I remember when I was growing up reading teen magazines, I'd frequently come across headlines like "Can a Girl Ask a Guy Out?" Thankfully, the answer was usually "yes," but looking back, the fact that this was even a question is regressive. The fact that it's still a question (and that people assume every date will be between a guy and a girl) seems regressive as well. But we must be a pretty regressive society, because whether or not women should make the first move is still very much under debate.
When I discussed this question with my friends as a teen, the idea that anyone can ask anyone out was not a given at all. Many of my friends believed that while girls can ask guys out, they shouldn't, because they should be "chased." If they don't show they're worth the chase, I was told, girls come off like they don't respect themselves, which is a turnoff.
By framing playing "hard-to-get" as a way of showing self-respect, these friends portrayed it as feminist. But to me, it's been anything but. Waiting passively for someone to "chase" me due to stereotypes that men are more active has made me feel powerless. (Not to mention, the whole concept of a "chase" is pretty rapey. I'm not an animal being hunted.) And the only way I've ever gotten the relationships I've wanted has been by making the first move.
How Asking Guys Out Got Me What I Wanted
When I was in college, I was so shy about asking guys out that I got my first date ever by daring someone to ask me out in a Truth or Dare game. Since he was good-looking, charming, sophisticated, and a bit older, I thought he might reject me. My genius plan was that if he wasn't feeling it, I could just brush off the dare as a joke. But he actually followed the game up with "how about Monday?"
That relationship taught me a valuable lesson: If I avoided asking people out, I'd be depriving myself of awesome people like him.
That relationship taught me a valuable lesson: If I avoided asking people out, I'd be depriving myself of awesome people like him. So, when I joined OkCupid, I was very proactive about messaging people. I got into two relationships through the site in my early 20s, both with people I messaged first. Surprisingly, friends asked questions like "so how'd he first message you?" This idea that men must initiate everything just won't go away.
After I took a break from online dating, I went on vacation with a friend, where I spotted an incredibly hot guy in a nightclub. I was feeling bold that night, so I told him exactly how attractive I found him. I actually made him promise not to leave the club without me, which he later told me he found "cute." We're still together 13 months later, so "thrill of the chase" my ass.
This Gives You More And Better Options
One reason I advocate making the first move is simple math. The number of people who approach you plus the number of people you approach is going to be greater than just the first number. So just by asking people out, your pool of possibilities expands, even if most of them say "no."
OkCupid's data show that women who start conversations on the site end up with partners who are rated as more attractive.
On top of that, the group of people you approach is probably going to be more attractive to you than the group that approaches you. To illustrate this, just look at your inbox on any dating site. The users who messaged you first probably have a wide range of attractiveness to you, from those you really like to those you don't interest you at all to those who are being totally inappropriate. If you look at the conversations you started, on the other hand, all those people are probably attractive to you. OkCupid's data show that women who start conversations on the site end up with partners who are rated as more attractive. When I was online dating, I went on almost no dates with users who messaged me first — not because I was opposed to that on principal, but because those messages were generally full of "hey babies" and lacking in substance.
I've Found More Progressive Partners This Way
Maybe my teenage friends were right in one way: Some guys do judge women who make the first move. But those aren't the guys I want to date. I want to date guys who appreciate assertive women — and who err on the side of not coming on too strong themselves, because they're conscious about potentially coming off creepy.
Think about a nightclub, for example. The kind of guy I'm into understands that women often understandably feel uneasy in these settings. So, while they may start conversations with potential love interests, they're not going to aggressively try to pick them up because they want them to be comfortable. In other words, they're going to wait for women to make the first move.
That's how it was when I met my partner. We were in a nightclub in Ibiza — a setting where he could have found a ton of women looking for sex if he wanted to — and he was just standing there enjoying the music. Already to me, that was a sign that he wasn't a pushy person. A few months later, he told me he liked that I wasn't afraid to approach him — which also suggested to me that he didn't buy into gender roles.
If I refused to make the first move in these situations, nothing would have happened with him. I'd probably have attracted more guys who came to the club to prey on women.
It's So Empowering To Go After What You Want
Women are too often taught to sit back and wait for what they want, whether it's in relationships, in the workplace, or in the process of something as simple as telling someone how you like your coffee. Asking people out is great practice for being your own advocate in all areas of life.
In any situation where you want something, you have two choices: You can secretly hope you get it and say nothing so that nobody's mad at you and you don't end up embarrassed, or you can risk humiliation and ask for it. I've found that when you go with the second option, you'll be surprised by how often you get it. There will be times you get a "no," and it may wound your ego, but it's worth all the times you get a "yes."
This Whole "Thrill Of The Chase" Business Is Total Sexist Garbage
Because making the first move has worked out so well for me, I have no patience for people who tell me it's "biology" for men to make the first move. Whatever our caveman ancestors did is irrelevant to me — I'm going to go with what's working for me right now in the 21st century.
The idea that men are wired to pursue when while women are wired to reject or accept their advances isn't just heteronormative and sexist.
The idea that men are wired to pursue when while women are wired to reject or accept their advances isn't just heteronormative and sexist. It also contributes to rape culture. It denies women agency over their own sexuality and downplays their desires, furthering the assumption that their primary role is to be desired. And since someone without desires is basically an object, depicting women this way undercuts their ability to consent — or not consent.
In short, telling women they're not suited to ask anyone out objectifies them. Not to mention, it deprives them of some amazing relationships. If we want to empower girls to go after what they want, encouraging them to ask their crush out is one great place to start.