In this age of dating apps, many of us will know the particular anxiety that precedes a date with someone new. We over-think what to wear, wonder what we’re going to say (will we even have anything in common?), and agonise over whether they’ll even like us at all.
And what if you’ve arranged a dinner date instead of just casual drinks? Then there’s another factor to consider: what to eat in front of your prospective partner. We’re sorry to break it to you, but new research suggests this carries with it a whole other layer of meaning.
According to the study, women are more likely to eat low-calorie and “healthy foods” on a date with someone they’re attracted to. In the study, female participants were also more likely to spend money on healthy foods after being exposed to images of attractive men.
Meanwhile, men don’t base their food choices on health at all, the study suggested. Instead, they spend more money on food and drink when they find their date physically attractive.
The results arguably suggest that many heterosexual women have internalised the sexist stereotype that eating in a certain way will make men more likely to find them attractive.
This is a dismal state of affairs, especially when you consider how big a part food plays in our lives. If you’re hoping to begin a relationship with someone, you want to know you have a compatible taste in food (not least so you don’t end up arguing over what to have for dinner every night). But you can’t gauge this unless you’re eating what you actually fancy on a date.
“Give a person their prospective date’s fast-food order and supermarket receipt and I am certain they could tell more about whether they’re a good match than they could from any Tinder profile,” Ruby Tandoh wrote in the Guardian.
“Whether we like it or not, food is bound up with ideas of purity, worth, youth and power for women: we want what she’s having,” she went on to write.
That many women feel the need to curb their appetites in front of men in the twenty-first century is sad, but there’s an easy way to end this destructive pattern. The next time you’re dining out with a guy you fancy, don't let it stop you from ordering what you want.