The Western “Let’s go Dutch Culture”

A male friend of mine once related to me his frustrations in dating. He was in his early thirties, has a stable job making over 60k a year as an Art Director for a software company. He had a meager savings and dreams of owning his dream vintage Porsche someday. A month after breaking up with his girlfriend of 10 months, he decided to re-enter the dating scene with renewed gusto. He relished his newly “Single” status but still has hopes of meeting his “Perfect” match. Armed with a big ego and low expectations, he diligently updated his online dating profiles, made more of an effort on his appearance and with renewed vigor, hit on every woman that he thought was “HOT”. In a short amount of time, his dating life was resurrected and he found himself spending time with various women 3-4 times a week.   

 

6 months later, he updates me with the complaint that he has went through his savings and is now living paycheck to paycheck. Apparently, his dating excursions were more expensive than he had bargained and budgeted for. He had to regretfully distance himself from dating in order to get back on track with his finances. This is not an uncommon story.  

 

The debate on whether the man should pay for every date with a woman is a modern argument stemmed from the high cost of living, low wages and the entry of women in the workforce who sometimes double or even triple the salaries of their male counterparts. On the first date, the male is expected to fund the event from dinner to movies to show the woman that he is well off, capable and able to take care of a lady. As the relationship progresses, are the same expectations expected?

 

Not allowing a woman to pay would be an insult to her independence.” One 29 year old college student states emphatically. Yes, it is true that women have worked very hard to obtain equality in their chosen professions, civil rights and personal relationships. To allow a man full control would be backsliding into an old fashioned way of courtship that is not beneficial to women’s rights often leading to jealous and possessive behaviors which can include physical, mental and emotional abuse.

 

These roles of the past are still played out today all over the world in varying degree’s. Different situations, societal norms, obligations and expectations, misguided intentions and accumulated wealth are all factors in figuring out what is right for your relationship. Focusing only on the Western Culture and what men and women expect in modern courtship brings us to the all important question; Why should men continue to pay as the relationship progresses?

 

Men have had the role of the provider for millennia. They held positions of power, generated more income, were the caretakers and providers for their family. The women, as were expected, took care of the children, all the domestic duties and made sure that their man was well fed and taken care of in the bedroom. The twentieth century brings us a modern mentality that does not solitarily include the above but rather an equal partnership that encompasses all the duties to be divided evenly among partners. Women now have gained respect in their careers, own their own homes and wait until after their twenties to have a family. They don’t need a man, but the search for one never ends. Women court men as much as men court women and with the incomes becoming increasing equal, is the man still be expected to carry the role of provider as before? Not so much.

 

Some women will protest to splitting the check, the household finances and carrying the weight of relationship since the experience of childbirth and child rearing is a job onto itself as well as still maintaining the household and bringing in a second income. Some women, no matter how much money they have or make, still expect the man to pay for all the expenses in the dating stages as is the usual custom. Men protest to these expectations and now have a few of their own. The gender roles have reversed so dramatically that men are now stay at home dads and the women the main breadwinners in the household.

 

There are some variations to consider, for example, who is asking who out on the date? Logically, isn’t it customary for the asker to pay for the askee? If we must evolve in the western civilization, then is the ways of courtship changed so drastically that it is customary to go “Dutch”? A poll of men have taken to this topic with relish and give their opinions:

 

*I will say, I have a lot of respect for the lady who honestly wants to be an equal part of the dating process. – 31 yr old graphic artist.

 

*If she offers to pay, she’s more likely to see more dates – 35 yr old program engineer

 

*Men don’t mind paying. It’s the expectation that men don’t like. I myself don’t mind paying, but respect her if she picks it up sometimes.. – 35 yr old music producer.

 

*I believe a man should pay most of the time because its just the gentlemanly thing to do. You have to use common sense with it though just like everything else,

you do what you can afford to do…I like a woman to pay just to stroke the male ego and let me know she thinks I’m worth it too…dating…man should pay. relationship…man should pay but there is a ‘lil give and take…marriage, the money is communal so it doesn’t matter – 36 yr old Actor

 

Men are expected to be courteous, gentlemen, chivalrous and to take care of their woman. The western dating landscape has gradually changed ever since women have asserted their power in the workforce and sometimes have larger incomes than their suitors. A lot of men, mostly younger, believe that equality should not be isolated only in the workplace but in their personal relationships as well. This could be the reason women tend to date older more affluent men rather than someone their own age who earns a lower wage. What was once a conventional practice has evolved to an impractical and sometimes impolite way of dating. 

 

Money equals power. If the man continues to pay for everything then the women inadvertently hands the man over what power she may have. This of course can be interpreted both ways between sexes. An equal balance in any relationship will produce the best results. An imbalance of power will produce a relationship fraught with worry, stress and overall emotional instability. 60% of marriages fail today because of financial difficulties.   

 

Displays of Monetary power is a contrived way of creating a controlled atmosphere. The art of Dating comes not in unrealistic expectations but in the value that is placed in enjoying another’s company. What happened to the saying, “Love don’t cost a thing?”

 

In our endless search for love, we give up many things – our time, energy, space, thoughts, sometimes our identities, and our hard earned money. When these elements are evenly divided and distributed then the Art of Dating becomes the Art of Compromise. Once compromise is established then dating becomes a real relationship where shared thoughts and courteous behavior will be the forefront and not the backdrop to seeing each other.