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Just Asking for It! Part I

Can just asking for a date be persuasive?

Welcome back to The Attraction Doctor

Today I'm going to share with you a little secret. Just asking for what you want from a potential partner can be influential. In fact, asking is where influence starts (and sometimes ends). Apart from the clever conversation, attractive body language, and SPICE-y persuasive flair, you still have to make an actual request. You need to ask for that date, phone number, short-term relationship, or even a sexual encounter.

Actually asking, however, is where most people fall short. They assume that the odds are stacked against them. They predict that rejection is almost certain before they even make the attempt. But, according to the research, they are probably wrong.

Research on Requests for Dates and Sex

Researchers Hald and Høgh-Olesen (2010) investigated individuals' acceptance of various dating and sexual requests. Research assistants of average attractiveness were asked to introduce themselves to strangers of the opposite sex in public by saying, "Hi, my name is [NAME]. I am sorry to disturb you like this, but I have been noticing you around and find you very attractive."

The research assistants were then asked to randomly make one of the following requests:

  • "Would you go on a date with me tonight or during the week/weekend?"
  • "Would you come over to my place tonight or during the week/weekend?"
  • "Would you go to bed with me tonight or during the week/weekend?"

When individuals in a relationship were excluded from the count, 68% of men and 43% of women agreed to the date. Also, 40% of men and 21% of women agreed to going to the assistant's place. Finally, 59% of men (but 0% of women) agreed to casual sex. These figures roughly correspond to an original study on the topic by Clark and Hatfield (1989), who found more of a 50/50 split in agreement to a date, and similar patterns of response to the other requests.

Don't count women out on agreement to sexual requests though! A follow-up study by Conley (2011) investigated the type of sexual requests above more thoroughly. The author found, when participants were asked about actual casual sexual offers in their real lives, women reported accepting 40% of the time.

Furthermore, an "experiment" conducted by an Austrian journalist found that 6.1% of women actually proceeded to have intercourse with a stranger making such a request (see Voracek, Hofhansl, & Fisher, 2005). Yes, he really had sex with them. In addition, if you include the women who responded with a date request or phone number back to him (but didn't have sex immediately) and subtract the women who said they were "in a relationship," the positive response rate would be closer to 21%.

What This Means for Your Love Life

A person of average attractiveness, using a pretty bland introduction and approach, had about a 50/50 chance of getting a "yes" response to a date request from a complete stranger (who was single). Let that sink in for a minute. That is probably a lot better odds than you were originally thinking.

Of course, the research data does need to be taken with a grain of salt. Not everything generalizes to everyone or every situation. But, even as really rough ballpark odds, those numbers are not half-bad. Besides, if you're not as attractive as you'd like to be, we can fix that. If you're really bad at approaching, we can work on that too (see my past articles below). All things can be improved.

Overall then, the message is simple ... ask, ask, ask! If you want a date, then ask for it! If you want some company, ask for it! You have a pretty good chance of getting it.


Now we've seen that probability is your friend in dating. So, go out there and make a request. Ask for what you want! Also, click here for Part II, where I will go deeper into the above research and answer "why" and "when" strangers say yes.

Previous Articles from The Attraction Doctor

© 2011 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.


Clark, R. D., & Hatfield, E. (1989). Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 2, 39-55.

Conley, T. D. (2011). Perceived proposer personality characteristics and gender differences in acceptance of casual sex offers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 309-329.

Hald, G. M., & Høgh-Olesen, H. (2010). Receptivity to sexual invitations from strangers of the opposite gender. Evolution and Human Behaviior, 31, 453-458.

Voracek, M., Hofhansl, A., & Fisher, M. L. (2005). Clark and Hatfield's evidence of women's low receptivity to male strangers' sexual offers, revisited. Psychological Reports, 97, 11-20.

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