feminist ideas about dating and relationships

are we forsaking romance in the name of equality?

feminist ideas about dating and relationships

I am a feminist, and I like it when a guy pays on the first date. In fact, I sort of expect it.

The reason I’m starting out with this (literally) bold statement is that I’ve seen a few things on my twitter timeline lately that have left me in contemplation. Statements to the effect of “If I can’t afford to pay for myself on a first date, then I just won’t go” and “As a feminist, I find it archaic to expect a guy to pay on the first date.” It’s not a sentiment that I agree with right off the bat, and it’s gotten me to thinking…

What is considered acceptable ettiquete in the modern world of dating?

Is this a popular opinion amongst my feminist sistren?** What I found when I looked into it (by cleverly googling “paying on the first date” and “feminism”) is that it’s something that people seem to have varying opinions on. For the most part I found articles like these, though, which mention the contradiction between feminism and expecting to have your dates paid for by your special guy.

Now if a woman makes it known that she is a feminist and she can take care of herself and she doesn’t need the patronizing help of a man to live her life thank you very much, then I can see how it does seem like a contradiction that the same woman could then complain about a man being cheap on the first date. It may even seem hypocritical.

I think, however, that a stance like this one is a little bit misguided. It isn’t crazy, even for a feminist, to want to be taken out and shown a good time by someone who asked them out on a date. This way of thinking either misses or ignores the whole point behind a chivalrous action like paying on the first date, which is to show your future honey that you care. It’s something sweet, intended to make a good impression. Taking all such sweet actions away and always making sure to divide things equally really does take the romance out of it. Hello? Don’t you guys remember the The Joy Luck Club? Lena and Harold divided absolutely all financial costs equally, and it was a cold and frigid existence they endured.

Personally, I think it’s up to whoever is doing the inviting to pay for the date.

But if we want to talk about equality in dating and relationships, I think the bigger picture is a lot more complicated than figuring out who should pay on the first date. There are bigger questions, like:

  • Why do most women (and men) expect the man to do the asking and the woo-ing?
  • What is it in our social script that makes it “emasculating” for a man to let a woman pay on the first date?
  • What is it that holds women back from asking men out on the first date?
  • Why is a relationship between a man and a woman often times the only representation of “love” and “dating” we see in TV and music and movies, etc?
  • Why should women be the only ones in relationships who need emotional taking care of?
  • Why SHOULDN’T you sleep with someone on the first date? Is that still a thing?

If we want to find fault in outdated traditions, I think there are a lot more interesting questions that could be asked than just “Who’s got the bill?”. Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments section below, I’m curious to know how everyone else feels. xx

**I just learned this word! It’s the female equivalent of brethren. Your vocabulary is welcome.

3 thoughts on “are we forsaking romance in the name of equality?

  1. You make a good point. I actually wrote about this topic from a different perspective. My stance is that I don’t expect the guy to always pay for everything, but if a guy invites me on a date (especially for the first time), there is nothing wrong with him treating me if that is what he intends to do. Likewise, what loving girlfriend doesn’t like buying their bf a birthday gift, cooking them a nice meal, or taking care of them when their sick? It goes both ways. I think the idea is to know when to appreciate the gifts and when to reciprocate.

    That being said, some feminists might make a big deal about not letting a guy pay in order to distance themselves from the stereotype that all women are gold diggers. I went through this phase until I found a comfortable middle spot. This issue is frustrating because you have one camp of guys who mock women for being selfish golddiggers, and another camp mocking them for being overly “radfem”. It’s hard to win either way.

  2. I’m a feminist, and I love to be pampered and taken care of BUT I never expect it, even if the man asked me out first. Ideally I would love to follow the whoever did the asking rule, but always at least offer to split the bill early on in a relationship until I’ve figured out what the guy is comfortable with and to demonstrate I’m not just in it for a free meal.

    Guys aren’t going to tell you straight up if they like the feeling of providing for you or if they’re more of a split it halfway type, but I’m completely comfortable with either.

    1. I completely see where you’re coming from, but I still feel that if someone asks me out on a date then the expectation should be that they’re paying. Now, I’m not necessarily the type of girl who needs to wined & dined at fancy restaurants — I just think it’s a matter of courtesy.

      When I first started dating my boyfriend, I asked him on our first “real” date and paid for it (prior to that we had been in the murky world of “hanging out”). We went to a redbox machine and a local diner, but the point was that I was trying to show him a good time and take care of him.

      I think if you ask someone out (especially someone you’re not already in a relationship with), you’re low-key asking for a chance at showing someone what a relationship with you would be like. I wanted to show him that I would care for him and provide for him, the same courtesy I hope he would extend to me.

      Thanks for commenting! I love hearing from different perspectives than my own. xx

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