As our society continues along the complex and arduous road towards gender equality, it's important to consider how dating and romance should be impacted. With equal rights must come equal effort and equal responsibility. It's well past time for women to start pulling their weight on dates by contributing financially, and releasing men from outdated expectations of chivalry. The problem is, both men and women are still programmed by society to expect traditional behaviors and gender roles specifically when it comes to dating. It's as though the world of romance is stuck in a time capsule, while the rest of society evolves around it.
This is a tricky subject to address, because both genders may fear being taken advantage of by being the first to enact change. Men risk missing out on dating opportunities by failing to meet women's outdated expectations. Meanwhile, women are encouraged to expect chivalry from their dates, and to use those behaviors to gauge whether a man will make a good partner. It can be difficult to detach from these messages. But it's necessary.
This myTake is for both women and men, because both genders need to work together to make progress on this issue through cooperation, mutual compassion, and trust. Being on the same page is so important, because it's the only way that we can work together. That said, women bear a greater responsibility in certain aspects, like offering to split the bill on dates. I hope that it will offer readers some inspiration for how to take action in their own lives.
Chivalry goes both ways.
Equality doesn't mean that you can't be polite. Opening the door for your date, pulling out their chair, or offering them a jacket if they look cold are all lovely gestures. So is offering to pay for their dinner or buy them a drink. But those behaviors should be a two way street, and should not be expected of someone just because of their gender. Even more importantly, letting go of outdated social norms does NOT mean letting go of basic manners, consideration, compassion, and kindness. Those virtues are often forgotten these days, and that may be the biggest problem of all. Compassion, kindness, and general politeness are invaluable tools that will help you navigate our society's rapidly changing social waters.
Ladies: Understand that old-fashioned chivalry doesn't necessarily express how a guy feels about you or how much he values you. Yes, it can be charming, I admit. But it doesn't mean that the guy is kind or smart a good match for you. It doesn't mean that he respects you, that he loves you, or that the relationship will last. It just means that he knows how to open a door, and has decided to do so in this particular instance, either because he genuinely wants to perform a kind gesture or because he is simply following society's rules. Try to see past it.
Gentlemen: Be aware that women are constantly bombarded with messages from the media, entertainment, and even friends and family members, telling them that chivalrous men are the "good guys", the ones who will respect them and treat them well. These messages are damaging to both genders, because not only do they put unfair pressure on men, but they also confuse women about how to recognize a good partner. The best thing you can do to combat this is show the women in your life that pulling out their chair is not what makes you a good man or a desirable partner. Your kindness, compassion, intelligence, and personality are responsible for that.
Plan to either pay for yourself or split the bill.
Regardless of your gender, be prepared to cover your own costs when you head out on a date. It's fair, it's polite, and it keeps things simple- you can't go wrong. If one of you wants to insist on paying for the other, that's totally okay, but it should never be an expectation. And if your date does pay for your share, make sure to return the favor next time!
Men: You might be worried that you'll offend or displease your date by asking to split the bill. That's a tough one, and there is no perfect solution. Ultimately, you have a choice: stand up for change, or go with the flow. It's totally up to you. (But do you really want to date the type of girl who is going to stop liking you just because you wanted to split the bill, anyway?)
Women: Be mindful that men may feel pressured or obligated to offer to pay for you, due to outdated social norms. Don't put your date in that position! Take initiative and offer to split the bill/ pay for yourself. It's only fair. If he insists on paying, that's fine- but try again next time. Women have a responsibility to actively release men from the expectation of always paying.
But don't be obnoxious about it.
The point of splitting the bill is to establish a balanced and fair dynamic between you and your date, not to be frugal or obsessive about money. If you order one drink and your date orders two, let it go. Making a fuss over small amounts will add stress and awkwardness to the interaction for both you and your date, and may make you seem petty or stingy. Likewise, if you ordered an appetizer and your date didn't, it shouldn't be a big deal. You can offer to cover the extra amount if you want to, especially if you ordered something pricey, or you know that your date is on a tight budget. But it shouldn't be necessary to request separate checks just because of one extra drink or side salad.
If you suggest an expensive outing, consider your date's finances first.
While expecting to split the bill is generally a good rule of thumb, suggesting a super pricey restaurant or other extravagant outing can change the financial dynamic of the date a little bit. Keep in mind that if your date is on a tight budget or the activity is super expensive, they might have trouble affording their share. Ideally, they will tell you this beforehand, and suggest a cheaper activity. But they might be embarrassed about their finances, or they might assume that if you suggested the date, you are offering to pay for it. If your date looks panicked when the bill arrives, step in. Alternately, you can always discuss payment for the activity in advance, to see what your date can afford. (Or, just stick to cheaper dates so you don't have to worry about this in the first place.)
Come up with a financial plan for your relationship.
Once you've established a long term relationship with someone, it becomes extra important to agree on a fair way of managing relationship expenses. This might mean splitting the bill on dates, or taking turns paying, or each of you paying separately. Once the relationship gets serious enough, a shared bank account is also an option to consider. This makes it way easier to pay for expenses without using multiple cards or keeping track of who paid last. My boyfriend and I use a shared account for every cost that we want to split 50-50, so we no longer have to discuss which of us will pay or keep track of our receipts. It makes splitting the bill totally painless. (Just make sure you don't put too much money in it at a time, since sharing an account is a very serious commitment.)
Women should consider making the first move.
As a woman, I'm aware of the confusing mixed messages that females receive when it comes to this topic. We're encouraged to pull our weight by asking men out, but we're also told that men like the chase and will be less interested in a woman who takes the initiative. Rise above the nonsense, ladies. A guy who really likes you isn't going to turn you down just because you like him too. (And look at it this way: if he DOES lose interest just because you made the first move, then you probably dodged a bullet, anyhow.)
Happy dating! Thanks for reading!