PROOF IT’S WOMEN WHO MAKE THE FIRST MOVE (even if the men they woo dis­agree!)

A bi­ol­o­gist who’s de­voted her life to study­ing love and sex re­veals . . .

Scottish Daily Mail - - Inspire - by Dr He­len Fisher

You’ve been sit­ting for a while at a bar, idly gaz­ing at all the other peo­ple en­joy­ing a night out. Then sud­denly it strikes you: that pretty wo­man, the one who was chat­ting to her girl­friends in the cor­ner, is no longer with them.

In­stead, she’s talk­ing to a man near the door. And from the way she is look­ing at him, you just know it is the start of some­thing . . .

It’s a com­mon enough sce­nario, repli­cated ev­ery week­end all over the world. But have you ever asked your­self: who made the first move? Was it the man or the wo­man? The an­swer may sur­prise you.

Be­cause it is women, not men, who usu­ally ini­ti­ate the court­ing se­quence, start­ing with a slight shift in body weight, a smile or a gaze. To find out ex­actly what hap­pens when a man and a wo­man catch each other’s eye, an­thro- pol­o­gist David Givens, direc­tor of the Cen­tre of Non­ver­bal Stud­ies in Wash­ing­ton state, and bi­ol­o­gist and sex­ol­o­gist Ti­mothy Per­per, au­thor of the in­flu­en­tial book Sex Sig­nals, spent hun­dreds of hours in bars and clubs ob­serv­ing cou­ples meet­ing for the first time.

one of Per­per’s most as­ton­ish­ing dis­cov­er­ies was that in two thirds of cases it was women who had ac­tu­ally be­gun the pick-ups. They were fully aware of what they were do­ing, too. In­ter­viewed af­ter­wards, they ad­mit­ted hav­ing coaxed a po­ten­tial lover into con­ver­sa­tion, touched him and en­ticed him with co­quet­tish looks, ques­tions, com­pli­ments and jokes.

My stud­ies back this up. I’m a bi­o­log­i­cal an­thro­pol­o­gist and se­nior re­search fel­low at the Kin­sey In­sti­tute for Re­search in Sex, Gen­der and Re­pro­duc­tion at In­di­ana univer­sity in the u.S. I am also the chief sci­en­tific ad­viser for the dat­ing web­site and part of my re­mit is to con­duct reg­u­lar sur­veys of sin­gle men and women.

My stud­ies (which have en­tailed speak­ing to more than 25,000 sin­gles) have been done an­nu­ally since 2010 with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple (not mem­bers).

They clearly il­lus­trate that women of ev­ery age, eth­nic­ity and back­ground ini­ti­ate most pick-ups and, in truth, women have be­come bla­tant. In 2012, 65 per cent of more than 5,000 men re­ported they had been asked out by a wo­man. In­ter­est­ingly, 92 per cent of the men were com­fort­able with this.

In­ter­net and smart­phone use has added even more come-hither moves to a wo­man’s reper­toire. In my 2013 sur­vey of sin­gles, 40 per

The only one who can tell you “you can’t win”, is you. And you don’t have to lis­ten.

cent of women said they had sent a sex­u­ally ex­plicit text or email. More than 35 per cent ad­mit­ted they had sent a sexy photo.

Mean­while, 62 per cent of men said that they had re­ceived a ‘sex­u­ally vivid’ writ­ten mes­sage from a wo­man.

So what hap­pens af­ter the man has re­sponded to the wo­man’s over­tures? Well, as one wo­man told re­searcher Ti­mothy Per­per: ‘At some point, the man should get the hint and take it from there.’

Men seem to sense this shift in lead­er­ship, a shift that Per­per calls ‘ini­tia­tive trans­fer’. It nor­mally hap­pens just af­ter they have left the bar, club or party . Now the man must make his move; putting his arm around her, kiss­ing her and do­ing ev­ery­thing he can to make her feel good.

By now, he has al­most cer­tainly for­got­ten that she was the one who took the first step.

When asked to de­scribe a pick-up se­quence, men will al­most al­ways skip over the ini­tial parts — the ones di­rected by the wo­man.

Out of 31 men in­ter­viewed by Per­per and Givens, only one could re­call the de­tails of who spoke first, who touched whom and when, or how ei­ther part­ner be­gan to ex­press in­ter­est in the other . How­ever, all of them spoke at length about their ac­tions.

Who, then, is hunter and who is prey? The an­swer is that both man and wo­man play es­sen­tial roles — and, if one misses an im­por­tant cue, the game is over.

THer­itual be­gins with five dis­tinct steps. First comes the ‘at­ten­tionget­ting’ phase. Men, like ba­boons, in­ject a swag­ger into their walk . Then they tend to pitch and roll their shoul­ders, stretch, stand tall and shift from foot to foot in a sway­ing mo­tion.

Their body move­ments be­come ex­ag­ger - ated: in­stead of us­ing the wrist to stir a drink, they will of­ten em­ploy the en­tire arm.

If they are with friends, they laugh heartily; loud enough to at­tract the at­ten­tion of the wo­man. And, like males of many species, they pat their hair, tug their chins or clasp other parts of their bod­ies.

All of th­ese sig­nals can be re­duced to one ba­sic mes­sage: ‘I’m here, I’m im­por­tant and I’m harm­less.’ Women be­gin the at­ten­tionget­ting phase by smil­ing , gaz­ing , shift­ing , sway­ing, preen­ing , stretching and per­haps mov­ing into the man’s ter­ri­tory.

They will of­ten in­cor­po­rate fem­i­nine moves — they twist their curls, tilt their heads, look up coyly, gig­gle, raise their brows, flick their tongues, lick their up­per lips and, oc­ca­sion­ally, hide their faces.

Some women also have a walk when court­ing; they arch their backs, thrust out their breasts, sway their hips and strut (high heels ex­ag­ger­ate this pose). With all this, they are sig­nalling: ‘ I’m here and I’m ap­proach­able.’

Stage two is ‘recog­ni­tion ’, when eyes meet. One of the pair will ac­knowl­edge the other with a smile or slight body shift, and he or she will move within talk­ing range. That is nowhere near as risky as the next ma­jor es­ca­la­tion point, stage three: talk­ing.

This idle con­ver­sa­tion, known as ‘groom­ing talk’, is dis­tinc­tive, be­cause voices of­ten be­come higher, softer and more sing - songy; the same tones used to ex­press af­fec­tion to chil­dren or con­cern for those in need of care.

Groom­ing talk starts with such be­nign state­ments as ‘how do you like this bar?’ or ‘how’s the food?’ The best l eads are ei t her com­pli­ments or ques­tions, since both re­quire a re­sponse.

What you say mat­ters far less than how you say it. A high­pitched, gen­tle, mel­liflu­ous ‘hello’ is of­ten a sign of sex­ual in­ter­est, whereas a clipped, low, mat­ter-of­fact ‘hi’ will rarely lead to love.

Talk­ing is dan­ger­ous for an i mpor­tant rea­son — you are in­stantly re­veal­ing a great deal about your back­ground, ed­uca - tion and self - con­fi­dence; all of which can ei­ther at­tract or re­pel a po­ten­tial mate within mo­ments.

You are also ex­pos­ing your teeth, which will be­tray much about your age and state of health. Many po­ten­tial ro­mances end right then and there. The cou­ples who weather those first ver­bal en­coun­ters, how­ever, move on to stage four: touch.

This starts with what we call ‘in­ten­tion cues’ — lean­ing for­ward, rest­ing an arm near the other per­son’s on the ta­ble, mov­ing your foot closer if you’re stand­ing.

Then comes the cli­max: one per­son touches the other on the shoul­der, the fore­arm, the wrist or some other rel­a­tively un­sex­ual part of the body.

Nor­mally, it ’s the wo­man who touches first, graz­ing her hand along her suitor’s body in a faux - ca­sual man­ner. This may look in­signif­i­cant, but she could well be light­ing a fire be­cause skin is like a field of grass, with each blade a nerve end­ing so sen­si­tive the slight­est graze etches a mem­ory of that mo­ment into the brain.

If he flinches, it’s over. If he with­draws, even slightly , the wo­man may never try to touch him again. But if he leans to­wards her, smiles or re­turns the ges­ture with a de­lib­er­ate touch, they have sur­mounted a ma­jor bar­rier.

Now they will con­tinue to talk and touch — tilt­ing , gaz­ing , smil­ing, sway­ing, flirt­ing — un­til they achieve the last stage of the courtship rit­ual: body syn­chrony.

As they be­come more com­fort­able with each other , they swivel un­til their shoul­ders be­come aligned and their bod­ies are face - to-face. Af­ter a while, they will be­gin to move in tan­dem — when he lifts his drink , she lifts hers; when he crosses his legs, she crosses hers; when he smoothes his hair, she smoothes hers.

They are now mov­ing in per­fect rhythm as they gaze deeply into each other’s eyes.

They may not know it, but they have just repli­cated the be­hav­iour

of an­i­mals all over the globe. From bears to bee­tles, court­ing cou­ples per­form rhyth­mic rit­u­als to ex­press their in­ten­tions.

and in the case of hu­mans who reach to­tal body syn­chrony, they of­ten leave the bar to­gether.


PROB­A­BLY no sin­gle rit­ual is more sig­nif­i­cant to West­ern would-be cou­ples than eat­ing to­gether. Rules are chang­ing: in­deed, most of us are con­fused about who should pay, but if the man is court­ing, he still gen­er­ally foots the bill; if he does, a wo­man in­stinc­tively knows her com­pan­ion is woo­ing her.

in fact, there is no more fre­quent world­wide courtship ploy than of­fer­ing food in the hope of woo­ing a lover.

nor is it ex­clu­sive to hu­mans. Black-tipped flies al­low pass­ing fe­males to share their juicy prey and then cop­u­late with them as they eat.

‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stom­ach,’ we are told. Per­haps. a few fe­male mam­mals do feed their lovers; women are among them.

But court­ing women feed men with nowhere near the reg­u­lar­ity that men feed women.

male birds feed po­ten­tial lovers, too. the com­mon tern of­ten brings a lit­tle fish to his beloved; the road­run­ner will present her with a lizard. and male chimps of­fer fe­males a morsel of baby gazelle or hare which she pays for af­ter­wards with sex.


NOR­MALLY peo­ple take it slowly. if you get too close, touch too soon or talk too much, you will prob­a­bly be re­pelled.

the hu­man courtship runs on mes­sages. Have you ever dis­cov­ered a man or wo­man told you lit­tle fibs at the start of a re­la­tion­ship? this is quite nor­mal.

courtship is not about hon­esty; it’s about win­ning. af­ter all, no court­ing moose will try to make his antlers look smaller.

take men’s height. around the world, women are more at­tracted to tall men. So men lie about their height, par­tic­u­larly on in­ter­net dat­ing sites.

they hope this will be over­looked when they meet their dates and have the chance to cap­ti­vate them with more ap­peal­ing qual­i­ties. as for women, they fib about their weight; an­other in­stinc­tive mat­ing strat­egy.

Sci­en­tists have long known men are most at­tracted to women whose waist cir­cum­fer­ence is about 70 per cent of their hip mea­sure­ment.

this sug­gests they have the right bal­ance of oe­stro­gen, testos­terone and other hor­mones to pro­duce healthy ba­bies.

that’s why ly­ing about your weight on an on­line dat­ing form can help to widen the field of on­line po­ten­tial suit­ors. as mae West said: ‘it’s bet­ter to be looked over than over­looked.’

When you meet, there are other qual­i­ties that can be more se­duc­tive than height or per­fect pro­por­tions — in­tel­li­gence, play­ful­ness, cre­ativ­ity and hu­mour.

in the end, hardly any­one is ex­cluded from the hu­man mat­ing dance — it is na­ture’s way of con­tin­u­ing the hu­man race.



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