Bumble’s reign as one of our generation’s favorite dating apps only continues, showing no sign of being dethroned anytime soon. Ads for the app show up all over platforms like TikTok and Facebook, attempting to capture the attention of even more young singles, and the number of dating app downloads has only increased over the course of the pandemic.
Part of what made Bumble so appealing to Millennials and Gen Zers alike was its woman-friendly setup: only women are able to send the first message, thus ensuring far fewer unsolicited messages and pictures from random men, allowing women to feel more in control of the conversation. This was in stark contrast to more hookup-centered dating apps, like Tinder and OkCupid, on which men typically took on the role of the pursuer.
Of course, Bumble’s strategy didn’t come out of nowhere. The narrative that it was time for women to become the pursuers, assuming control of the courting phase, and for men to take a backseat, had been brewing for quite some time. After #MeToo swept through the entertainment industry a few years ago, this notion became even more prominent in our culture. Many men became reticent to express interest in the name of female empowerment or simply to protect themselves from being wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct, an unfortunate downside of the #MeToo movement.
Why This Is Partially a Good Thing
It’s safe to say that the grand majority of young, single women have experienced the discomfort of handling unwanted advances, a guy who won’t take no for an answer, or having to draw boundaries after expressing disinterest in a guy. Young women often lament the fact that their rejection of a man’s advances are only taken seriously by him if she claims to already be in a relationship.
Many men became reticent to express interest in the name of female empowerment.
In this context, it’s not an entirely bad thing that women are now taking it upon themselves to call the shots in the beginning stages of a romantic relationship, and it’s easy to see why we’ve found ourselves in such a mindset. Young women were tired of feeling harassed by unsought X-rated pictures or men who think she’ll change her mind if he keeps on asking her out. And many men didn’t want to be seen as that type either. Thus, we’ve created a generation of young men who are afraid to shoot their shot — an outcome that isn’t as positive as we might think.
It’s in Our Nature To Be Pursued
Every woman’s means of engaging in a romantic relationship varies. Some might be confident go-getters, while others are far more timid. This truth, however, doesn’t negate our biological hardwiring. According to Robert Trivers’ parental investment theory, it’s actually in our nature for men to do the chasing, while women do the choosing.
Men do the chasing, while women do the choosing.
His theory asserts that women, being the sex that risks far more during a sexual encounter (ahem, pregnancy), are naturally inclined to be more careful about whom they engage with. While men, on the other hand, are drawn to prove their worthiness and woo the woman by pursuing her, winning out over all the other men who were likely doing the same thing.
Why Being Chased Is Actually Nice
Pursuing a woman doesn’t just look like messaging her first or asking her out. Men have traditionally shown their interest through chivalrous acts like opening a door for his date, offering her his coat, or expressing his desire to protect her. But in today’s society, such an attitude is often described as benevolent sexism, because it supposedly implies that women are incapable and helpless. However, while many young women bristle at the thought of being “taken care of” in this manner, it turns out that the grand majority of women — traditionalists and feminist alike — prefer chivalrous men to those who take a less woke approach.
We’re worth the work that a man puts into pursuing us.
Despite our culture’s insistence that we shift the roles men and women have always taken during courtship, we’ve yet to complete that shift because women actually like being pursued, to feel sought after, special, and taken care of. These desires don’t take away from our independence or strength as women, but instead speak to our self-worth — we’re worth the work that a man puts into pursuing us. Expecting a guy to actually put himself out there, to make the effort to win us over, is empowering. And as Jill Chodorov Kaminsky wrote in a piece for The Washington Post, sitting in the passenger’s seat isn’t so bad after all.
Not every woman enjoys being pursued the same way, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we do still want to be pursued. And this doesn’t make us repressed, weak, or bad feminists — it’s just in our nature.