Oregonian men don’t initiate

Oregonian men, I’m calling you out! As a lady from California, I’m used to aggressive driving and the sun, but also a different attitude from men than what I’ve found in Oregon. When California friends ask me what the men are like up in the Northwest I tell them, “The beards and man buns are real, the flannel is on point, but none of the men initiate.” You have the looks, the reputation and the coffee, but what makes the ladies so intimidating? I’m all for breaking gender stereotypes, but you have to give us something to work with gentlemen!

My friends and I went out to the east side a couple weeks ago on a man hunt. We all had the same goal: Get at least one guy’s phone number. We’re aware that things like this usually happen when you least expect it, but we were feeling good. What we found was men who already had ladies, or big groups of friends who didn’t seem interested in meeting someone new. Maybe we were putting off the wrong vibes, or it just wasn’t our night, but either way, we went home with zero numbers. We’re not a shy group of ladies; we’d strike up a conversation if we thought the person was interested, but what it felt like was a bunch of guys who were putting off pretty off-putting vibes.

A male friend of mine once told me how intimidating it could be to approach a group of ladies. That’s completely understandable; girls can be just as mean as the next gender. But some girls aren’t afraid of being the initiator, especially if they have an idea that their prospect is interested. Go ahead and give us a nod or a smile, just not a wink (unless you’re really that smooth). Just give us something that says, “Hey, you look like someone I could have a decent conversation with; why don’t you say hello?”

Being the initiator is scary, to say the least, but isn’t it also kind of thrilling? Each time you can come up with some new not-creepy way to introduce yourself and then hope they stick around long enough to realize you’re actually pretty cool.

There are successful ways of initiating. One of the best ways I’ve experienced is when you have a wingman. And I don’t mean having your friend swoop in first to make you look good; then, ever so smoothly, enter the conversation while pushing your friend aside. If you see two ladies sitting at a bar, don’t rush up to them and ask to buy them a drink. Casually begin to make conversation with others at the bar first—even the bartender if no one else is around—then slowly begin to engage them in conversation. Even if they’re having a ladies night, the likelihood you’ll get the chance to exchange numbers is much higher if you initiate a conversation.

This leads me to the ever-so-daunting exchange of numbers. If you’ve worked your suave magic and you get to the point in the evening (or day) when it’s time to do the awkward phone number dance or just say goodbye, don’t ask for the girl’s phone number, instead give them yours. If you really see some potential in liking this girl, then let her make the first step in communicating. There are two pros to this: there’s no risk of getting the wrong number, and it puts the ball in their court. I know that second part probably doesn’t seem like a pro move, but it seriously is. Coming up with something clever to say in the first text is just as scary as going up to someone and talking to them; both are make or break situations.

Now that brings me to one of the most common forms of dating: online dating. In today’s world, there are many ways of meeting new people without even leaving your home. There’s Hinge, OkCupid and Tinder, to name a few. Maybe it’s less scary because it’s not face-to-face, but you still have to initiate.

Hinge is a site that’s based on meeting people through common friends or through friends of friends. I had it in California, but it only recently came to the Pacific Northwest. I’m not a shy person and I will initiate, but I wanted to test the app in Oregon to see how the men differed from those in California. It’s the same idea as Tinder; you get matched with people who liked you back. Yet even in the online realm, I noticed less Oregonian men initiate. Seven out of 15 men I matched with in California initiated first, while only four out of 15 men I matched with in Oregon initiated first. This may not be a significant difference, but there’s still something to be said about Oregonian men’s initiation tactics.

By now we should all know the don’ts when it comes to initiating. Cheesy pick up lines, “Did it hurt when you feel from heaven?” Don’t. If you’ve tried making eye contact and the girl isn’t giving you any sign she’s interested, save yourself the rejection and don’t approach. The minute you start thinking you’re too good for someone, or vice versa, is the minute you start missing out. They say opposites attract—maybe try hitting on someone you’ve never thought you’d be interested in next time you go out.

I understand initiating doesn’t come easily to everyone, and not every person will be your type or worth initiating something with, but sometimes taking the risk is worth it. So whatever it is, Oregon men, don’t let the idea that you’re too good for someone, fear, or pure laziness stop you from meeting some pretty cool people out here in Portland.