This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of ESSENCE
The dating scene is a lot. We get it. Why is ghosting even allowed to be a thing?! Looking for love can be overwhelming and frustrating and can seem more like a second job. The search can also make a woman feel powerless. “Women have been told for so long to sit on their hands and wait for someone else to approach them,” says Alexandra Williamson, the chief brand officer at Bumble, the popular dating app that lets women take the lead. “We’ve been told that going after what we want or asking for a phone number means we’re ‘needy.’ That’s such an antiquated idea.”
The truth is, being a go-getter when it comes to matters of the heart can pay off. Just ask tennis champ and Bumble spokeswoman Serena Williams, who made the first move with her now husband, Alexis Ohanian, when she invited him to see her play. Williams isn’t the only star who found love after grabbing the wheel. Singer Marsha Ambrosious first noticed Dez Billups when he was working as a roadie on the 2015 Floetry reunion tour. Intrigued, Ambrosious asked him out on a date. The couple—who welcomed their daughter, Nyla, in 2016 and married a year later—have been together ever since.
Women often find The One simply because they have set things in motion. For straight couples who use The League app, which scouts comparable candidates based on education level and ambition, one out of every three relationships began with a woman messaging first. That’s right, ladies. The ball really is in your court.
But how do you succeed at dating on your own terms? Here’s a secret: It all begins with you. Upping your confidence level and being assertive are key in yielding more positive results. “Women have the opportunity to make the first move in all areas of their lives, and it’s important to feel empowered in your romantic relationships too,” says Williamson. “Whatever you do in one area of your life will likely have a ripple effect in other areas.”
Kelli Fisher and Tana Gilmore, also known as The Matchmaking Duo, agree that connecting with your soul mate requires being self-assured. The two, who assist Black women in finding their match, claim an impressive 87 percent success rate, so they’ve virtually perfected a winning formula. The first step, the pair say, is showing up as your most authentic self. “In our culture women often feel as if they have to be two, three or four different people, but when you’re dating, what really helps the most is to just be yourself,” Fisher advises. The dating experts point out that self-love is at the root of your confidence, and it’s the most important ingredient in attracting the right person for you. “Love who you are,” says Gilmore. “You have been created and designed this way, and there is someone out there who will love you exactly as you are.”
One essential source of self-love is knowing your worth and actively manifesting what you want. Before actress Nicole Ari Parker met her husband of 14 years, fellow actor Boris Kodjoe, she prayed to God about how to find him. She shares that God guided her to make a list of everything she needed and wanted in a husband. She did, and we all know what happened next—Kodjoe walked onto the rehearsal set of the TV show Soul Food and into her life.
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Remember, Your Smile Is Powerful. When’s the last time you were first to smile at an interesting stranger? “We challenge our clients to go out, smile and make eye contact with people at least 20 times a week,” Fisher says. “Try an extended stare—smile, look for a few seconds, look away and then look again for another two seconds. This says, ‘I see you, you see me, and yes, I am interested in a conversation.’ ”
State Your Purpose. You have a vision for your future. Don’t hide it. “You want to boss up and state your intentions early on,” insists Gilmore. “Are you dating with the intention of getting married? It’s okay to be clear that you’re only entertaining people going the same way you are.”
Know Your Worth. “What will it require to take you off the market?” asks Gilmore. “Why are you different from anyone else in his phone contacts that he’s texting ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good night’ to? You need to know your dating USP—your unique selling proposition—which means you understand what you bring to the table and your worth.”
Take the initiative. You share a positive interaction with a potential date only to leave wondering why neither of you followed up. What stopped you? The Matchmaking Duo coaches clients to start the next interaction. “Say, ‘I’m looking forward to talking with you again. Is 7 p.m. good?’ ” Fisher explains. make a meaningful connection. Williamson suggests that single ladies try Bumble’s online conversation generator. “One of my favorite lines is, ‘What’s your idea of the perfect day?’ ” she says. “The answer will give great insight into other people’s personality and an idea of what matters to them.”
Lean On Your Squad. “Sometimes we can be our own worst critics,” insists Williamson, who advises on how to set up top-notch online dating profiles. “Ask your friends how they would describe you or to name things about you that stand out. Allow your closest confidantes to select some great photos too. It’s been proved that letting someone else choose your profile photo results in more matches.”
Don’t be afraid to Pass. “Walk away from any relationship that doesn’t serve you,” says Williamson. “It’s important to surround yourself with people who make you feel empowered.”
Give Feedback. “Women have all this information they don’t share, like, ‘Oh, you smell good,’ or ‘Wow, you’ve got a great sock game,’ ” says Fisher. “If men don’t know where they stand, they’re like, ‘Let me go on to someone who’s showing me she’s really interested.’ ” If he’s doing something right, tell him. Play the Numbers.
The Matchmaking Duo recommends dating at least three people at a time. “You want to have as many conversations with as many new people as possible,” Gilmore advises. Adds Fisher,Share :