Go on, ask someone out.

Photo credit: Tommy McMillion, meme agency

Culturs-expert-flagWhen was the last time you asked someone out on a date? Opportunities come up, but we’re not always bold enough to make that move that will guarantee seeing that person again. There are many reasons why we don’t ask someone out, but the fear of rejection is one of the main reasons we don’t always jump at the opportunity. If you’re a woman reading this, how likely are you to ask out a man you find attractive?

Bale and other researches have found that women are less likely to ask a man out.[1] This doesn’t really surprise me. It seems that movies, books, and our friends’ stories all lead to the same scenario: the boy walking over to the girl, not the other way around. When I was single, I always found this frustrating. It always seemed as if it was frowned upon for a girl to walk up to a guy. Hopefully, this will change over time, as there is no reason both men and women can’t express their interest in another person. When I was single, I remember it was really split half way as to whether it was me walking over or the guy coming over to me.  I was not one to stay put if I found someone cute at a bar. Granted, only after building up the courage with two gin and tonics.

Alternatively to Bale’s findings, a different study conducted by Wade, Butrie and Hoffman found that the women participating in their investigation were in fact likely to ask a man out and that their approach was effective. It was refreshing to read from their results that woman giving out a phone number, hinting at a date, or directly asking a man out was effective.  Researchers explain why these direct opening lines were successful for women: most men were unsure in the first couple of minutes of interaction with a woman whether she was interested, and a direct opening line removed that doubt. [2]

The study consisted of 3 parts. The first entailed providing a questionnaire asking 40 women at an American university how likely they were to approach a man they were attracted to and what they would say to him to demonstrate interest. The second part included a list of around 50 opening lines that women could use. Examples of these were: “Want to hang out this weekend?” and “Hey, it’s nice to meet you”. Men and women were asked to rank how effective these would be in a real-life scenario from 1 to 7. Finally, the third part entailed providing the same list of opening lines and asking to rank them from 1 to 7 for how direct they were in showing romantic interest.[3]

The authors of the investigation mention the limitation that these studies were done using questionnaires and not in real-life scenarios. If the opening lines were used in broad daylight or in a busy bar on a Thursday night, would they be as effective?  And would we really have the courage to walk up to a tall, dark stranger at the opposite side of a sports bar?  That’s for us to prove.


[1] Bale, C., Morrison, R., & Caryl, P. G. (2006). Chat-up lines as male sexual displays. Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 655–664.

[2] Joel Wade, T., Butrie, L. K., & Hoffman, K. M. (2009). Women’s direct opening lines are perceived as most effective. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(2), 145-149.

[3] Joel Wade, T., Butrie, L. K., & Hoffman, K. M. (2009). Women’s direct opening lines are perceived as most effective. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(2), 145-149.

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  1. Great article! This article applies very well to the college dating scene so it was very interesting to me!

  2. This is really interesting, it makes me wonder about the queer community though. Personally I am really upfront when I like someone, every once in a while I gather the courage to ask someone out. It’s always worth it, because if they say yes, you have a date, and if they say no, then you know that you put yourself out there!

  3. Great article! Always interested to read about science of attraction stuff. Definitely not opposed to girls making the first move as a male.

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