Can’t muster up the courage to ask that boy or girl out? Here’s what science has to say about the matter

Updated on:8 February 2020, 11:40am IST
Waiting for that person to ask you out or confess his feelings for you can be more mentally taxing than you realise. Here’s how you can make the first move.
Sonakshi Kohli
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Perhaps it’s your ego or maybe the fear rejection, here are all reasons why you could be hesitant to make the first move. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

The torture of being a woman in this world doesn’t just end at tolerating period pain, suffering through the pain from hair removal to look “feminine”,  enduring labour pain to bring a new life into this world, or simply facing countless restrictions in the name of protection.

If you’re wondering why we’re ranting and ruining your romantic feels during Valentines’ Week, you’ve got to know that this torture extends to our love life as well and thus, deserves to be addressed and ended right here, right now.

We’re talking about the torture of women having to keep their romantic feelings for a man or woman to themselves and refraining from proposing just because, well—they’re women! 

Dr Poonam Poonia, Ph.D in clinical psychology and psychotherapist at Wellstar Clinic & Diagnostic Pvt. Ltd., Gurugram, attributes this reluctance to the psychological phenomenon of ‘vacillation’, which involves oscillating between positive and negative emotions, leading to a wavering decision-making.  

If you’re wondering what leads to this complicated culmination of vacillation and reluctance, check out these factors and their possible solutions to find the motivation for making the first move this Propose Day: 

Momma taught you to be brave, but not bold
“Indian society might have become modern, but, it still remains traditional in more ways than one,” says Dr Poonia.

She adds that the stereotype around women making the first move still persists as waiting for the man to approach is taught and thought to be a ladies’ privilege. Not to mention, the stigma around homosexuality can make it worse if your object of affection is of the same sex.

Additionally, women are often put on a pedestal, in this case, it being the fact that they aren’t supposed to “ask for it”. You make the first move, you get off that pedestal, and suddenly, you’re mocked or deemed as “too desperate”.

The solution: To be honest, using the word ‘bold’ for a woman, who goes on to propose to a man or woman is wrong in the first place. We stand corrected there, simply because if a man approaching a woman is so normal, why such a hype around a woman doing the same thing? It’s about equality, after all, right?  So get past your inhibitions because we’re living in the 21st century, that’s all about kicking patriarchy and sexism, where it hurts the most. 

Your ‘ego’ could be stopping you from making a move
According to a study conducted by Wayne State University in the USA, ego has a huge role to play in a woman’s decision making and behaviour.

The case of making the first move can also be considered a part of this behaviour as thoughts like “why should I?”, “I don’t approach men, men approach me”, and so on—clearly, stemming from a woman’s inflated sense of self-importance–can be to blame for the reluctance. 

new year 2020
Keep that ego aside and be on the driving seat. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The solution: A change in approach and knowing that having the guts to be honest about your feelings is any day more courageous than keeping things inside. Also, you need to understand how keeping things to yourself while second guessing your potential partner’s feelings is affecting your peace of mind negatively and how confessing or proposing will get you the answer, you so seriously need to know. 

If it’s a yes, you can focus your energy on building a future with them. If it’s a no, you can focus your energy on rebuilding yourself and moving the hell on. Needless to say, both the situations are better than being stuck in the middle fo’sho.

Fear of rejection is real
Imagine hearing, a downright NO or the sugar-coated version of it, which somewhat sounds like, “Oh! That’s so sweet of you, but I don’t think I deserve a girl like you,”—when you’re literally on your knees, at your vulnerable best, expressing your feelings. Just reading the thought gave you goosebumps, didn’t it? 

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, researchers observed that rejection activates the same area of the brain that’s activated when we experience physical pain. So, your fear of rejection is totally valid, because it really does hurt.

That’s not it! According to Dr Poonia, the fear of rejection can even make a woman enter into a traumatic zone, which can deteriorate her mental health and lead to depression, stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.

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The solution: The study also points out how most of this fear is “self-inflicted” and how it can be countered by positive thoughts and reassurance. After all, if you can berate yourself with negative thoughts, you can become confident with positive ones too. 

Adding to this, Dr Poonia suggests being in a confident zone while taking the plunge and using honesty and pep talk with yourself to feel good about yourself.  

The potential partner is still in the ‘testing’ phase
Another factor stopping you from taking that leap of faith could be the lack of faith that you have in your object of affection. Surely, you know you feel for them quite strongly, but you can’t possibly get inside their brains to figure out how they feel, right? This could be adding to the chills, trust us. 

“Does he really love me?”, “Will he prove to be a good partner?”, “Would s/he be willing to commit?”, “Will s/he stay loyal?”, “Will our relationship work out?”. These are the questions that haunt you and thus, you decide to haunt your love interest in return—all this in a bid to get some clarity about his/her feelings before you express yours. 

And so, a series of he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not tests begin. You try to put your crush in situations to check how s/he feels for you. 

A winner in some, a failure in others, perhaps, a mixed result in these tests could also be hampering your surety levels and make you feel like the attachment element is missing from the partner’s side, according to Dr Poonia.

“In today’s world, it has become a trend for women to check if the man truly loves her. So, she will wait for his call, observe his attitude towards her, and even wait for his proposal” she further explains. 

The solution: The weapon of honesty, as mentioned by Dr Poonia earlier too can be used in this situation as well. By being honest about your doubts, concerns, and expectations from the relationship while you expressing your feelings, you can give the man a chance to clear them out for you and put all your doubts to rest once and for all. 

Instagram relation
You can give social media a chance. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Because you know you’re testing him, but he might have zero clue about him even appearing for the test. A direct approach is all you need. Seedhi baat, no bakwaas, remember?

Finally, if you manage to overcome your inhibitions, you can keep this in mind
For starters, be confident and honest in your approach and always have that smile on.

“Another point that you must keep in mind is to propose at the right time. Basically, spend more time with the guy, get to know his state of mind and mood, and then, pick the right moment to make your move,” Dr Poonia suggests.

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Sonakshi Kohli Sonakshi Kohli

Twenty kilos down and struggling to maintain the weight loss by preaching healthy eating, while eating unhealthy every now and then.