Make the First Move

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Even the most staunch feminist would have to admit we live in a remarkable (though imperfect) era of immense opportunity for women, an era in which the prestigious Fields Medal, the Nobel Prize of Mathematics, is awarded to a woman for the first time. Yet despite the many advances in women’s rights over the last century, hell over the last half century, the idea of a woman asking a man out on a date is still…wonky. The tradition of “the man asks” still holds general sway.

Or does it?


A 2011 Psychology Today article that calls the act of asking someone out a “risky initiative,” found that the majority of women surveyed still wished to be the ones being asked while the majority of men surveyed prefer to do the asking. The results of the actual asking reflect this as women reported being asked out an average of five times in one year while the men reported being asked out an average of once a year. “So, after decades of increasing sexual equality, why are women not assuming equal ‘risky initiatives’ responsibility?” Good question.


Fortunately, things seem to have improved two years later. Cosmopolitan magazine–that great bastion of sexual truthiness–quoted reports in 2013 that 91% of men were A-OK with a woman making the first move to ask them out. Additionally, more than 50% of women surveyed reached out first after the first date and 40% initiated sex.

A survey on found an 80% return of YES when it asked “Should women ask men out?” A variety of explanations for this result included that tradition was made to be broken, men shouldn’t be the only ones to take all the emotional risk, and the all-encompassing, life is short, so why not? “Why is this up for debate?” replied one poster, “It’s 2013 for crying out loud! Women can do whatever they want.” Even dating sites like  offer a helpfully meant if patronizing list of clues for “When you should ask him out.”

Body language and flirting, the traditional nonverbal lures of women to signal a man she’s open to his advances, still have their roles to play in modern dating life. Frankly, they’re fun too. It’s flattering to be the pursued, to have a man value you enough to put an effort into courting you. That said, there’s no better way to establish equal footing at the start of your relationship than for a woman to show she’s not afraid to take the emotional risks starting with The Big One. Far more preferable than following some antiquated “rules” that passive-aggressively manipulate your prospective mate.

After all, turnabout’s fair play.

Turnabout is fair play.


The steam punk erotica short story Turnabout Day from our own Lady Smut blogger, Alexa Day, debuts this Friday. Find out what happens when relationships in an alternative Jamaica get turned upside down.

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  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    It’s so freaky that you wrote this after I was just out with a friend last night who is definitely a ‘first mover’ in relationships, and was chewing over the fact that maybe being so much in the lead with relationships was not working out for her.

    I agree. Much of the time the guy asking a woman out already KNOWS she’s going to say yes, because she’s already signaled her interest to him with body language, facial expressions, and flirtation. But he pulls the trigger as a sign of his investment in liking her. What I’m saying is that basically, the guy has to do some work.

    Meanwhile, Women are adept and fast at taking care of everybody’s needs–taking care of his needs, laughing at his jokes, taking care of the house, the kids, the emotional work, the gifts and other things that come up for both sets of relatives—that sometimes it’s hard to slow down, be patient, and let the guy do some of the work as well.

    What I’m saying in the end is that I’m all for equality when it comes to initiating — because let’s face it, women have been initiating all along. But I’m not for initiating if it means one more opportunity for to take on more of the work and for guys to take a pass on doing their half of the relationship. You see what I mean?

    Reply to Madeline Iva
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      I totally see what you’re saying, and generally, I’m a firm believer in hands off courtship. I’m one of those relics who doesn’t pay, doesn’t touch any door, and doesn’t mind when the guy orders for the both of us. I’m kind of a selfish date. 😉

      And yet …

      One of advanced singledom’s few real perks is periodic initiation. I hesitate to go so far as to actually ask a man out, but I don’t mind leading the horse right up to the water’s edge. I talk to strangers, I flirt, I lean every way but back. Indeed, when dating interracially, a little more initiation is often helpful.

      And then, on top of that (heyo!), I’m all for pouncing on the poor, unsuspecting fellow when it is both appropriate and unexpected. Some of them get the cutest oh-hey-is-this-really-happening look on their faces. Gotta love it. 😉

      Having said that, I’m kind of sensitive to when guys are starting to coast. If he’s taking a pass on his fair share, I pass on him.

      Kiersten, thanks for the shoutout!

      Reply to Alexa Day

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