Should Women Make the First Move ... Online?

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In the real world, unfortunately, it's still more culturally acceptable for the male of the species to make the first move: to be the one to initiate a conversation by strolling across a crowded room, to ask for the first date, and even to lean in for the first kiss. You'd think that the Internet would help to level the playing field a bit — that women might feel bolder when sitting safely at a laptop and participating in a relatively new-fangled courtship medium (i.e. online dating).

But social networking site Badoo found that virtual reality resembles actual reality when it comes to flirting, too: After examining more than 90 million user interactions in a month's time, Badoo learned that men are still far more likely to make contact first than women in all countries. (And that Spanish women, who make the first move with 1.33 men each month are the most flirtatious, while American women, at 0.63 men monthly, are just about the least flirtatious.)

Here's my take on the whole who-should-make-the-first-move-online business: Why not women? What do we have to lose?

In real life, at a party or a bar, there's an argument to be made for holding out and not seeming too eager. If someone approaches you at a party, perhaps after feeling encouraged by the eye contact you've made, you'll likely have the upper hand in the interaction — making the approach often means relinquishing some power. (Although you might argue that making the approach gives you power, I think that, unfortunately, a majority of men prefer to do the approaching rather than be approached. Guys, what do you think?)

Online, however, I think the power dynamics are different. By virtue of participating in the site you're essentially saying, "I'm looking for love, and I'm looking to find it amid a group of people who are also looking for it." The same cannot be said of simply being at a party or a bar. All the people involved — of both sexes — have implicitly agreed to a set of rules that are slightly different from the unspoken rules of courtship in the world at large. As such, I think there's not a huge difference between simply being on a dating site and initiating contact via a dating site.

Plus, online, if you don't write so-and-so a note, he may never realize that you exist ... so why not write him?

What do you folks think about this? Ladies, has initiating contact online worked out well for you? Guys, do you appreciate it when a chick writes you? How do you feel about initiating contact in real life as opposed to via computer?

I myself have always thought, "Oh, in life as on the Internet, I should let men do the approaching." But a while back, when I was home working on Saturday afternoon, I logged into OkCupid to procrastinate. I saw this cute guy who listed as one of his favorite books the very book I was reading. He sounded smart, lived in my neighborhood, looked cute, and because there was something very specific in his profile that made me think there was no way we'd ever possibly date, I decided to ask if he'd like to grab coffee some time to discuss the book. I figured I had nothing to lose ... that at best, I'd make a new friend, and worst, I wouldn't hear back.

Except, he responded right away. And now we're dating. He's Mr. Sweet Pants.

So ... are rules made to be broken? I think yes.

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