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.

Chivalry vs. Equality in Dating

9 thoughts on “Chivalry vs. Equality in Dating

  • November 12, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    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).

    • November 12, 2018 at 4:14 pm

      Agree 100% that it’s a generational thing.

  • November 12, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    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)

    • November 21, 2018 at 8:35 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the article and found some of the points applicable.

      • December 29, 2018 at 3:01 pm

        I agree with Linda. Sharing occasionally tells the man you care and are a friend.

  • November 18, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    “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.

    • November 21, 2018 at 8:36 pm

      Generalizations never help people, so I advise you to re-think your assumptions. Wish you all the best.

  • November 21, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    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.

    • November 21, 2018 at 8:34 pm

      I agree with that approach. I only with everyone were capable of expressing themselves well.


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