WOMEN
08/13/2013 12:19 pm ET

Men Still Paying For Dates ... And Women Are Partly Responsible

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You only have to look at the fact that online dating has become the second most popular form of matchmaking in the United States to know that dating has changed fundamentally in the past few decades.

But one courtship convention remains steadfast: who pays for dates.

New research presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting this week found that 84 percent of men and 58 percent of women say men pay for most entertainment expenses -- even after they have been dating for some time.

And while 57 percent of women say they offer to help pay, 39 percent admitted that they hoped men would reject their offers, while 44 percent were bothered when men expected them to chip in. Nearly two-thirds of men believe women should contribute to dating expenses.

"One of the reasons we are interested in looking at who pays for dates is because it is one arena where women may be resisting gender changes more than men," study researcher David Frederick, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University in California, told The Huffington Post. "As social roles start to change, people often embrace the changes that make their lives easier, but resist the changes that make their lives more difficult."

More than 17,000 unmarried, heterosexual men and women whose average ages were 38 and 35 respectively took the survey, which was posted on NBCNews.com.

On the whole, respondents' answers did not differ dramatically with age, although there were exceptions. Younger men were more likely to agree that if they paid the bill, women should engage in sexual activity. "The good news is that the overwhelming majority of men disagreed with this statement," said Frederick.

As relationships develop, many men and women expect a more egalitarian split: 75 percent of men and 83 percent of women said they shared expenses by the time they'd been dating for six months. "On the first few dates, I usually expect to pay for everything because I think it shows strong dependable commitment," one male respondent said. "Then if everything works out, I expect my partner to take some responsibility."

The researchers argue that it is important to look at who pays for dates because, in many cases, the initial arrangement persists as the relationship progresses. Men who pay for dates early on may continue to serve as the sole providers as the relationship unfolds, although no formal research has looked at that before, said Frederick. One potential problem with embracing chivalry is that men who engage in more benevolent forms of sexism, like paying for a check, may also engage in more hostile forms, seeing women as subservient and acting negatively toward women who step outside of typical gender roles, he said.

But the study suggests that women are at least partially responsible for the persistence of this particular gender norm, Frederick argued.

"Men typically embrace their partner having a stable income and being in the workplace, but many men resist stepping [up] their efforts in terms of housework and child care," he explained. "Similarly, many women resist changes to gendered practices such as chivalry, and paying for dates, because paying for dates places a burden on them."

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