Back in the olden days, the dating game had "rules" for straight couples to follow. One of those all-important rules? Men paying on dates. This tradition stemmed from a different society that relied on chivalry steeped in sexism. The goal in dating was to find a husband and financial security. In 2018, though, there shouldn't be debate over the question, "Do guys need to pay on dates?"
A 2015 study published in Sage Journals by Janet Lever, David A. Frederick, and Rosanna Hertz revealed that, even though society has drastically shifted since modern dating became a thing in the early 1900s, in straight "courtship," 82 percent of men surveyed pay for most dating expenses, and 76 percent feel guilty if they don't foot the bill.
Why is this still a thing? Why has this tradition, steeped in "benevolent sexism," as described in the study, continued?
Part of this system may be due to how people are raised. For example, two men, Trenton, 28, and Mitchell, 30, were both taught growing up to pay for dates, but are open to other ways to handle the check.
An alternative to one party paying for the whole date is splitting the bill. This practice is also known as "going Dutch."
Trenton often splits the cost of dates 50/50 with his girlfriend. "If their [the man's] date is more comfortable splitting the check, then the path of least resistance is probably the best path forward," Trenton tells Elite Daily. "[...] People shouldn't go into dates expecting someone else to pay for them, and not put up a fuss if the other party wants to contribute. I don't think it's emasculating for a date/girlfriend to contribute."
Mitchell also goes Dutch on his dates. While he used to pay the full bill for his dates with his wife when they started going out, he's now a graduate student, and she's more established in her writing career. "I honestly prefer this new system, and I think my wife does as well," Mitchell tells Elite Daily. "When we go out, the bill is split 50/50, but I pay for her half and she pays for mine. It's a nice feeling knowing that you're supporting each other."
When I go out with men, I feel most comfortable splitting the bill. In my experience, men will want to pay for the date and will protest splitting, but I usually insist if it's not too awkward. Splitting the bill, from the first date, makes me feel like I'm setting the standard early on about my expectations: We're equal here.
Another man named Zack, 23, usually offers to pay on the first date, but does expect the woman to "at least pretend to want to split the check." If he wants to see her again, he'll pay the full amount. If he doesn't, he's fine splitting it. His favorite method to handle payment? "I really like when a girl responds by picking up the tab at the second location if I pay for the first," Zack says.
Another thing to consider is who's asking who out, as that could indicate who foots the bill, or who's "expected" to.
"Most of the time, I've been the one taking the action to ask her out on a date," Luke, 29, tells Elite Daily. "In that dynamic, it makes a bit more sense to me that I would be the one to pay."
Luke suggests the decrease of men being expected to pay for dates could be "more of a tide toward equality and reduced traditional gender roles."
Thinking critically toward the dated (ha) assumption that men pay for dates is also fun when you apply this assumption to queer couples: The logic that a certain gender is expected to pay for everything can fall apart. If there's no man on the date, or there's two men, what then? I say go Dutch — it's usually a safe bet.
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