November 12, 2018
I was reading some comments on a dating article last week, and they highlighted a point that I already knew: In this day and age, there are two opposing forces—chivalry and equality. (Please note that in this column, I am defaulting to opposite-sex couples, but similar concepts apply in same-sex couples.)
Chivalry: The guy pays.
Equality: You split the bill because no one is entitled.
Chivalry: The man holds the door open.
Equality: Whoever gets to the door first holds it open.
Chivalry: The man asks the woman out.
Equality: Whoever wants to ask the other person out should just do it.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I’m all for women’s independence, and I believe that women should be paid the same as men in the workplace and have all of the same privileges in life. That doesn’t, however, mean that I believe women and men should have the same place when it comes to dating. Equal partnership? Yes. But women also have a need to feel pursued, special, and secure. Does a man need to feel these things, too? I believe men need to feel appreciated, and sometimes needed, but not taken advantage of, especially financially.
Where does this leave most people? Honestly, confused.
When my female clients tell me that they want a take-charge kind of guy, the kind who asks them out confidently and who pays for the bill, what they have to remember is that things are now blurred. One woman wants this treatment, and another wants to yell “I am woman, hear me roar” and not be treated to anything. A woman may want a man to actively step around her to walk on the outside of the sidewalk. Another may view this same action as antiqued and rude. Neither of them is wrong. But men, at least some of those I’m working with, are shying away from taking risks on either end. Do they go for chivalry or equality?
For every piece of advice I give, there is someone who, of course, believes the exact opposite. Some women have no interest in being treated—financially or otherwise—to things, don’t want to be made to feel taken care of (“I can open that myself, thank you.”) and don’t think the man should be responsible for any more or less than the woman. I’m seeing that younger generations, like millennials, have much more of the equality mindset, whereas baby boomers prefer the chivalry. And those in the middle? A mixed bag. What’s confusing is that chivalry and equality are now butting heads.
I thought the last person I dated seriously handled things well… he asked. He asked if I liked the door held open for me (yes), if I liked to be treated sometimes to dinner (yes), and if I liked when he moved to stand on the outside of the sidewalk (again, yes). He asked because he didn’t know. His last girlfriend wanted none of that because she grew up in a home with such traditional gender roles that she was trying to break out of that mindset. Asking is always a good place to start.
Lastly, on the flip side, if you want something (mainly speaking to the women here), tell your partner. No one is a mind reader, so if you want someone to do something or you particularly like a gesture, mention it. You can’t get angry with someone for not doing something you want… if he simply doesn’t know.
15 thoughts on “Chivalry vs. Equality in Dating”
For what it is worth I think a lot of the standards may differ within age groups. Irrespective of what the current social norms are my mother would turn over in her grave if I didn’t pay, hold the door or do other gentlemanly tasks. Those manners have been so inbred into me that I have no intention of trying to change at this point in my life (and I have yet to find a woman who has been offended by it).
Agree 100% that it’s a generational thing.
Erika, You certainly expressed well the current dichotomy/dilemma between
chivalry/equality Truthly, I believe in a blend of both I feel so special when a
man opens the door for me, bring me flowers, or wine and treats me to dinner.
On the equality side, I don’t want take advantage of a man’s generosity and want
to share dinner and entertainment expenses However, I always appreciate when
a man offers to pay BUT I want to share (altho I do like to be treated on occasion)
Glad you enjoyed the article and found some of the points applicable.
I agree with Linda. Sharing occasionally tells the man you care and are a friend.
As a man I would suggest that modern women need to get over themselves. You don’t “need” us to buy you stuff, to “take control and wait on you hand and foot to make you feel special, you just like it and who wouldn’t.
However we believe in equality now and those traditional ways of men and women relating are no longer relevant, so you should be willing to give them up. I would suggest that relating to men in the same way that you do a close female friend . You do nice things for each other because you like each other, instead of a one sided transaction.
I could not disagree with these comments more. You’re correct that no one should feel entitled — men or women — but I do recommend maintaining some form of chivalry. Why? It’s nice. It makes a woman feel special. No woman should ever give up the desire to feel special. And no man should give up the desire to feel appreciated. But telling women to get over themselves is not the way to impress someone, I tell you that.
First of all, he’s clearly not trying to impress anyone with his statement. Second of all, what you said about “no man should give up the desire to feel appreciated” was wrongly used in this context. That is like saying every man has the right to be a personal slave. I mean if that’s their choice, whatever, because personally, I wouldn’t want that. Also side note, women don’t need to feel special. We aren’t entitled to that. Anyways, I think that women want independence but when it’s too uncomfortable, we rely on things like chivalry. Regardless, this was pretty interesting to think about and I hope you have a good day!
“He asked because he didn’t know. His last girlfriend wanted none of that.”
Women don’t want an indecisive wuss. They want a man who knows how to behave, and does not change his manners and behavior to please the whims of every internet skank. Hopefully, he didn’t mention his last girlfriend on the first date.
Erika, it is a cliche, but you continually confuse “what women want” with “what works for men”. Women like to be treated to dinner. But that is a horrible first date. Men need to set boundaries to make women earn chivalry. A man who establishes limits will attract women who seek his company more than they seek his largesse and entertainment. Moreover, women respect and respond to a men with standards. If your male clients were not struggling, then they would teach you that women are more likely to sleep with a man who doesn’t pay than a man who thinks he must pay. Many men date successfully (or sleep with dozens of Tinderellas per year) without following your advice.
Generalizations never help people, so I advise you to re-think your assumptions. Wish you all the best.
Erika, The problem with the “Asking” approach is that there are really quite a few things that one might ask about, and it could quickly get tedious for both people. The approach I prefer is to maybe ask about a very few basics, then just do what I think is appropriate and respectful, and depend on my partner to let me know if she prefers something different. If she’s not capable of doing that, then maybe we would have problems regardless.
I agree with that approach. I only with everyone were capable of expressing themselves well.
Chivalry was popular during a time when women played a certain role in the home. I don’t think women want to go back to those days. The end of chivalry will mark a big step forward towards women’s equality…unless that is not the goal.
Feminists want equality for all of the fun things like more money and power, but when they are asked to pay their fair share of the tab at a restaurant or serve in the front lines in the army all of a sudden they get all quiet. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
I don’t agree with chivalry at all. It’s so sexist. Does a man not deserve to feel special.? I’ll do nice things like open a door or pay for dinner but I do it because I’m nice. I’ll do it fir a man or a woman but not on the basis of gender. No one has ever been able to communicate to me what men get out of chivalry. Sure it’s nice to be appreciated but I need something tangible. In a relationship, I’ll take care of myself and you take care of yourself and it’s all good. Unpopular opinion, I know.