One of the most fundamental rules of modern dating is that men make the first move. In real life, they approach the woman at the bar with some bad pickup line. In the cyber world, they send the first message. In fact, data from popular dating website OkCupid shows that straight women are 3.5 times less likely to send the first message than men. This is true regardless of how many messages they receive on their end.
Taking on this gender norm may seem like a tall order. As a man, the dating strategy of waiting for women to come to you may seem like romantic suicide, dooming you to a life alone. However, though it may be intimidating, men who stop making the first move toward women can see improvements in not only dating but many other aspects of their life as well. There are six main reasons why.
1. False Allegations
The first thing modern men need to consider when formulating a dating strategy is false allegations. These don’t even have to be false rape allegations or even assault allegations, but mere “misconduct” allegations that could include something as arbitrary and ambiguous as your demeanor.
While accusing you of “coming on too strong” probably isn’t enough for criminal chargers—for the time being anyway—it’s certainly enough to ruin your reputation and career.
Just as the legal burden of proof for sexual crimes has been decreasing over the years, so has the burden of proof in the court of public opinion when it comes to “appropriate dating tactics.”
The truth is, as a man, making the first move can in and of itself be misconstrued as “inappropriate” if the woman isn’t interested. You’re basically rolling the dice hoping you don’t get snake eyes, i.e. a ruined career, social life and pariah status. It’s not worth it.
2. Gender Equality in Dating
We rarely like to admit it, but most gender roles and stereotypes are rooted in the human mating process and sexual selection. For example, a woman may seek an aggressive mate because historically he’d be more capable of securing resources for her and her offspring. Indeed, this is precisely why male hormones encourage aggression and physical strength.
On the other side, coyness and selectivity may have been evolutionarily advantageous qualities for a woman because she would thereby attract higher quality males who could know their investment of resources would not be wasted on another man’s offspring.
These dynamics bleed into unrelated parts of life, encouraging women to be more passive which could hurt their career prospects or encouraging men to be more aggressive landing them in jail. This is why gender equality in something as trivial as dating can have serious repercussions for general social equality.
Men are expected to make the first move in dating. This stereotype can be flipped on its head, but only by a collective effort by a critical mass of men. This can spread to other aspects of dating like getting the check or opening doors.
Just think. In a world where men are no longer the initiators and payers in dating, perhaps society would no longer view men only as providers who are only useful for paying for children even if they’re not allowed to see them.
3. Healthier Relationships
Dysfunctional relationships usually have a number of things in common. These include insecurities and imbalances of power and control, whether real or imaginary. Starting a relationship with an assumed dating dynamic based on gender stereotypes is a good way to bring these relationship dynamics in on a Trojan horse that may burst open with conflict months into the relationship.
That isn’t to say any relationship where the man made the first move is going to be dysfunctional. Obviously someone has to talk first. But if you as a man are reluctantly speaking first because you feel the social pressure to do so or are a woman and reluctantly waiting to be “chased” for the same reason, it can draw out those insecurities and power imbalances.
The man may feel less desired while the woman may feel like she has less initiative. This can create a downward spiral where the man is always making the moves – the first, second, third, millionth move – trying to get validation from the woman.
Meanwhile the woman may feel she constantly needs to retreat and resist to maintain her autonomy, which of course will only increase the man’s need for validation further. A simple thing like letting the woman make the first move could break this vicious relationship cycle.
4. Increased Desirability on the Dating Market
If you’ve taken basic economics, you’re probably familiar with the principles of supply and demand. For a given commodity, if its supply increases, its price will decrease. On the other hand, if demand for it increases, its price will increase.
When you frequently make the first move and contact as many women as you can, you’re making yourself easy to get. Women assume you’re low value. However, if you’re more selective, even to the point you wait for women to come to you, it signals that you’re in high demand.
On the cultural scale, if a large amount of men stop making the first move, it will seemingly decrease the supply. As it stands, women have tons of opportunities. Men are constantly making moves on them, so the supply is high. There’s no reason to put much effort into a man when there’s another one right behind him. When men pull back, that’ll change.
In fact, this is precisely why women seem to be more “valuable” on the dating market even though there’s an equal number of them. Studies show women are actually the primary perpetrators of things like “slut shaming.” As a group, they need to keep their supply low so men will put in more effort. That’s why they’ll attack any woman who’s “easy to get” because she’s bringing down the price, so to speak.
There’s no reason men cannot benefit from the same principle. We shouldn’t shame our fellow men, but we can stop making the first move ourselves, set an example and encourage the same from others.
5. Improved Mental Health
Pulling back does more than just improve your dating prospects, though. It can actually boost your confidence and self-esteem. For starters, by acting like a man who’s in high demand, one who women will talk to first, you begin to truly feel that you’re in high demand.
Repeatedly making the first move—and probably getting rejected a decent amount—wires your brain to think you’re constantly reaching for a prize you can’t have, or worse, don’t deserve. Break the pattern and act like the great catch that you are. Be the prize only that one special woman can have.
More practically, when you see women start making the first move, you’ll realize how desirable you actually are. This can boost your confidence and start a cycle of self-love and holding yourself to a higher standard.
6. Dating High-Quality Women
To be clear, it’s not all fun and games on the woman’s side either. While many men resent the fact that they have to make the first move and risk rejection, many women resent the fact that they have to sit back and wait, giving them little control.
That said, right now women do have the benefit of being able to be selective and filter out suitors easily. By not making the first move, you can gain this same advantage. It gives you the opportunity to really consider your dating options instead of just making as many moves as possible in the hopes that something sticks.
More importantly, don’t you want to date women who are independent thinkers? Those who don’t just follow arbitrary social rules but are willing to talk to men they’re interested in? Plus, you’ll know any woman who talks to you is confident enough and sure enough of herself to resist the pressure of society and gender expectations.
That means she bucks against traditional gender expectations. It means she’ll respect your life as much as you respect hers.
That’s a high-quality woman, and if you accept her advances, it could very well be the start of a strong, healthy relationship.