Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day 2019: a celebration of women around the world, and a call to action for us all to improve ourselves and the lives of women in all aspects of life, including relationships and dating. In the spirit of #BalanceForBetter, this year’s IWD theme, I want to identify some of the gender-based biases that affect all of us currently dating – biases that we ourselves might be guilty of too. As us single folk all try to find connections, love, sex, you name it – it’s time for us to recognise harmful behaviours in others and ourselves, as we navigate the exciting, if somewhat tumultuous world of dating.
Who sends the first message?
If you’re signed up to a dating app, and talking to other people on the app… well done, you’re using a dating app! No matter how hard you try to hide behind a “I barely use this lol” in your bio, you’re a dating app user and that’s great! And the same can be said for anyone you’re talking to.
So I have to ask… why does it matter who’s messaging who first? This isn’t the bar, where you awkwardly try to figure out if a stranger is single, or if they’d even be potentially attracted to you. Life’s too short to limit your opportunities to meet new amazing people. All profile cards are down on the table, we’re here to date; if someone messages you first, you know they’re interested. No matter how you identify or who you ‘think’ should be messaging first, swallow your pride and reply back! I’m trying to actually talk to people, not treat my matches like Pokemon and just collect ‘em all. It should be noted that this doesn’t apply to any messages that make you feel uncomfortable, and above all, remember this: no matter who is messaging first, please use something more original than “hey”. You’ll thank me for that later.
Asking someone on a date
There are few things more likely to boost your confidence than being asked out by a hottie who can actually hold a conversation. But unless you both blurt it out on the count of three (hilarious but unlikely), someone will have to be the asker and askee. If we use romance films, ‘pickup artists’ and good ol’ societal pressure as our guidance (and I recommend this guidance like a dentist recommends sweets), it’s up to a man to take the lead. On the other hand, as a woman I find it so empowering to ask for what I want, and to take a risk that might be met with rejection. So who should be the one to suggest a first date?
Whoever musters up the courage first, tbh. It’s nerve-wracking enough deciding on a date outfit, an activity, where you’ll go, and which safe-but-not-boring icebreaker you’ll use to start the conversation. How are you going to get that far, if you’re sat about fretting over how ‘desperate’ you look? (If I sound harsh here, it’s because I’m saying this to myself as well as you.)
I stand by the old adage of “don’t ask, don’t get.” If the person you’re talking to is someone you’d like to exchange life stories with over a few drinks, now is the time to let them know before they fall through the revolving door of whatever dating app you’re using.
Paying for dates
This was a tough one to discuss single-handedly (pun intended), so I sought after input from my most valuable resource – the internet.
There was a general consensus that the bill should be split – either 50/50 or depending on what each person ordered. Interestingly, nobody who responded felt that women should be the one to cover the bill. A few replies said it should be either split or down to the man, which is understandable, but it makes for a great opportunity to analyse our own feelings about this debate. It can be uncomfortable to question our biases, but the sooner we stop applying arbitrary rules to our dating lives, the more fun dating is going to be for everybody. And what’s the point of dating if it’s not fun?
I’ve been guilty of being a little slow reaching for my wallet when the bill comes around, but count on me to offer to cover the bill if I’ve had a lot of fun, or especially if I was the one to suggest the date or the restaurant itself. This method works especially well if you both want to go for another date. “I’ll pay for the next one” from a cutie you’re enjoying spending time with is a great double whammy of fairness and consideration.
Ultimately, if you’re able to talk to a stranger for a few hours and eat food in front of them, you should be able to just ask “how would you like to split the bill?”. You’ll be met with a different answer every time, and sometimes it might be awkward; but anything is better than staring blankly at the person sat across from you until they tap their contactless card.
These dating debates have been around for a long, long time, and everybody has their own strong feelings about each one. This International Women’s Day – and every day beyond – we need #BalanceForBetter on dating apps, in the dating sphere; and to begin conversations that challenge gender expectations, whether it’s with others, or with ourselves.
For more information on International Women’s Day 2019, visit the official website.