I spend a lot of time on dating apps for work. I host the comedy show “Tinder Live,” and I have right- and left-swiped in New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, Boston and beyond. I’d say 30 percent of the profiles contain a version of: “If women want equal rights, you can send the first message.” Or “Wonder if girls ever send the first message on here.”
On Bumble, yes, women are required to send the first message after a match. But every other app, it’s up to whoever decides to make the first move. That is, until Tinder launches its new feature that will make it possible for women to chat only with men they message first.
Look, I totally get wanting for women to message first. But as part of my ongoing attempt to help men see why many women do the things we do while online dating, here’s some insight into why we might not be.
I’ve sent the first message in the majority of my online dating interactions. So yes, hypothetical profile dude, girls do send the first message on here. But here is what I’ve experienced when I did.
About 9 times out of 10, when I’ve messaged first, guys have reacted like they were being reluctantly interviewed on a couch by Jimmy Fallon. I’d tell a joke — they’d type “haha” and nothing else. I’d ask a question — they’d answer it and not ask me one in return. Eventually I’d get frustrated and leave the conversation.
I say this is because the genders are so much more similar than they appear. Men don’t want to send the first message because some women don’t reply, or they answer questions but don’t ask them in return. And guess what: Men do this, too!
I could go into all the bizarre and occasionally gross things some men say to us when/if we do message first, but you probably already know. It’s similar to being asked to open a bunch of doors where we don’t know what’s behind them — and most of the time what’s behind the door was a waste of our time, or makes us feel gross because we did not need to hear about how some guy we just said “hi” to would love for us to use his “face as a toilet.” TOO SOON, SIR!
Many of us, just like you, are tired and scared of online dating. Writing that line in your profile that conflates wanting to feel safe walking down the street alone at night, or wanting equal pay, with being able to message first on a dating app is bizarre. (Though, hey, if equal rights is only a “I messaged him first on Tinder” away, yay, equal rights is solved!) It also implies that women who don’t message you first are lazy or entitled. I know, and you probably know, that’s not true.
You might think it’s cute and playful to be an adult who is still kind of pulling our pigtails, saying, “I dare you to ask ME out for a change.” But the only way that comes off is, well, like a little boy pulling our pigtails. Which is not a hot look for an adult.
So, if you’re reading this and you have something to that effect on your profile, that’s your choice and it’s not the worst thing you could say. But if you want to communicate a bit better — and show how wonderful and kind I bet you are — try saying something like, “I welcome women messaging first, but I’m also totally cool with hitting you with an A+ one-liner that may or may not be terrible.”
This lets her know you’re not a guy who is turned off by women making the first move, but also that you’re not expecting her to do it — or calling her a bad person if she doesn’t. Some women still like to be asked out first, or messaged first, and that’s okay.
Plus, it keeps it friendly and fun, as opposed to seething with rage just beneath the surface because WHY AREN’T WOMEN MESSAGING ME FIRST AGHHGHH!!!!
While it’s easy to forget, dating is supposed to be friendly and fun. Let’s bring that back.