When it comes to the ritual act of dating, participants often have very different expectations. Some hope to meet their soul mate. Others seek companionship. Some are looking for a good time and think that springing for a meal entitles them to one. And now a new study finds that some women say that, now and again, they just want to score some lobster tails. The finding is in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
“You’re probably wondering how we came up with this idea.” Brian Collisson, a social psychologist at Azusa Pacific University in California. Collisson says he’s always been intrigued, in a scientific sense, by romantic relationships. So when one of his co-authors—Trista Harig, also at Azusa Pacific—told him about this interesting new phenomenon that Maxim magazine had nicknamed a “foodie call”: “We were curious to explore how often women date men for food rather than a relationship.”
In this study, the researchers focused on heterosexual women—in part because, based on longstanding cultural expectations, men often pick up the tab, particularly on a first date. In a pair of online surveys, the researchers asked more than 1,000 women: Have you ever agreed to date someone you were not interested in a relationship with because he might pay for your meal?
“We found that approximately 23 to 33 percent of women surveyed had engaged in a ‘foodie call.’” Of those who admitted to having swiped right for the free eats, the majority claimed to have done so only occasionally or rarely. But about a quarter admitted accepting the restaurant outing with greater frequency. The respondents most likely to engage in this type of dating-for-dinner behavior were those who endorsed traditional gender-role beliefs and who scored high on a personality test designed to detect what’s called the Dark Triad.
“The dark triad refers to subclinical levels of psychopathy—which is a lack of remorse and empathy and perspective taking—Machiavellianism—which is where you purposely manipulate others for your own self-benefit—and narcissism, which is a grandiose and over-the-top self-love.” With that as a checklist, it might be possible to avoid the users who are in it for pasta—rather than possibilities.