The Modern Generation Has No Clue How to Date

Not long ago I had a conversation with my 18-year-old daughter about dating, whereupon I (sadly) learned that she’s uncomfortable with the expectation that a man should pay on a date.

Whaaat? I asked. That’s what men are supposed to do!

I know, she said, but you don’t understand how things are today, Mom. It just feels wrong to expect the guy to pay.

I thought of that conversation when I stumbled upon an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal. In “Who Pays on a Date? That’s Still a Complicated Question,” Elizabeth Bernstein asks who should pick up the tab for a date in this postfeminist world of ours. “Is paying a sign of caring, or power? No one really knows anymore.”

She adds, “Traditionally, men have paid for courtship because men had the money. They thought of themselves as chivalrous, respectful and protective when they paid. Then women entered the workforce, the feminist movement attempted to level the playing field, and women began offering to pay. They want to signal their independence, show that they aren’t looking for a free ride, and prevent the perception that they owe their date anything.”

This explanation for why modern couples are struggling with who should pay on a date confirms how little men and women understand each other today. What used to be common sense—that a man paying when on a date has nothing to do with a woman getting a “free ride” and everything to do with his desire to spend his hard-earned money on a woman he loves (or likes)—is lost on the modern generation.

The idea that a woman “owes” a man something as a result of being taken out on a date is also absurd. That has never been an expectation except by lame-est of men. If it feels that men today do expect sex as a result of taking a woman out, that’s no doubt because men are used to sex being so easy to get.

To drive home the madness of modern dating, Ms. Bernstein of the Wall Street Journal points to a study in the academic journal Sage Open, which discovered something telling. Seventy-six percent of the men in the study said they “feel guilty” if they don’t pay on a date. And yet: 64% believe women should contribute to the bill! Half even said they would stop dating a woman who never pays!

The women’s responses were similarly paradoxical. Forty percent said they were “bothered” by men who wouldn’t accept their offer to pay. And yet: 39% percent wished men would reject the offer! Moreover, 44% said they were put off by men who expected them to help pay!

What the hell? Sounds nuts, right?

Not if you understand human nature.

There’s a perfectly good reason why both men and women are uncomfortable when a woman on a date pays the bill. It’s called instinct.

Human beings are predisposed to traditional courtship, or dating. If you look at the animal kingdom, the male pursues the female. Why do we think it’s any different for us?

Men have always been the pursuers. They love a challenge, for one thing, so it’s natural for men to take the lead. That means a man calls a woman to ask her out. It means a man picks a woman up and takes her to dinner. It means a man asks a woman to marry him.

This natural dynamic was never questioned before feminists came along to insist the sexes are “equal,” as in the same. But no amount of money women make will ever level the playing field—because money and power cannot erase the nature of women and men.

That’s the reason for the nonsensical responses of the women and men in this study. On the one hand, they both know instinctively that men are the dominant sex. On the other, they’ve been told for eons that male dominance—which should never be conflated with domineering; those are not the same thing—is bad. They’ve been told ad nauseam that the sexes are “equal.” The result is that men and women have become more like best friends. They simply have no idea how to be lovers.

All they do know is that the attempt to be “equal” is like putting on an ill-fitting sweater: they want it to work, but it just doesn’t fit. Hence the reason why men feel “guilty” about letting women pay and why women secretly wish men would reject their offer to pay. They’re doing what they’re told they should do, but no one is getting what they want.

Thanks, Feminists! You were right. We’re so much better off today.


Suzanne Venker

Suzanne Venker is an author, speaker and cultural critic known as “The Feminist Fixer.” She has authored several books to help women win with men in life and in love. Her most recent, The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men & Marriage, was published in February 2017.

Reader Interactions


  1. Ahh, the world of “dating”… It’s such a wonderful topic of discussion, and it’s surprising that no one else has already commented on this blog entry.

    While this post is titled in a fairly benign and neutral tone, the overarching emphasis seems to fall into a category of what men “should” do as it pertains to dating: pay, what women should do or be expected to do: nothing, one weak study referenced in a WSJ article attempting to support this dynamic, and then a dab of “thank-you-Feminism” thrown in for good measure to make things appear egalitarian. Since the bulk of the post centers on what men are supposed to do when dating and weak justification for said duty, it serves as an interesting admonishment of the conduct of the masculine considering that, as is somewhat alluded to by that little slap on the wrist of Feminism, the dating world has forever changed as a result of the feminine through Feminism and the Sexual Revolution. Within this entry there’s an implicit parallel attempt to keep women free of any obligation, duty, commitment, or responsibility by failing to define just what it is, exactly, women and girls should or should not do when dating to actually EARN a man’s commitment and long-term partnership, especially given the fact that it is women who are overwhelmingly initiating divorce and leaving relationships in droves, and seem to have an issue with commitment and loyalty.

    The majority of us here reading this blog probably have NO IDEA what things used to be like since we are not old enough to have ever known a world prior to Feminism, nor have we lived “traditionalism”, and instead rely on anecdotal evidence, movies, songs, literature, and other such forms of art that are assumed to be a reflection culture at a given point in time, though these are often idealized and misconstrued representations. That being said and for the sake of conversation here, Elizabeth Bernstein is correct in stating the assumptions of traditionalism, that being men typically paid for dates (i.e. paid when going out to do something as a couple, never mind staying in or just making time to be together for the sake of being together to building relationship and find out what makes one another tick) simply as a matter of being the one to work at all, the one who worked more/longer, or who commanded a larger income. This allowed him means with which to TREAT himself and a date to something like a dinner, the theater, a concert, sporting event, movie, gallery showing, etc.

    Sex is. Sex is Life. Sex is relationship (for the sake of defining it, relationship between lovers). If there isn’t sex, there is no relationship. Genuine desire cannot be negotiated and/or purchased. Implying that an exchange of sex for a date was ever a thing and trying to frame the conversation in this way is a red herring. It is disingenuous, and shows the extent to which gynocentrism and one half of the dualistic female sexual strategy (transactional sex) now rules the Western culture. (Dating is quickly becoming accepted prostitution through a re-branding known as escorting, sugaring, etc.) Ad hominems, implying men who expected (or expect) contribution to the date and the relationship (in whatever energetic form, sexually or otherwise) were, or are, “lame”, detracts from any legitimacy this blog entry might otherwise contain. In life, no one owes anyone anything, so to say a woman doesn’t “owe a man something as a result of being taken out on a date” is nothing new, earth-shattering, nor untrue, and conversely men also do not owe women a paid-in-full dating experience. Since entering the workforce en masse, women now have the means with which to pay for entertainment, whether that be for themselves, or to pay for her and a friend, or (God forbid) her and a man on a date. To not contribute is in fact to get a “free ride”. It is charity, plain and simple, and it is misplaced charity considering women have the means to contribute. Why in your other writings do you suggest a married couple be completely transparent with any and all income, pool it together as a shared resource, and make large-purchase decisions together, obviously keeping some money for individual discretionary spending? Why is it any different when dating? Fuzzy logic… It is a slippery slope to claim women don’t have to contribute and are also entitled to something from the get-go, to then carry that into a relationship and maybe further into a marriage, and it sounds an awful lot like the Feminist mantras and underlying ideologies that are supposedly under the microscope and unwelcome here. To offer and paraphrase a relevant anecdote, there is a Native American story that refers to a relationship between a man and a woman as a fire, wherein both must tend to it, being careful not to over-stoke it, nor to let it cool to embers and go out. One very capable person doesn’t sit on their ass while the other does all of the work, all the while never offering anything of their own to offset the balance of energy the other has put in.

    If men today expect compensation for the money they invest when paying for a date, it is probably because of the many stories they have heard, or experienced firsthand (from one side or the other), about women going out for dinner with one guy, only to go elsewhere to have sex with a different guy, usually bragging about doing so to others and shaming the dinner date (behind his back) as a pussy, weakling, the modern term “cuck” (cuckold), etc. With these stories in mind, and considering Feminism has made it abundantly clear that women want and enjoy sex as much if not more than men, if today’s woman isn’t having sex with you, it is assumed she’s having sex with someone else, or multiple other men, plain and simple. (The claim in this blog entry that men these days are used to sex being easy to get is a total projection of women’s access to sex, serving to highlight how simple and readily accessible free [and now paid] sex is for most women these days, while the 80-20 rule is in effect for most men.) Why would any man continue to date and attempt to build a relationship with a woman who wasn’t also having sex with him, much less “court” her and exclusively pay for dates? Traditionalism, if it ever existed in the first place, seems to be dead in the broad scope of Western society, even though blog posts such as this, articles, books, and media pieces continue to try and hold men to “chivalrous” traditionalism since it benefits the feminine. The study cited goes on to say this exact thing:

    “Third, focusing on this one aspect of social interaction is intriguing because it provides a rare case where the maintenance of status inequality and gender difference may be perceived as favoring women, thus making females the sex more likely to resist changing this age-old gendered pattern. In an early classic article “Why Men Resist,” William J. Goode (1980) helped explain why ideologies favoring true equality have trouble taking hold, making the point that when roles are in flux, people embrace changes that reduce their burdens but resist changes that reduce their privileges. Goode saw the social changes of earlier times as more threatening to men (e.g., being accepting of their partners working to help pay bills, but resisting increased housework and child care). The same logic applies to women: If women perceive “being treated” as a female advantage within the code of chivalry, they may resist giving up this advantage.”

  2. (Continued…)

    This study does nothing but highlight the hypergamous natute of women and the extent to which that nature has been optimized, as well as the Blue-pill conditioning of most men, having internalized the demands of society (society being read as gynocentrism, the Feminine Imperative, and the female sexual strategy) as that of his/their own. But, if the discussion is to center around creating and/or maintaining a lose-win scenario, keeping Blue-pill men in the dark, women not owning their shadow, immature, & disempowered sides, and a continued ignoring, slandering, and disavowing of men’s sexual strategy (implicitly or explicitly), then more and more men will continue to go their own way (MGTOW).

    The “natural dynamic[s]” discussed in this blog post, wherein a man pursues a woman similar to instances in the animal kingdom, or takes the lead and does the initiating, planning, etc, is an interesting confluence of ideas, the latter stemming from the perversion and distortion of relationships in Western society through the influence of Romanticism, chivalry, and courtly love from the Middle Ages. To the former, there are probably countless instances wherein the male of many species in the animal kingdom pursues the female for sex. Isn’t the parallel drawn to the animal kingdom a gross oversimplification and implied expectation of men to reduce themselves to base roles or behavior, a form of behavior that has been and continues to be labeled as “toxic” by today’s women? This seems like a set-up for men to just “man up”, the sub-text of which is a form of shaming and criteria for conditional approval, only to once again be shamed for this exact behavior after the fact. Higher-ordered primates/mammals aside, how much of that animal kingdom sex is forced copulation when a female is in estrous? Are we going to discuss that as a parallel to human sexuality, especially in lieu of the pop-cultural discussion on consent (and lack of a corresponding discussion on its retroactive withdrawal and false rape & pregnancy allegations), rape & the notion of a supposed prevailing rape culture wherein all men are accused of being born rapists (a persistent and pernicious strawman argument), female rape fantasies and the outright rape written & fantasized about in segments of the “romance” novel genre, not too far away being the “50 Shades” books? After the forced copulation in the species where that kind of mating is exhibited (no dating took place there, just the hunt/chase), how many of the males are “deadbeats” who then don’t stick around to protect and support the female and any/all offspring? Should men do these things to mimic the animal kingdom in this manner, too? Such superficial nonsense, this attempt to draw an analogy to the animal kingdom by cherry picking, even as it is coming to light that women are in fact sexually attracted to men with a propensity for, or predisposition to do, these exact things, -men exhibiting what are known as dark triad traits. Yes, the “bad boys”, convicts, rapists, murders, etc. are the lusty ones rewarded with enthusiastic, free sex, and there are women who scramble to also pay for things for these men. (No paying-for-dates qualification or transaction needed on the part of the man for that sex.)

    To close this lengthy comment with an attempt to offer something constructive for both sides, in his book “We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love”, world-renowned Jungian analyst and author Robert A. Johnson does a marvelous job of using the ancient story of Tristan and Iseult to relay where the overwhelmingly influential force known as Romanticism came from, how and why it took hold, what it is a placebo for, and the effects it has had in the Western mind & culture at large (since it is largely a Western thing). In it, he urges men (and women) to put the spiritual back in Its rightful place, the spiritual being the longing to make whole what is lived as the duality of human existence, to live It internally, and relate to one another as human beings with all of our frailties, faults, fears, insecurities, etc. We long to bond with the opposite in an attempt to find and feel wholeness, but the Western world continually misplaces this and constantly projects it outward, and with that, all of the expectations entangled in it. Both sexes have a difficult time with this in Western culture as a result of Romanticism, to which Johnson says the following:

    “Will he [Tristan] take responsibility for his own unlived life? To return soul to the inner King means exactly that: to begin taking responsibility for living his own soul, rather than delegating that task to a woman.

    This issue is always painful for the modern man. He is so accustomed to his pattern of trying to live out his unlived self through other people that the prospect of giving it up seems a disaster. He feels that all the joy and intensity of life is contained in the hope that one day a woman will come along who will make him whole and make life perfect. It is hard for him to see that he could live with a woman and be close to her and yet not try to live his life through her.

    The issue is equally difficult for women. Many women are ready to rise up in rebellion over being put in the perpetual role of housekeeper, child-bearer, and servant. But few women object to being made the screen on which men project anima. Our culture trains women that their role is not to be human beings but to be mirrors who reflect back to a man his ideal or his fantasy. She must struggle to resemble the current Hollywood starlets; she must dress and groom herself and behave in such a way as to make herself into the collective image of anima. She must not be an individual so much as the incarnation of men’s fantasy.

    Many women are so accustomed to this role that they resist any change in the arrangement. They want to go on playing the goddess to a man rather than be a mortal woman: There is something appealing about being worshiped and adored as a divinity. But there is a heavy price attached to this role. The man who sees her as a goddess is not related to her as a woman; he is only related to his own projection, his own inner divinity that he has placed on her. And when his projection lifts, when it migrates away from her to some other woman, then his adoration and his worship will go with it. If he has no relationship to her as one human being to another, then there is nothing left when the projections evaporate.”

    Maybe we all need to toss Romanticism and the corresponding roles & expectations, and start relating to one another as humans, celebrating Life, enjoying sexuality, and honoring each other for our very real differences and needs.

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