Why You Should Respond and Not Initiate

by Janet Ong Zimmerman on 04/23/2013

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A smart woman learns to take the initiative in her professional life, like leading and facilitating team members to complete projects on time, calling meetings to discuss strategy and next steps, and managing multiple priorities. The contributions a smart woman makes to the success of her company often leads to promotions of greater responsibility. If you’re used to taking the initiative in your career, you may have noticed that this approach doesn’t work as well when it comes to dating and romantic relationships.

Why Initiating Doesn’t Work with a Masculine Man

Masculine men love strong women who know when and how to be feminine. Initiating is very much like pursuing, which is a masculine trait. If you’re the one who is constantly calling and texting him, asking when you’ll see him again, making suggestions to go out with him, etc., you’re pursuing him.

A masculine man wants to pursue you on his time. Sometimes when you like a man, you might feel the need to rush things. A man needs space to think about you and miss you. If he is really into you, he won’t let much time pass before contacting you. He’ll call and text you in between dates, make plans in advance to spend time with you, talk about the future with you and introduce you to family and friends.

(Note: Here is another form of initiating. Don’t constantly turn down his ideas and suggestions, and push your agenda. This makes him feel like he’s in a power struggle. When this happens too often, a high quality man won’t stick around. He will seek a woman who doesn’t seem to be as controlling and strong willed.)

Three Reasons Why Responding is Empowering

If you want to be successful in your love life, learn to respond instead of initiating. Responding is like taking a wait-and-see approach, which may seem very passive, like you’re doing nothing. However, it’s actually more empowering. Here are 3 reasons why.

1. See things more clearly

When you respond, you get to see what’s really going on. You see things more clearly for what they are because you’re not trying to manipulate the situation (i.e. thinking of ways to get him to call you, putting yourself in places where you think he might be so that you can run into him, etc.).

2. Learn a man’s true intentions

You learn a man’s true intentions and interest by how he initiates or doesn’t. If he initiates by continuing to ask you out and you respond with “I’d love to”, you know that he is truly interested in you. If you initiate, it makes it harder to know if he’s really interested in you or if he’s hanging out with you because he doesn’t have anything better going on.

3. Experience your journey to love with more ease

Since responding helps you see things more clearly, things become more black and white, not grey. Your mind isn’t jumping through hoops trying to figure out what’s going on, whether he’s interested or not, if you sounded too pushy in your message, etc. You free up your mind to enjoy the journey to love with ease.

Three Healthy Ways to Respond

Now that you have a better understanding of the benefits of responding, here are 3 ways to put this into practice in your love life.

1. Let yourself be wooed.

Instead of rushing things by revealing too much of yourself too soon, behaving and acting in ways you think will please him and having premature sex, take the time to get to know each other. Make sure you trust him and that there is a good mind, body and soul connection.

2. Be clear on what you want.

Determine and live by what’s most important to you, what you’re willing to settle and not settle for and your core values. Whenever he initiates and you have a choice to make, you’ll be able to respond from clarity instead of being misled by an over-thinking mind.

3. Trust in the outcome.

When you respond, you are open to what is and what will be. You’re letting go and letting the Universe (God or higher power) bring you what you’re supposed to have and who you’re supposed to be with. Being open and trusting in the outcome will bring you a greater love than you could have imagined.

Take the responsive approach to love and positively transform your love life. If you want to learn more about responding, watch this short video.

What is something you can start doing to respond in your love life? 


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  • Mina

    It was really helpful! Thank you!

  • Crayven

    This fails to account for the biggest question:
    WHY should men initiate?
    Where’s the equality now?

    • Dear Crayven,

      Good question. I will keep this in mind for a future article. In the meantime, I would love to hear your and other guys’ perspectives on why men should or shouldn’t initiate.

      With the way feminism has evolved, I think many men are understandably unsure about how to approach women when it comes to romance and love because many women bring masculine energy into their love life.

      These days, more and more people are not getting the love and meaningful connection they desire because one or both don’t want to be vulnerable or are waiting for the other person to step up. I this is less about equality and more about the feminine and masculine energy between two individuals that creates a harmonious relationship.



      • Crayven

        Rejection creates stress. Stress kills.
        So rejection kills. Okay i am stretching it but it is easy for women to sit and ‘wait’ while they “give signals”.
        Hey, i can give “signals” as a man too, let’s see women step up.

        I am all for equality. But here’s the thing.
        You don’t have to “prove yourself” to an equal. Right? I mean think about it.
        Say you got a brother.
        Do you feel the need to “prove” yourself to earn your brother’s admiration? Fuck no.

        So by giving women equality, they have been taken off the symbolic pedestal.
        And this is the problem.

        Women want equality but want also the privilege of being the ones who choose while men “fight” for her attention.
        One of them represents FAIRNESS ( equality ) and the other represents biology, or if you don’t subscribe to the psychological evolution ideas, the “old ways”.
        Comically women are the ones who now uphold the status-quo of “patriarchy” more than men.
        Yeah sure there’s the odd misogynist right winger, but they are old and dying. Men have been bashed for 40 years to change and most have.
        Of course a lot of them seem frustrated by what women say they should get and then seeing this contradiction i have exposed earlier.

        • Crayven, thanks for sharing your perspective about fairness (equality) with men and women when it comes to love. This can be tricky since what one person considers fair, another doesn’t. If everyone lived by one meaning of fairness, love and life would be simplified and easier. If people could get past fairness (equality) and have compassion, be open and vulnerable with each other as to what they want, more people would be getting the love they desire. Ultimately, both men and women want connection and love and go about looking for it in different ways – some of it based on biology and the way they’ve been conditioned.

          I can only speak to the woman’s perspective since I have not walked in the shoes of a man. Feminists are in a challenging situation as they have been rewarded in their professional lives for initiating, taking charge and controlling tihngs. Yet taking this same approach in their love lives tends to push men and love away. While these women come across as strong and independent, many still long for old-fashioned romance.

          I appreciate your perspective about love and many individuals share this perspective. My perspective is different – I think love is not about putting someone you admire above you. When putting someone above, it makes things unbalanced and the disparity grows between both people. I think love is about loving yourself first and sharing that love with someone else. When both people love themselves first, the love they share is healthier and more equal. When someone don’t love him/herself, (s)he ends up taking unresolved issues out on the other person which can show up as dishonest behaviors, passive aggressive behaviors, blaming, etc. Thank you so much for sharing your viewpoints. I really appreciate the time and care you took to do so.

      • Crayven

        I had a discussion with some women on Jezebel ( a supposedly VERY pro-equality site ) and all, and i mean ALL women there were horrified when i told them that according to equality women and men should split the bill, split the gas cost, everything.
        They said it was ‘un-romantic’.
        But equality isn’t. And again since love is about putting someone you admire above you, equality in love doesn’t work.
        And so we got a problem.

      • Lenny25

        Spoken like a wise woman. An average woman doesn’t even understand the basic courtship etiquette. guys aren’t perfect either but in a culture that promotes the rights of one gender over the other you will only have a group of alienated male gender. and men will do everything to survive or adapt. For women exuding masculine energy is the fastest way to unbalance the Chemical equation. same goes to male with so much beta energy. unless you really mean to be by yourself and independent (which is good as long as you are happy) otherwise women need to lose the double standard attitude if they gonna need a real, natural man because you cant really have your cake and eat it too.

        • Lenny, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about this post. I can understand where you’re coming from, and think having a harmonious and fulfilling relationship is what both women and men desire. You bring up a good point about women exuding masculine energy as a way to unbalance the chemical equation. The beauty of courtship is that the chemical equation is balanced.

    • elsa123

      I don’t think this article is saying anything about “equality” or “inequality”. It is talking about natural instincts. Why are we so worried or distraught when someone suggests ( and rightfully) that there are natural female traits and natural male ones? Or worse, behaviors that work well and others that don’t.

      • Crayven

        Nice rationalizationing of your own privilege there.
        Yes the article does not say anything about equality, I am. Equal partners aren’t deserving of special treatment like women demand.
        “Feminine traits” =/= having the privilege to pick and choose whike poor blokes kill themselves “proving” themselves to you.
        You are not “special” and you don’t deserve anything special. You are EQUAL.

        • elsa123

          Crayven, oooh, you sound bitter. I suggest a date. but in order to get one, you need to know the laws of female/male attraction. They are not created in a Women’s Studies course…they were created by nature. Good luck!

          • Crayven

            The laws are antiquated and if women won’t accept that equality comes with costs then men will drag you kicking and screaming to reality sooner or later.
            “You sound bitter” – classic ad-hominem. It shows you have valid arguments so you proceed to insult. I’m not “bitter”, i am rational.
            Equality and female dating privilege are incompatible.
            One of them must go, and for both genders it would be beneficial that this entitled attitude should go.
            men initiating, men paying and “proving” themselves must go.
            we are equal…we have nothing to “prove” to each other.

            No he musn’t “be able to support a family” – you are equal you can work why should he support you?
            He musn’t have “a nice car or a nice house”. If you like him for his posessions then i got some bad news about your character.
            and i can list countless such “demands” women have. Meanwhile they are fat as a tub and have the personality of a paper bag. Hypocrisy is the word.

          • elsa123

            It sounds to me that your problem is not with women and what you call their “dating priviliges”…but more so that you don’t want women to have any expectations about you.
            I agree that women should work outside the home. You will get no arguments from me about that. I don’t respect the “stay at home” types, generally. However, that is not the issue here.
            The laws” of courtship may be antiquated, but you will never change them. If you don’t like the kinds of women who want to see your accomplishments and character before they decide to be with you, then go for women who don’t care about accomplishments and character. Problem solved. The same goes for looks…do you date unattractive but oh-so-equal in spirit women who enjoy picking up the check…or do you expect/want a good looking one too?

          • Crayven

            “The laws” of courtship may be antiquated, but you will never change them.”
            Give it 10 years and get back to me on that. More and more men are refusing the old laws. If women won’t change, then as i said we will drag you kicking and screaming towards reality.

            “I don’t respect the “stay at home” types, generally.”
            Why not? Aren’t women allowed to choose their own lifestyle? Are you the moral police now?

            “The same goes for looks…do you date unattractive but oh-so-equal in
            spirit women who enjoy picking up the check…or do you expect/want a
            good looking one too?”

            First of all this is a systemic problem.
            Also why do i have to choose?
            I’m sorry but since when “vagina+ good looks” = pay for me?
            Might as well use a prostitute, at least i get 100% change to get laid and i don’t need the bullshit.

            Your thinking is exactly the problem.
            The equal woman is automatically “unattractive” and the “attractive” is automatically an entitled princess.
            Making this personal about me is an attempt at insulting me again and I am struggling not to throw insults back at you, but you’re pushing your luck.

          • elsa123

            Women and men can choose to live any way they like. But I don’t have to approve. It seeems that on the one hand you want women to pay their way, but then how can you support the stay-at-home types who don’t? Seems illogical to me.
            You don’t think you have to choose between different types of people? Hmm..people come in all kinds of packages and I don’t mean merely physical. Of course you don’t HAVE to choose, but you do and you will. And so do women…they wil continue to choose the man they think is superior over the ones they think are inferior

          • zman7777

            Interesting exchange between
            An aggressive bitter guy cloaking his
            Bitterness with rationality and a passive aggressive manipulator who defers to
            Instinct (the way things are)To try to prove her points, and this infuriates the angry rationalist !! Quite entertaining
            Bottom line is every human being is completely different and a strict dating style or sticking to hard rules will not work with
            Everyone . And neither will pounding your fist and demanding complete logic and equity in the mating dance .
            Watching the two extreme mindsets clash here was fun

          • Thanks for stopping by and letting us know your thoughts about the exchange with viewpoints that others have shared. I see your point about every human being as completely different and how sticking to hard rules won’t work for everyone. At the same time, it’s helpful for women who want to be with a masculine man to understand the qualities/traits of these men. Have a wonderful day!

          • zman7777

            I see your pt . If only the men who choose to whine, argue and fret over all of these things instead of enjoying themselves and having fun knew how unnattactive
            It made them feel to the majority of high quality Women they would probably quit all their damn scorekeeping, and they might even get lucky but I think they would rather be Right
            Than score ha ha ha . Lighten up guys dating should be fun !!

          • Eli Mcdangerous

            Why antogonize this guy. So what if he is bitter he deserves understanding and compassion not the latter because more than likely he was used by someone else. Woman don’t understand that men get angry in response to frustration and his rationalization isn’t a result from his personality but rather from his view not being given credit. Listening equality and such. Why argue against that then cite nature. He is suggesting that woman merely quote what is more convient for them for their social role such as to be pursued in relashionship. That is hypocrisy and subtle passive aggressive manipulation is no way yo respond shame on you lady.

          • zman7777

            I was not antagonizing the guy …merely expressing that I was amused by him and the Girl arguing about expectations. She expects the male to initiate as she was taught by her Mom and Grandma .
            And he expects the female to adjust her behaviour to match all other aspects of equality in this day and age . Neither one is right or wrong
            But both are causing themselves
            Undue anxiety in an activity ( dating) that should be light and fun.
            Lighten up … is my advice to both of them !

    • Lenny25

      Equality applies only when it benefits women man.

  • Sara S

    LOL Because a man asking you out totally means it’s just not because he has nothing better to do. This is literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

    • Dear Sara, I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your comments. I’m not sure what you mean in your Because a man… statement. I hope you’re having a good week. Take care.

  • spookszr

    I couldn’t disagree with this article more. I guarantee you that every single man on earth wants their woman to initiate, at least some of the time. It supports men’s most basic need to know that they are wanted and loved. This article is pretty much the only one who recommends the opposite, it’s a bunch of hogwash.

    • Hello spookszr, I understand and agree with what you’re saying about men’s most basic need to know they are wanted and loved. I think there are ways a woman can show a man he’s wanted and loved that goes beyond just responding. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  • Josh™

    Wow, I really wish people wouldn’t write this kind of stuff!

    I’m a guy, and I understand that men are generally the initiator/pursuer. BUT, after I’ve asked a girl out 4 or 5 times, it’s REALLY nice if she’ll invite me to do something or text/call me. It is EXHAUSTING to initiate EVERYTHING!!! It’s also nice if a girl will plan a date once in awhile. It IS a turn off if a girl tries to initiate everything. It IS NOT a turn off if she does the initiating once out of every 4 or 5 times you go out–in fact, it’s refreshing and guys really appreciate it! Guys need to know the girl wants them around.

    • Hi Josh, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts about this. You make a strong point and I agree that it’s great for a woman to initiate once in a while. The intention of this article was to help women who tend to initiate too much and find themselves without the love they desire. You sound like a good guy and it makes total sense for a woman to initiate the way you’ve mentioned. Thanks again.

  • Pete

    Male here.

    If females don’t initiate, I don’t think they are interested. If they are obviously interested, and not initiating, then it indicates to me they are playing games and manipulative. Move on.

    I’m happy to ask a woman out. What’s the big deal? If you like him, ask him.

    • Hi Pete, thanks for sharing your thoughts about initiating. On the surface, what you’re saying makes sense. Yet when many women initiate, they may get a guy to respond for the time being. And if a woman is looking for something more and wants to know a man’s true intentions, it’s in her best interest to respond more and initiate less.

      • Pete

        “And if a woman is looking for something more and wants to know a man’s true intentions, it’s in her best interest to respond more and initiate less.”

        I have a question. What if he doesn’t want to bother her? If she’s not initiating, then it can be seen as disinterest. Is she responding just to be polite, or responding because she’s playing a “looking for something more” game? How would a male tell the difference?

        • If a man is interested in a woman, there really is no need to be concerned about not wanting to bother her. Most women are flattered when a man approaches them. And if a woman is turned off by a man approaching her, he’s better off initiating with someone who is receptive.

          Paying attention to the way she’s responding will help you know whether she’s being polite or truly interested. When she’s just being polite, she’ll be more reserved and less animated. She’ll show more enthusiasm and energy if she’s truly interested.

          • Pete

            Interesting point, Janet. Okay, from her behaviour, she’s probably truly interested, but still doesn’t initiate. I just find this annoying. From this side, it feels like a game where I take all the risks. So, my inclination is to move on to someone who does initiate, which I take to be a sign of respect. Although the fact I haven’t as yet suggests intrigue, which underlines your stance, somewhat 🙂

  • signed

    Having men initiate also means you are at a disadvantage to those girls who do. Possibly why the author is pushing this ancient idea. If this makes sense for you then it is perfectly fine. However, don’t tell others what you think is okay or not in gender roles. Many girls initiate today, and that is acceptable, leave them alone already.

    • Hi Signed, thanks for sharing your perspective about responding vs. initiating. You’re right in that it’s a personal preference. For women who have been initiating and aren’t finding the love they desire, it makes sense for them to respond more and initiate less. Take care.

  • Anirudh Sharma

    This completely BLIND expectation of women to expect everything to be initiated by men is the very reason why most of them end up being used and thrown.

    It’s like giving the opposite sex total control in being the aggressor, they just go around hunting for women who are actually falsely induced into thinking that they are in high demand but in fact men who initiate convos are mostly just looking for fun and sex, a guy who has better personality traits than you is more likely not to initiate anything form his side.

    There should be a balance of initiation and response. Wherever you can find a possible match just pursue it to see if it works or not, I see no logic in being 100% passive, you will eventually end up being in a loss.

    • Anirudh, thanks for sharing your thoughts about this post. The intention isn’t for women to expect a man to initiate everything. In modern society, many women initiate too much and end up being taken advantage of or used. And unfortunately, there are women who take advantage of men. But this article is focused for women so that’s what is being addressed.

      When women respond more and initiate less they learn a man’s true intentions and how he feels about her. Once she knows he really cares for her, then she can feel more comfortable about the exchange of responding and initiating.

      Men who initiate conversation aren’t necessarily just looking for fun and sex. You’ve mentioned that a guy who has better personality traits is more likely not to initiate anything from his side. Perhaps this means he is shy and isn’t comfortable making the first moves. If that’s the case, he is better off looking for a woman who is comfortable making the first moves.

      • Anirudh Sharma

        No offence but “When women respond more and initiate less they learn a man’s true intentions”

        sounds like the statement of a very insecure woman, for heaven’s sake stop looking at men like devils who will try to rip you of everything if you initiated a conversation and let your intentions known, to be honest given the perpetual thinkers that women are I better they judge a person faster than a man can doesn’t matter who initiates what.

        I mostly would never date/go in a serious relationship with a woman who is 100% passive doesn’t matter start or the end. I believe in being natural.

        what you talk about is simply MANIPULATION.

        Anyway it’s your view but I have a right to disagree.

  • Karson K

    You know, all the positives vs negatives you listed? Not initiating any contact throws all those negatives on the man. I googled it for this reason and I wonder if this girl likes me enough to really commit to a relationship. Whether she is playing around, doesn’t truly care that much, or is afraid because she is in love. I highly doubt it is she doesn’t truly care but it sure feels that way sometimes, so I’d say if that is the case I wonder if she will do her best in a relationship to be sure and meet my needs in my love languages terms. I know I’d be willing to love and provide. Love for women is natural but can she learn to love me with my love language and respect me as a man? Cover where men fall short and never belittle but build up? Is she willing to initiate conversation about real things? If not, can she not initiate important communications? Is this worth my time? These are the things a good man wonders when he has to pursue too much. I think there is a balance. Not that we should need to initiate all contact.

    • Hi Karson, thanks for sharing your situation and perspectives about there being a balance. When a woman has been initiating a lot and isn’t finding success in love, it’s best for her to practice responding more. During that process, she will learn if the man is truly interested in her as a person. If he is, then she should also initiate things of importance, like you’ve mentioned – important communications, conversations about real things, contact, etc. That is where the balance is found. You sound like a good man, and things with the woman you like, based on what you’ve shared, are worth pursuing.

  • Nona Sebastian

    Women “responding” = “Good Girls”
    Women “initiating men” = “Bad Girls”. It’s what the article is really revealing here.
    Women be “empowering initiators in EVERYTHING but dating.” This is disgusting.
    It’s much more fun to initiate the man. I guess I’m a woman who won’t be “responsive” and win a masculine machismo.

    • Hi Nona, thanks for letting me know how you felt about this article. I can understand how you would think women who respond means good girls, and women who initiate means bad girls. My intention with this article was to help women who have been initiating and continue to be let down by love, take a different approach. I get that some women will be turned off by responding. If you have fun initiating and it’s working well for you, there’s no reason for you to respond. Take care.

  • Michelle

    Wow. Just stumbled across this. I am in my 40s and have been involved in both initiating and non-initiating relationships and convos. It is SO confusing these days because when I was in my 20s and teens I was taught that it was perfectly ‘cool’ to ask a guy out and pursue, then in the late 90s to 2000s women were told NOT do that so much anymore by pretty much every self-help book and article out there. Now, you get a mix of advice – especially since the last 15 years or so of texting and IMing being a huge part of dating. So, SOME guys like women initiating texts and convos but I can tell you from experience that others do not and want to be the pursuers.

    Everyone is different but that makes it all even harder. Harder than it was when I was 20 and all we had was phone/fax or letters! Pretty much every time I meet a guy that I like and initiate more convos via text or whatever more than he does me (in the EARLY stages of dating) he ends up fading out or not being into me. So when I see guys saying that they want women to do it more it perplexes me. Just tell people really early if you are not interested so we don’t have worry about wondering about ANY of this stuff!!

    In my own experience I have found that generally speaking, most men that I have been in long term relationships with were equal in pursuing me in the beginning and the contact flowed freely at any time. Then while dating during the 2000s I stepped back a little due to all the advice being giving about letting men initiate more. Books like, “He’s not that into you” had a HUGE impact on pretty much every woman/man I know (from all ages), especially those of us that have had many failed relationships. A lot of us thought that maybe if we tried these new ‘letting the man text you first etc’ techniques we might have more success.

    I will ALWAYS reply to texts and I certainly still do initiate dates and texts and I do NOT play games at all; eg you will know if I I am not interested in your early. But it’s just so hard not to think, “If I am always initiating as the woman – is he interested?” Just seems to be something hard to get past and i just dont know anymore 🙁

    • Dear Michelle, I really appreciate you sharing your experience so thoughtfully. You’re right – it is so confusing! One thing to note is what a guy says to you vs. his behaviors and actions. For instance, men are telling you they want women to initiate more conversations via text or do it more. Yet they’re fading out or aren’t being into you. Their actions reveal the truth over their words. While they may say they want women to initiate more, when you do, they fade away or aren’t into you. If you prefer being with a man who pursues and initiates (vs. being the one who pursues and initiates), it’s in your best interest to respond more.

      Responding is actually a powerful approach that increases a man’s desire to initiate and pursue a woman. It’s what keeps the equilibrium between a man and woman harmonious. When responding, your inner beauty shines. Responding helps your connection and love unfold naturally. Then, at a certain point in your relationship, you can initiate in a way that keeps your man’s interest. This video explains more http://loveforsuccessfulwomen.com/2016/09/reverse-epidemic-love-one-shift/. Take good care.

  • Blessing

    I think this article is right. Am dating a guy for almost a year now. I text and call him every morning and when am going to bed every single day. But am feeling bad about it because i know he’s the one who’s suppose to be doing that. I feel he doesn’t care so much about me. I want to stop doing that but i love him so much and feel so happy when I talk to him.

    • Thanks for reading my article, Blessing. You can still initiate texts and calls if it makes you happy to talk with him. However, because it’s making you feel bad and making you think he doesn’t care as much about you, you may want to decrease the frequency of the texts and calls to see how that makes you feel. It will also give you the space to notice how much he does (or doesn’t) care about you.

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