There’s a small fly in the ointment of the recent conversation around consent, and it’s the casting of men as the default suitors. It’s an old-school gender dynamic, and it’s clung to modern (hetero) romance like a wet blanket. While it’s critical to discuss how such a pursuit can happen healthfully and equitably, it underserves the agency of women when treated as the social default. We can also be veritable pursuers. So how can we rewrite this narrative?
To start, I asked women to tell me about a time they made the first move. Below are 21 of their responses, and I hope they serve as a small rebellion against the outdated notion that women shouldn’t, or never do. Read their stories below, and then join me in reshaping what the pursuit of love, sex and romantic revelry can look like by telling me yours, too.
“I made the first move with my now ex-boyfriend. I literally took his phone and just put my number in it and saved it as, ‘The best person you’ll ever meet.’ It was so unlike me, HA! But we were together for almost five years and I still think he’s the main reason I moved to NYC (that’s a little longer of a story).”
“Although it was through Tinder, I made the first move by messaging my current boyfriend first. Turns out I was the only one who messaged first and it really stood out to him. We’ve since been together for almost two years and more to come!”
“He had a summer job at a microbrewery that had a boutique portion, and he invited me to come hang out while he worked. We were both nervous and awkward during his shift. At the end, he was counting his cash register and making self-deprecating jokes. I don’t know what came over me but I just walked up to him behind the counter and, as I got closer, he told me, ‘Well now I really won’t be able to concentrate.’ I said, ‘Then take a break,’ and kissed him.”
“When I’m going out… I make first moves all the time. In my experience, guys like it when you explicitly pick them and start dancing with them. Therein lies the biggest pro for me: I get to pick, instead of turn down unwanted advances.”
“While working at Buffalo Exchange, my assistant manager who I crushed on for a month straight was in-between houses and couch surfing until the first of the month. After a closing shift together, I offered him my futon to crash on for the night. He never slept on that futon. Next month is our fourth wedding anniversary.”
“I waited for the whole year of eighth grade to make my move. Then, during the chaos of the last day of school, I wrote my name and number on a gum wrapper. I said ‘I think you’re really cool, you should text me sometime!’ He never did.”
“When I was in graduate school, I would leave my name/number with bartenders I found attractive pretty regularly. It worked many times, so I stuck with that plan of attack!”
“We were at a music event and probably said a total of 20 words to each other that night. The next morning, I slid into his Facebook inbox with the link to a Myers Briggs test. Then waited…He sent me his results and we started chatting. We’ve been dating for eight months now.”
“Four years ago, I started going to improv shows at UCB. One night, I fell in love with one of the comedians, who happened to be a writer for a prominent late night talk show host. He had no social media profiles, so I spent hours searching for some means of contacting him. Ended up finding his personal email, and wrote him a note telling him I thought he was great and funny and that I wanted to take him out for a drink.
My friends laughed at me — they never thought he would respond. BUT he did! Hours later, and could not have been more flattered. The next week we went out for drinks. I had to pick the venue. We dated briefly until he ghosted me. So my advice is don’t ever make the first move. JUST kidding, making the first move is awesome. And I would do it again.”
“I was a junior in high school and there was a new guy at school. I walked right up to him and said, ‘Hi, I’m Rebecca. I think you should know me,’ and we never talked again.
“I met my boyfriend at our five-year college reunion. I had a crush on him from afar and lost him at the end of the last night. In a final Hail Mary move I sent him a FACEBOOK MESSAGE (yes really): ‘Dude hi just saying [insert my phone number] make it happen.’ That is how we met.”
“I was working at a summer program during my college years and I had met this cute, smart guy who was working in a different department. Everyone at the program was living on campus and I’d always try to casually run into him. Eventually, we started hanging out during work events, but I couldn’t tell if he was into me.
When his program term ended before mine, we awkwardly said goodbye outside of a dorm. I knew immediately I had blown it, but he was already out of sight. Suddenly, I just started sprinting across campus to where I knew his car was parked, as if I was in some sort of rom-com or a decent runner. I found him loading his stuff into his car and I just went for it and kissed him like Nora Ephron was directing.
He visited me a few times that summer, but now he’s just a Facebook friend. Honestly, I still have a crush on him. I’m still impressed and surprised at myself for running… but also for being that bold and almost foolish? But now, I’m pretty comfortable with ‘making the first move’ and nothing will seem as exciting or crazy as running after a guy across campus.”
“I made the first move on my husband. I told him his T-shirt was cool and we should switch shirts. Later I said he should give me his number in case I wanted my shirt back.”
“I met my husband while on a date at a bar in London. We made eye contact for a while until I decided to make the first move. I told my date that an old friend of mine was here and should wait for me here while I say hi. When I approached him, I gave him a cigarette so he could join me outside and we could chat away from anyone in the bar. I told him he was hot, pretended to not be on a date and gave him my phone number. He just stood there with a cigarette that he didn’t want to smoke really. My date came outside looking for me. I had to introduce them as I was pretending to be with an old friend. I made up a name and then left. My stranger called me the next day. He is American, I am French. Now we are married and living in Toronto.”
“I asked this boy I liked to prom via a pair of scissors that said, ‘Prom?’ (He was stabbed with scissors a few weeks prior and I’m incredibly romantic.)”
“My go-to move at the bar the last two times I’ve had sex is walking up to a gentleman and saying, ‘I called a Lyft and they’ll be here in three minutes, wanna come home with me?’ Introducing yourself is so 2017.”
“I feel like I always make the first move! Last semester, after I broke up with my ex, I made a list of guys that I found cute and/or interesting and sent each of them a text asking when and if they were free for drinks. One guy I took out to my favourite pub and bought the both of us double G&Ts and we played darts. Another guy I took to my favourite beach and we made a bonfire together with wood I’d bought beforehand at a grocery store.”
“In college at a line dancing club (lol), I told him that he was really good at the ‘watermelon crawl’ and would he please show me how to do that one move where you do the twist and jump? Answer: ‘…What?'”
“I met him once at a mutual friend’s party. One year later I slid into his DMs: ‘Hi 👋🏻 remember me?’ Cut to three years later and we’re still together and moved into our first house this year.”
“Was at a party in college, had talked to a cute guy throughout the night here and there. Saw he was about to get in a car and leave so I ran out front and before I could really think about it just said, ‘Hey! Wait! Do you want to have sex with me?’ I was about to move and knew I didn’t want to date but he was really hot. He was like, ‘What?!? Yeah??!’ We went home together and had a nice night and I have never been prouder of myself for being SO straightforward.”
“I liked this guy at work. I was quitting in a week. He was studying fashion at Parsons. I DM’ed him about some 🔥 underboob outfits at the Calvin Klein show. We’ve been dating 10 months.”
Photo by Francis Apesteguy via Getty Images.