The Persistent Tradition of Men Paying
Shanhong Luo, a professor at Fayetteville State University, studies the factors behind attraction between romantic partners, including the norms that govern relationships. In a paper published in 2023 in Psychological Reports, a peer-reviewed journal, Dr. Luo and a team of researchers surveyed 552 heterosexual college students in Wilmington, N.C., and asked them whether they expected men or women to pay for dates — and whether they, as a man or a woman, typically paid more.
The researchers found that young men paid for all or most of the dates around 90 percent of the time, while women paid only about 2 percent (they split around 8 percent of the time). On subsequent dates, splitting the check was more common, though men still paid a majority of the time while women rarely did. Nearly 80 percent of men expected that they would pay on the first date, while just over half of women (55 percent) expected men to pay.
Surprisingly, views on gender norms didn’t make much of a difference: On average, both men and women in the sample expected the man to pay, whether they had more traditional views of gender roles or more progressive ones.
“The findings strongly showed that the traditional pattern is still there,” Dr. Luo said.
The persistent tradition of men paying for women might seem like a harmless artifact. But in a relationship, such acts don’t exist in a vacuum.
Psychologists differentiate between two forms of sexism: “hostile sexism,” defined by beliefs like women are inferior to men, and “benevolent sexism,” defined by beliefs like it is men’s duty to protect women. But the latter can give way to the former.