It is the season of prom in the local high schools. In a recent discussion with some students, the idea of the boy paying for the girl’s dinner came up briefly. One of the ladies in the group responded that girl’s don’t need a guy to pay for them, they can take care of themselves.
While I totally agree that women are capable of taking care of themselves, this statement has had me thinking about what chivalry communicates. (see The Opposite of Masculinity)
Does a man paying for his date’s dinner diminish the woman?
That is a fair question. And I think the answer lies in the motivation for paying and is fundamentally an issue of identity.
Payment could indicate control. Not paying could be a bruise to the man’s ego.
It could subtly communicate that something is owed later. Now the woman is in the man’s debt. Another form of control
Unfortunately, too many men have used finances in such a way. Making the response that woman can take care of themselves completely understandable.
Needing to be in control and needing to demonstrate control are an issue of a poorly developed identity. One that seek to affirm significance by keeping another – in this case a date – under their thumb.
And by the way, this is not just a man issue, women struggle in their attempts to control others as a way to sustain identity as well. (see The Opposite of Femininity)
A man paying (or a woman paying for that matter) should not be for the purpose of controlling another, but rather as a way to demonstrate the significance and worth of the other.
It should symbolize the investment of himself that he desires to give to the relationship.
It is an issue of love. Love builds up. Love does not have expectations. Love does not seek to control.
How do you evidence the tendency to control in your significant relationships?
I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Discovering Your Root: Developing Your Identity in Christ.
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