Who should pay for the first date? The majority says it’s the guy’s responsibility. A survey released this month found that about 77 percent of people in heterosexual relationships believe men should settle the bill on the first date. The survey was put together by US financial website NerdWallet. The site polled roughly 1,000 Americans who had been dating their partners for six months or more.
The financial chivalry began when, in the past, women had no access to employment and therefore couldn’t fend themselves financially. But nowadays, more and more women have become the breadwinners. According to The Atlantic, between 1960 and 2011 in the US, the proportion of two-parent US households in which the mother earned all or most of the income roughly quadrupled.
So why, amid economic changes and gender equity advancements, are men still expected to pay for the bill?
“As social roles start to change, people often embrace the changes that make their lives easier, but resist the changes that make their lives more difficult,” David Frederick, a professor of psychology at Chapman University, US, told The Huffington Post. “Who pays for dates … is one arena where women may be resisting gender changes more than men,” he suggested.
Frederick is a co-author of a study released last year that also found men tend to pay for dates. The study was larger than NerdWallet’s and polled about 17,000 people, according to The Atlantic. The study also found 39 percent of its female respondents admitted that they hoped men would reject their offers to help pay. Frederick and his colleagues called paying for dates “a rare case” in which women are motivated not to fight old-school gender dynamics. In the same way, men who are no longer breadwinners aren’t as eager to take up domestic responsibilities such as parenting and homemaking.
Many people would argue men’s paying for dates is a form of respecting women. But Joe Pinsker, writing in The Atlantic, says this seemingly “benevolent” form of sexism can lead to a sense of entitlement on men’s part — they tend to think that women owe them because they have paid.
Money can twist men’s opinion of sexual consent. Pinsker cites a 2010 study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. It found that men were more likely than women to think that sex should be expected when a man pays for an expensive date.
This really is disturbing. But Frederick found something optimistic in his study that might serve as a warning to some women. Almost half of the men surveyed in the study he co-authored said that they would break up with a woman if she never offered to help pay the bill on a date. “In this single telling finding about dating and paying interactions, we see evidence of a sea change,” Frederick wrote.