Who Asks Whom? Dating in a Modern Society

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Let’s be honest; dating in the modern world (more specifically, in modern Western society) can be super confusing. Who is sending the right vibes? Are the vibes being interpreted correctly? Is one person way more into the other? Are there hard and fast rules when it comes to dating, or is that too old-fashioned? Who is even “supposed to” do the asking? Does the guy ask the girl? The girl ask the guy? Must there be a mutual attraction before someone makes the first move? Once someone does make the first move, when does it stop being a “hang-out” and become a “real” date? Is it a date if one person takes the other to dinner and a movie, and pays for both? Does someone have to say the word “date” for it to be one? The questions seem endless.

man and woman having a coffee date

A coffee date; or is it just “hanging out?”

You see, I grew up thinking that it was the man’s “job” to do the asking, that a woman forwardly stating her attraction was somehow wrong. I knew of women who had made bold moves in their relationships (my mom basically proposed to my dad); however, when starting a relationship, I wasn’t sure what was considered “proper” or “acceptable.” Maybe it was due in part to my being a member of a Christian community in which it is a man’s responsibility to take the lead in a relationship, in order to appear more masculine. This doesn’t mean that a woman’s role is passive, or that she is some prize to be won, but that she must respond to the man’s attempts in “pursuing” her. (I hesitate to use the phrases “pursuer” and “pursued” as it’s very predatory and denotes dating somewhat of a hunting ground.)

Perhaps you should understand where I’m coming from. I’m 22 years old and have somewhat officially ever been on two dates. My first date was in high school; the guy asked me to a Michael Bublé concert. At the end of the night, when I asked him if it was a date, he told me he thought of me as a sister. (Men, if you want to immediately kill any romantic feelings a partner has for you, tell her you think of her as a sister.) My second date was in college; I asked him to a Sadie Hawkins dance, but he couldn’t go. So, we went on a “real” date instead. He called it “hanging out,” although he wouldn’t let me pay for anything, even when I offered. I would qualify that as a “date.” Obviously, it’s a tricky subject.

Since I don’t know much about dating, I asked some of my friends and family what they thought. A few said it was up to the man to do the asking, that it signified his role as a leader–not a dominator–in the relationship. Some argued that if the man did the asking, it brought more balance to the relationship; he might actually have more interest in it, rather than saying “yes” just to be polite. Others thought it was the woman’s job to show interest and ask the man out; many of the couples they know wouldn’t even be together if the woman hadn’t made the first move. However, the majority of those I asked said it does not matter who does the asking. Whichever party is interested should be forthcoming in his or her thoughts, and take that first step. In fact, they wondered whether the dating stereotypes (or the roles of pursuer/pursued) still have any  legitimacy in our modern society. Simply put, it doesn’t really matter in today’s world who asks out whom. It takes a lot of courage for the asker, as there is always that chance of hearing “no.” However, there’s risk involved for both parties. Dating is about both people communicating their desires, and these desires will either make or break a relationship. Keith Urban probably put it best in his hit song “You’re My Better Half:” “They say behind every man is a good woman/But I think that’s a lie/ ‘Cause when it comes to you, I’d rather have you by my side.” So next time you like someone, and you’re wondering whether or not it’s “appropriate” to ask him out, remember: it’s 2014. Go with your gut; make the move.


Resources: Personal experience, Friends’ and family’s opinions, Keith Urban’s “You’re My Better Half”

Who Asks Whom Dating in a Modern Society