It’s OK for Women to Make the First Move

Several years ago, a creative friend of mine, decided to reveal his romantic feelings to a certain woman. In the middle of winter, he led her to a bridge that spanned a white, solidified river. He began hurling boulders over the wall, crushing the ice and revealing the frigid water below. After each stone drop, he asked her, “What am I doing?” “I don’t know,” she responded warily. After several failed attempts, he finally explained to her, “I’m breaking the ice.”

My friend’s attempt at initiating a relationship was clearly unconventional and humorous! Yet, this seems to be the general protocol of evangelical Christian dating: a man pursues a woman while the woman waits to be pursued. It’s not a bad system, per say, when it works.

But what happens when that model doesn’t fit your story?

Several of my single female friends are frustrated. They see their 20’s and 30’s flying by without a quality relationship in sight. Their angst stems from their felt powerlessness to change to the situation. Indeed, their feelings are on standby, and it’s painful for them to wait endlessly in relationship purgatory. Ugh.

What measures, then, is a Christian woman free to take when she isn’t being asked out?” And, what can a woman do if she likes a certain guy but he isn’t pursuing? Both questions have the same answer.

Here’s the bottom line: It’s my belief that women are not bound by the religious cultural norm of dating passivity. In other words, they are totally free to make the first move.

Before explaining why, let me offer a poignant conversation I had with a friend in her 30’s.

Me: “Pauline, are you dating anyone?”
Friend: “No, but I like a guy.”
Me: “How long have you liked him?”
Friend: “A year-and-a-half.”
Me: “Does he even know you like him!?”
Friend: “No. I’m waiting for him to ask me out.”
Me: “Why don’t you let him know that you’re interested?”
Friend: “I don’t want to pursue him!”
Me: “Telling a guy you like him is NOT the same thing as pursuing him!”
Friend: “Maybe you’re right…”

Can you relate?

A woman in this situation has four viable options.

First, she can accept the status quo and wait for him to ask her out. Second, she can wait and flirt with him, in hopes that these signals gain his attention. Thirdly, she can let this person go. Lastly, she can inform him of her feelings and even ask him out.

Pauline obviously chose option one, and forfeited progress in the relationship until the man pursued. But her waiting game didn’t work. Instead, he began dating someone else.


I’m sure she’s not alone. It’s customary for women to take the inactive role, right? But from where does this norm originate? Scripture? Christian teaching? Secular culture?

Scripture is all but mum on the specific topic of dating. Instead, what Scripture reveals is a hodgepodge of marriage stories—many of which are a debacle. Jacob found his wife at a well, but had to work seven years for her. Widowed Ruth blatantly pursued Boaz, presenting herself at his feet. King David married Abigail after killing her husband.

Were these stories meant to be archetypes for us to follow? Hardly.

What the Bible does provide are three specific rules for Christians to adhere to when choosing a spouse:

  1. Do not be yoked together with a non-Christian (2 Cor. 6:14).
  2. Don’t marry someone who is divorced unless there are valid reasons (Mat. 19:1-12).
  3. Avoid sex before marriage (1 Cor. 7).

Outside of these commands, Scripture focuses on who to seek to marry, not how to get there with them. Spiritual and emotional maturity are paramount. The Golden Rule (Lk 6:31), the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), and 1 Corinthians 13 are all solid litmus tests in assessing the character of a potential mate.

Inside this fence, God gave us a huge dating-yard to play within.

Ladies, let me say this plainly: It was my friend’s choice to pine over this man for eighteen months. But this laissez-faire notion of dating kept her from moving forward or moving-on with a new relationship.

So this is my challenge to the stuck, single females who are passively waiting to be swept off their feet: Your ship may not come in; instead, you may need to swim out to sea and find it. Empower yourself. There’s absolutely nothing unfeminine, improper, or unbiblical about taking the initiative with a guy. And it also doesn’t mean you’re brazen, feminist, or liberal.

It means you want to be married—and that’s completely normal.

Even after going on a limb you may not get the response your heart desires. Nevertheless, isn’t hearing some answer better than no answer?

To be clear: I’m not advocating for unstructured dating or androgynous relationships. There is a biblical design for marriage. If you’re convicted to wait and let a man pursue then that’s OK! My only point is that it takes the same faith to wait as it does to make the first move with him. It’s up to you to decide how Spirit is leading.

Finally, remember the goal is to be married, not to follow a fairly-tale model of dating. Think about this: Fifty years from now when you and your husband are sitting in your rockers, playing Bingo, and eating dinner at 4 o’clock, will it really have mattered who broke the ice in the relationship?


Be bold. Be brave. Change the status quo.


Ladies: What are you experiences with this? Have you initiated with a gentleman? How did it work out?

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  1. teresa lace de souza

    May 13, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    good article . i know how difficult it can be to make the first move .


  2. Karina Smith

    July 2, 2015 at 2:24 pm


    I appreciate your heartfelt compassion for women who are “stuck” as you say…But may I suggest that she has a 5th viable option? I understand your friend wants to be married. That is an honorable God-given desire of most single believers. As a single woman right now, I can tell you that the Lord does put boundaries in place to protect us. The Lord wants the man to be the pursuer because he is to lead and head the household. THAT is expecially important for marriage. Marriage is a ministry that is to model Christ(the bridegroom) and His love for the church (we are His beautiful bride). He pursued us! He layed down His life for us. We have a choice to openly take His gift and invitation of salvation; accepting Him alone as our own true love and sovereign God. But that invitation is only available because He pursued us. He sends forth his word to spread the God news, disciple us and bring us into His family of believers. He wants us so He did what it takes to get us. Leg by His heavenly Father’s direction, he pursues. He makes the way for all to enter in. Wet do not have to go to him and make the way. He prepares the place for us. He set it up and arranged everything for us ahead of time. He prepares a place for us. All we have to do is accept His invitation and go in. They is exactly how it should be in a dating/courtship.After being in fellowship and prayer with the heavenly Father, the man should pray about his pursuit. Very permission from God to pursue her and then set about making a way for us to come to him and his prepares place. He should invite us in. THAT is the same way a man should treat his potential wife. Make a sacrifice of himself, he too could potentially be rejected as Jesus is rejected, but still offer himself in love, invite her in (into his life to go on a date and start a pursuit if honorable courtship. Once accepted, they began to develop a relationship. Just like you develop and grow a relationship with Jesus Christ after you accept Him and His offer of salvation. That’s the same way Christ did us and that’s the same way He wants us to be pursued for marriage. He is the ultimate bridegroom and set the perfect example. We the church, need to follow His example and do the same exact thing that Jesus did if we want to be married. It’s not about us! It’s not about a beautiful wedding. It’s not about oh I don’t want to feel lonely anymore. It’s not about I want to have some babies and have a husband. It’s not about I want to have great sex! All of those things are great benefits of marriage. But they are not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal of marriage is to show off Christ in the ministry of submission and how he pursued us. It’s not for our own selfish gain. We need to follow that lead. To do it any other way may give you some success but it won’t be God’s best!That is the way men and women should do it. So the 5th viable option that I would say she has is to pray and to seek God and to ask Him if he is someone that should be in her life or not. And she needs to fasted hey heart! We should be treating each other as brothers and sisters not as potential husband material until the Lord has revealed that. If her feelings or emotions that she has or has not managed regarding that person are not of the Lord then, she can ask God to reveal to her what the crush is supposed to be in her life. If he is to just be a brother in Christ, I pray the Lord helps her manage her emotion so she sees him as only her brother. because I’m not saying we do not recognize when others are attractive. I know we are not blind however, we should only be looking at them through eyes of God that is focused on their growth in Christ and nothing more. She needs to focus! Looking needed to the left or to the right. But you keep herself hidden in Christ keep her heart Garden Inn in him. And she won’t be looking to have whatever loneliness, or desire, does she has the fulfilled in trying to pursue him. She needs to pursue God! Also do not pray a prayer of witchcraft to where she is trying to manipulate the situation to try to get him to pursue her. I’m sure that if she had a crush for that long there were signs and things that she did to let that man know that she was interested in him. If he has not said anything, then he obviously doesn’t want her! She will be making a fool of herself to pursue him and say her feelings and emotions when he has not even earned the right to ask her out! She needs to know her worth! She is the prize! She needs to ask the Lord’s will be done in this matter and that if it is so his will that they are to be husband and wife that he moves on their behalf and makes it happen. God does not need our help. He is more than fully capable of putting everything in place when we trust him lean to him and look to him for guidance and direction. she needs to concentrate on her primary relationship which is that of Jesus Christ and the Lord and that way she won’t have time to be crushing on implementing over men who are not paying her any attention.Whoever is supposed to be your spouse God will provide. I fully believe that! And when the time is right when you are doing the work and will of God. He will present to the man and to the woman who is to be there. Anything other than that is of the devil! do not be deceived! There is a way that seems right to a man that leads to death. God bless you! I appreciate your articles! I pray for this young woman and for every other woman who is in the situation. And trust me I really do understand! I was where she is not too long ago but by the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ I have come up under a ministry who is teaching me who I am and is teaching me what God wants for me in what is best for my life. I hope this blesses you all and that you are able to see the wisdom of the Lord in this message. I am NOT trying to be critical! If I came across as harsh that was not my intent and I apologize. I just want to give some good Godly wisdom speak the truth in love but be bold about it as well has to see it. We have got to take that marriage and put the devil in his place! We have victory and power over here. Doing it any other way than God’s Way is not what is going to be the best way. God bless you! In Christ, Karina Smith



      November 20, 2015 at 3:23 am

      Thanks Katrina for your in-depth thoughts and sorry for the late reply. You bring up a great point about just waiting on God to reveal it to the man. I wish God would!


    • Helen Schirmer

      October 12, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      I guess you missed reading the few scripture guidelines in the Bible the author pointed out. None of what you express is how dating is to be carried out nor is stated in the Bible. The viewpoint is just what was developed in our culture and accepted. You are stating that women have to passive in order for men to be assertive. Men won’t be a leader unless a woman is a shrinking violet. There is nothing in the Bible that states this is to be and that it works. Telling single women to wait in today’s era when single men won’t pursue is not productive. Shaming a woman for being confident and direct is ridiculous and silly.
      In addition the church, families, and communities used to help bring singles together. This is no longer the case. I call women who step up to do this brave and strong. They are to be commended. The idea that being feminine is to be passive is so not true and unhelpful.


  3. Ruth Nyandoro

    September 24, 2015 at 8:19 am

    From my experiences, I would rather not – the relationships were such a bore, because guys who want girls to approach them are usually passive and do not take the reigns of the relationship. I guess experiences differ, but personally its a no go area. I also will not go for ‘let’s be friends’ route when I know in my heart of hearts that I want more from this person. A subtle hint of my availability should lead the guy to come after me, if he is also interested, otherwise after a couple of these hints and no solid action from his side is a sign the feeling is not mutual…and I can set my sights somewhere else or at least away from him. i think by the time people go on that first official date, it will not be a matter of trying to find out if they like each other and by the time a guy (or girl) in this case makes her intentions known, the one on the receiving end would have already picked the vibe of interest and would be prepared with his/her response…to determine if the coffe date will or will not happen.



      September 29, 2015 at 11:39 am

      Ruth, thanks for the comment. I agree, most quality men will pickup the the “hints” you lay down. Others, need help. Remember, the goal is to be married, not to be pursued–the end is worth it. My premise was that we need to work together to make more marriages happen, not battle. Both genders need to grow and learn how to relate to one another.



      November 20, 2015 at 3:24 am

      Ruth, I agree that normally passive guys should be avoid. And–a big “and”–some guys need a little push in the right direction 🙂


  4. Rebekah

    September 26, 2015 at 5:47 am

    Hi Eric,
    I enjoyed reading this article. I think I hear what you’re saying. As a single 35-year-old, I’ve had ample time to solidify and, more recently, enjoy re-considering my position as non-initiator. However, that doesn’t mean I think I should hide; being available is key! I have also become a learner of how my actions/lack thereof could make me seem intimidating and/or uninterested (when inside I’m really wishing a guy would pursue me). I think the seed for this idea may have been planted by the author of “Hedges-Loving your marriage enough to protect it” who (if I’m correct) suggests that a girl giving a smile and saying “Hi” can go a long way in reducing a guy’s hesitation. Within the past couple years, though, I’ve had opportunities to learn this lesson the hard way as I watched my own actions/lack of action seemingly turn away the attention of a guy. So, I’m learning. Still, there is something deep within the hearts of most/many?girls and women including me.
    The desire to be desired. Desired by a real man.
    Observations on this topic by the authors of “Pulling back the shades” were needful and refreshing around the time of the release of the most recent “shades of grey” movie. I heard some interviews, etc. in which they pointed out how some key desires in women could fuel the popularization of these horrific books and movies. Women desire the strength of a man, a rescuer, etc. It’s part of how we’re wired. Tragically, they point out, the “grey” stuff capitalizes on these desires in a perverted, destructive way.

    But, in a good, healthy way, the desire to be desired, to be sought with intent, and to eventually be loved sacrificially can exist in the heart of women of character.
    While women must not shrink back from God-honoring opportunities in this arena, we must acknowledge why we are listening for the sound of galloping hooves announcing the swift arrival of our shining knights. We must turn toward the sound, perhaps even run to meet it’s intentioned source.
    The conclusion of your article included an admonition to single women to “Be bold. Be brave.” Yes, it takes a bit of bravery for me to make eye contact and be friendly in spite of my initially introverted tendencies. But really, I’m interested in finding a man who’s bold and brave enough to slay the dragon of fear for both of us.



      September 29, 2015 at 11:34 am

      Thanks for your thoughtful response. Yes, I agree: women, in general, desire to be desired. Many men simply don’t understand this. There’s a lack of education on how men become “real men.” Deadbeat dads, no discipleship, etc. Some men just need a little push from a quality lady. Keep in mind that initiation is not pursuing a guy, so even if you make the first move you can still be pursued by him 🙂


      • Rebekah

        October 1, 2015 at 7:04 am

        Hmm, that’s a thought 🙂 Have you written on the topic of initiation &/vs. pursuit, specifically? I’d be interested in reading more of your thoughts on that.


  5. Caroline Kaunds

    September 27, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    My sister told me about the boundless podcast and that’s how I came here. I have been there where I have waited and the guy has never asked. Thanks for the post:)



      September 29, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Thanks for the comment. I honestly have a heart for women who wait and rarely get asked. That’s why I wrote the article–to empower women. Some guys need a nudge in the right direction 🙂


  6. Ruth Nyandoro

    October 1, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Rebekah, thanks for your input.

    Eric, are there any practical tips that you can give on how to initiate or nudge a guy in the right direction?

    I would also like to hear your thoughts on dating/courting for single parents who were never married but are with children.



  7. Alline

    December 20, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    Hi, just read your article about being single during the holidays on Relevant. And now this one… so here’s my move. You’re single, I’m single. We should talk 😛


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Eric is a world travler and entrepreneur. His passion is to change hearts towards Christ through Bible-centric teaching, and to create opportunities for the marginalized around the world.

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