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Making Initial Contact

At the beginning of the dating process, we must first be aware of one another and then make a successful contact that results in going out or hanging out—the latter a less formal form of dating—or even hooking up (which is extremely limited, usually indicating a one-night date in which sexual activity is anticipated).

Who makes the initial contact? It is traditionally assumed to be the man. However, when Monica Moore (1985) and her colleagues observed women sitting alone in singles bars, they recorded some fifty-two kinds of flirting behavior that resulted in male contact within fifteen seconds of the behavior. These included smiling, skirt hiking, primping, pouting, and hair-flipping. According to Moore, women who signal the most often are also those who are most often approached by men.

Chris Kleinke, Frederick Meeker, and Richard Staneski (1986) categorized the opening lines that men and women use when meeting a potential date into three types: cute/flippant, innocuous (harmless), and direct. For lines used by men, the least preferred were the cute/flippant lines ("I'm easy, are you?"). For lines used by women, however, men liked both the cute/flippant and the direct lines ("Since we're both eating alone, would you like to join me?"). Women liked the innocuous lines ("Does the #5 bus stop here?") but men didn't. Women who use cute/flippant lines may be setting themselves up for unpleasant situations since many such lines have a sexual connotation. Since virtually no one liked men's cute/flippant lines, their persistence is curious. It may be due to a lack of social skills, reinforcement of such lines by television shows and movies, or fear of rejection.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationshipsDating - Competitiveness, Sexuality, Delights And Discontents, Communication And Deception, Making Initial Contact, Dating Scripts