Maybe I am living in a part of the world seemingly devoid of the traditional settings in which date-asking can be held with a somewhat normal level of respect. Dating itself being one of many social systems in which we attain some set goal, those who are liable to use it have to make some choices. Either they go along with the system that is in place, rebel from it and either remove themselves entirely from the "dating scene", or create within the system a new system, that of going dutch, girls approaching boys, etc. But like most social contructs, dating has changed in response to its environment and like so many other systems involving pairing off and procreation (marriage, children, extended families, individual's roles in the economy), it has mutated so drastically that it seems a shock to many of us what it had been like before the 90's.

On one hand, you could say that the institution of dating as it worked in the past will not and cannot satisfy our needs in the present, if we agree that humans and their needs have changed rapidly over the last 50 years (which remains to be seen and is something about which I have mixed opinions). On the other hand, you could say that our perception is really the only thing that has changed, in light of women's lib and the sexual revolution.

Using myself as the only example I can speak of with any sort of authority, I am severely independent and never once really believed that the man I marry will be able to financially support me, even by matching or superceding my income. I come with my own bit of debts and burdens, both financial and personal, and all I ever asked was for a man who would, in most cases, be my equal. Since I am a heterosexual, I can only speak for heterosexuals when I say that as long as women are to be the bearer of children into this world, by and large, many customs of pairing off will be determined by some of the same standards. Even if you have no intention of marrying at all, or of marrying the person you are currently dating, that one issue tends to have some role in the relationship. As long as women have to be mothers, someone has to be the father. He doesn't have to be the breadwinner or the sole source of funds to still be the father.

In a dating scenario, the guy doesn't have to pay or open the door to still be the guy. Our sexual and gender roles haven't become so muddied that we can't still be who we are on a date. Whether the man pays or whether they split the bill is and should be treated as nominal in way of influence on a date. What a date means to either party has not really become so vague that the institution of dating is completely useless to us. God knows we need some level of awkwardness to be established so that we can move past it to a level of comfort.

I agree that dating was easier to execute when the roles were better defined, meaning that to pull off a date was easier because we all tried to adhere to some common ground, and because that ground has been pulled out from under us, we are responsible for making new ground. This is never easy and wasn't ever supposed to be. If the girl wants to pay her share, let her, but don't let that tell you that you aren't, at any time, allowed to play the role you so greatly want to. She likely still wants to be cuddled, to be shown affection and tenderness and love. If the dates continue, there will surely be some time where you get to play the more dominant person who can comfort and shelter her. It just doesn't happen right off the bat like it used to.

Unfortunately, the fact that women and men still say one thing but mean another did not go the way of traditional dating. And as such, you are required to think about what she says out of defense verses what she means in her reactions to what you do. Just as the rules of conduct were dicated to us generations ago and passed down, those rules hurt some and rescue others. The rules of PC and women's equality did as much to harm women in dating scenarios as it did to aid them in other circumstances. As with most of my commentary on social issues, I really can't say any of it is black and white, right or wrong.

Where once convention laid out the rules of conduct, we are required to make up for the dissipation of those rules with clear open dialogue on the matter. It is so hard sometimes to just ask what is ok to do and what is taboo, to put aside a whole evening's awkwardness for 15 minutes of clearing up confusion. That, more than the dating game, has injured most single people seeking to be coupled.