Why You Should Make The First Move, According To Bumble's Chief Brand Officer


When the dating app Bumble launched, people were… skeptical. The format of the app requires women seeking men to message them first after a match is made — and a lot of people said it would never work. People said that it was a gimmick; that it just wouldn’t work; that it wasn’t “natural” for women to make the first move. Well, four years and nearly a billion conversations started later, and Bumble is still going strong. So what does that say about women making the first move in romantic situations?

“A lot of people laughed at us and said it wouldn’t work,” Alex Williamson, Bumble’s chief brand officer, tells Bustle. “We’ve seen that when we give women the opportunity and power to make the first move, it creates an environment where women feel in control and empowered. It breeds confidence.”

The idea that men have to make the first move in a romantic situation is deeply entrenched in our cultural understanding of romance. But like so many other gender-based social constructs, it just doesn’t hold up well in the light of 2018. Why, exactly, should men be the ones initiating?

I honestly can’t find a good answer to that question. Usually people say that women don’t want to perceived as “sluts” for being too “forward” or that men are “natural” hunter-gatherers. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never dated a hunter-gatherer in my life — unless being really good at ordering on Seamless counts. (In which case, hey babe, I see you!) No one in our modern society is a hunter-gatherer and the value judgment placed on women for having multiple sexual partners really should have been left back in the previous century.

So if you don’t believe either of those tired tropes, why are so many women who date men still scared to make the first move? Williamson thinks it’s about rejection, which is something we all fear, in life in general and especially in dating. But if you can get over that fear of rejection, these are the rewards for making the first move can be immense.


You Get To Direct How The Conversation Starts

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When we’re talking specifically about people’s experiences on Bumble, making the first move means you get to control the direction the conversation goes. Rather than being at the mercy of whatever random thing the guy wants to talk about, you can decide what you want to talk about. High five for no awkward small talk!


You Take Control Of Your Own Life

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When we zoom out to the bigger picture, making the first move in general means you are in control of your destiny. Fairytales teach us before we can even read on our own that princesses rely on knights in shining armor to save them. But those are fairytales. They’re not true. And, I would argue, they’re not even a desirable outcome. Women don’t have to wait for men to save or complete them. We can do that ourselves.

“Instead of waiting for fate to come your own way, you control your own fate,” Williamson says. “It’s about creating the life that you want. There’s no sense in holding yourself back because of some social construct.”


If He’s Not Into It, You Probably Shouldn’t Be Into Him

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Sex and relationships columnist Dan Savage says we should welcome rejection, because it clears out a person who isn’t a good match and leaves room for someone who is. Williamson takes it a step further, saying that she wouldn’t want any of her friends to ever date someone wasn’t okay with the woman making the first move.

“Where we are right now in society, I wouldn’t want any friend of mine to be with someone who wasn’t open to making the first move,” Williamson says. “It’s more alarming to me to hear that someone wasn’t attracted to a woman making the first move. It’s very antiquated now.”

If a guy is the type to say no because you were the first one to reach out, is that a guy you really want to be with? It’s a red flag; a warning that he may hold some other antiquated views about women.


It Could Make You More Confident

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We fear the unknown. It’s totally biological thing — fear of the unknown keeps us away from a lot of danger. But the only way to get over fear of the unknown is to do whatever it is you’re scared of — and do it often. And practicing being bold in one context can lead to being bold in other contexts as well.

“A team member of ours in Germany said she made the first move on Bumble,” Williamson says. “It was something she’d never done before — making the first move in a dating context. And she said that she went to yoga and nailed a handstand that she’d been working on for three years, the next day. It’s that cyclical effect of building up confidence and trying new things and realizing that you’re going to land on your feet that continues to create a ripple effect of confidence.”

But, finally, whether you’ve made the first move and been rejected or you’re still tip-toeing up to the idea of making the first move, be gentle with yourself. There’s enough pressure out there on women to do everything right. No need to make this another one.