A Wake Forest University professor specializing in masculinity declares that in the current social milieu, men must tread softly when dealing with the opposite gender.
“Men no longer have clear-cut cues on how to treat a woman, and the mixed messages they get from the media and women themselves can often leave them questioning what to do,” says Andrew Irwin-Smiler, an assistant professor of psychology.
“Guys are taught they should ‘take care of’ their dates, which includes things like paying for the meal, but they’re also taught they should think of their partner as equals,” Smiler says.
“If she’s an equal, should she pay?”
Men get the same kinds of mixed messages from the media, which on the one hand often portrays men as “clods” who can’t even remember to buy a card, and on the other hand, suggest through advertising that men should shower the one they love with expensive gifts.
“There’s a real gender split in the media. There’s a lot of romance in the advertisements aimed at women,” Smiler says. “But then there are television shows like “Everyone Loves Raymond” and “2 ½ Men” that convey the message that once a man gets married, he is never going to have any fun ever again.”
To make matters worse, men are not always sure how to communicate with their partners to clear up the mixed messages.
“When we look at how boys are raised, we find that boys are taught to not express their emotions,” Smiler said.
“That’s because we talk to girls about their feelings, but we do much less of that with boys. But just because boys often have fewer words, does not mean they have fewer emotions.”
Perhaps that is why more teenage boys and younger men are now opting for group outings with friends rather than one-on-one dates with girls.
“The group format is not quite as intense and doesn’t carry as much meaning,” Smiler says. “It takes the pressure off because it’s casual and there’s less of a commitment to the relationship.”
Source: Wake Forest University