There's no doubt we live in a society where it's cool for women to be independent. Women are achieving great success in their careers, taking the business world by storm, and are encouraged to pursue their interests and passions.
In a nutshell, it's trendy for ladies to be savvy go-getters.
However, when it comes to modern dating culture, we're still playing by some pretty old-fashioned rules. We are hesitant to initiate; we feel men should pay on the first date, and we obsess about appearing "too" interested.
After taking a step back and comparing these two contrasting issues, we have to ask ourselves a few questions: From where exactly did these fears initiate? Are we haunted by the voice of Charlotte York from "Sex and the City," berating us for giving too much up on a first date? Of what, exactly, are we afraid?
Coffee Meets Bagel, a new dating app for young singles, conducted some interesting research on this very topic.
CMB reports that their demographic contains many young professionals, particularly women. Nearly 100 percent of its female users have bachelor degrees, and more than 40 percent of them have obtained master's degrees or higher, to boot. They work in a variety of industries and are, by definition, successful females.
Curious about the disconnect between careers and romance, CMB looked into this further. They reported that women only initiated 27 percent of conversations and it took women an average of 33 minutes longer to start up a dialogue.
Interestingly, CMB noted, via a survey of 550 members, only 3 percent of women offered to pay the full bill on the first date.
It goes without saying that dating is scary, simply because of the fear of rejection. When we put ourselves out there and act vulnerable, we risk getting hurt.
We can all remember a time in middle school when we worked up the nerve to ask out our crush, only to be met with disappointment and embarrassment. But, what does it say about us now? We aren't braver than our eighth-grade selves?
The truth of the matter is that both men and women are afraid of rejection. CMB sites that many of its male users expressed frustration that women generally don't initiate. This huge tidbit throws a pretty large wrench into the myth that "men like women who are 'ladylike.'"
If both men and women are worried about rejection, and both act on these fears, it will inevitably lead to many missed opportunities.
As women, we should be empathetic to the fact that the fear of emotional pain is not a gender issue, but a human one. The pressure of vulnerability shouldn't fall exclusively on men's shoulders.
We know achievements don't come without risks in our careers; successful women aren't made overnight. Therefore, we need to start applying this logic to romance, as well. Successful relationships aren't obtained without an element of risk. In order to fully open your heart to someone, you risk breaking it in the process.
The expectation for men to pay on a first date is rooted in tradition, but as true with most customs, it needs re-evaluation. Traditions born in earlier decades don't necessarily apply in 2015.
It can undeniably be flattering when a man offers to pay for dinner, but if women are equally successful, there's no reason we shouldn't split the bill or pay in full. This shouldn't feel emasculating for men, and it shouldn't feel strange for women, either.
Ultimately, breaking out of dating comfort zones and smashing stereotypes will lead to both genders feeling better. Pressures will be lifted, and after a while, perhaps, risks won't seem so scary. After all, relationships are all about equal partnership and they thrive from trust, honesty and balance.