Campus Life

Talk Nerdy to Me

Rock, Paper, Slobber?

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Christine Yu, at age 4, about to slobber on her preschool boyfriend Timothy.
Jan Yu

According to my mother, I started “dating” in preschool. His name was Timothy, and when we’d say “goodbye,” I’d lick him across his face in front of both of our mothers. Now, I know this story sounds far fetched, but all my relatives remind me that I greeted them with slobber, instead of a kiss, until I hit the age of 5. Also, there’s a photograph of a birthday party in preschool, and I’m sitting awfully close to a boy, with my tongue hanging out. On the back of the photo, it says, “Christine and Timothy.”

She brings him up, though, to remind me that I’ve always been a little too “boy crazy.” According to her, the first time I met Timothy, I just flat out told him, “you’re my boyfriend.” Back then, she scolded me for making the first move. Fifteen years later, she still scolds me if I admit to making the “first move.”

Given the fact that I date a fairly decent amount, I can only remember making the first move twice — and once I wasn’t entirely sober. Most girls, myself included, find it difficult to make the first move. A girl friend claimed, “If he isn’t going to make the first move — how do you know he isn’t just with you because he likes the attention?”

Except, then again, her point could be argued the other way. How does a guy know a girl isn’t just with him for the attention?

Apparently men find it just as difficult to make the first move. As a friend once told me, “can you please write an article about how girls should make the first move, it would make my life a hell of a lot easier!”

Gender expectations have not completely reversed — men are still expected to be leaders and providers. They’re “expected” to “man up” and make the first move. However, it does make life easier when someone just makes the move, and honestly, I don’t agree with my mom. I think it doesn’t matter who makes the move.

I started asking my friends that were in a relationship, “who made the first move?”

Out of the twenty people I asked, shockingly, none of them remembered. Some of them even responded, “I’m in a relationship?”

When I asked my friend, Tom ’11, and his girlfriend, he proposed playing, “rock, paper, scissors” with his girlfriend to determine an answer — because we all know, “rock, paper, scissors,” has the ability to change the past.

There are other people, though, who feel the same way as my mom on making the first move.

Wendy Atterberry from (an internet women’s blog) published an article on December 1st entitled “Why A Woman Shouldn’t Say I Love You First.” As she summed it up, “if you love a man and want to have a long relationship with him, give him time to get there. If you think you’ve given him enough time and you’re ready to move on if he doesn’t feel the same way for you, then go ahead and tell him you love him. But only say those words if you’re prepared to let him go.”

I ended up blogging this article to get other inputs, adding that I didn’t really believe it.

Harvard student, Lena Chen, who maintains the blogs Sex and the Ivy and The Chicktionary, reblogged the post, adding that there are cultural associations with saying, “I love you.”

As she put it, “the first phrase people learn in Chinese is wo ai ni, which translates to “I love you.” But the funny thing is that there’s never actually a situation where those words would be uttered. Ask any Chinese speaker. There are phrases like “I care about you” and “I miss you,” but in conversation (soap opera dialogue, included), no one would ever say “wo ai ni.” Lena even mentioned that her mother says, “I love you,” but only because there’s no other way to translate her maternal affection with her limited English.

Now that I think about it, I think I had it right as a kid the first time. Children are often very perceptive with relationships. As a coworker’s daughter once asked me, “why do you date guys who are mean to you — you shouldn’t have to settle for a guy who acts like you have cooties!” She’s exactly right. Younger kids often haven’t been influenced by society enough to develop the complicated layers, which make dating so difficult.

Granted, I wouldn’t recommend approaching a guy with the line, “you’re my boyfriend.” However, if I liked someone, there’s nothing wrong with making the first move.