First Move

Making the first move on a person you want to date is like betting your life savings against the house in a game of blackjack. There are decent odds of pay-out if you’re willing to bet your heart and ego, but then there are also pretty hefty odds that everything could crash and burn. 

Blackjack references aside, making the first move is scary and the possibility of rejection is even more so. But at the end of the day, you lose 100% of the chances you don’t take. The possibility of loss shouldn’t negate the equal likelihood of a win. Making the first move can be terrifying, but so is the notion of dying with regrets. 

I have been known amongst my friends as the biggest baby when it comes to making the first move. I waited to kiss my first boyfriend for four months, and the only reason I kissed him first was because I lost at a game of rock, paper, scissors. I was 17. Someone could confess their undying love to me and I would still avoid making any kind of romantic initiation because of the off chance that said person is joking.

From my own experiences and those of my peers, I have gathered most people are, on some level, scared of rejection. According to Psychology Today, the fear of being rejected in any setting, be it romantic, social or otherwise, tends to stem from an array of cognitive processes that vary from person to person. 

For some, the fear comes from a suspicion that rejection confirms the worst things about ourselves. Perhaps someone feels unlovable or ugly, and if a love interest rebuffs them, then their insecurities are confirmed. 

For others, rejection can bring up bad memories. Perhaps an ex made you feel small or a parent never expressed love in a constructive manner. Rejection from another can bring up all those associations with inferiority. 

Regardless of where the fear of rejection comes from, it’s almost always the reason why people hate making the first move. While I do feel like this is a valid association and fear, especially given the premise that I, myself, hate making any first move, it’s never a reason to avoid romantic conquest. 

I’m basically scared of anything that could result in either uncomfortability or vulnerability. My comfort zone is comparable to a maximum security prison, complete with watch towers and electric fences. I’m not going to set foot out of that zone, and God forbid someone step into it. At the end of the day, I would much rather play an elaborate game of manipulation than outwardly admit feelings to someone, let alone hit on an unsuspecting soul in a coffee shop.

As a person who hates being the first to make any kind of move, I know how the self-imposed isolation and the collection of missed opportunities can hang in your heart like a lead brick. I’m only 20 and I already have regrets. People I should have talked to, dates I could have gone on and memories I could have made have all been missed because of an incessant fear of being turned down. 

With a handful of weeks left in the decade, I am slowly starting to realize that I don’t want the next 10 years to be full of missed opportunities. 

I’m not sure on the logistics of not letting the fear of rejection hold you back from making a move, and I definitely don’t have a “How to make the first move” manual handy, but at least I can accept that the worst that can happen is a polite, but awkward “no, thank you.” 

Like any good columnist would, I’ll tie the whole concept back to gambling. Inevitably, you’re going to lose a few bets — that’s the nature of gambling. It’s better to put everything down and play fearlessly than to never win because you’re too scared to play. 

Romance and love, in any sense or situation, can be a risk. But that risk of losing everything makes each win that much more profound. If, on the off chance you’ve come up on a run of bad cards, don’t sweat it. Just reshuffle and play again.