With all the rules of dating now out, what do women really want? Is it a traditional man? And if, so, what does that mean these days?
By Jess McCann
Recently I’ve had an influx of new clients complaining to me about the lack of good prospects in the nation’s capitol. Of course, there’s nothing new about women complaining about men. That’s just par for the course. What’s interesting to me is that instead of the gripes running the gamut, (he’s not tall enough, not smart enough, not funny enough) the complaints I’ve been hearing more recently all share one common theme. Women these days are looking for a “traditional guy” – one who will plan every date, open every door, and pick up every tab. In short, these women want to be courted like it’s 1939. But this is 2010, so is it really fair of us to expect a guy to still “call on” us like the old days?
Who should pay?
Today it’s pretty standard for the man to pay for a first date. Even if the woman offers, it is common knowledge that if he wants to see her again, he won’t let her get past the wallet reach. But some women today want to stretch out that first date standard, and insist the guys pay for everything … every time.
Patricia, who lives in Dupont, equates how much money a guy spends to how much he really likes her. “If he takes me to a nice restaurant, orders a good bottle of wine, and doesn’t even think of asking me to help out, I know that he is genuinely interested,” she says. Most other women would not fight her logic, but as the relationship progresses, Patricia expects the same kind of treatment. “If two months in, we go to a chain restaurant and he expects me to chip in, I figure it’s his way of saying, ‘I’m not that into you anymore.’”
Patricia says she gets her old school mentality from her mother, who taught her that men should pursue her. Not surprising given that most mothers with daughters who are now old enough to date, grew up in a different era of dating. “The reason that men always paid in the past was because most women didn’t work,” says Eric, who is single and twenty-six. “But that isn’t the case anymore.”
A century ago, less than 20% of women participated in the labor market, while today the number is around 70% and growing. Back then, a boy was expected to ask a girl out, plan the date, and yes, pay for everything. In return, all he expected was a good-night kiss. But with the cost of inflation today, that kiss just doesn’t go as far.
Ryder, a thirty-three year old single male from Arlington, says he doesn’t mind paying for dates. However, by date four he no longer feels he is just dating a woman. They are in a relationship by that point, and she should at least be making an attempt to balance things out. “If she’s making more or equal money, she should be respectful enough to pay sometimes. If she’s making far less money, just pick up the random ice cream, beer, coffee, whatever. Little gestures show you’re not oblivious to the fact that we’re paying or simply sustenance dating”– a term used for women who go out with men they have no interest in other than to pay for them to eat at the newest, hottest restaurants.
There are a few men that do support Patricia’s theory. But most are newly divorced, and unfamiliar with how much the game has changed. When Dan, a fifty-eight year old defense contractor courted his wife back in 1969, he never thought twice about footing the bill. “I didn’t expect a woman to pay then, and I don’t now,” he says quite bluntly. Will he change his mind once he puts himself back on the market? Only time will tell.
To be in a happy relationship, there must be balance. And while there are a good deal of men that claim to prefer the traditional male-female roles, they usually don’t want them to kick in until after the couple is married. After all, you really can’t take a woman out; wine her, dine her, and then take her back to your place to fold your underwear, can you?
Fifty years ago dating was much simpler. You went out for a soda and a hamburger, or sat in a parked car for a few hours. Today, most dates take place over a three-course meal and a few glasses of wine. Traditions are changing. The expectation and the expense have gone up. But with both parties out in the workforce dating doesn’t have to break a guy’s bank account.
My opinion? If you have passed the forth date mark it may be time to start showing a little reciprocity, girls. He works hard for the money just like you do. So you better treat him right if you want to see him again.
Jess McCann is an author, speaker, and dating coach who knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence. Before finding love and writing, You Lost Him at Hello: a saleswoman’s secrets to closing the deal, she was confused, self-conscious and alone. Since then, she has coached women all over the globe on how to kick their love life into high gear and get the relationship they have always wanted. She’s appeared on national television shows, such as Good Morning America, The Fox Morning show with Mike & Juliet and speaks frequently at women’s rallies, college campuses and lifestyle events.