The key to more equal relationships? Closing the ‘Romance Gap’
Bumble, the “women-first” dating app, has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the ‘Romance Gap’—the discrepancy in behaviour expected from men/masculine presenting and women/feminine presenting when dating and in relationships.
Research commissioned by Bumble found that while the overwhelming majority (86%)* of British people state that equality is important between people who are dating or in a relationship, almost three quarters (74%) say that when it comes to romantic relationships, there are different expectations and expected behaviours based on your gender identity - a Romance Gap.
Despite positive strides towards equality, traditional gender roles and expectations are still very present, and even, accepted in dating. The research, conducted by YouGov across several key European markets**, found that these expectations are so ingrained in society that the majority of adults (52%) say it leads us to behave in a way that is less true to who we are. Not only does it lead to less authentic interactions, but 47% of people throughout European countries asked, (and 51% in the UK) stated it makes dating and relationships more stressful and difficult.
Often, behaviours that are labelled romantic for men, are negatively viewed for women. These discrepancies show up across dating and relationships in different ways, with both men and women feeling considerable pressure to behave in a certain way.
The research from the respondents in the European countries found:
- Men are still expected to take the lead: Over half of people (52%) state that society expects men to take the lead in relationships, rising to almost 2 in 3 in the UK (63%), whilst a mere 8% think society expects women to do so. For men, just over 1 in 4 (27%) feel pressured to take the lead.
- Women should not appear desperate: In the UK, more than half (51%) state women are expected to avoid appearing too keen, clingy, attached or desperate. Interestingly this is felt significantly more by women (62%) than men (40%).
- Men worry about their lack of experience between the sheets: Nearly a fifth (18%) of British men are concerned about being judged for their lack of sexual experience. Almost the same amount of women (19%) fear they’ll be judged for the opposite - their number of intimate encounters.
- Women have a ‘shelf-life’ in dating: 42% state that women are expected to prioritise finding a relationship and settle down before they are ‘too old’. In contrast, only 13% say that society expects this of men. For women, 1 in 3 (32%) have felt pressure to compromise on what they want while dating or in relationships.
- Men are expected to be the breadwinners: In the UK, 1 in 2 (53%) say men are expected to earn more money and be responsible for finances, with only 3% agreeing this is expected of women. 1 in 10 (10%) women have felt concerned of being judged for earning more than their partner.
- Women are changing their behaviour: Amidst all these expectations, it’s no surprise that 1 in 3 (33%) women have changed their behaviour to make someone feel more powerful or comfortable.
Naomi Walkland, Bumble’s VP for Europe said, “The Romance Gap is a new term, but many of us will know the feeling. Those moments of questioning if sending that text makes you appear too keen, waiting for them to take the lead, or worrying if you are being judged for being too keen, too inexperienced, too old. At Bumble, we are focused on creating an app that empowers women to make the first move and date on their own terms from the beginning. But we alone cannot change societal expectations.
“An unexamined Romance Gap limits us, with 1 in 2 people agreeing that it makes it difficult to build equal relationships. The only way to reduce the Romance Gap is to acknowledge it exists and start an open conversation about how it impacts how we see ourselves, our partners, and relationships. Only when we are aware of it can we challenge each other to do away with gendered expectations of who should do what.”
While these expectations exist, there is a desire for change.
People in the UK feel strongly that in an ideal world we would not have expectations about who earns more money (58%), has a more successful career (55%), or who makes the first move by initiating a date (49%).
More than 3 in 5 British people think that it is key to be confident in expressing who you are and what you want (61%) and half of women (50%) state that going forward, it’s important to them to address the topic of equality early in dating and relationships.
Bumble, the women-first, dating app is built around empowering women to challenge expectations and make the first move. The popular dating app puts women in control, where women set the tone and choose when and how to open the conversation.
This campaign is part of Bumble’s efforts to empower people to create healthy and equitable relationships.
Creative Agency: 72andSunny Amsterdam
Production Company: OB Management
Director: Amy Becker-Burnett
DOP: Joe Douglas
Producer: Lucy Bradley
EP: Sam Holmes
Post Production: Glassworks Amsterdam
Colourist: Scott Harris
Sound Design: Wave Studios Amsterdam, Alex Nicholls-Lee
Editing Company: Whitehouse Post
Editor: Scarlett Bovingdon
Music: Friday Music, Steph Grace-Summers
Executive Creative Director: Laura Visco
Senior Designer: Renée Lam, Sarah Hegyesy
Senior Writer: Lucy Dale
Strategy Director: Armando Potter
Strategist: Pauline Stickel
Brand Director: Laura van der Heiden
Brand Manager: Rob Hall, Hope Kennedy
Director of Communications: Kelsey Bozanich
Director of Production: Stephanie Oakley
Agency Producer: Sophie van den Berg
Business Affairs Director: Belinda Harford
**All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc commissioned by Bumble. Total sample size was 6770 adults, of which 2069 are UK adults, 1053 are France Adults, 1015 are Netherlands Adults, 2129 are Germany Adults and 504 are Ireland Adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th January - 4th February 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighed and are representative of each of the countries respectively (Adults aged 18+).
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