The relationship dynamic: Finding footing in the dating world
With summer ending and the school year beginning again, many students are starting the academic year with a summer love on their arm or a potential love interest close by. On the other hand, there is probably a good number of women who spend a fair amount of the summer waiting for a special someone to ask them out — myself being one of them.
Vicki Larson, co-author of “The New I Do” and writer for the OMGChronicles, was asked at a teen dating seminar whether it was okay for a girl to ask a guy out. While her co-author, Susan Pease Gadoua, responded with a firm no, Larson stated that instead of directly asking, women should instead create an opportunity for the man to do the asking.
This makes one wonder whether men really care this much about asking or being asked out by a woman, or if it matters at all. After all, this is 2014 — there shouldn’t be so many mind games involved in something as simple as asking another person out on a date.
Anthropology senior Andrew Fitzpatrick said that he recognizes that times are changing.
“Many years ago, I think it was a cultural norm to have the guy ask the girl out, but now I don’t feel like it is as big of a deal,” Fitzpatrick said. “Girls feel more confident and don’t feel like they need to sit back and wait to be courted in a relationship. As well for guys, it is not an embarrassment to be asked on a date from a girl. These views may not reflect the total population, but I think the majority would agree (with me).”
Michael Mills published a 2011 article that surveyed male and female college students on who preferred to ask and who preferred to be asked out on a date. Mills found that only 6 percent of women are willing to do the asking while 93 percent prefer to be asked. Likewise, 83 percent of males want to do the asking while 16 percent are willing to be asked out.
“I think it matters who makes the first move,” said kinesiology sophomore Stephanie Benza. “In my case, I’d rather that the guy make the first move because I have the power to say ‘no’ or ‘yes,’ while knowing if his intentions are good or not. It kind of gives you control of the relationship.”
In that respect, it is really women who care more about a cultural norm of male assertiveness than men do. It seems that although we are in a society where women are slowly moving closer to equality with men, many women are the ones clinging to the old-world mentality when it comes to gender roles.
Program coordinator for the Women’s Resource Center Malkia Hutchinson said that this old-world mentality is one that many women are raised on.
“I think we’re all raised in various systems where some things are seen as the norm and some things are seen as deviant. Early gendered socialization encourages certain behaviors from boys and certain behaviors from girls. Not only that, but (women are) taught what’s appropriate in engaging with the opposite gender due to those gendered expectations of what’s feminine or masculine,” Hutchinson said. “I think men tend to be expected and or are encouraged to ‘make the first move’ because that’s a sign of assertiveness. Women are encouraged to be on the receiving end of the move making because if they did make the first move, they would be assertive, which is associated with masculinity.”
Though modern women have empowered themselves considerably over the past century, it’s interesting that some women are placing themselves in this submissive role of waiting on the man.
When asked if she thought there were ways women could change their perceptions about aggressiveness and assertiveness when dating, Hutchinson said she encourages mutual activeness in dating.
“I actually don’t like the idea of any party being aggressive when it comes to dating, so I don’t view that as ideal in men or women,” Hutchinson said. “I think I’d encourage anyone who has feelings for another person and is interested in pursuing that further to 1) read the other person’s cues to see if they may feel the same way, and 2) be an adult and let them know you’re interesting in getting to know them further, would like to spend more time together, etc. Nobody should feel like they have to wait for someone to make a move if they’re getting vibes that the other person is into them. Just put on your big boy or big girl pants and say something.”
While I will not say that this mentality is totally the fault of women — because it isn’t — I also will not say that we do not share some of the blame. Evidence has shown that while the numbers are still significantly higher in preference of men being the “askers,” men are moving forward faster than women are in their willingness to let women take the assertive role of “asker” as well.
Such a trend cannot change unless women start to take the initiative of not being afraid to make the first move. It’s still nice for the guy to ask, but that doesn’t mean that it always has to play out that way — especially since men are now more willing to let the woman take the reins every once in a while.
Opinion columnist Juanita Deaver is an anthropology sophomore and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.