Exploring Gender Roles in Modern Dating
We asked individuals all ages, genders, and relationship statuses a few questions about gender roles in modern dating.
These are the responses we received:
Do traditional gender roles have any place in modern dating?
“Yes and no. I think every relationship has its own sort of foundation in place as far as roles are concerned. Whether they be purely oriented on traditional male/female roles is debatable concerning the nature of that relationship.” - Zach, 29
“This is an uncomfortable question for me to answer honestly. Is chivalry considered a gendered role? If so, then perhaps it does. Perhaps it’s a gray area. Being respectful, offering assistance, and generally being “a gentleman,” I think are qualities that are lacking in modern dating.” - Kat, 28
“I’m not one to speak in absolutes. I think it’s up to you as a couple to communicate your feelings about gender roles. Consider them, challenge some, accept some. Find what’s right for the two of you.” - Cora, 27
“I don't believe that gender roles apply because our society is completely different than what it used to be. It isn't feasible for me, a working mom and wife, to go home and then cook dinner and clean the whole house. I need my husband to assist me, and manage tasks that might be classified as ‘women's work.’” - Liz, 26
“I believe they can to an extent. I find that traditional dating gestures can be nice! As a female, I would want the person I’m going on a date with to offer to pay as it shows respect. I also appreciate romantic gestures, like receiving flowers. I haven’t seen anyone hold a car door though in a long time. I think that would put me off. However, when you’re in a relationship I really do think there should be a fair balance of responsibilities. I don’t think any one gender should be responsible for certain chores. I also think that the man being the 'breadwinner' is an outdated belief.” - Samantha, 28
“I feel that some people believe traditional gender roles are important, as it may align with their faith beliefs or general values. For me, I do not believe gender roles should have a place in dating, as I choose to look more at the person, rather than how their gender would dictate their behavior. For example, I would hope that the person in front of me holds the door for me because it's a nice thing to do, not because I am a woman and it's chivalrous.” - Jen, 43
“I think that traditional gender roles do not fully belong to modern dating. I have found that how we interact in a relationship depends on both partners’ habits, upbringing, and beliefs. It is a topic that deserves some conversation early in dating, and can be easily brought up around holding the door or splitting the bill.” - Sarah, 46
“I have found that traditional gender roles mean less and less in modern dating. I still offer to pay if I’m enjoying the date but I don’t feel obligated to do so. I had one date pay for the check while I was in the bathroom as a sweet gesture and no one had ever done that for me! Neither is expected and I think that makes the gesture more authentic and appreciated.” -Sam, 28
“I don’t believe that anybody should be in charge of anyone’s duty solely based on their gender. Rather, it should be based on the person’s skills. I hate cleaning the bathroom but I don’t mind doing dishes. So, I go the bargain route which is what do I have to do to not scrub the toilet.”- Keanu, 28
“I don't believe that behaving how you're 'expected' to based on your gender is healthy while dating. If a woman behaved in a docile and submissive manner simply because that's what's expected of her or if a man acts macho and tough for the same reason, you're not getting an honest picture of who the person is.” - Anna, 28
Is there anything you expect as a male/female from your partner that relates to gender roles?
“Personally, I do have one particular gender role that I have to have in relationships and that is the male being “the protector.” I have to feel like my partner is willing to fight for me and protect me at all costs.” - Mariah, 28
“I subconsciously feel and expect an added sense of safety when doing activities I would normally do by myself: walking my dog (at night in particular), hiking, going to a BAR (seriously can a lady just go to a bar BY HERSELF without any preconceived notions), and generally most places by myself. His presence alone gives me comfort knowing I’m physically safe. I can thank my obsession with true crime for that, and history.” - Kat, 28
“My husband does typically tackle the outside work. However, I have been known to join and learn some of that too. I love to fix furniture, and also enjoy building things.” - Liz, 26
There have been times where I've made more money, and times he's made more money. We are good at balancing and picking up the slack when the other person doesn't have the energy to complete a chore. It's all about balance.” - Carrie, 28
“As a female in a F/M marriage, I sometimes tend to fall into the old-fashioned way of thinking. I find myself expecting my husband to take on the more "masculine" chores, even though I'm fully capable of doing them myself. I grew up that way and it's a hard concept and habit to let go of, even though I try!” - Natalee, 33
“I would say I don't expect anything, but I do lean on him for certain things as the 'man' of the house. He is tall and if I can't reach something he comes to my rescue, and if we need a house repair he also is the one to go to. Although I can learn to do this myself I don’t, because he does. Due to my working, he also does all the laundry and dishes, which is a lot for a family of six.” - Breanna, 28
“I personally do not expect him to do anything that pertains to him being the male. I am capable of doing just about anything he can, however, somethings he's just better at, therefore he does them. That also goes both ways.” - Kris, 26
Tell me about an experience (positive or negative) that you have had with gender roles and dating in the past?
“A negative experience I have had with gender roles was with my ex-fiancé. Even though I was working 12-hour shifts in a busy medical center is the primary breadwinner he thought I should still be responsible for cooking and cleaning. He said it was because I worked fewer days than him (he worked 5 6-hour days a week and I worked 3-4 12 hour shifts a week), but I think it was more related to the idea of an outdated gender role. It would have been easy enough to go 50-50 with cooking and cleaning.” - Mariah, 28
“I was expected to have a source of income and to be able to provide stability without her having to work.” - Keanu, 28
“A positive one was shortly after I started dating my now-husband. We had been getting ready for a date in the city and I wanted to really dress up so I wore my favorite heels! I'm a big woman, 5'9" and 200+lbs and not really what I would consider 'feminine'. In these heels I'm a solid 6'1"...My husband is only 5'11”. So, when I walked out of the bedroom I just towered over him. My last boyfriend HATED when I was taller than him, so I quickly realized my mistake and apologized while taking them off. He stopped me with a hug and said he didn't mind, that he loved how tall I was and that it didn't intimidate him at all! He said he never wanted me to shrink myself for him, and that I was perfect how I am. A negative came shortly after we were married, a friend asked when I was going to finally have a baby. I said I had no plans of having any and before I could explain why, my friend informed me that I was a wife now, my husband would expect children and wanted to know if I had told him that I didn't 'want' any. I physically cannot have children. I couldn't believe that being a wife, being a woman, had simply been brought down to having a properly functional uterus.”- Anna, 28
“I grew up seeing my mom, who worked full-time, also carry the bulk of cleaning, taking care of us, and making a home-cooked meal every damn day. I knew I didn't want that. I am thankful to have a husband who steps up to the sink and will wash up dishes. Or change our baby's diapers. I'm lucky that my positive example is every single day!” - Liz, 26
“I had an ex who FULLY thought I should stay home and take care of my child, clean the house spotless, cater to his every need simply because he was “The Man.” Nope. Nope. Nope. Flexibility and adaptability is the name of the game in today's society. I'm not your mother. Don't expect me to act like it.” - Natalee, 33
“I’ve certainly had men expect me to act a certain way or act too domineering towards me. I don’t appreciate that. I definitely think I challenge their expectations when that happens.” - Cora, 27