As a modern-day, twenty-something year old female who grew up in the metropolitan, I’ve done my fair share of dating in the past decade or so. Just over the span of those few years alone, there has been a fairly vast progress made in the world of romantic relationships. While stigmas are still very much unfortunately attached to ideas embedded in the dating world such as online dating, the female approaching the male (in a heterosexual relationship), open relationships, gay relationships, and etc, I personally believe that they have slowly begun to thaw and loosen a bit. And, if a direction were to be chosen in terms of these less traditional means, it would be toward the norm more so than the taboo sector or as being considered unacceptable.
With that said, I’ve still noticed that what has yet to remain alarmingly and seemingly archaic and traditional is the first date. Yes, the first date. My very progressive, liberal, and seemingly-feminist guy friends, if out on (again, heterosexual) dates will always be the ones to pick the girl up, showing up at her door with a gift (expectedly) – maybe flowers or chocolate, will open all doors, pull out all chairs, and pay for everything on the an outing – even if it’s one that they both mutually agreed upon. Furthermore, my girlfriends – my fairly contemporary and progressive girlfriends at that, on the “receiving” end of things have come to expect this equation themselves.
While I myself don’t fall entirely into the bulk of that group, I do admittedly expect this on some level, still. I have no qualms or issues with splitting the dinner check - I have my own money, and I'll spend it how I want to - thanks. I also don’t mind if my date doesn’t show up with a gift or if we both meet up separately - I don't care for flowers, anyway, and I do enjoy driving. Also, as a fairly liberal person when it comes to sex, I don’t think it speaks entirely of one person’s character if the physical interactions go beyond just a peck at the door and I don't mind if they do, either. While I am comfortable with not engaging in an old-fashioned traditional date, obviously, I admittedly still kind-of-sort-of . . . shamefully expect it, myself. Yes, I'll 'fess up - I can easily type out right now, as a removed person from the situation currently, that I don’t mind if I have to pay or drive myself. But would I prefer to? I can’t fully stand behind the fact that I don't, unfortunately.
In an attempt to unpack exactly why that is, I pose the question of whether or not it’s simply based on the fact that the first date is usually the first formal impression that’s made in the course of a romantic relationship, and if two strangers who are initially bound together through a first date had to use any uniform testing procedure to assess the situation, it would obviously be the most traditional, archaic, most set-in-place one. The formula and standard that’s the easiest to memorize and apply, since we can't gauge the other's personality and quirks based on what little we are able to gather during merely an hour-long dinner and awkward movie watching session. Because the traditional first date is one that has been instilled in place for decades, if not centuries, through societal expectations, media portrayals, and personal encouragement from one’s peers – it seems to be the only one that’s withheld the test of time when stood up against any other version of a first date.
Now that I’ve realized this unfair expectation that I have instilled me, and as a fairly modern-day, liberally progressive person, I’m eager to change this. If society has come to the point where we can meet the love of our lives over the Internet and where a relationship doesn’t necessarily need to involve only two people, then we should be able to get past the fact that the male has to play the role of the dominant-male character who provides for the dainty female as a means of treating her well and ultimately impressing her enough. There is something entirely too animalistic and old school about that when we’ve come so far.
I can only speak, if at all, for heterosexual relationships, however, being a heterosexual female myself. So, while rather unfamiliar with struggles and realm of gay, lesbian, or transgender dating, I do think that at the very least, the world of heterosexual dating needs to change their game already.