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Go Get Him! Study Shows Women Who Make The First Move Have Better Dating Success

Dating

I'm sitting at the bar enjoying sushi and my second $9 cocktail when one of my friends taps the shoulder of the guy sitting next to me.


“Hi!" she says to him. “What's your name?"

He tells her.

“Have you met my friend, Tee?" she replies, as she turns her back to us to continue conversing with the group behind us, as if she has just accomplished a major task.

It's an awkward introduction. He's confused and annoyed – mainly, I presume, because dude is already engrossed in a conversation with a young woman on the other side of him. So I'm initially horrified because all my friend has done is inadvertently let him know that I'm possibly:

1) a relationship reject

2) incapable of meeting men on my own

3) a homewrecker

Then I grow angry because I'm none of the above, and she's placed me in a humiliating position all because I'm not flirting and mingling to her satisfaction. I'm left seething in my seat, mumbling under my breath that if I wanted to meet dude, I would've introduced my damn self.

Okay, I'm lying about that last part.

I'm not that forward when it comes to meeting men. I'm ingrained with that you-don't-chase-men wisdom and that includes not approaching them to express initial interest. I'm taught to always allow the man to come to me.

But according to an informal survey conducted by dating site OkCupid, that way of thinking is so antiquated and doesn't exactly yield desirable results: “Women who reach out first have a better chance of success." In fact, those women who initiate contact are 2.5 times more likely to get favorable responses than men who make the first move, and those replies will spark more conversations with men we actually want to talk to.

“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."

Admittedly, this makes sense. Like many women, I'm generally more selective about whom I entertain or allow in my personal space even in a public setting, so if I actually step to a guy, I must be really intrigued and simultaneously imagining a name change, mortgage, and a set of twins, too.

Still my initial thought was in a world where we can now swipe left and right to a relationship, making the first move seems more acceptable and reasonable. But how does the information translate to real life? Will a man find this behavior too aggressive? Emasculating? Desperate?

On a segment on Good Morning America, writer, author, relationship expert, and BFF-in-my-head Demetria Lucas D'Oyley reminds us that times have changed and first moves on our parts no longer indicate thirst, so there's no reason why we can't update our rules, apply them to real life, and take complete charge of our dating lives.

“It's 2016," Lucas-D'Oyley says. “We've been doing things the wrong way for a really long time."

I reflect on my dating drought history just to refute OkCupid's findings and Lucas-D'Oyley's statement and support my Grandma's wise words: “You don't chase no man." But I find that I have no grand success story to share. I'm usually one of those women who's posted up outside of the spotlight enjoying happy hour fare, afterward crossing her arms, avoiding eye contact, delivering a mean blank stare, and daring a soul to interrupt her chill evening.

But that's less about me being standoffish and more about me using past experiences to gauge my present – I've had undesirable men follow and stick to me like old honey just from exchanging pleasantries. They come out the woodwork to sniff me out like The Walking Dead extras, and spend the remainder of my evening plotting an escape route.

And since I'm an introvert who cringes at the idea of introductions anyway, it's also more about me preserving my mental energy and small talk for someone who actually piques my curiosity. But even then, I would've never stepped to him. I'd unfurrow my brow, relax my tight lips, and hope he gets the hint that it's okay for him to strike up a convo.

Perhaps in that aspect we have gotten it all wrong.

For one, finding a potential significant other has kind of grown into a convoluted mind game where we're sending all these nonverbal cues – like sitting at a bar all prim and proper sipping our pricy cocktails while puckering our lips and batting our lashes – to make a man notice us. But sometimes those signals are a foreign language that gets lost in translation or intercepted by the wrong party.

Besides, that man-is-the-hunter while the woman-is-the-prey belief is not just outdated, it's just plain sexist and barbaric. Maybe the onus shouldn't be solely on him in a two-to-tango world, and maybe he shouldn't bear all the pressure of potential rejection since, after all, he's more likely to get shut down much faster than we are. We're human. We're equal. We're grown. And as empowered women who are go-getters in nearly every other aspect of our lives, why are we remaining so passive about a life choice in which we're likely to become long term, active participants?

Posed that way, I agree that we should exercise some sort of initial control when it comes to our personal lives, but in moderation with common sense and class. As Lucas-D'Oyley says, approaching a man with “Yo Papi, what's good?" ain't it. Neither is feeling him up like the Steve Harvey show blind dates do or stepping to him when he's already taken as my friend did.

And most importantly, as Lucas-D'Oyley clarifies, making the first move doesn't mean make all the moves. The point is only to express interest and break the ice.

Aha! So Grandma was right! Okay to an extent. So while I'm willing to say, “Hi" or compliment his nice shirt like Lucas-D'Oyley advises, I'm still not chasing him.

And then I'm still going to expect him to offer me that $9 drink because, well, I'll still need him to put in some work.

Have you made or would you ever make the first move?

Featured image by Getty Images

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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