Chivalry and entrenched societal expectations and gender norms insist that men pay for their dates. But, shouldn’t feminism change this traditional approach to modern dating?
According to a recent study of more than 17,000 heterosexual men and women, the results indicated that:
- 76% of men reported feeling guilty when they didn’t pay for their date
- 64% think that women should contribute
Meanwhile, on the other side of the equation:
- 39% of women wished that men would reject their offers to pay
- 44% said they didn’t like it when men expected them to help pay
- 40% said that it bothered them when men wouldn’t let them pay
What is going on here?
Well, the study’s results indicate society’s progress, in that we’re making conscious choices in our lives based on equality. But, the problem is that sometimes the way in which we interpret equality can interfere with getting what we want from our date.
After the women’s movement came along, society lost all of its old rules for dating. We haven’t really replaced them, either. These statistics show our confusion about what to do without consistent new rules.
Should women put their egalitarian ideals ahead of what they want from men?
Does offering to pay for your half of the date protect you from unwanted sexual advances?
Furthermore, how can a man tell if a woman really wants him to pay?
Some women might offer to pay to show their belief in equality, while others will do it to demonstrate their independence or thoughtfulness. But, some women may do it as a way to test him, to suss out his values and beliefs regarding this sensitive issue. Unwittingly, a man might fail this test. He may go along with whatever she does or wants to please her. Women who do this type of testing might not even be consciously aware of what they are doing. They might feel a bit guilty about wanting him to pay because they think they should pay since women are equals.
As much as women want to be equals, we still can’t forget that women still only earn 77% of what a man earns. If you make much more than him or the same as he does, should that factor into your decision to split the bill or pay for both shares of the date?
The main problem here is that it’s not always best for women to decide what they want by following societal norms.
Women today may feel that they have more power when they ask men out, pay for the dates, have sex without commitment, live with them without being married and without asking for anything in return. These things can work out well for some of us. But most of the time, these things will backfire for many women. The reason why is because there are a whole lot of no-so-nice-guys out there that will take advantage of these situations. That’s the reason why so many of us can’t tell if he is really into us before he breaks our hearts. We’re no longer making it clear to men that we have expectations, too.
But, didn’t the women’s movement mean we were equal and should take the initiative and risks in love?
Why are we making decisions based on what we ‘should’ do? Why decided based on political correctness rather than our own feelings? That’s contradictory to the spirit of the women’s movement.
When women are expected to ignore their emotions, they are denied their individuality. The women’s movement was about women’s individuality, not that they should be the same as men. As Gloria Steinem said, “A feminist is anyone who believes in the full humanity of men and women.”
Feminism isn’t the problem. It’s how we translate feminism that is the problem. We threw out one set of rules that women should be wives and mothers only, and subservient to their husbands, for a new set of rules; women should act just like men. Both deny our own unique, emotional needs.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting the man to pay on your date. It shows that he wants to make you happy. Maybe, this is a way of him signaling to you that he is willing to take care of you. It may also indicate that he is very much into you. These are all excellent signs when you first start dating someone.
Why make it harder for you to figure out where he stands? A man who insists that you pay might be sending a signal that he isn’t interested in taking care of you when you need it.
Being independent is great. But no one is an island. We all need someone to help us out from time to time. There is no shame in wanting to find a man who is capable of helping you out when you need it and isn’t afraid to signal his feelings in concrete ways.
What can men do to help smooth this process and eliminate any confusion on a first date? He could open a line of dialogue with his partner, and let her know upfront how he feels about the issue. Chances are, both parties are feeling a little anxious about what happens when the bill arrives. Gentlemen, you could say something like this:
“I know that everyone has a different approach when it comes to paying for dates. You might feel strongly about it one way or another. I want you to know that there are no strings attached here. I’d appreciate it if you let me pay. But if you feel differently about it, I’m cool with whatever you want to do.”
For those of you who are worried that if he pays, you’ll be ‘dessert,’ the study takes a look at this concern, too. Only 16% of men said they would expect sex in return for paying for a date. It’s possible that the number might be higher and that some men may have been reluctant to answer that question honestly.
What do you do if you can’t tell if he’s one of the 16%?
Don’t let him pick you up at your place. Meet him only in public until you feel that you can trust him. Doing this will protect you more than insisting on paying for dates. It’s not a good sign if he is in a hurry for you to trust him. A good man will want his partner to be comfortable.
It can be hard to know whether or not a man is worthy of your trust. We cover this in more detail in How to Be Your Own Brand of Sexy. Being Your Own Brand of Sexy means owning yourself and knowing what you want and what strategies work for you as an individual. Being Your Own Brand of Sexy will help you achieve your personal relationship goals.
If you want to know more about dating success and finding love, sign up for my waiting list. I’ve got a new online course coming up soon that will teach you How to Be Your Own Brand of Sexy in 5 Simple Steps. Sign up here so you’ll be the first to know when the course is ready.
It’s true that our comfort level with the question of who pays for the date will vary based on the individual, and that’s okay. What are your personal thoughts and feelings on this common, modern dating dilemma? Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!