Even though most women now work, they don't usually bear the cost of dating. A survey presented at the American Sociological Association shows men would like to see women contribute more to dating, including sometimes picking up the tab. But they're not sure how to ask.
The paper, "Who Pays for Dates? Following vs. Challenging Conventional Gender Norms," tracks the responses of more than 17,000 survey participants on such notions as gender equality and chivalry.
As Olivia B. Waxman from Time magazine explained, "The ritual of men taking out women dates back to the time when men earned more because most jobs were not accessible to women. By treating women, men were also showing their ability to provide for them in the future. But now that the percentage of men and women in the paid labor force is about equal — and 28 percent of women are making more money than men in households where both partners work — the study’s authors wanted to know if that shift in gender roles has contributed to women’s expectations about who pays the tab."
"Conventional notions of chivalry dictate that on a 'date,' the man pays, whereas egalitarian ideals suggest gender should not determine who pays for the entertainment expenses," a release about the study noted. "This research examines the extent to which people embrace or reject these competing notions after nearly 50 years of feminism. It is known that most marriages (eight in 10) today are based on sharing the breadwinner's burden, so one question was whether that role is shared before marriage and, if so, how early in the dating process."
The researchers, from Chapman University, California State University Los Angeles and Wellesley College, found that 84 percent of men and 58 percent of women said that conventional norms rule, with men picking up most expenses, even after dating for some time. Nearly six in 10 women say they offer to help pay, but 39 percent confess they hope those offers will be rejected and 44 percent of women are bothered when men expect women to help pay.
Close to two-thirds of men believe women should contribute to dating expenses (64 percent). And 44 percent of men said they would stop dating a woman who never pays. But more than three-fourths of the men said they feel guilty about accepting women's money.
“Some traditions just die hard,” David Frederick, a psychologist at Chapman University and one of the study co-authors, told CBS Minnesota's Heather Brown. “When roles start to change, people embrace the changes that make their lives easier, and they reject the changes that make their life harder."
He used the example of paid employment. Both men and women like the fact women make more money, but that doesn't mean all women want to pay for dates. At the same time, he noted, men “don’t pick up the slack in childcare and housework.”
Over the course of a relationship, the survey found, the numbers change a bit. About 40 percent of men and women said they share at least some dating expenses within the first month and roughly three-fourths (74 percent of men, 83 percent of women) said they share some expenses by six months.
The researchers noted that the sharing of expenses or the desire to share expenses is not just a phenomenon of younger couples. The findings held true regardless of daters' ages, income or education.
"Although there is evidence of resistance to change, the data suggest that the deep-rooted courtship ritual around who pays is also changing along with the transformation of the relative material and social power of women and men," the researchers found.
Bloggers and columnists are chiming in on the topic and asking readers what they think. Parade magazine has its own poll going, while Cosmopolitan's Natasha Burton notes that "as much as I think men should treat ladies to that first meal (or other such activity), I believe that women should step up and at least partially contribute to dating expenses once a relationship is in full-swing. While some people might think that having a dude foot the bill for everything shows how chivalrous he is, I don't like the idea of a relationship being so financially one-sided."
Frederick co-authored the study with Janet Lever of California State University, Los Angeles, and Rosanna Hertz of Wellesley College.
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