In 2018, men should no longer assume the sole responsibility of asking a woman out. And if research is to be trusted, we shouldn’t. According to a survey from dating app The League, one in three successful relationships from the service was initiated by a woman. Not to mention, according to Match.com data, men very much welcome the opportunity to take a backseat—only 29 percent of women admit they’d ask for a guy’s number and 95 percent of men wish they would.
Plus, new research published in Personality and Individual Differences has found that when a woman initiates sex, she enjoys the experience exponentially more. (Because duh, it was her idea.)
According to OKCupid data, men initiating conversation is the standard no matter the age or medium. Interestingly, nine in 10 older men think a woman should make the first move. But they don’t. This same research found that women sent a median of three to four first messages on the website whereas men sent a median of nine to 15, despite 30 percent of messages sent by women successfully amounting to a conversation (a rarity for those familiar with dating sites or apps). The research found women are also 2.5 times more likely to get a response than men—perhaps a reason why Bumble, a dating app where women must send the first message, has become so successful with men and women alike.
Is there a specific reason why women are better adept at finding a lasting connection? According to Jonathan Bennett, dating and relationship coach at Double Trust Dating, women are better at reading nonverbal cues, a great trait for dating. “A woman could read a guy’s nonverbal cues (body language, tone, flirting, etc.) to determine if he’s truly interested in her and worth asking out,” he says. “She can also better determine if he’s a creep who’s manipulating her. This gives her an advantage if she trusts her instincts.”
As for whether women are stepping up to the plate, Bennett admits that he is seeing more of it, but it’s still quite rare. “It’s important for women to remember that the ‘first move’ doesn’t mean walking up to a guy and asking him on a date right there,” he shares. “It could be more subtle, like simply striking up a conversation at a coffee shop and giving him your number or Snapchat username. That small effort could be all it takes to get him to take the lead from there.”
By asking men out, women can avoid waiting around for a good man to make the move while they fend off aggressive creeps.
So why aren’t women making the first move, then? In the pursuit for equality in all areas of life, women statistically aren’t going for what they want in matters of love. Bennett believes cultural expectation is what’s hindering women in this regard. “Even with feminism and the sexual revolution, it’s still expected that the man will ask out the woman,” he begins. “Dating is one area where gender roles haven’t changed much. A lot of women might want to ask guys out and a lot of guys would enjoy that, but changing this dynamic isn’t easy. It still feels awkward for people.” Many women fear they’ll come across desperate if they pursue somebody, as women are culturally perceived to be the pursued.
Another factor, Bennett cites, is a lack of need, as women generally have their pick of the litter when it comes to the male market. “If a woman can get romantic attention from several random guys a day (or hundreds from a dating app), she probably doesn’t feel the need to approach guys herself,” Bennett shares. “She just takes the pick of those who approach her. However, sitting back and taking your pick can drastically limit your quality.
Courtesy of culturally disappointing matters like #MeToo, men have become afraid and more cautious to engage women romantically. “I’ve heard plenty of men that are scared that women will call assault if he hits on them,” Amanda Rose, CEO of Dating Boutique Inc. tells Playboy. “Even if it’s not his intention he’s still afraid that some women will perceive it that way.” She explains that men are experiencing more misconceptions about their intentions due to these harrowing headlines. Rose admits we must acknowledge these stories, but not paint all men with the same brush. “The #MeToo movement is a great cause, but [women] need to let men know that it’s still safe to approach us. If we cause a division between men and women, the dating scene will only get more difficult.”
Most men (not all, as some do enjoy the chase) would be thrilled by women making the first move, especially in the sense of opening up a conversation, thereby giving him “permission” to move in a more romantic direction. If this were to become more commonplace, it’s safe to say women’s experiences would be more positive. By asking men out, women can avoid waiting around for a good man to make the move while they fend off aggressive creeps. OKCupid data supports this. Women who messaged first tended to contact more attractive men and were successful in their pursuit. Women who sat back and waited still received messages from men, but the majority were duds.
Rose laments that men prefer women making the first move when communication has already been established, so she doesn’t come across too aggressive. “Coming off too aggressive can be a major turn off,” she explains. “There are subtle ways women can approach a man without it being too aggressive or without actually making the first move.” Rose says women who wish to be approached in the #MeToo era should make an effort to present themselves as more approachable. Something simple like standing next to a man at a bar, smiling and initiating small talk is all it takes.
Last but not least, women should feel encouraged to make the first move because it’s empowering. Asking a man out is a confidence-building exercise. “It’s like riding a bike. Each time you do it, it gets easier, your confidence builds and you’re more likely to get a date with the man you’ve been eyeing,” Rose shares. “When a woman starts to feel empowered, she’s also able to ask with more confidence what she wants in the relationship sexually and emotionally.”