Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Different strokes, for different folks.

This is an obvious pun, but I do get a little 'ha ha' moment when I can work these into a posting.

I recently heard that for every 3 calls a man makes to the women of his interest, she is "allowed" to make 1 call (back) to him.  I say "allowed" because these rules are part of some ethereal guidebook I have yet to locate (indeed there were those two women who made a killing 10 years ago [and continue to do so] selling other women their self-defined rule book for dating ).  But let's say for the sake of argument that their rule book is not the be-all-to-end-all dating resource.

This discussion amongst a couple of us women was generated by an online NPR article about the new and surprising disparity between men and women as it relates to income.  The online article states "a study found that young, urban, childless women make more than similar men do."  

The issue that prompted the use of the cliche is whether it is still expected or appropriate or even  fair that men still bear the "bulk of responsibility" in dating given that men may no longer make more money (which was traditionally the case).

By "bulk of responsibility" I mean:
  •  Are men still supposed to call the women first before she calls him?
  • Are men still supposed to pay for meals, every meal, even after you two are an official couple? 
  • And are men supposed to say "I love you" first?  (This one is really tricky).
In our discussion, I was surprised at one remark in particular because one young women said she never thought men should bear the bulk of responsibility - not when came to calling or not calling, or paying for meals or who says "I love you" first.  But that was when she was a feminist; now she sees things differently.  Perhaps, she suggested, her perspective changed as result of a really bad break up.  Maybe if she had been less of a "giver" in that relationship, the ex would not have taken so much from her, taken advantage of her or taken her for a granted as he did.  Now, she believes that men should bear the "bulk of the responsibility" in the relationship  - even if the woman does make more money.

Obviously, the bad break up strongly affected her opinion.  However, I gather most women,would tend to agree with her perspective:  it doesn't matter whether the man makes more or less money, he is the man and is bears the "bulk of responsibility" when it comes to dating.

I'm not so sure.  In fact, I have never been so sure about this.  There have been times when I called, without being called (lots of times).  There have been times when I paid for the meal (even before it was officially a couple relationship), and yes, I think I probably have said "I love you" first.  Most of those relationships were good, some weren't so good.  And I still don't know if I should have done it the way I did it - especially since it was usually the case that men were making more money than me. That was that.  That was then.  And yet, I think I have learned a lesson from doing it that way.

To tell the truth, I think there is some ethereal guidebook that both men and women have agreed to that says for the sake of clarity, less misunderstandings and societal "normalcy" - the man is the aggressor and as such the man does bear the "bulk of responsibility" for getting and keeping the woman.

Now for women like myself and the former feminist, if we decide to from "societal normalcy" in order to self-define our own dating rules, the cliche "different strokes, for different folks" definitely fits. However, you will certainly want to be clear that in going against the grain, working outside the box, taking responsibility to self-define - in any situation - will likely contribute to misunderstandings. Therefore, you will need to be prepared to make peace with that choice and the outcomes.

Because in this society, regardless of income disparity, its apparent both men and women still agree that: No matter who makes the most money, the man is the aggressor. And as such the man does bear the "bulk of responsibility" when it comes to courtship, dating and getting to the state of official couplehood...the man is going to pay.

One way or another.

To be continued...

Loving Thought
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
Unknown; often attributed to Albert Camus