New research presented at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting found that 84 percent of men and 58 percent of women say men pay for most entertainment expenses — even after they have been dating for some time.
And while 57 percent of women say they offer to help pay, 39 percent admitted that they hoped men would reject their offers, while 44 percent were bothered when men expected them to chip in. Nearly two-thirds of men believe women should contribute to dating expenses.
The results of the study weren’t as troublesome to me as the unsupported conclusions the researchers drew: that women are resisting gender changes and it will have cascading implications over society, because maintaining the traditional male role will cause men to think other forms of domination over women are okay. What?!?
Chivalry Doesn’t Equal Control
No man who has ever held the door open for me has ever believed he then had the right to physically control me. That might be taking their argument to an absurd conclusion, but come on . . . men are smarter than this. Or, at least the ones we want to be dating.
And it isn’t as if there is an equal split of money beyond paying for dates. Three research reports I read recently concluded that:
- Women still make less money than men
- Women still do more household chores then men
- Women spend more at the grocery store (I’m assuming for our “unique feminine needs)
From my own experience reviewing spending for clients, I know that women spend more than men on preventative health care (mammograms, pap smears). And because women are primary caregivers to children, they must take more time off than fathers.
So, here I’ve proven that it CAN be seen as a money issue (and women win), but I think if we continue to keep score as to who pays for what in the early days of dating, we’ll never get to an actual loving relationship.
Equity, Not Equality
When it comes to male-female relationships, there can never be total equality because men can’t have babies and women can’t pee standing up. And it would be ridiculous to approach cohabitation as a 50/50 partnership because you balance responsibilities based on strengths. You don’t say, “I am going to vacuum 50% of the living space, and you do the other 50%,” because you split duties in a complementary fashion. You vacuum, I do dishes.
The other thing I notice is that women tend to start care-giving earlier in the relationship by buying little gifts for the man they are dating—which offsets the entertainment expense. If you notice he’s running out of toothpaste, you pick some up, or throw a box of Clif Bars in your cart while you’re thinking of it. Or you buy him a tee shirt you know he’d like, or a iTunes gift card if he never lets you pick up the tab. Complementary spending.
The Real Reason Men Should Like Paying For Dates
Like I said, this isn’t an issue about money, ultimately; it’s about relationship happiness. For women, especially the “alpha” female who is always striving to get ahead, having your date paid for by your escort actually helps the relationship in 4 ways:
Signals Respect and Value. This doesn’t just have to do with dating; when people court a desirable candidate for a job opening, they pay for the candidate’s meal. It’s recognition that this person is special, and it’s flattering. This doesn’t mean you have to go to a 5-star restaurant to impress; in fact, if a restaurant is too special, it’s often a distraction from the conversation and connection. But when someone picks up the tab, I know they value me, and I appreciate that. Warm fuzzies abound.
Prevents Women From Overgiving. Women, more than men, tend to take on the responsibility to take care of everyone in their lives. If they are paying for their own dates, this doesn’t distinguish their romantic partner as anyone different—and like I mentioned earlier, women find ways to give even when they aren’t paying for dates. But as a woman’s potential romantic partner, don’t you want to stand out from the rest of the people in her life?
Reassures Women They Don’t Need To Be The Boss 24/7. When a man plans and pays for the date, women realize that they don’t have to be “on” all of the time, which is ultimately what you want in a long-term partner. It’s not that the women isn’t able to contribute her fair share or plans to let the man do all of the work, but knowing that a man can take the lead, and wants to take the lead reassures women that they won’t be mothering their partner and he can take responsibility without being asked.
Makes Women Feel Feminine. The energy of femininity is receptive. Yet all day, most women are ignoring their feminine energy so they can compete and accomplish. And even as a mother, their energy is about directing their child much of the time. When a women can sit back and feel secure that “the plan” is in the capable hands of her date, she can enjoy herself at a much deeper, more intimate level (and then, ahem, everybody wins, if you catch my drift).
Can’t Take These Ideas in Isolation
It would be irresponsible of me to ignore that there is a continuum of behavior across all of these concepts that can turn ugly. I see men spending A LOT of money dating so they can impress women—that’s not good. Dating budgets need to be in line with income, and men need to remember that a good woman is never impressed by where you take her—she is impressed with you.
I would never expect a man to blow his budget taking me out. But I have heard horror stories from men about women who expected the man to buy them groceries if they were out together! Or women who seemed less interested when they would go to a cheaper restaurant. That’s obviously another sign of incompatibility.
So part of
dating is watching how a potential partner spends his money and how a woman receives that honor. For both parties, dating is a fantastic ground for data-gathering to understand your potential partner’s relationship with money and financial behavioral defaults that may be a future issue that needs addressing.
Actions This Week
Don’t Take My Word For It. Women, experiment with this…go on a date and maintain the energy of receptivity, and then go on another date and be in charge. Which dynamic sets the stage for you to be more present for the relationship?
Communicate. Ask the man in your life how he feels about the current distribution of spending. If you’re hoping to have a long-term relationship with someone, you have to be able to talk about everything and not worried about impressing each other (which is different than feeling impressed by someone special and worthy).