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Am I still expected to pay the bill?

I am hugely interested in modern society's development regarding gender roles and mutual expectations. In working with men, one of the main issues is that men do not know what is expected of them anymore in life and relationships. Many men I work with want to show up but are confused about how to show up or with what.

A very interesting podcast

The other day, I listened to a podcast about relationships, and gender equality was a significant red thread throughout the conversation. Lori Gottlieb, a relationship therapist, explained how modern relationships work. She described how relationships have changed over the years and how the roles of women and men changed in these relationships.

The following question was asked: "If the man on the first date proposes to split the bill or does not immediately pay, would that be an ick for you." Surprisingly, the answer was: "Yes, this would be a huge ick!". This is her opinion and the feedback she gets from her female clients. If the man does not pay on the first date, the chance for a second date has plummeted to zero.

This intrigued me, and I also found it confusing. So, I did some research and found that a Sage study in 2015 among unmarried heterosexuals (N = 17,607) shows that men are highly expected to pay the bill (especially on the first date). 82% of the men automatically pay the bills on dates, and 76% even feel guilty if they do not. 44% of the women are bothered if the men expect them to contribute to the expenses. A paper published in 2023 in Psychological Reports showed similar numbers. It seems this does not change, while many other things do significantly.

What's the new picture...

I was brought up with the perspective that men are the breadwinners, that we need to be the strongest in the relationship, and that men need to protect their partners, hold the door open for them, pay for them, and be responsible for the family's wellbeing. Yet, nowadays, this picture of men's roles is scattered by all the changes in the world. Changes that I find positive. However, it seems increasingly complicated for men to adapt to these changes. Many men seem to lose themselves more and more, and some (especially young men) are seeking the help of very clear and confident men who show and spread misogynistic thoughts. This worries me.

So one of my (and with me, many men's) main questions nowadays is: "What is (still) expected of men in this new time? An era where gender equality is such a significant subject?

Who are we as men, what is our role, and what are our responsibilities? How can we be powerful, present, sensitive, vulnerable, and gallant and follow still-standing expectations without losing ourselves?

How can we attune to the new field of demand and give our feminine and masculine qualities?

How can we make it fun again, stop walking on eggshells, and enjoy dating and relating?

How can we feel light while taking the new world seriously and growing?

We need to talk to women

I am all for male support for men. I value men's groups and retreats (like the retreat we will facilitate in September)—spaces where men support men and where we can feel safe opening up cans of worms and dealing with issues that are easier to deal with among men.

And we need to talk to women!

As men, we need to ask women what makes them safe, what they find attractive, and what makes them thrive in relationships and life.

What do they want from men, and will you be prepared to provide for that?

How do women feel about who is the breadwinner, who will care for the children and the household, and who pays on the first date?

What about you?

I know I only scratched the surface of this subject, but this will be a lifelong quest.

Just wondering...

As a man, are you paying on the first date (and the following dates)?

Are you prepared to accept the challenge of finding the role of men again in this ever-changing world?

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