Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Are Men and Women Changing Roles?

When you are on a first date, what thought is going through your head? Back when I was single, I was usually trying to decide if I liked the guy, if I was talking too much, and if I should have worn a less-revealing shirt. The dating service, “It’s Just Lunch” recently asked 5000 singles the same questions and were surprised by the answers.

“Not only did men and women have different top answers, but the first choice given by 47% of men, ‘Could we have a relationship together?’ was one that in the past would have seemed more typical of women. Instead, women’s top answer, given by 50% of those polled, was the less stressful ‘Do I want to see him again?'”

The only part about those results that surprise me is that more women aren’t wondering whether they wanted to see the guy again. Of course guys are wondering if they want to have a relationship with the woman, because for them, that’s the least stressful question. If the answer is no, everything is fair game. If they’re attracted to her, they can put the moves on her without anything to lose. But if they do see a potential for a relationship, the risks are much higher and they have to plan accordingly. Women asking themselves if they want to see the guy again is the equivalent. If the answer’s no, they don’t have to really stress about whether they’re talking too much or if they should or shouldn’t kiss him or any of the other worries they might have if they see potential for at least a second date.

Another area where researchers found some big changes in results was in how fast men and women decide whether they want to see someone again. “In 2004, there was a huge disparity, where 79% of men took fifteen minutes or less, and 64% of women took an hour or more! In 2011, 60% of men and 55% of women take twenty minutes or less.”

Irene LaCota, spokesperson for It’s Just Lunch explains: “In today’s society, we’re so used to both demanding and getting instant information, that we’ve become a bit impatient and closed off, sometimes to our own detriment,” she said.

She may have a point. On my first date with Drew — a blind date — it took me over an hour before I decided I’d like to see him again. If I’d gone with my initial reaction, there would be no “us” today.

15 comments… add one
  • avatar

    TheOtherMe June 23, 2011, 1:12 pm

    For me there would be 2 answers, pre-divorce and post divorce

    Pre-divorce : Do I see myself walking down the street hand in hand with him ?

    Post-divorce : Do I see myself doing this guy’s laundry ?

    I have to add that post-divorce, it took me a long-long time to accept going on a date with any man…

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  • avatar

    SGMcG June 23, 2011, 1:50 pm

    When I was still dating (approximately 11/12 years ago), cell phone etiquette of turning off your phone when you’re with company wasn’t really fully established yet, and I took advantage of that. I mainly focused on trying to get to know an individual, yet sometimes, you just know that the date isn’t working. I had a variation on “Do I want to see him again?” which was “Should I take this call?” and created this dating method accordingly.

    First, I made sure to only schedule coffee/light meal/get-to-know-you first dates. As I did them, I would always ask a friend in advance to give me a call on my cell an hour or so after the date started. As the date went along, I would always get that call, apologize to the guy for forgetting to turn off my cell and leave the table to get the call because it looked like an emergency. If the date went well, I thanked my friend for being the safety and then went back to the table, apologizing for the interruption, explained the situation was resolved (usually I excused it as a nervous friend who wanted to know if I got the resume that I could proofread for them and when to expect it back) and made a point to turn off my phone in front of him, demonstrating that I was into him. If the date was so-so, I gave my friend a time to call back (usually 2 hours afterward), I went back to the table, apologizing for the interruption, and mentioned a potential family illness with a relative in the Philippines, thus opening the door for him to ask questions about my family and vice versa thus redeeming the date. By the time the second call came around, if the date was going better, I explained that the relative seemed to be on the mend. If the date was absolutely horrible, I apologized for call, explained that there was an emergency and left.

    Yet now that modern cell phone etiquette is more established, I don’t know if you could get away with utilizing this method now…

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    • avatar

      Taurwen June 23, 2011, 2:03 pm

      I think it’s just terribly see through now. Everyone will think it’s a friend if you get a call in the middle of the date and it’s a family emergency that you have to leave for, unless you look really upset.

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    • avatar

      Maracuya June 23, 2011, 2:28 pm

      That just seems so needlessly complicated to me. Also, I’d say even then they knew you were being disingenuous.

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    • avatar

      GingerLaine June 23, 2011, 2:37 pm

      I think you’re right SGMcG… no self-respecting person would stand for that anymore these days. If a man did that to me, he’d be walking back to an empty table after call #2.

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      • avatar

        SGMcG June 23, 2011, 3:01 pm

        And I wouldn’t blame you one bit. If I were dating today, I probably wouldn’t use my old methodology either. I was a lot more cruel/slutty back then though.

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  • avatar

    LeahW. June 23, 2011, 2:02 pm

    It took me a year-and-a-half to decide I wanted to date a friend of mine. Luckily, he was much more decisive and thankfully very patient!

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  • avatar

    Laurel June 23, 2011, 2:21 pm

    I had a class with the guy who is now my boyfriend, but we didn’t really interact at all until the class was 3 weeks from being over. While on a week-long geology field trip, he caught my eye and I flirted incessantly until he asked me out a couple weeks later. I knew immediately on the first date (coffee and a walk around town) that I definitely wanted to see him again.

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    • avatar

      Laurel June 23, 2011, 2:23 pm

      Oh and FWIW, I wasn’t really thinking if I wanted to have a relationship with him, I was too focused on his beautiful mouth and how many dates we’d have to go on before I could get him into bed. 🙂

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  • avatar

    ForeverYoung June 23, 2011, 2:56 pm

    I think this is an effect of the whole feminist movement in general. Women now have more choices and aren’t as likely to pick the first man that comes along that can support them. Now we actually get to think about what we want in a partner. We can support ourselves for the most part so don’t have to settle. I am completely generalizing, but that’s been my experience at least. I am picky because I know I can be. My goals were never “get married” as much as “find a compatible partner”.

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  • avatar

    Chiara June 23, 2011, 2:13 pm

    And let’s not forget the introduction of online dating. You choose who you like and who you don’t like with a click. If you say no, you’re (usually) immediately presented with another choice. Although we logically know “real” life isn’t like that, it’s still instilled in our subconscious.

    Interesting stuff!

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet June 23, 2011, 4:37 pm

    I actually wasn’t very attracted to my boyfriend when I first met him. I knew we could be friends right off the bat, though. We made good conversation and there was never an awkward pause. I’ll say it took about 2-3 hours (yowza!) for me to realize I was really, really into him… in a “more than friends” kinda way.

    He says he knew within the first five minutes.

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    • avatar

      lk June 23, 2011, 4:53 pm

      It took me a while – like a couple months – of being friends with him… I even told my friend, “Oh, I can guarantee you I will NEVER be attracted to him,” but when it hit me, it hit me HARD. I never believed people when they said attraction can develop but…crazily enough, it is true. I think he is so, so sexy & I can’t imagine why I didn’t see it at first.

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  • avatar

    Christy June 23, 2011, 7:37 pm

    Wendy, I’m really troubled by this statement: “Of course guys are wondering if they want to have a relationship with the woman, because for them, that’s the least stressful question. If the answer is no, everything is fair game. If they’re attracted to her, they can put the moves on her without anything to lose. But if they do see a potential for a relationship, the risks are much higher and they have to plan accordingly. ”

    That assumes men are desperate horn-dogs who will want to sleep with any woman, they just have to decide if the woman is “relationship material” or an easy lay (Madonna or whore). Can’t the question be interpreted the same way as the top question for women–they’re wanting to know what the longer term prospects are so they don’t have to worry about a second date?

    It also assumes men think women who aren’t relationship prospects are worth being treated less well. Yes, the stereotype is that men think that way, but if we want to get past negative stereotypes about women, we shouldn’t perpetuate them about men!

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  • avatar

    twadle June 24, 2011, 10:27 am

    Something to keep in mind is that IJL is dedicated to professionals seeking relationships. So they’re dealing with people who are a little older and very directed towards finding a partner. The PR blurb doesn’t specify where they found the 5000 study participants, but it’s likely that they were drawn from IJL’s own resources. Also ‘studies’ like this are typically promotional, and not so rigorous. You’ll notice that their conclusions are suitably ‘surprising’ to serve as a press hook while conveying exactly the message about men that IJL’s female members will want to hear.

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