Men are biologically programmed to chase and women are built with discerning taste. Ever heard that? Of course you have. The men – the hunters – are supposed to approach women, to court them and to ask them out. Women are supposed to play into this game and if you’ve heard of The Rules, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Men lose interest when women are too forward and it simply isn’t in our DNA to behave otherwise and be successful.
So, if that’s all true, why do I know so many shy, single men who would love to be approached and so many women in happy relationships who initiated conversation?
I have interviewed many single men as part of my research and most of them would really, really like for a woman to approach them. It’s nice to feel wanted and that goes for men and women alike.
“The first step is really hard, so anything a woman can do to help take the pressure off is much appreciated,” said one man emphatically.
“But wouldn’t you think it was too easy if you didn’t have to chase her?” I enquired, conscious of many women’s hunter-complex.
“Well, just because she has come up to you doesn’t mean she is caught. You still have to work for her.”
So, even for those who are unwilling to accept that gender roles have overtaken innate human behaviours, approaching doesn’t mean that you’re killing your chances. If you’re an antelope that wants to be caught, you have to put yourself in the lion’s territory first.
There are exceptions, of course, and they usually have to do with culture. For example, in Paris ‘men are men’ and ‘women are women’ – she must look demure, aloof and mysterious and he must win her affections. While 90% of men prefer it when the woman approaches, there is the other 10% that enjoys playing to gender stereotypes. Similarly, there are some women who thrive on the hunt. It’s not biology, it’s individual preference.
There is one caveat to this whole approaching business, said the men. A woman approaching first is great “as long as it’s not done too aggressively”. This, ladies and gents, is not a male preference, but rather a human preference. No one likes an obnoxious twit, male or female.
Paying for the date
So, if men enjoy being approached and women can hunt, why is it up to the man to pay? What kind of foundation for equality is it when the man is expected to assume financial responsibility from the word go?
Society creates, adapts, and discards, traditions and rituals, depending on how they help serve society at different times during its trajectory. As I alluded to in an earlier post, in the past, men traditionally asked out women because they had the money, and the cars, to do so. As the higher-earning gender, it was expected that with the choice of whom to ask out, they also had the privilege of paying for it. Society has moved away from that model. In my line of work I meet many, high-flying, executive women, who make bags of money and have bags of confidence. Why shouldn’t they ask a man out? The t&c’s of why this should be left to the men has changed.
Take our Scandinavian sisters, for example. Swedish women have the highest standard of living in the world with the smallest pay gap between the sexes. What happens when a Swedish woman is asked if she’d like to be bought a drink? More often that not, such advances would be met with an offended, “I can buy my own drink, thank you!”
What we now except in cash gestures we pay for in independence and equality.
So, in a world where we date more people and more frequently, what are the factors we should consider? Who did the asking out? Does one party have a significant amount of money more than the other? Do you intend on going on another date? If so, maybe you should pay this time; your date will offer to get the next one (and if not, maybe it’s a sign that it’s just not right).