Gender Equality in Modern Dating

A strong, healthy couple exercising together.

Feminism and gender equality are not only topics that are shaping our professional lives, but our personal lives too. Classic dating tropes, such as waiting for the guy to call the woman first or having him pay for the first date, seem, well, outdated. Nowadays it’s not uncommon for a woman to pick up the check, text first or initiate sex. Though some people might favor traditional gender roles when it comes to dating, there are those—both men and women—who are open to dismantling old-fashioned dating norms so both genders can call the shots in a relationship.

In this (kinda, sorta) liberated time, when we’re trying to find someone interesting and set up a date, what do we do? For example, is opening a door for a woman still considered chivalrous, or is it now just downright inconsiderate?

Here are some important points to think about when it comes to respecting gender equality while dating. (P.S. it’s really not that complicated.)

She can pay if she wants to…for the right reasons.
Match’s 2017 Singles In America survey showed that 47 percent of women offered to pay the bill because they wanted to show their independence. However, the troubling truth is that 74 percent of women offered to pay so they wouldn’t feel obligated to do anything with a man they didn’t want to. Ugh. Here’s the thing: paying for the date shouldn’t be a transactional experience. No one should foot the bill to prove anything, or to keep score. Simply put, paying for someone’s cocktail should be considered an act of gratitude. It means, “Thank you for spending this time with me.”

Though a woman has every right to pay for her date, she should only do so if she truly wants to express her appreciation—and not because she doesn’t want to put out. However (and this is where it gets confusing) women are looking for kindness and a sign of interest from her male companion, which is usually symbolized by his paying for the first date. So, how about we try this: the man, who doesn’t expect anything more but the company of his date, pays for the first date, and then the couple can split the upcoming dates afterwards. Deal?

Chivalry isn’t dead…but it’s being polite that matters.
Some women complain that chivalry—a man showing up with flowers at his date’s door, for example—is dead, while others might balk at the sight of a man opening a door for them. So what gives? Perhaps Emma Watson put it back when she tackled the topic of dating-while-feminist in her Facebook Q&A on International Women’s Day in 2015. “I love having the door opened for me… But isn’t that just politeness?” She said. “Would you mind if I held the door open for you? I’m polite and you’re polite and we’re making the world a better place with this small, kind polite gesture.” Politeness and respect are two key ingredients when starting, and continuing, a relationship. If we can see and appreciate sweet gestures from our beloved for what they are—and not have any other attachment or expectation from them—then chivalry isn’t dead at all, nor does it have to be.

Men don’t mind at all if women make the first move.
It’s all about the chase for guys,” we’ve been told. “If a guy wants you, he’ll make the first move,” or, “Don’t show too much interest or he’ll be turned off,” are other dating tropes we’ve heard time and again. Which is probably why some women are shy to express their interest first. But here’s the thing: According to a study of online dating data, women who send an online dating first message are 2.5 times more likely to get a response than men are. Also, studies (not to mention tons of thinkpieces) show that men have no problem with women making the first move, whether it’s the first date, first kiss, or first time having sex. So, basically, whoever is feeling who first, man or woman, just go for it! It’s so much better than waiting around and wondering, what if.

Dating, and how men and women relate to each other will probably always be complicated, just like solid relationships will always be built on communication, trust, and mutual respect. As long as you and your date are committed to supporting and respecting one another, as well as doing away with the dating tropes you don’t like and keeping the ones you do, you can only go upwards as a team (made of independent individuals, of course).

Brianne Hogan

Freelance Writer

Brianne is a Canadian freelance writer who’s been writing about dating and relationships longer than any of her relationships. She applies a “do what I say, not do what I do” approach to her articles, and believes you can find Your Person mostly when you aren’t looking. So enjoy your life, and eat lots of cheese (at least that’s her motto). Her byline’s been featured on Thrillist, The Huffington Post, HelloGiggles, Elle Canada, Flare, Awesomeness TV, among others.

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