Two summers ago, I sat between two female friends, watching “The Bachelor.” At some point, we began discussing our own dating lives, specifically, our preferences: in doing the asking out or being asked, in initiating intimacy or being initiated, in saying “I love you” first or withholding it until it’s said to us. The result was not surprising — two of the three of us agreed that we preferred being asked, initiated to and being the latter to say the “L” word.
Reddit and Quora are riddled with questions such as “Why is there a stigma with girls asking guys out?” Answers rain down in the realm of “because women lean on the stigma to justify not taking initiative,” “because it feels unladylike,” “women who ask seem desperate” and “women choose, men are chosen.”
That last one sparked some interest in me. Does a woman or gender-nonconforming person who initiates not choose? Sure, the person she is asking out ultimately determines whether or not they launch into their relationship, but she chose to ask that person. Doesn’t that choice allow her to find whom she actually likes rather than wading through numbers of unsuitable “suitors?”
I confess that I like being asked out. It’s nice to not mull over the possibility of rejection and await the days of crying myself to sleep. It’s nice to be served cake on a silver platter, and the simple single gesture of a hand swiping left to have it taken away and replaced by mille-feuille served on an even fancier platter.
But what if it doesn’t? What if the mille-feuille never comes, and all that keeps coming are fruitcakes and fortune cookies with bad fortunes in them? I think the same scenarios can be said of initiating intimacy and saying the “L” word as well. The tradition of gender roles dictates that women and gender-nonconforming people should be passive and men should be active. But is this the best for them?
The question should be: What can we do as people to better carve out our future? Rather than: Is it alright for me to ask them out? Granted, a single shift in perspective cannot wipe clean a stigma that has clouded society for ages. But I personally believe that opportunities open up when you are open to it, this scenario not excluded. You want mille-feuille and tarte tatin? Go get it.
It might be a little scary or a lot scary, but practice does make perfect. A rejection doesn’t make you any less desirable — if anything, that person wasn’t worth your time. You are beautiful, strong and smart, never forget that. Go take hold of those reins!