“Heterosexual women of a progressive bent often say they want equal partnerships with men. But dating is a different story entirely. The women I interviewed for a research project and book expected men to ask for, plan, and pay for dates; initiate sex; confirm the exclusivity of a relationship; and propose marriage. After setting all of those precedents, these women then wanted a marriage in which they shared the financial responsibilities, housework, and child care relatively equally. Almost none of my interviewees saw these dating practices as a threat to their feminist credentials or to their desire for egalitarian marriages. But they were wrong.”
This first paragraph knocked me out. It comes from an Atlantic article called “If You Want a Marriage of Equals, Date as Equals.”
It shows, in great detail, the myriad contradictions that come with modern dating.
“The men I spoke with held persistent double standards. They expected women to walk a fine line between enough and too much sexual experience. They admitted to running into conflicts with “strong-willed” women. Men also wanted to be taller, stronger, and more masculine than their partners. And many of the men expected women to take their last names after marriage.”
No surprise here. It’s the same thing my readers complain about frequently. But women were no different in their mixed emotions. They all want egalitarian relationships…except when it comes to men paying for things.
“In a throwback to an earlier era, many women I spoke with enacted strict dating rules. “It’s a deal-breaker if a man doesn’t pay for a date,” one woman, aged 29, told me. A 31-year-old said that if a man doesn’t pay, “they just probably don’t like you very much.” A lot of men, they assumed, were looking for nothing more than a quick hookup, so some of these dating rituals were tests to see whether the man was truly interested in a commitment. A third woman, also 31, told me, “I feel like men need to feel like they are in control, and if you ask them out, you end up looking desperate and it’s a turnoff to them.”
These contradictions are at the heart of Love U, where I guide women through these contradictions with a dose of reality-based dating coaching.
People want what they want, even if the thing they want is a contradiction.
In short, people want what they want, even if the thing they want is a contradiction. Want to poll well as a politician? Offer lower taxes and more free stuff. People love both!
So let’s get it straight, everybody:
If you’re a woman and you want a man who makes more than you and pays for everything, you should probably expect that he’s not going to want to manage domestic duties and that’s going to be more your responsibility.
If you’re a woman and you want a man to take on 50% of domestic duties, you may have to choose a man who doesn’t make as much as you.
If you’re a man and you want a smart, strong, successful woman who loves her work and makes equal money, you shouldn’t expect her to take on the lion’s share of domestic duties and you need to find a way to divide things equally.
If you’re a man and you want a woman who takes care of you and the house, maybe you should value nurturers over career-oriented women.
And if that’s not enough to chew upon, here’s an addendum:
If you’re a person who has taken on the majority of domestic responsibilities, you should have the respect of your spouse, but that doesn’t mean he/she is obligated to care as much about the details of those responsibilities or do them exactly like you.
If you’re a person who has taken on the responsibility of paying for the majority of things, you should have the appreciation of the lesser-earning spouse, but that doesn’t mean you’re more important to the relationship. You just have different roles that contribute to a happy marriage.
As always, I think I’ve nailed it here. If you disagree, what do you think I’m missing? Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated.
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