You're 38 years old, give or take a few, you have just gone through the shock of figuring out you are a lesbian...now what? If you are in a position to meet other like-minded women and seek out a relationship, you will most certainly be thinking about dating. And you have to start somewhere: your first lesbian date.
The concept is the same as any date: two people meeting to learn more about each other in order to determine if there will be a second date. Remember this principle! You are deciding on a second date, not on a lifetime commitment. In my experience, many lesbians who do not experience instant sparks on the first date don't ask for a second date. Don't put that kind of pressure on yourself or your date. While attraction may be instant, most times love needs time and nurturing to grow. If you are on a date, having a nice time together and seem reasonably compatible, go on a second date. Enjoy yourself.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you do feel an instant attraction on the first date, take it slow. There is an ongoing lesbian joke involving U-Haul rentals following first dates--if you haven't heard about that yet, you will. Most times these flash-in-the-pan attractions result in short lived and stormy affairs. Having an attraction doesn't insure compatibility...that just takes time. Be patient.
OK, so back to first date basics. Who asks for the date? In straight relationships, most times the guy takes the initiative. No more! It's up to one of you to do it. My advice is to jump in. The sooner you ask, the less anxiety you will have agonizing over the anticipation. You will also develop confidence and it will be easier the next time. Make your invitation to date as personal as possible. In person or on the phone are preferable to e-mail or IMing.
You can either offer to pick up your date or meet up with each other. There are no rules. You may want to consider this, however. Picking up at the home will also mean dropping off at the home later, presenting the possibility of being asked in for a nightcap. This may or may not be desirable, depending on your comfort level after the date.
As in the straight world, expectations of sexual activity following a first date vary widely among lesbians. You should never do more than you are comfortable with. You should clearly state what your limits are if you are feeling pressured. Likewise, don't pressure your date. That's just bad manners. It is a good idea to think about your personal limits and desires ahead of time. Kissing is common and if this is your first time kissing a woman and you are nervous, that's normal. Relax, you'll be fine! (really fine!)
Paying for the date is the next sticky wicket. Again, no rules. If you have been the one to initiate the date, you may want to pay. Or your date may offer and insist. Or you can split the bill. The only caution here concerns obligation. If you go on additional dates and she continues to insist on paying, she may be really nice, rich and can afford it or she may be trying to set up a controlling relationship. Beware.
There is one really disconcerting thing that I had not foreseen on my first date: the trip to the rest room. When I told my date I needed the facilities she said, "Oh, me too," and followed me in. It was just a little strange relieving myself, knowing my date was in the next stall!
Remember, the goal of your first date is to learn more about each other, test your compatibility and decide if you want to go on a second date. Keep these points in mind and have a fabulous time! Happy hunting.