As a feminist, people tend to question my views on dating dos, don’ts and etiquette. They ask me: So you believe men should never open doors for you or you should always pay for dinner?
First of all, I am capable of opening doors myself. My boyfriend is capable of opening doors for himself. It is not expected that he must always open doors for me and I, never, for him. However, I do open doors for him sometimes and vice versa. It is the gesture of your significant other offering to do something nice for you is the focus, not the expectation.
Second, I can admit that at the beginning of my relationship, my boyfriend did pay more often than I did. However, his payment did not go without my offer to pay or at least, to split the bill. Now that our relationship has progressed, we will either split bills or take turns paying as we operate on a “shared” view of our finances.
I came across a recent video on my Facebook newsfeed by Matthew Hussey, a dating and relationship coach. His take on whether the woman or the man should pay on a first date was a perspective that I strongly agree with. View the video here:
“Where does this double standard come from?” 1:10
Certain “dating etiquette” simply stems from generations before us. I think I can speak for most women when I say that we’re taught that men should pay and open doors, just like we’re taught that men should be the ones to ask us on a date, the ones to drive, or the ones to propose to us. I think I can speak for most men when I say that they feel pressured to do these things. I’m not arguing that it is wrong if you, as a man, like to open the door for your girlfriend, or for you, as a woman, to picture your perfect proposal with your boyfriend on one knee rather than you. I am saying that it is important to question where these wants come from and stop them from evolving into standards.
“The moment you say to a guy, ‘you have to f***ing pay for my time,’ you are saying that this relationship isn’t equal” 1:19
Hussey uses the helpful analogy of comparing a relationship to a friendship. He states that he would not apply a different mindset to a significant other than that of a best friend. Let’s say you don’t own a vehicle and therefore, your best friend is always the driver when you two go out. It is likely that you would offer them gas money or maybe pay for their lunch in return for consistently expending their milage for you so that the exchange is fair. If it was reversed and your friend never paid for the gas that you use while driving them around, I’m sure it would be annoying as it would be unfair for you.
“Let’s be teammates here in whatever way we can” 2:39
I like Hussey’s example of who pays for a hotel getaway, where if you make a fifth of what your SO makes, then it would be your responsibility to say that you want to pay a fifth of it. Or it would be your SO’s responsibility to say to you that they will take care of it, if that is what they want. When there is a notable financial differentiation between you and your significant other, it should be taken into account. My boyfriend and I are both working students. However, last year, he was unemployed for quite a few months, whereas I was not. We discussed that we would still go on trips, and dinner dates, and do other activities that we wanted to while simultaneously ensuring that he could still make ends meet. In some instances, this meant that I would pay for more than 50% of something, if not all, and he would pay for what he could afford at the time. Months later, when I was unemployed, this principle still applied, and I would pay for what I could afford, even if it was less than his share.
Overall, I think we can all agree on the fact that equality and communication should be value that is emphasized in a relationship. Let’s not forget to apply it to even small aspects, like paying for dinner. If your man always pays for, then so be it, but I hope it’s because you have both discussed that it is what the two of you want, not because you expect it and pressure him to.
Aside: I kept this post strictly focused on heterosexual relationships, not with the intention to offend or exclude, but merely because the gender standards in a heterosexual relationship can differ from that of two women or two men, which is an entire post I’ll have to tackle another time.