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If you’re a straight woman who’s never made the first move with a guy, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s not 1995 anymore. “The rules” don’t apply.

Still don’t believe us? New research from University of Texas sociologist Shannon Cavanagh is proving that women who initiate contact with guys online are better off for it.

Cavanagh and her research team studied six months of online dating data from 14,533 heterosexual Americans (8,259 men and 6,274 women), and found that women send four times fewer messages than their male counterparts. However, the ladies brave enough to make the first move were twice as likely to get a favorable response than dudes who initiated contact. In other words: It was the opposite of a turn-off.

Cavanaugh and her team also found that both men and women tend to “aim high” when seeking out potential partners and contact the most attractive users (why not?). Unfortunately, that means women waiting to be contacted are usually hearing from less attractive guys, because those men are aiming up, Cavanaugh told Fusion. Women who make the first move, meanwhile, have more control over their dating pool.

The findings were released by the The Council on Contemporary Families and are part of a larger ongoing study.


Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.