Dating making moves
It’s not in my interest for guys who could be a great match to feel paralyzed approaching me because they’re not sure how to avoid coming off as a creep. Supposedly, there’s a whole dating advice industry that could help me with this.My relationships are a major topic of discussion with close friends, of course. But as a feminist, I’m quite aware of the flaws in that industry.Personally, I’m not sure I’d be the best source of advice for feminist women who want to date mainstream guys, because I don’t tend to date mainstream guys.(It’s also unclear how many mainstream guys would want to date me.Like just about everyone in the world, I know about the pain of rejection. I grew up into a woman who—like many women—routinely manages unwanted advances from men.Some of those advances are not made with good intent, like the guys who shout gross comments at me in the street.
I’d also love it if more men in my life had access to good tactical advice on how to initiate with me.
Don’t get me wrong—I like it when guys ask me out; I really don’t ever want to be in a position where I’m taking all the sexual initiative—but I often find that I start the conversation, offer my number or ask for his, suggest dinner, suggest that we go home together, etc.
And I often find that guys don’t react well.♦◊♦Part of the problem may be that straightforward women are often seen as “sluts.” In the blunt words of Derek L., cofounder of a San Francisco–based company called Social Savant that claims to help men improve their romantic lives: “I’m not surprised that women don’t make the first move. There’s judgment from their girlfriends (‘Oh my God, she’s such a slut to hit on that guy’).
Yet at the same time as that kind of deliberately invasive behavior is going on, there are also people of all genders trying to initiate real, mutual romantic relationships—often misstepping even when their partner is receptive, and often experiencing very sad rejections.♦◊♦Men are usually handed the social responsibility of initiating dates or sexual encounters, while women usually get the social responsibility of appearing attractive and open enough to convince a man to say something.
The awesome data-crunching blog for the dating site OKCupid notes that men send nearly four times as many introductory messages as women. Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University and author of In other words, women often work hard to send approachable signals first, but it’s men who are expected to express overt interest.