Women Talk Taboo: Radhika Mohta matchmaker on women making the first move
Think of Veronica from the movie Cocktail or Get from Jab we met – iconic characters that showcase women who are never afraid to make the first move in romantic relationships. However, the public perception is that they are often reduced to “maniac pixie” tropes and face the consequences of exposure to the wrong people. Unfortunately, the situation is not far from this in reality. In fact, according to a 2017 survey conducted by a leading Indian matrimonial site, 70 percent of female participants said they would not consider making the first move in relationships.
Cut to 2023. Be it a pandemic or social movements promoting gender integration, the dating landscape in India has undergone massive changes. Nevertheless, making the first move is still taboo for many women and raises many questions. Should women make the first move? What do MEN think about women doing this? Most importantly, what exactly should be considered the first step?
To understand these and more, we meet Bengaluru-based matchmaker and relationship coach Radhika Mohta, who, in her own words, “helps singles prepare for their ultimate first date.” She writes a newsletter, runs a dating accelerator and organizes exclusive events for singles.
Before International Women’s Day, it helps to destroy all the myths and mystique surrounding women who take the first step, so that you no longer have to walk on eggshells around the topic!
What does your job involve?
During my work as a dating and relationship coach, I have enabled more than 3,000 single people to find a life partner. I write a weekly newsletter with dating advice, highlight singles events where my subscribers can meet other single people, and sometimes create anonymous profiles of my clients to get them interested. I also host singles events. I run Elevate, a dating accelerator program that allows singles to clear themselves and their relationships, optimize their dating or marriage profiles, and work on a social calendar to meet people outside of apps.
In your experience, have you seen enough women make the first move on dating?
Women who believe in themselves, understand their values and goals, and what they’re looking for in a relationship and in a partner – really take the first step to open the window that allows for healthy conversations and possibly a life together. They are not waiting to be chosen. I admit that this proportion is small, considering that we have always been conditioned to accept what comes our way and who chooses us. In my February cohort, a 40-year-old woman from Virginia mentioned that her father would have agreed to partner anyone willing to say yes to the dark-skinned, 5-foot-2-inch woman, as if he had no say in her own life. Now an independent woman with her own house in the US, working with an American MNC, has frozen her eggs and is looking for a life partner on her own.
Why do women hesitate to make the first move even today?
Reasons for this include our upbringing, social conditioning, fear of rejection, and the assumption that a woman will appear needy/desperate or unappreciated because she made the first move.
Read more: Five key differences in dating patterns between Genz and Millennials
What gestures can ideally be considered a first step?
I wouldn’t call dating the first step. Women often don’t feel comfortable dating because it feels overwhelming and sets the bar too high. So it’s okay to hang out around common interests and activities that allow for a variety of conversations. Since no one is a mind reader, if you feel a connection, be clear and tell them how you feel and ask them if they want to explore this further and go on a date.
From a man’s point of view – is it a withdrawal or an attractive trait for a woman to make the first move?
Generally, men are relieved when a woman makes the first move. After all the angst, despair, and rejections you’ve had to deal with on apps and everywhere else, it’s a relief to have someone who likes you and makes the first move. Also, you tend to like people who like you anyway. Most importantly, it takes the pressure off them to come up with a big gesture to propose or propose.
Sometimes after we take the first step and it doesn’t go the way we expected, we end up feeling down. How do we pick ourselves up after something like this?
Are you giving up on applying for jobs and working towards your dream career because some organization didn’t find you a good fit? This also applies to dating. In the general scheme of having a happy and healthy relationship with a partner for four or five decades, that’s insignificant.
Traditionally, women have been conditioned to wait for men to make the first move. How can they break out of this mindset and take initiative?
Be friends first. We’ve all made friends – at school, college, work, etc. We know how this happens. Make eye contact, smile, compliment each other, notice similarities, and make a plan to hang out together or in a group. Familiarity breeds trust. And once you trust them, you will easily make the move.
How can women navigate the tricky balance between being confident and coming on too strong when making the first move?
When you express yourself in any relationship, it means sharing how you feel about the relationship. You have no right to hear “yes”; nobody owes you. Allow the other person to take their time, think through their answer, and come back to you when they have it. Adjust the checks and balances so it doesn’t become a forever offer.
Finally, can you recommend some creative or tried-and-true ideas for women who want to make the first move in a fun and memorable way?
Go on an activity date – bake a cake together at a cooking studio, go for a walk together, revisit the place where you first met, or look through old pictures of each other and talk about how you’ve grown over the years. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, book a virtual Airbnb experience — like a virtual city tour or an online scavenger hunt.
(Welcome to Women Talking Taboo – a series of articles exclusively on Indulgexpress – on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Watch this space for more such pieces)
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Read more: Should you talk about your ex with your current partner? The survey reveals how people feel