This is who makes the first move in dating in 2016

A new study from McGill University found that women make “weak signals” during online dating, requiring men to make the first moves when they’re trying to court someone.
Feb 08, 2016

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  • Sorry guys, but it looks like we still have to make the first move, even in a digital age.

  • A new study from McGill University found that women make "weak signals" during online dating, requiring men to make the first moves when they're trying to court someone. Researchers believe this shows that traditional dating habits and social norms still persist in an age when technology has increased so much.

  • The study, which included a team of scholars from Canada, U.S. and Taiwan who looked at 50,000 online dating accounts from a pool of 100,000 randomly selected online dating users, found that women don't like to share personal messages with their potential partner and will instead rely on "weak signals" to indicate that they're interested, like a swipe or friend request acceptance, Science Daily reported.

  • "Weak signaling is the ability to visit, or 'check out,' a potential mate's profile so the potential mate knows the focal user visited," according to the study. "The offline 'flirting' equivalents, at best, would be a suggestive look or a preening bodily gesture such as a hair toss to one side or an over-the-shoulder glance, each subject to myriad interpretations and possible misinterpretations contingent on the perceptiveness of the players involved."

  • Women are likely more cautious because they're contacting someone they don't know, the study said.

  • Men don't care as much about that issue, with males being four times more likely to send the first message than women. Men don't care as much about the anonymity issue, the study said.

  • This study fits in with what others have found to be a trend in online dating — men reaching out to women, even in an space where both daters are unfamiliar with each other. There's even a book on the matter, called "The New Rules," which calls for women to always wait for men to make the first move, Daily Mail reported.

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  • Others feel, though, that women should make the first move. Some women have even started their own dating apps that require women to swipe first as a way to promote this idea.

  • By taking the first step, women are automatically reaching out to men they're interested in, which means they won't have to "sit back and bemoan that you aren't getting emails from men who interest you," Dr. Christie Hartman wrote for Psych Central.

  • And it will certainly be a surprise, since most men expect that they'll have to send out the first message. But men will be surprised when they see a woman's message come through, forcing them to immediately pay attention to the sender, Hartman wrote.

  • "By merely sending a guy a friendly email, you buck the system and stand out, putting you front and center on his radar," she wrote. "While other women are waiting to be emailed, you're chatting it up with interesting men."

  • But leave it to an online dating expert to have a suggestion that meets in the middle. eHarmony blogger Jeannie Assimos wrote that reaching out first can be beneficial for either party, since it'll allow those daters an opportunity for love.

  • That's because reaching out allows users to express who they are and embrace their own identities, building self confidence in the search for love.

  • "So in these situations, is it gender role beliefs (or the lack of them) that inhibit people from initiating contact, or could it be the pressure of sending a good message, or is it something else?" Assimos wrote. "Maybe it's time to look at online dating as a means to be yourself and not shy away from going for what you really want!"

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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.


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