Should men pay for things during the dating phase of a relationship?
- A 2019 Elite Singles survey found that approximately 62% of men think they should pay on a first date, while only 46% of women agreed.
- Merriam-Webster defines chivalry as 'an honorable and polite way of behaving especially toward women.'
- Oxfam International reports that women make approximately 24% less money throughout the world than men do for comparable work.
- Scholar Moira Weigel reveals in her book Labor of Love that modern dating's origins are found at the end of the 19th century when unmarried women began moving to cities to look for employment. 'For fun and to meet potential mates, they went out after work with men who could pay for an evening's entertainment at a dance hall or nightclub. The custom was so novel that these girls were sometimes mistaken for prostitutes and arrested.'
As with most other chivalric ideals, expecting men to pay for things is extremely unfeminist. Some might argue that many men choose to pay out of courtesy for the women they’re dating, but the fact remains that this tradition is problematic because of how it patronizes women. Opening doors and pulling out chairs are other classic examples of this. While these behaviors are indeed well-intentioned, they are condescending because they are a service that is only done for women by men.
Male partners feeling the need to always foot the bill should also be acknowledged as a form of benevolent sexism, which refers to the idea that men must protect women. This is dangerous because it reinforces notions that women are somehow inferior. Studies have shown that this type of sexism can severely impact how women treat themselves and allow others to treat them--not just in relationships but also at work. Additionally, research has proven that women who expect men to pay tend to have lower career aspirations than those who don’t. These women also tend to show less interest in achieving financial independence.
Furthermore, women taking the initiative to pay for things will help establish the foundation for a relationship where both partners are considered equals. A true partnership, after all, is one where both individuals are willing to pay their dues. Women cannot be expected to be portrayed as self-assured and independent individuals if they continue to abide by traditions that suggest just the opposite.
As we move towards a world that places enormous value on gender equality, its influence on dating norms has become a hot debate. However, the social dynamics of men and women dating have not changed much--and for good, practical reasons.
Even with the rise in feminist discourse, Professor Tara Emmers-Sommer found that both men and women continue to have traditional views regarding who should pay for a first date--and it’s the man. Her studies found that women usually feel that men who pay during dates are interested in taking things forward.
Not just that, The Art of Manliness’ Brett Mckay opines that men paying for women does not undermine gender equality. Instead, chivalrous acts “foster mutual respect between men and women” through small courteous acts. Opening a door for a woman sends a signal that a man intends no harm, despite their differences in physical strength. It is not about asserting anyone’s inferiority or superiority.
Dating is essentially about courtship. And what better way to develop a meaningful connection with a partner than to demonstrate how much men can do for women? Conversations are good, but deeds are better.
And for men who think that women don’t spend anything when dating and so they should chip in, Match.com reveals that dating isn’t technically a free ride for women. Fifty-three percent of women say they spend money in advance on new outfits and pre-date grooming, while 65% spend more than $50 on date prep.
It is important to recognize the complementary nature of the sexes, and dating is a good barometer for gauging that.