Have you ever made the first move? Today, our dating series continues with an essay by Diana Woodward. Last year, the college sophomore asked someone out for the first time, and here’s what she realized…
It was a hot day in August, and my friends were trying to drag me to a rooftop party down the street. As I lay on my dorm room floor with four fans pointed toward my body, I thought, A party is the last place I want to be. Not only was it keep-your-arms-plastered-to-your-sides-so-no-one-sees-your-pit-stains hot, but I had also just broken up with my boyfriend of nearly four years. ‘Sweaty and Heartbroken’ was the heading of my last month of summer.
After much persuasion, I decided to go for 20 minutes. Fine, I thought. One beer. When we arrived, I surveyed the scene: Just what I had imagined — blaring electro-pop music, plastic cups filled with lukewarm beer, swarms of people dancing off-beat. Oof. But I made myself walk to the bar and grab a drink. As I leaned against the railing, catching up with friends I hadn’t seen all summer, I began to relax. Hey, I thought, giving myself a mental high-five. I can do this.
And then a good friend approached, whispering in my ear “There’s someone I want you to meet.”
Dylan was tall and lanky with ruffled brown hair. We quickly passed through small talk and talked about our favorite writers, playing soccer on his family’s farm, and the best Van Morrison songs. Before I knew it, the party was ending and it was time to go. I said goodbye and turned to head downstairs, when suddenly — and uncharacteristically — I wheeled back around and said, “Hey! What’s your number?”
Putting myself on the line (for the first time) paid off — Dylan and I have been together for almost a year now. I feel really good about it. “I was intent on getting your number before I left the party,” he told me recently. “I was nervous. But then YOU asked me! I remember feeling a huge wave of relief.”
To me, it’s surprising how pervasive old-school dating rules are in 2017. In almost all areas of my life, from school to work to friendships, I feel assertive and confident, but I still wonder if making the first move as a woman will come off as overbearing. I decided to ask my female friends in college what they thought about making the first move.
Interestingly, all my friends feel comfortable asking someone out online (especially on Bumble, the dating app where only women can initiate conversations). But when it came to in-person interactions, these women can be split into three separate camps — the go-getters who always make the first move, those somewhere in the middle, and those who prefer to let the proposals come to them. Here’s what they said…
For Chloe, 20, taking the lead is second nature: “I’ve made the first move more times than I can count. It’s even gotten to the point where I’m kind of turned off if someone comes after me. Making the first move is thrilling and empowering — I feel like I’m taking charge of my body and my sex life.”
Allie, 19, is more risk-averse but hopes to become more confident: “There are so many movie tropes about women waiting for men to initiate — the woman sitting by the phone, or walking around school hoping to be asked to the dance, etc. We are always waiting! But we could be acting!”
Putting yourself out there isn’t always easy, of course. Frances, 20, told me, “I frequently make the first move, but I often feel as if I have to make it into a joke. If a woman asks someone out, she’s taking more of a risk than a man. A man hopelessly in love is adorable; a woman in his place is desperate.”
My female friends who date women say the approach can be completely different. “Girls — whether straight or gay — are often bubbly and kind of flirtatious with one another, even when they’re just friends,” explains Chloe, who identifies as bisexual. “So, when I make a move on a girl, I have to be more explicit. I have to tell her she’s pretty or stroke her hair, whereas with a guy I can just laugh at his jokes.”
At the end of the day, though, Katherine, 20, sums it all up pretty perfectly — “No matter what, if two people are interested in each other, it doesn’t matter too much who makes the first move. One of them will because they really want to!”
Have you made the first move before? All the time? Sometimes? Never? Does the question itself feel antiquated? (Remember this?) I’d love to hear…
~ Mark Twain