Control Your Dating Life by Making the First Move

Key Points 

  • “The first move” refers to the initial expression of romantic or sexual interest. 

  • Traditional American gender roles assume men make the first move, including introduction, first kiss, marriage proposal, and other progressive relationship moments.  

  • Approach a love interest to avoid missed opportunities, have a say in who you date, and boost self-confidence by doing so!

  • Make the first move through dating apps, text, at the bar, or anywhere you spot someone you want to pursue. 

Don’t you love the feeling of a hottie across the bar ordering you a drink? How about when the person you hoped to match with sends you a message on Tinder? It feels good to have someone approach you with a romantic or sexual interest, but it also feels good to provide others with such a feeling.

Making the first move on someone is intimidating but so rewarding. The initiator has the choice of who they date and exudes self-confidence. Making the first move is attractive and powerful whether you are a man, woman, bisexual, gay, cisgendered, transgender, or any other identity.  Learn to make the first move on love interests to boost your confidence, control your love life, and make others feel good. 

What Is the First Move? 

Making the first move shows you're interested in a sexual or romantic relationship with someone. This looks different depending on the circumstances and relationship. 

Making the first move on a stranger is as simple as introducing yourself or asking for their number. If your love interest is your best friend, your first move requires more planning and clarity. 

The first move is the first time you initiate a romantic interaction, the first message you send on a dating app, the first time you ask someone on a date, or the first time you kiss. Many consider the first move the initial sexual advance, but others think it's the first time you begin flirting or expressing interest. 

The first move is the initiative that clarifies someone's interest in another person beyond a platonic relationship. 

Young happy couple

Who Makes the First Move? 

Anyone can make the first move – whether you’re asking someone on a date, sending the first message on a dating app, or reaching out to hold hands for the first time. 

Making the first move shows boldness and self-confidence — two of the most attractive traits!  

Gender Roles 

In the past, women have taken a back seat to men in politics, the corporate world, sports, education, and dating. However, in 2023, women are starting to step up to men in many aspects of the world: The dating scene is no exception.  

Even though men traditionally make the first move, women slowly break this gendered role by putting themselves out there and letting the men sit back a bit. As the initiator, you get to select who you have a crush on rather than waiting for someone to approach you. Anyone has the chance to make the first move! 

In heterosexual relationships, men traditionally make the first move. Men often approach women, call women after a date, lean in for the first kiss, and commence the progressive steps of a relationship. Society has taught men that it’s their role to initiate a romantic relationship and that men should chase women. Believe it or not, some men want to switch up this role and wish more women would come onto them instead. 

Women's traditional role is to send approachable signals such as dressing in an attractive way, flirting, wearing perfume, and paying attention to various details to appear extra delicious. These messages are subtle ways women make the first move.

Women also try to make a first move on a man by smiling at him across the room, flirting in conversation, or going out of their way to be in his presence. They then wait for men to make the bolder move and ask for their number or invite them on a date. 

Some women like to make the first move as a power play and assert dominance over men. Others see the first move as a means of introduction and exploring a potential romantic interest.  

Approach Someone in Person 

Making the first move in person is more intimidating than over text or on a dating app.  

Woman making the first move

Start by reassuring yourself that the worst-case scenario is that they decline your invitation. In this case, be happy you took a chance and brush off the rejection.  

Tap into your confidence and hold your head high as you approach someone. Confidence is sexy and increases your chances of success when hitting on someone.  

Regardless of your gender or sexuality, follow these standard tactics to approach someone: 

Simple Introduction 

Catch their gaze and smile at them. Maintain eye contact for a few seconds and see how they react. If they're into it, walk over and introduce yourself.  

“Hi, I’m [name]. What’s your name?” A simple introduction is nearly risk-free, making it the perfect place to start. Make small talk to ask where they are from or about their job to keep the conversation rolling. Find their favorite restaurant or hobby and ask them on a date there.  

Buy Them a Drink 

Buy them a drink if you’re at the bar or a coffee if you’re at a cafe. Do this before you approach them to catch them by surprise or after introducing yourself to further solidify your interest. Their reaction to your gifted drink is an easy way to gauge their interest in you. 

Buying a drink is one of the oldest moves in the book and for a good reason. If you’re making this move on a man, the right guy appreciates your feminist move turning the tables on them. Give it a try! 

Bold Approach 

Interested in someone from the grocery store or a yoga class? Write down your contact info on a napkin or business card. Then, approach them with a candid shot like, “Hey, I’m [name]. I think you’re cute. Here’s my number. I hope to hear from you so I can take you out for coffee sometime.” Don’t forget to smile and continue with your day. 

This bold and straightforward approach is quick and easy. It’s perfect if you’re too nervous about sparking a conversation. The possible rejection is easier as you don’t face it in real life. The worst-case scenario is never receiving a text from them. 

First Move on a Dating App 

If you want to make the first move on someone but lack the guts to do it in person, sending the first message on a dating app is the perfect way to break out of your shell. Unfortunately, matches on dating apps easily get lost in a sea of profiles as each person waits for the other to initiate an exciting conversation.  

Ladies, start sending the first message on dating apps for better success with your matches. In a study by OkCupid, they found that women are nearly three times as likely than men to get a response when they send the first message. The study also found that women have more conversations with men when they initiate the conversation.  

Find the best dating app, set up a killer profile, start swiping, and send the first message. Everyone loves it when their match takes the initiative to get the ball rolling, and you avoid wasting time with dead ends. 

Killer Openers 

Hiding behind your screen and sending the first message on a dating app is easy if you know what to say. Try some of these tried-and-true openers to spark a conversation to pique your match’s interest: 

  • “If you could only watch one TV show for the rest of your life, which would it be?” 

  • “Where would you go if you could blink and teleport anywhere?” 

  • “What’s the weirdest thing you find attractive in a person?” 

  • “What are you most passionate about?” 

  • “When I complain that I don’t know what I want for dinner, what would be your suggestion?” 

  • “Do you have any plans this weekend? I would like to take a beautiful woman/handsome guy named ______ out for a drink.” 

  • "Two truths and a lie; ready, set, go!" 

  • “Best discovery: Netflix or avocados?” 

Check out this extensive list for more opening lines to use on dating apps. 

Two woman flirting

Get Out of the Friend Zone 

Trapped in the friend zone? Do you have romantic feelings for your BFF? Breaking the barrier from friendship to romance is tricky. You fear ruining the friendship, feel awkward breaking the ice, and don’t know how to adjust the dynamic. However, successful romantic relationships often begin with a friendship before progressing to romance, so it’s worth a shot.  

If you realize you want to be romantically or sexually involved with your friend, make the first move and show your intentions. Consider their reaction beforehand to prepare yourself and decide how to navigate your approach best. 

Consider the Outcome 

Before deciding to make the first move on your friend: 

  1. Ponder how the relationship changes if they reject you. 

  2. If your friend shares your romantic interest and the relationship progresses, remember that friendships change after a breakup. 

  3. Don’t let potential change scare you off. Take a chance on a relationship you feel passionate about.  

Prepare yourself for rejection from your friend. Always be ready for rejection when making a move on someone but be aware that it hurts extra when a friend rejects you. Remind yourself that plenty of other people would love to go on dates with you, and you still get to appreciate the beauty of a friendship with this person.  

Don’t Rush It 

It’s inappropriate to make a move on a friend without having a conversation about it first. Leaning right in for a kiss is shocking and violates your boundaries as friends.  

Slowly climb to the romance you imagine rather than going all in from the beginning. Be patient through the process of transitioning into more than friends. Your friend needs time to think and process your interest in them before progressing the relationship.  

Couple on a date

Remain patient while your friend considers the romantic relationship, even when the suspense kills you. This is not a decision to make lightly; you don't want to ruin your friendship. Usually, the biggest roadblock is risking the end of a friendship. Appreciate their careful consideration and stay patient while they decide if they want more.

Get Your Flirt On 

Start by flirting with your pal. Laugh extra at their jokes, make an effort to engage in friendly physical touch, maintain eye contact, or make plans for just the two of you away from a group. See how they react to gauge their interest in you.  

If your friend is flirting back, slowly turn up the heat and see if they follow your lead. If they’re standoffish or seem uncomfortable by your interest, pause the flirtation. It's not always obvious when a friend is flirting, so don't take their reciprocation as a definite green light to make a move. Use your flirty side to spice up the dynamic and feel out their interest. You still need to have a conversation!

Are You More Than Friends? 

When the sexual tension is rising, and you feel that the time is right, invite your friend on a date, ask if they’re interested in you, or ask if you can kiss them. It's best to do this in person to read their reaction. Asking over text creates an awkward encounter the next time you see each other. Address this relationship-altering topic face to face. 

Signals are hard to read. If you are determining their interest, be straightforward and ask: 

  • “I would love to take you on a date sometime.” 

  • “Are you interested in me romantically?” 

  • “Would you like to kiss me?” 

Worst case scenario, they say no, and you pretend like it never happened. In the best-case scenario, they’re into it too, and the best relationship is waiting for you on the other side of the friend zone.  

Two men hugging

Women Taking the Reins 

According to research by, 95 percent of men feel pleased when a woman asks for their phone number, yet they only do it 13 percent of the time. The same study found that 95 percent of men prefer a woman to initiate the first kiss, but only 29 percent lean in for the first smooch. 

Making the first move is more intimidating as a woman as it’s “out of the norm” and you don’t have as much practice as a man. It’s rewarding for a woman to make the first move, and easier than you imagine. Even if you face rejection, at least you tried and now walk away a braver human. 

Relationship expert and author Demetria Lucas D'Oyley believes women should release their fear of looking thirsty and make the first move on a man by talking to him like any other person. In a recent interview on Good Morning America, D'Oyley states the following:

“I am […] suggesting that this is your life and you should actively participate in it. And that when you see a man you might be interested in, you don't let him leave the room without knowing that you are interested and available. That means when you see a cutie, you smile and say hi so he knows you're friendly […]. And you pay him a compliment (so he knows you are confident, you like what you see, and again, you're friendly) and/or you ask him a question (you are willing to engage in conversation).” 

Ladies, there are so many reasons to make that first move: 

Don’t Miss an Opportunity 

Women often sit and dream of a man approaching them but never get off their bar stool and make it happen themselves. That hottie is potentially the perfect man for you or at least a good fling for the week. You never know unless you try, so don’t miss the chance to talk to a potential romance by waiting for them to make the first move. 

Give Men a Turn 

It feels good to have a suitor, so show that handsome man what it feels like. Men deal with expectations to initiate romantic relations and sometimes face rejection after putting themselves on the line. Give men a turn to warm the bench while women play the field — make the first move! 

Improve Self Security 

Don't let the fear of rejection get in your way! Learn to brush off rejection and move on. Gain security in yourself as you learn to stop fearing rejection. 

If you get a yes from the hottie you approach, you get a confidence boost and walk out with your head high. Either way, you feel better about yourself for taking a risk. 

Break the Stigma 

Whether you’re a man, woman, straight, gay, trans, or anything in between, approach someone you’re interested in and ask them on a date. By taking the initiative regardless of gender or sexuality, you break the norm that men ask women on dates. Make the first move to do your part in breaking gender roles, ladies! 

Control Your Love Life 

As a woman, if you never approach a man, how much say do you have in who you date? If you constantly wait for someone else to initiate, you have a simple choice of yes or no. If you make the first move, you pick your first choice and gain control over who you want to see.  

Go In for the First Kiss 

Sometimes “the first move” is the first sexual advance rather than the romantic milestone. The first sexual move is usually a kiss. A first kiss is exciting but takes some guts to initiate. 

Both men and women love it when someone makes the first move on them for a kiss, regardless of their gender roles! Build the sexual tension by not rushing into that first kiss. When you’re ready, let them know you want to kiss them and check if they want to kiss you back. 

Couple making eye contact

Consent is necessary for any sexual contact – especially the first time. Some people fear that talking about it kills the romantic surprise of a kiss, but the right delivery of the question confirms consent and builds the tension even more. When you’re sitting close, your knees keep brushing, and you’re staring into each other’s eyes, break the ice by bringing up that awaited first kiss. 

Use one of these approaches: 

  • “I really want to kiss you right now!”  

  • “I keep thinking about kissing you. Have you thought about kissing me?” 

  • “Can I kiss you?” 

  • “I’ve wanted to kiss you. Can I go in for it when the time is right?” 

If your date isn’t into the kiss, respect their decision and continue the conversation. Don’t pressure them or take the rejection personally. When your boo is into the kiss, lean in and smooch them! 

Makin’ Moves 

The first move of a relationship is exciting, but requires some confidence and willingness to take a risk to be the initiator. 

Even though traditional gender roles hold men responsible for making the first move on women, this societal expectation is slowly dissolving. Regardless of gender or sexuality, approach someone you’re interested in, send the first message on a dating app, or go in for that first kiss. 

Making the first move allows you to control who you date, build self-confidence, flatter someone you’re interested in, and get the ball rolling in your love life. Now that you know how to make the first move, follow this guide to dating to follow through with the next steps in your game! 

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