Another Woman
“There are always tell-tale signs that a woman is attracted to another woman,” Devaleena says. “Maybe she mentions being interested in another woman earlier, which means she’s dropping a hint. Or perhaps she tries to get you alone and create a private, tender moment where she’s especially ardent and affectionate.
“If a woman is attracted to another woman, she might show extra concern or try to get extra emotionally intimate by sharing something exclusively with the woman to whom she’s attracted. There’s also the intimacy of making a lot of eye contact even when other people are around. This isn’t necessarily the feminine stereotype of checking out what another woman is wearing, but could also be an expression of admiration and signs of a crush.”
Finally, a woman attracted to another woman will remember minute details about her crush. “She’ll remember the cocktail you ordered, your opinion about toe-socks and how you feel about your boss, if she likes you,” Devaleena says. What attracts a woman to another woman? Well, we’ve told you some signs, but read on for more.
What Attracts A Woman To Another Woman – 15 Things
Devaleena cites a study conducted by Boise State University in 2011, which found that 60% of straight women had admitted to being attracted to another woman. “About 500 women were subjected to this case study. Having feelings for another woman even if you’ve always considered yourself attracted to men is totally normal,” she assures.
“It invariably starts with that feeling that this woman just ‘gets you.’ You can’t help but keep thinking about her and look for opportunities to connect with her. You start feeling that you’re comfortable with being your most authentic, vulnerable self in her presence and you’re far less guarded. There’s a sense of similarity and also familiarity,” she adds.
So, if you’re wondering what attracts a woman to another woman, here are some things to look out for.
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1. Confident about herself
“Confidence in women is often hard-won since we’re constantly told to downplay our achievements and ourselves,” Devaleena says. Therefore, she says, if you’re suddenly attracted to a woman, it could be because she’s confident in who she is and what she has achieved, professionally and personally.
“I love a woman who knows who she is,” says Katy. “I remember a woman I was dating in college – she was older and just so sure of herself, without being overbearing. I was barely 21 and still struggling to find my place in the world. I loved being with her because it was a glimpse of someone I could be in the future.”
2. Willing to be vulnerable
What attracts a girl to another girl? A willingness to be open and vulnerable is right up there. As women, we’re so often hard-wired to build up protective shells against a world that’s forever trying to overpower us and stamp out any budding individuality.
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Maybe your female-to-female attraction began with a drunken meeting in a girl’s bathroom and you ended up having a deep conversation about your first breakup and the tattoo you got in hopes that you were reinventing yourself. Maybe you went out for a casual coffee with a coworker and confessed all your deepest fears to each other. Mutual vulnerability is a powerful factor in what attracts a woman to another woman.
3. Financially independent
Money matters in every relationship, no matter how hard Hollywood tries to convince us that love is all that’s important. And honestly, there’s nothing sexier than a financially independent woman because you know she’s probably had to fight very hard to get there.
“I managed to move out of home at 18 by working part-time throughout high school,” says Molly. “I’d always known I couldn’t be with a woman who had coasted through life on family money and had never had to hustle. And all my crushes, flings and relationships have been with women who built up their own bank balance. Money relationship goals are important!”
4. Comfortable in her own skin
“Before loving or liking anyone else, we must form a loving relationship with ourselves,” Devaleena says, “Being comfortable in your own skin is one of the most attractive things we can be, especially since as women, we’re constantly being held up to narrow and unrealistic standards of beauty.”
Mind you, there’ll always be days when we’re hating our hair or sighing over our bodies, but a basic level of contentment with your physical and mental self is a lovely thing to live with, and fall in love with.
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5. Intellectual curiosity and political awareness
“I’m really, really attracted to women who always want to know more,” laughs Emily. “I’m in my 40s, and I’m too old and set in my ways to pretend that a woman who doesn’t know or care what’s going on in the world is my type. Know things beyond your world, have political integrity, and you’ve got me.”
Love might be centered in the heart, but the brain plays a major role in attraction, too. Who doesn’t love someone who always wants to learn new things, who’s clear about their politics and isn’t afraid to wear their intelligence and passion on their sleeve.
6. Emotional intelligence
So maybe you’re smart about lots of things but what about your emotional quotient or EQ? “Emotional intelligence in relationships governs your ability to acknowledge and healthily express your emotions. Therefore, someone with an evolved EQ, or at least working on it, automatically becomes more attractive,” Devaleena says.
If you’re nursing a married woman crush on another woman, chances are you like the way she’s aware of her feelings and how she handles them. She probably doesn’t shut down when she’s upset or angry but manages to express herself with calmness and dignity. What’s not to love!
7. Secure in her sexuality
“I don’t need someone who feels sexy all the time, I don’t think that’s possible,” says Kristen. “But I am always attracted to women who are aware that they’re sexual beings, no matter where they are on the sexuality spectrum. Also, it would be nice if they were open-minded about what sex and sexuality entail.”
Related Reading: The Ying And Yang Of The Sexuality Spectrum
‘Why am I attracted to another woman?’ you might be wondering. As we’ve already said, confidence is one of the most attractive traits, and being secure about your sexuality, your needs and non-negotiables is very much part of the confidence package.
8. Created a life for herself outside society’s expectations
Women often lead lives circumscribed by what other people expect of them. A good wife, a devoted mother, a life spent in service to family and so on. It takes great strength and individuality to break away and create a life that you want, independent of what the world expects from you. And what’s more attractive than strength and individuality?
“I live in a recreational vehicle and travel all over the country doing gigs and parking wherever I feel like,” says Sharon. “It comes as a shock to many people that I, as a single woman, live like this. But it’s what I like best about myself, and anyone I partner up with will need to appreciate that.”
9. Is deeply affectionate
Physical and emotional intimacy manifest in many ways, and affection is a significant one. Physical affection isn’t always sexual – a forehead kiss, a touch on the arm, a clasping of the hands all show that this is someone you love and care about tremendously.
Emotionally, affection can come about with private, loving nicknames, always having one another’s back and standing up for your significant other in a tough situation. What attracts a woman to another woman, you often wonder? Well, deep and heartfelt affection is a no-brainer for all kinds of healthy relationships, so why should this one be any different? Remember, lack of intimacy in a relationship is often a red flag.
10. Takes care of herself
You know what they say – you can’t pour from an empty pitcher. In terms of love and relationships, this translates to, “self-love is hugely important if you’re going to be able to give and receive love from another”.
“I had the biggest crush on this teacher in high school,” says Nicola. “She was funny, and she always talked to us like we were equals. But apart from all that, she always wore gorgeous red lipstick, and her nails were always done.
“When I was graduating, I plucked up the courage to ask her how she found the time. She said, ‘No matter how down I feel, dressing up and taking care of myself reminds me I can go on.’ And even now, I love a woman who takes time out for herself, who manifests self-love. Whenever I ask myself why am I attracted to another woman, it’s almost because she takes care of herself.”
11. You have shared interests
While opposites can indeed attract, it’s a boon to be attracted to someone who likes at least some of the same things as you, Devaleena points out. The initial attraction, especially, can be based on similar interests that come up in early conversation.
“I’ve bonded with women over small things such as having the same coffee order or similar hairstreaks. And then, it’s also been more serious stuff such as agreeing that feminism is important and that Spiderman is the greatest superhero of all time,” laughs Charlotte.
Related Reading: How Important Are Common Interests In A Relationship
Shared interests make for good conversation and it’s always a comfort to know you have common ground with someone you’re crushing on. What attracts a girl to another girl? Sometimes, it’s just that you both like extra whipped cream on your coffee.
12. Humor that punches up
“I’d been dating men for many years, and then found myself terribly attracted to the girlfriend of a friend,” says Dinah. “I wasn’t sure what it was at first. And then, as I got to know her, it was that she never put anyone down as a joke.
“It sounds like such a little thing, but I realized I’d had years of hearing both men and women tear each other down because that was the only humor we knew. And here was this woman who had a dry sense of humor, managed to be funny and even inappropriate sometimes, but never dragged anyone down. Even as I wondered, “Why am I attracted to another woman”, I knew it was because of this.”
13. Listens actively and attentively
Active listening is possibly the greatest gift we can give to those we love, to reassure them that they are being heard. If you’re experiencing a married woman crush on another woman, it could be entirely possible that it’s because you finally feel heard.
“I’ve been married to a man for 15 years, and was quite content,” says Olivia. “And then I met a colleague of my husband’s. It was nothing at first – we just talked. And then I couldn’t get through a day without talking to her. In the midst of our rushed lives, I felt seen and heard when I talked to her because she was listening better in the relationship than anyone else. I realized I was falling for her but didn’t want to break up my marriage.”
14. Uplifts other women
There’s something about a woman who always looks out for other women. In a society where women are so often pitted against each other, a woman who holds up the sisterhood and actively uplifts other women is extremely attractive.
There’s no rule that all women have to be best friends or like one another. But small things such as respecting another woman’s fashion and/or lifestyle choices, promoting women-run businesses, etc. go a long way toward making a woman genuinely attractive.
“I love a woman who comes up to me and compliments my outfit or who stands up for the only other woman in a roomful of men,” says Astoria. “It shows intelligence, compassion and awareness, and is sexy as hell.”
15. Kind to herself and others
As far as I’m concerned, the ‘nice guy’ has gotten a bad rap forever for no reason. The whole premise that being nice gets you nowhere in love and lust is utter nonsense. Choosing the good guy is a good idea. And that goes for women too.
Kindness and niceness are stellar qualities and the older I get, the more I value that elusive quality of ‘nice.’ “Why would I crush or fall for someone mean or rude or ill-mannered?” wonders Mia. “If I’m feeling a female-to-female attraction, I want someone who is nice to others, kind to animals, polite to service staff, and so on. I want a nice girl!”
What attracts a girl to another girl can be complicated, especially if you’ve never really felt or acknowledged romantic feelings toward another woman. Remember not to panic or assume that there’s something wrong with you. Don’t write it off as a fleeting emotion, but don’t base major life decisions (like leaving your husband) on it either. Sit with it and feel your feelings.
“It’s important to accept that it’s okay to be attracted to another woman, even if you’ve known yourself to be heterosexual until now. But it entirely depends on the individual whether they want to act on these feelings of attraction or keep them closeted,” says Devaleena.
Whatever your decision, make sure you’re doing what makes you happy. Accepting that your sexuality is more fluid or entirely different than you thought is a tremendous change. Be kind to yourself and give it time. Love comes to us in many forms, but it is up to us how we choose to receive it. Where you go seeking love also matters because an unpleasant experience right at the outset can deter you from exploring your sexuality. If you’re seeking to connect romantically with an attractive woman who checks most, if not all, of these boxes, reputed online platforms like the Taimi dating app are a good place to dip your toes into this exclusive dating pool.
At the same time, if you’re struggling to make sense of these feelings of attraction, talking to a trained professional can be immensely helpful. With Bonobology’s panel of licensed and experienced therapists, many of whom specialize in issues concerning sexuality, the right help is only a click away.
Several things make a woman attractive to another woman. It could be a great sense of humor, confidence, deep emotional intelligence, etc. There are also factors such as a woman who makes you feel heard and really gets you that make for female-to-female attraction. As with any form of attraction, both physical and emotional factors come into play when a woman is attracted to another woman.
It is absolutely normal to be attracted to another girl, even if you have identified as straight your entire life. You could have had exclusively male partners until now and may even be married. Don’t beat yourself up if this is the case – let your feelings come, acknowledge and accept them, and then make an informed decision as to what you want to do next.