Gender-equal society: Women initiating dates as often as men?

Despite the rise of feminism and gender equality, there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding rise in women initiating dates and relationships with men. To the contrary, women still seem overwhelmingly more likely to prefer being asked out than to ask men out, to be wooed rather than to woo, to have the man be the one doing the initiating, and to be proposed marriage to rather than to propose to a man.

Why is this?

Is society just “not there yet?” Not gender-equal yet?

In a *truly * gender-equal society, would women be initiating dates as often as men?

Is this preference biological or cultural?

Highly desirable men for whatever reasons don’t have the same experience that mere mortals have. They get hit on all the time. When I was in my prime I was probably a low 8 on the attractive scale and I got hit on quite a bit. My observation is that women do hit on men more than they used to by a fairly good margin. I have no idea if my experience is typical.

Well I’d say timidity is generally considered an unattractive quality for males to have, so being bold enough to make the first move helps to demonstrate an attractive quality.

A similar observation is that “flakiness” is a quality that’s generally not attractive in males i.e. a guy who is kinda ambivalent about a girl and might jump ship at any moment. So it helps if the guy can at least pretend not to be that.

I would say both these factors have a large instinctive component, and a smaller cultural component.

Gender-related questions don’t seem to go well on the dope, so I’m putting on my flame-retardant jacket…

Women do initiate but often approach the “asking out” thing a little differently and a bit more obliquely. They will offer a man invites to group functions, bands, parties etc. they plan on attending or sometimes ask for the man’s personal help with something if he is know to have a skill or interest. Basically they will kick the door open and it’s up to him to walk through.

HoneyBadgerDC is correct in that an attractive man will generally have all the action he can handle if he is open to overtures

First, there’s probably an instinctive component; in humans worldwide it’s usually the males who initiate both relationships and sex. Second, quite a few women seem to think that men will think badly of them for taking the initiative.

And third, because they can generally just let the man do it. It’s uncomfortable and risks humiliation to be the one who takes the initiative in a relationship, and women don’t like discomfort and embarrassment any more than men do. So they don’t have much incentive to not just let the guy do it.

All the male “parts” function better if the female simply makes herself available and the male does the asking. It’s a genetic and millions of years thing. I would suspect that doing it this way, for some reason?, increases “survival of the fittest” rates.

is this actually true, or just an assumption based on your own experiences? 'Cos we as individuals interact with a tiny sliver of the population as a whole, and group/regional dynamics can skew things in a particular way.


I said it before when this topic has come up and I will say it again. If we accept the idea that men are more visual while women are more attracted to personality and achievements, then it follows that in a room full of single strangers or weak acquaintances, it’ll be easier for a woman to attract attention from the opposite sex than it is for a man. Because all she needs to do is stand there and look pretty and approachable. For the average man to spark interest, he usually needs to showcase his inner attributes: confidence, humor, and intelligence. Only the exceptionally handsome men can count on being hit on in high numbers, because it takes exceptional looks to override the importance of his personality.

Perhaps men and women will come to appreciate the same things with time, but for now, the pursuit of physically attractive females seems to be driving the disparity in who is asking whom out.

Pretty much all of my serious girlfriends initiated things. My ex-wife did so obliquely ("So, when are you going to ask me out?). The next gf gave me her number (then confronted me the next weekend at the dance club we went to, unaware I’d left a voice mail), which led to a spontaneous all-night date at the nearby 24-hour diner.

Since then, it’s been more direct, though they never ask face-to-face. Facebook Messenger, text, or by phone… Which makes me wonder if they do so to avoid in-person rejection, or if it’s that they’re millenials who live life on their phones.

All that, and forgot to actually address the OP’s question.

It seems to me that gender equality ideas are leading to more women being comfortable being the initiator, especially if they’ve always been a part of culture for someone’s entire life.

My ex-wife and I were born in the 1970s; we grew up with childhoods where gender equality ideas were given lip service, but sexism still was pretty prevalent. The men my mom dated expected her to cook for them, in our schools there was a pretty strong social expectation that one would be friends with same-sex classmates. When we began dating in the early 90s, despite being a self-proclaimed feminist, she found it suspicious that my best friends were women, and so on. I think she wanted to initiate things, but in a way such that we followed our “roles.” She could say I asked her out. (Similarly when we got engaged. “I wish we were married,” followed by my asking her to marry me.)

The next born in the 80s, was the primary breadwinner, and had no qualms about asking me to have dinner that night… Didn’t grow up with overt sexism in culture quite as much, but did experience it in academia and her career (highly specialized engineering). She’d go jogging in her school engineering shirt, and be asked if it was her boyfriend’s. And, she was afraid of being an old maid, felt she intimidated men, and apparently I was the first person she’d ever pursued.
The last three, born in the 90s, experienced even less sexism in culture, and find the stories I tell them of what I saw my mom experience in the 70s bizarre. They obviously still experience some, usually from older coworkers, and they vocally push back when it occurs. Mostly men as friends, and as kids almost no social segregation of genders. So instead of gender equality that my exes and I had to learn, it seems like (finally!) there’s a rising generation for whom it’s almost innate. They certainly are upfront about initiating things when they like someone.

Certainly true, however, some women are not approached or asked out by men - and yet, rather than initiate, they complain that men don’t initiate to them.

Some women take it even further yet; they’d rather be unhappily single than be the one initiating to men.

This is true for a fair number of men, as well. There are plenty of guys miserably single who lack the confidence to approach women.

Furthermore, if a woman is never approached, that’s a good sign that her approaches might well be rejected. She’s either unattractive or sends out very strong signals that she doesn’t want to be approached. It’s the woman who is regularly approached that would most likely feel comfortable approaching men, herself, because she knows it’s possible for others to find her attractive. A woman who believes no one ever does is taking a much larger gamble.

I have initiated many (not all) friendships and relationships - including the one I’m in now. I’ve never been shy. When I was nine years old and cute as a button, I lived and went to school in Bogotá, Colombia. There was a boy in my class that I found adorable. During recess and lunch we would go behind the school to a swampy area and catch these tiny tiny frogs. It’s also the first time that I kissed a boy. A kiss initiated by me. Little frogs and kisses became two of my favorite things that year.

That sure brought back some memories.

For you too maybe?

Yes. It did. I moved around a lot as a child. And often a move would come as a big surprise because nobody talked to me about it as it was developing. I learned as a young girl to make every moment count, and not let opportunities and people I wanted to get to know slip away. I’m still that way.

Certainly, but this is true as well of men who are repeatedly rejected. Initiative is always risky. If both genders initiated as frequently as the other then they’d have a better idea of how attractive / unattractive they are.

I think the best advice for a woman wanting to date a particular man is “I pursued him until he caught me” thing. Where basically she shows interest in a man and after she gets to know what he likes, she give him an opening. For example if they know he likes going to a certain activity say " that sounds like fun but I wouldnt want to go by myself". Or say he likes an upcoming movie say that you would like to see it also.

So imagine a rope with a lasso. The woman ties the lasso around herself but tosses the free end to the guy she wants to pull it. Now granted some men are so shy and awkward she might have to practically hit him over the head with it and she might have to finally say “would you PLEASE just go ahead and ask me out”.

I’d add to that many women are single because they just dont put themselves out there. They hide at home and wonder why they are lonely.

He’s saying he’s single.