Ever wonder what the cost of dating really is? A Match.com survey of 5,500 singles around the country found that the average single American spends $1,596 on their dating life per year. And that number creeps up in major cities: For example, New Yorkers spend an average of $2,069 on dating. To get an idea of what that spending looks like, we asked a 27-year-old man on the verge of a new relationship and living in Washington, D.C. to track his dating-related spending over four days.
I uncharacteristically get to work about half an hour early, so I settle in at my desk and text the girl I’ve been seeing, Laura*, to find out if she’s still up for our date tonight. I still can’t tell how much I like her, but we’re having fun so I’m trying not to question it too much. She texts me back almost immediately saying she’s in, and I feel excited. Maybe I do like her after all.
We decide to meet at a bar called The Passenger for happy hour. I’ve found that even the successful, feminist women I date still almost always expect the guy to pay, and Laura is no exception. I once suggested we split the bill, and she really didn’t take it well. That’s why happy hour is a good idea: It’s cheap!
The bar is pretty close to my office, and I get there a few minutes before Laura and get a table for the two of us. Once she gets there, I order us both beers ($12 including tip) and we talk about our days. Laura is a lawyer, and I make a lot less money than she does. Her jobs seems super intense, but it’s fun to hear about.
We decide to order food, and I try not to get anxious about how much all of this is costing me. Surprisingly, Laura says she’ll get the food since I got the beers. I agree — hopefully not too quickly — and she hands her card over to the bartender.
I ask Laura if she wants to come back to my place, but she tells me she has an early morning. Suddenly I’m wondering if that plus the fact that she paid for dinner is a sign that she’s not into me, but I remind myself to not overthink things too much. We’re just having fun.
Laura and I have plans to go out for dinner tonight, and as I leave work I get that familiar anxiety about how much money this is all going to cost me. I’m an event planner and I don’t get paid much, and it always feels like I’m just scraping by. We’re going to this place called Tail Up Goat in Adams Morgan, and other than the money thing, I’m feeling excited.
We settle in at a booth and order drinks. Laura looks great, and I suddenly worry that I’m more into her than she is into me. But a couple of glasses of wine in I’ve forgotten about that — and how much this all will inevitably cost.
We order food and talk about everything from our jobs to our families, and when the check comes, I tell her it’s on me and try not to look too hard at the bill ($122.50 with tip). She asks if I want to go to a bar, and I hesitate — but she quickly insists that the next round will be on her so I agree.
After one more drink, she invites me back to her place. She lives by herself and has a way nicer apartment than I do, so I’m relieved.
Laura and I are both a little hungover when we wake up, but eventually we stumble to a breakfast place near her apartment called Busboys and Poets. We down coffee and food at record pace, and I pay ($33).
I tell Laura I should really get back to my place, and she doesn’t seem as bummed out as I wish she did. I suddenly wonder if we should have “the talk,” but decide against it — we’ve only been dating for two months, and I’m not sure we’re there yet.
Laura sends me a text saying she had a nice time with me last night and this morning, which makes me happy.
My roommate and I discuss going out, but I’m exhausted from last night. I settle in with “Narcos” and pass out early.
I wake up feeling great (why do I always feel superhuman the day after a hangover?) and head to the gym. Laura texts me to ask what I’m up to as I’m leaving. I tell her I’m not up too much, and she asks if I want to go for a walk.
I text her that I’d like that, and after a quick shower we meet up on 14th Street and poke around the shops a little. She ends up buying lunch for us (score!) and catches me off guard by bringing up the “what are we” conversation. I ask if she wants to continue talking over drinks — I’m not sure what I’m going to say, so I’m stalling.
We pop into a bar and I get us drinks, and I ask her what she wants to be. She’s direct and says she’d like for us to be officially together, and that she’s kind of an “all or nothing” person. I finish my beer and tell her I’d be willing to try it. I pay the bill ($16) and we walk back to my place, hand in hand. Hey, it’s worth a try.
Dating-related spending: $183.50
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of innocent daters everywhere.