We all know the cardinal dating rule: Let the guy make the first move. Don’t ask for his number, don’t call him first—let the guy pursue you.
But what if I were to tell you that this old school rule actually doesn’t work and that women who take more initiative are rewarded?
According to data collected by OKCupid studying both male and female users (who enjoy a 1.5 male to 1 female ratio), women who make the first move are more likely to get a date with a guy they are actually excited about.
At first blush, this may not sound much like good news. Thanks to online dating and dating apps, the prospect pool has quadrupled in size since our parents were dating—and so has the competition. As a result, both men and women are feeling overwhelmed by choice, and many men feel they could use some help from women in that regard.
Whether we like it or not, men say they care less about the chase. They’d prefer women to approach to help with analysis paralysis and weed out the women who aren’t going to be interested or responsive. In fact, Verily Relationships Editor, Monica Marshall, asked men what they thought about women making the first move (online or in person), and all of the men polled said they were more than cool with a woman making the first move.
Understandably, it can feel like this means guys have relinquished the last vestige of chivalry. But the ball being in the woman’s court may not actually be such a bad thing for our dating prospects.
According to findings, “Everyone’s a reacher” online. Meaning, the people we message tend to be more attractive than ourselves (and remember in this study, attractiveness isn’t just about looks). After ranking attractiveness based on pictures and an interesting profile, the study found that men are reaching out to women who are 17 percentile points more attractive than them, and women contact men who are 10 percentile points more attractive. What does this mean for women who wait for guys to make the first move? “Her inbox will be filled with less attractive men,” explains OKCupid. Women who wait to be messaged first may just end up settling for men who aren’t that inspiring.
When a woman does turn the tables and send the first message, she is much more likely to get a response from and a date with a man she finds attractive. In fact, women are two and half times more likely to get a response when they make the first move, as compared to the success of men who make the first move.
“When women are proactive, there’s a big win,” OKCupid Chief Product Officer Jimena Almendares tells ABC News. “This is data that is showing that if they actually speak up, they have so much to gain.”
We can see how these findings might have influenced the success of Bumble, an app the requires women to be the first to make contact, but women still seem more timid about testing this theory in person. If the cute guy online is likely to respond positively when you introduce yourself first, why wouldn’t the guy who rides the train with you be the same?
It may feel uncomfortable at first putting yourself out there, but the data shows that it is more than worth it. You may just meet a nice, attractive guy. The odds are definitely in your favor.