Yeah, I’ve Asked Men Out

Woman-on-Phone11-300x200Guys sometimes wonder why women don’t ask men out. Plenty of women don’t. But it turns out that many have — and do. Here’s what students from one of my women’s studies classes had to say. (My method was discussed in another post.)

Out of the 26 women who responded to my survey, 17 had actually made the first move at some point. So many more had than hadn’t.

Here’s what they had to say: 

When I asked if they had ever made the first move, two answered the question strangely: “No. But I did ask a guy to prom.” Or “No. But I did ask a guy out casually.” I counted those as “yes.” I’m not sure what to make of the “No, but yes” answers. Did they say “no” to feel better, given some of the negative reasons women give for not asking men out (see this post), like, “Men are supposed to” or “It’s not cool. People wouldn’t accept or understand” or worries about gossip.

Some weren’t nervous about asking, but others were.

One woman said it was nerve-racking but she’s was glad she did it.

Another said it was nerve-racking and ended up less pleased:

One time I had a crush on my supervisor at work. I tried to draw all my braveness to ask him out. But he said, “No.” He didn’t give me a reason why. I guess he didn’t like me enough to go out with me. I was so embarrassed.

Maybe it would help her to know that he might have feared a sexual-harassment suit since supervisors are generally discouraged from dating those they supervise.

Still another said it was nerve-racking, wishes she hadn’t done it, and will never do it again:

It was beyond nerve-racking. I wish I had never asked him out because I guess I was too forward and strong headed and that scared him away. He’s a very dominating guy so for a girl to ask him out is unheard of. I was rejected. So I am never asking a guy out again. Maybe subtle hints are better.

Women do have to contend with some things guys don’t, with some feeling it’s outside social acceptability, as this woman related.

Maybe that’s why so many said they’d only ask a guy out if they knew he liked her but was just too shy to make a move. In fact, a quarter of them said something like this, “He was shy. If I didn’t make a move, It wouldn’t happen.” A couple guessed right. One said,

After I asked, his response was, “I thought you were cute too, But I figured you were taken.”

Another ended up marrying the guy.

I was the one who asked my husband out when we first started dating. I found him attractive and funny, so I made my move. He said yes and I planned our date. He told me I had to because I asked him.

After only six weeks of dating I asked him to marry me. I figured I would get to know him better while married. 15 years later we are still married.

All of my women students thought it should be socially acceptable for women to ask men out, and said things like this,

It shouldn’t be an issue. If they both like each other, what difference does it make?

Several felt it was, or would-be, empowering. One added,

I would like it to be socially acceptable for both genders to make the first move because when I’m ready to be with someone I don’t want to be limited to the guys who ask me first.

One woman said, “I’ll work for what I want.” Another simply figured,” I have nothing to lose.”

Coming soon I’ll take a look at the guys’ perspectives on this.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Why Women Don’t Ask Guys Out
Flip Gender, Flip Ways of Seeing
If Sports Were Covered Like Women’s Beach Volleyball

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on February 10, 2014, in feminism, gender, psychology, relationships, sex, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. Really interesting post. I don’t think i’ve ever asked a man out, i’ve done the flirty thing and jokey inneuendo once I think it was. I like another man to make the first move, perhaps it’s to do with wanting them to be forward in what they want? Also knowing they aren’t afraid of stating their intent I guess.

    • Interesting hearing from a gay man’s perspective. So it’s not just women who hesitate to ask. Sometimes men don’t either. Of course there are a lot of social norms that block women from taking initiative.

  2. Strange to see how women feel embarrassed and rejected after facing just one negative result. I guess men typically handle at least 3-4 rejections before ending up with the girl they like, unless they are highly attractive and smart (read high salaried).

  3. If a guy says ‘NO’ to you then he’s a sincere guy who doesn’t want to exploit your emotions. At-least one can say that now ” All men are not like that” ;) :)

  4. One of your responders even proposed to her husband to be. I would be curious to hear more about changing societal mores on women proposing to men.

  5. I think the percentage of women asking out men will continue to increase as our old-fashioned social norms slowly adjust to modern times. And that’s a good thing, because it reflects the gains women have made in personal and social power. I fully expect to see a woman president in my lifetime.

  6. Definitely feel that either gender should be able to do the asking- if anything, the few times I’ve done it has given me empathy for how nerve wracking it can be for men. I’ve since become more sensitive to how much courage it can sometimes take to say, “Will you go out with me?”

    • Yes. I’ve had the exact same experience with empathy when I’ve been on the other side. And I’ll have to say it was a surprise for me how hard it is to ask someone out, even when it’s a culturally approved thing like a Sadie Hawkins dance.

  7. I wish a woman would ask me out. Ralph. Cell 319. Alcatraz ;)

  8. Is it really the asking out part that’s hard for guys and the thing women need to do more of? It sounds like the same thing, but not quite. Like some of the examples, one woman asked out her supervisor and he declined and she felt embarassed. This means she works with the giuy obviously so she has talked to him before and small chit chat atleast in passing at work, etc. So they’ve mutually met from being at work. Therefore, there’s some familiarity and he’s not some guy she doesn’t know, so then she asks him out and unfortunately it didn’t work out. I dated a co-worker I asked out. He doesn’t have to be nerve wracking though if done the right way. Instead of asking out for dinner, or something like that I would ask what she was doing for the weekend and stuff to gauge her interest first.

    And I would bring up how such and such place is fun and I’ve been to. It was a karoake bar and how she should come out sometime. And one day at work we exchanged numbers and it was on from there. I’ve done it before and others didn’t come out, but it didn’t feel weird, because I put the ball in their court, instead of making it like I really wanted them to come. So the pressure was off them and just seeing if they were interested. Girls can do that too, if they are nervous about that pressure. But you see there’s asking out in that sense with like seeinga girl at work, school, from friends or other events.

    But then there’s another thing like being at a bar. I think approaching is harder than asking out for guys or atleast for me. It’s much easier for me to ask a girl I know from work, etc. It’s another thing seeing a cute, hot girl at the bar that I don’t know and walking over and trying to talk to her. Especially if she’s with girl friend or guy friends. Pick up artists do that or can, but it doesn’t feel natural for me, since I don’t always feel there’s a lot to talk about at a bar and it just feels forced for me. Akwardness of conversing to someone at a bar and not feeling like a creep, etc seems more of a problem for guys than say ask a girl out in class or work that they’ve already talked to before and some familiarity already with.

    • You make some good points on gauging interest.

      I could be wrong but women might be less interested in asking a stranger out, because it may feel less safe for them. Men probably don’t worry about that sort of thing.

  9. Men however, might worry about coming off or seen as a creep for approaching women he doesn’t know at a bar or their reaction to him approaching him. This can especially be challenging for a man if it’s like 4 girls together and, the feeling judged or approaching upong their gathering and how they will accept him. I don’t think it’s women asking a stranger out, but a woman say at a bar, simply coming over and making small talk with a guy, perhaps in passing by or when getting a drink at the bar and a guy is getting a drink next to her. Or simply giving signals less discreet. It seems women are more likely to ask a guy out at work or somewhere they obviously have gotten to know the guy a bit. Versus like a social event where they don’t know the guy and approaching and start small talk, etc with him. I didn’t mean ask out from the bar, but just talking tot he guy and then the guy I’m think will ask her out if the convo goes on as he’ll obviously feel she might be interested for approaching him.

    There was one time at St.John’s Island, where a group of girls did something that I thought was kind of clever. They basically approaced but indirectly. I remember being at a bar with guy’s I knew from my sister and we were at this bar there and it was three of us and we were looking around. We saw three girls walk by and we naturally looked over, they apparently saw us looking and they looked back with their eyes. We thought they wallked somewhere off to the bar. And we turned back talking again, but the girls were actually close by and talking amongst themsevles too, but I over heard them or one of them say something about “three guys or these three guys”. So we turned around and talked to them. They didn’t approach us literally, so I guess they got to be assertive, but passive at the same time and basically indirectly approached us. The bar is pretty loud and standard coversation is not going to be loud. Them saying these three guys was obviously towards us and loud enough said for us to hear and get our attention, while they are still talking to themnselves and facing each other.

  10. If a guy had an nerve racking experience with asking out a girl – if he will say I will never do it again most likely he will be lonely for a long time … maybe even forever if he keeps to his word. Doesn’t matter if he is a good guy, bad guy, nice guy, asshole guy or whatever.

    The sad thing is that there is a massive numbers of guys who is feeling this way and stay lonely for a long periods. Eventually they do it again because loneliness is just to hard.

    Equality will solve this problem for both genders. both take the risk both enjoy the fruit or both suffer but at least its mutual – that’s equality.

    One last comment : How often, meaning what is the frequency that the girls did it ? most of the guys are expected to approach dozens of girls in a year if they hope for a success with a mere few – it sounds like you female students did it a few times in a life time … you can hardly regard it as the same.

    • I didn’t regard it as the same, and I didn’t expect it to be the same, given our culture. But I didn’t ask. Given the fact that our culture expects meant to ask I can’t imagine that women ask men out equally. This particular area has been one of the biggest laggards toward equality. I’ll discuss more about why later.

      • Cool thanks for the response, I appreciate it ^_^

        I only asked because for most the guys experience being shot down too often and it isn’t getting easier over time like they want you to believe. Rejection by the one you like is always painful.

        Though from the few girls that I met (not in NYC) that boasted about hitting on guys – They merely did it a few times in a life time and most of them after a couple of failures quickly resolved to the easy solution – I am not gonna take any more risks for rejection.

        More gender equality means shared responsibilities, No longer should a women be portrayed as the passive … passive is translated as ‘easier time’ but the cost is that it causes the males who are regarded as active to doubt if women are maybe just incapable of the action.

        Its not about looking for the differences and claim why things are the way we are in our culture, Cause we are leaving in modern days this is no longer relevant and full equality is part of development of our human civilization. No more passive females and active males – all the same … and if nature has a say – nature will show it when we will stop judging both sides for what they do.

      • It’s important to understand the cause of the problem because if you don’t understand the cause you won’t get the right solution. And I will be talking about the cause more in the future.

        So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to simply ask women to buck up and stop worrying about rejection. Men also need to stop preferring to ask women out, and stop seeing women who ask men out as being desperate, for instance. Women simply won’t ask men out in those situations because it isn’t effective and could backfire. A solution can’t be one-sided.

      • definitely can’t be one side :)

        Do you have any suggestions about how to change it except better parenting and maybe some media work through advertisement and entertainment ?

      • I’m trying to get a conversation going about it. To get people to think about it. Just questioning taken for granted ways of seeing — questioning what we hear from parents and friends and what’s depicted in the media, is the first step in changing a thought pattern.

      • “Dating soushokukei is such a pain ,” said one of my girlfriends. ”They don’t ask me out, so I have to ask them out.” She said.

        http://discoverjapannow.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/who-are-japans-grass-eaters/

        Things are changing in Japan – if you are pressured to do something you do. 70% of the male population are identified as “soushokukei”.

        My suggestion is just stop the education of kids – the kids will stop pressuring their class mates – and nature will run its course.

      • Thanks. Interesting link.

  11. I have no problem with asking guys out, especially after a drink – lol. I find it easy asking a stranger out than someone I know and really like, just because there’s less to lose if they say no – I’m sure this is the same for men and women! Interesting post, enjoyed the read :) x

  12. Yeah but beckarooney…do you find it easier walking over and approaching a guy and starting a conversation with him at a club or bar? It’s easier asking a stranger out than someone say you work with or know. But to me it’s harder to walk up and start a conversation with a woman I don’t know at a bar or club who ,espeically if she’s with her friends. Compared to being at a party where I see girls who I don’t know, but they obviously have connection to my friend or friends for being there or it’s easier for me talking to girls at school, well in the classroom or at work who I don’t know. BEcause we’re at this gathering together so there is some type of mutual reason of being at such place. I don’t know how to explain it, but the environment feels easier to converse and stuff to converse about compared to a bar, where its loud and coming over and talking feels forced and like it would be more akward for me. So I don’t know I think a lot of guys, it’s harder for them to approach women at bars or just one on the street compared to a girl they see at friend’s party, or class, or at work, etc.

  13. Prior to going out with someone or forming a relationship with them, it has often been the lady that has initiated the proceedings and “paved the way” for me to ask them out.

    Sometimes they have suggested that we “meet up some time”, which I suppose is just the same as being asked out.

    If a man and woman hit it off, it can often help if the woman gives the man a bit of prompting in the right direction. If they are compatible, it should all work out nicely without too much effort.

    So from my point of view, it does not really matter who asks who out.

  14. Mei Yan Anson Lui

    Yeah, I’ve Asked Men Out! Personally, I do not think that is a problem to ask guys out as a female. People believed that men supposed to be the one do the first move, however, it is all about stereotypes. I believe this kind of concept should be change while we are living in a feminism society nowadays. I usually do the first move to date my guy friends. Why can’t we just do what we want which do not commit crimes? Although guys are usually and literally more aggressive than women, does not mean that it is impossible to do something opposite. As well-educated students, I believe these stereotypes should be revised and make amendments.

  15. Thanks for adding my response to your blog!

    I want other women to know you don’t have to feel intimidated or afraid to go after what you want. Had I not asked my husband out 16 years ago, I would have passed up one of the best men I’ve ever known. Not only was he brave enough to go on a date with me asking him out; but he was strong enough to marry me knowing I had a 7 year old son. Most men would have run from that responsibility! He took the bull by the horns and ran with it! My husband turned out to be an amazing male role model and father figure for my son. To him, my son is his son! He’s a fantastic dad to both of our kids!!! I hope this will encourage more women to go after what they want! Most of the time men are thinking of asking women out but is to shy to make the move. If he says “No”, don’t get discouraged! There’s many more fish in the sea and he probably wasn’t the right guy for you anyway!

  16. If we are striving for a more gender equal society, women have to muster up the courage to ask men out more often! The general standard, especially within the younger generation, that men should make the first move is a result of a long history of patriarchal practices, where women are expected to give themselves up to men who court them.

    In high school, I was often scared of the notion that I could ask out a boy and mainly avoided doing so for most of my high school career. This was partially a result of low self esteem but predominantly due to social influences. My friends also thought it was weird to ask out the guys they liked but to my surprise, no one could ever come up with a substantial answer as to WHY it was so weird.

    It wasn’t until I entered college and began speaking to some of my male friends about this topic and I was surprised at their responses. Most, if not all, of the males that I asked told me they would find a women much more attractive if she asserted herself in the dominant role and asked them out. They also told me they were more inclined to say yes to a woman asking them out than pursuing women themselves.

    When I find myself in a situation now where I want to ask someone out, I think of those conversations I have. People are attracted to confidence and knowing that has helped me conquer my fear of putting myself out there for people to respond to. Asking people out is really an empowering feeling that I highly recommend all women to part take in.

  17. I wish I were brave enough to ask a man out. One of my biggest fears is rejection though. The easiest way to get over this fear is to face it and to remember that rejection is not the end of the world. Life is about taking risks. Hopefully one day I will have the confidence to ask a guy out!

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