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Is relationship initiation a gender-based role?
When it comes to initiating any form of relationship, including friendship, girls in Nepali society are seen holding back. One can observe a tendency among girls to wait for the guy to start a conversation, break the ice and eventually start friendship or a romantic alliance.
Being groomed by a generation that intrinsically enforces complete segregation among two genders, girls—oftentimes acting the protector of the culture—are seen embracing the idea that it is a guy’s responsibility to initiate.
There are a few among us who believe that being approached is more respectful than approaching. To other girls, this apparent norm oftentimes translates as being weak and accepting of patriarchy. They argue that if a girl cannot approach or initiate a conversation with the one they like, they are not really free from misconception and social construct perpetuated by patriarchy.
These are bonds from which girls need to break free, a feminist would argue.
On a different accord, the question, “Who should initiate -- girls or boys?” has more stakeholders to it than we give it credit for-the guys. This ‘norm’ requires Nepali guys to learn essential ‘approaching skills’. The burden falls upon the guys.
However, guys themselves take this norm in two different ways. One, they might embrace the tendency as a social norm and give in to the culture. In another scenario, they might violate girls’ lack of active initiation and end up and taking the other gender as weak. That said, there are guys who are wrongly categorized as ‘womanizers’ because they actively enforce all forms of relationships with girls.
To address the dilemma persistent in both guys and girls, and know more about youths’ perception on who should initiate, Shuvechchha Ghimire of My City interviewed seven individuals. Following are edited excerpts of what they said.
Aneesha Rayamajhi is a Grade XI student at St Xaviers College, Maitighar.
I have a few very good looking friends. A lot of guys keep on approaching them in the pretext of friendship, but obviously expecting something more. They are, hence, not in the habit of approaching guys. They are the kind of people who always want guys to make the first move. I differ from them on that account. I do not understand why approaching someone, be it a stranger or your log-time crush, should be a gender-specific role. I remember approaching a guy, which eventually led us to form a fulfilling friendship.
I am an extrovert, and talk to a lot of guys. Therefore, I have a lot of guy friends. However, I was called names a couple of times for being “too interested” in guys and not sticking around with only girls. At one point, there were inferences made that it was ‘slutty’ to have too many guy friends. However, I ignored all of them because women do not need to be ‘stereotypically submissive’ when it comes to initiating friendships.
Prerana Subba is a Grade XI student at MOLIHSS College, Lalitpur.
I have initiated a lot of friendships with guys, especially so because friend-zoning a guy prevents all sorts of hassles. I wouldn’t be approached for a romantic relationship if I ‘friend-zone’ a guy. However, I definitely start talking to a guy if I like his first impression. Gender isn’t much big of a deal for me when it comes to making friends.
Nipurna Bajracharya is a second year Bachelor’s student at Sirjana College of Fine Arts, Lazimpat.
Not only in Nepal, but we find girls in all corners of the world waiting for guys to initiate friendships/ relationships. We need to understand what women want from men. Girls do not want guys that are not confident and fail to take charge of the situation. A guy with clear intentions is always respected and admired by girls. Approaching someone for any kind of relationship should not be a gender-specific role.
Even girls can take charge and go after the relations they desire. But because the way most girls are groomed, they shy away from making the first move. If a girl approaches me first, it just tells me that she was groomed in an open-minded setup.
Nadisha Sainju is a Grade XII student at SK College, Ratopul.
Firstly, if it is about friendship and/or relationship, I want boys to take the initiative. I have seen guys being disrespectful to girls who initiate, assuming that the girl likes them when she approaches for friendship. Also, being friends with certain guys can itself be a tricky task. Once a girl starts being friendly and ‘talkative’, which is what I am if I am friends with anyone, they think she is interested in him.
However, I am not opposed to girls taking initiatives when it comes to genuine friendship and relationship. What I am opposed to is the fact that a girl should approach because doing so makes her stronger of a person. A girl should approach a guy when she thinks she and the guy are going to be definite friends or strong couple.
Anurag Upadhyaya is currently on gap year and planning to pursue Bachelors in the USA.
I think the norm springs from how things used to be in the past. Back in the age of hunters, men were symbol of defense and power, and felt an obligation to protect the inferior–the females. This eventually changed into institutions like marriage where men, for social and political reasons, were considered strategically important. This is where the norm originated; for cultural reasons than biological. Also, looking at the society we live in, it actively oppresses women to express anything at all. Although it is not true in terms of dressing up and partying out late, rhetoric like “girls are not to speak too much” or “girls are not to show active interest in someone because they could be violated or abused if they speak their minds” exist. These are fear-driven narratives and form strong impression even in younger generation.
I personally liked to be approached. However, I primarily initiate conversations with people who are hard to approach. I do so to bring myself out of my comfort zone and them from theirs, which is a good approach to master the ice-breakers.
Prashant Pant is currently on gap year after his high school studies.
Men crave for power and dominance. On the other hand, women crave for attention, love and care. If we take these things into consideration, it makes sense for women to wait for men to initiate any kind of relationship. This way, women get the attention and men get the pride of “winning” or initiating the relation.
However, I don’t think it is a “must” for a man to initiate relationships and women to wait. There are men who wish women to initiate friendships and relationships because it is a sign of a bold, expressive and confident woman. There are few others that love being oppressed at the hands of a dominant woman. Hence, it is futile and unrealistic to think women should never approach the man she admires. After all, at the end, relationship is not about one person’s desire; it is about discovering each other. I personally would appreciate to be approached by a woman.
Rajit Prasad Chaulagain is a high school graduate from Saipal Academy, Dhumbarahi.
Most of the time, I wait for girls to approach me while making sure that she notices me and eventually makes essential eye contacts. My limited personal experience tells me that women give off cues through prolonged and flirtatious eye contacts. I have approached a few girls using such cues and have one success story to boast. However, when it comes to actively initiating, I wait for the girl meanwhile making sure I make the necessary indirect efforts.
However, when girls approach me—for friendships and relationships alike—without me making the necessary effort, I get nervous. Not that I discourage such initiations, or am avert to them, I research about the girl before accepting the initiation. I inquire about her personality with friends and families to make sure she is someone I want to spend my time with.