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I’ve been reading your column for a while, as well as a number of different relationship books recommended by girlfriends over the years. On the one hand I hear that women should be proactive and, on the other hand, many experts suggest women should not initiate or make the first move when it comes to dating—will you clarify?
You are not alone in your confusion—just as in many other fields of human endeavor, not every relationship expert/author has the same perspective.
First, I have yet to come across a relationship expert who does not advocate being proactive in one’s love life. By “being proactive,” I mean that instead of leaving your love life up to random chance, it’s wise to get clarity about what you seek, and take active steps to increase your chances of attaining that which you seek. This is no different than any other high-stakes area of life. For instance, if you were interested in having a career, it would be wise to get clarity about the kind of professional work you seek, and then take active steps (schooling, training, informational interviews, job searching, networking) to attain that professional work.
In your love life, action steps you can take to gain clarity include: consciously thinking through your core values, life goals, and the kind of relationship you seek, either by yourself and/or with family and friends; seeking guidance from books, dating coaches, and matchmakers; and gaining experience interacting with guys (via attending events of interest to you, online dating, matchmaking services, family and friend-set ups, etc).
Now let’s talk about initiating and making the first move with guys—an area in which there tends to be more difference of opinion among experts. I’m of the camp that a woman should approach dating in an empowered way and should not limit herself exclusively to “who picks her.”
In other words, when dating online, I recommend women reach out to guys who they find appealing, instead of limiting themselves to the guys who reach out to them. At events, I recommend that women “green-light” guys who appear interesting via smiling and eye contact; as well as initiating conversations.
In terms of pursuing, I believe that guys generally make efforts when interested. In other words, after a woman “green-lights” a guy, an interested guy generally makes efforts to pursue. When a woman pursues as a reaction to a guy’s unwillingness to make any efforts to pursue, she risks not knowing whether he is truly interested, or in some cases engaging with someone who is playing along until someone he’s truly interested in comes along. Hope this helps clarify.
Jasbina is the founder and president of Intersections Match, the only personalized matchmaking and dating coaching firm serving singles of South Asian descent in the United States. She is also the host of Intersections Talk Radio. Jasbina@intersectionsmatch.com.