During a recent discussion of #MeToo, a man informed me about an underreported issue: apparently men also have gendered dating expectations that cause them undue emotional distress.*
Like for instance, he told me, several (not just one – several!) women had in the past arranged dates with him at nice restaurants and proceeded to order the most expensive items on the menu while showing minimal interest in participating in conversation or getting to know him. To the point where halfway through the date it became obvious (though it pained him to say) that these women were only using him to get a free sushi dinner!! It left him feeling small and taken advantage of, he said.
“Wow, how manipulative!!” I agreed.
“So,” I asked, “what did you do next?”
“Did you get up and leave?”
“Did you make a scene?”
“Say NO loud enough for the table next to you to hear?”
“Push the bill towards her and stare at it until she finally ended up paying it??” (That’d show her).
“Or, at the very least, did you make a point to ask the waitress to bring separate checks?”
He sighed in a tone signaling that he was about to explain something to me. “Men can’t just do that. Because we’re supposed to pay the bill. It’s the gentlemanly thing to do. That’s how we’re raised. And she knew that! Can’t you see how conniving it was! How that was her plan all along!”
“And it’s not just me,” he assured me. “Every single man I know has had this happen to him.”
“Well,” I reasoned, “maybe she wasn’t doing it intentionally. Maybe she just had a really bad day and wasn’t feeling very talkative. And maybe she’s used to not paying on dates because, you know, social norms.”
“Maybe,” I ventured, “it’s these social norms you’re really mad at, not her. I mean, it sounds like she didn’t really force you to do anything.”
He almost hid his eye roll. “Ugh. Nevermind, you wouldn’t understand.”
*Excerpted and condensed from conversations with various men in my life throughout the last decade. Some embellishments my own.
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