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 straight woman who’s casually dating in Savannah, Georgia, to track her dating-related spending for four days.
I’m proud of myself for being awake, showered, and working by 9 a.m., which I used to do every day when I had a full-time job, but I’ve done a lot less of since I started grad school last fall. I’m completely focused on my work until I get a text from Sam*, a guy I’ve been talking to all week but haven’t actually met yet. It’s our usual banter — feigned insults mixed with flirtation — and I decide to just ask him what he’s doing tonight.
He says “probably just working,” which is an open invitation, right? I ask if he wants to meet for a drink, and he does. Since I get to choose the place, I pick The Grey, my favorite restaurant in Savannah. There’s a cool bar area, and it’s an ideal place to start with drinks and then order food if things are really going well. You can tell I’ve done this before!
I’m the first one there, which is my goal. I have a strict pay-for-myself policy on first dates, and this allows me to order and pay for my drink, a Smooth Operator, which has tequila, lemon, and smoked agave in it, without any awkwardness ($13). Sam arrives five minutes late and apologizes, which I appreciate, though I’m not really annoyed. He’s about what I expected from his photos, and I’m relieved. We both moved here from much larger cities — him from Chicago, me from New York — to attend grad school, so we talk about our love-hate relationship with the South and how it was like 80 degrees Farenheit today (in February!).
There are a few gaps in conversation, but I honestly like him. We order another round of drinks — I get the same cocktail and he gets one that’s basically just whiskey — and he insists on paying. I acquiesce, saying I’ll buy the next round, which I guess we’re now having. Things improve with alcohol, and we talk about our love for Berlin, Target, and “The Great British Baking Show.” We order that third round of drinks, and I pay ($28). I go home afterward, tipsy. I definitely want to see Sam again.
I don’t have classes on Friday, but I do freelance graphic design, and five illustrations are due at the end of the day. While I have initial sketches done, the illustrations are not even close to done, so I start working as soon as I wake up. By the time I finish, it’s almost 8 p.m., and I feel lazy. While binge-watching all of “Russian Doll,” I text Rob*, this other guy I’ve gone out with five times, to see if he still wants to come over tomorrow. He does. It’s been a little slow-going, so I’m not 100-percent sure it’s moving in the right direction, but the last two times we went out, I had a lot of fun. He offered to help wallpaper my bedroom, so I’ve decided to make him dinner as a thank you.
I love nothing more than an excuse to go to the farmers market on Saturday morning, so I head there as soon as I wake up and stock up on what I need to cook dinner for Rob. I’ve already decided to make hot-honey fried chicken with my new air-fryer, but I have no idea what to serve with it. I’m also worried about time, so I decide to make a salad with green goddess dressing made from a bunch of herbs I picked up. I also buy kale, vegetables, buttermilk, beer, cheese, chicken, honey, and a baguette ($52).
The afternoon actually goes way better than I predicted, and it turns out I like Rob more than I thought. Dinner is delicious, and at around 9 p.m., we run out to buy more beer, pickle potato chips (my favorite), and chocolate chip cookies. We split the cost ($9 each). It’s nearly 10 o’clock before we’re done with the wallpapering (there were a lot of breaks and neither of us had any idea what we were doing), and we stay up talking until 1 in the morning. Rob stays over, and I’m left even more confused about my feelings.
We sleep until 11 a.m. and then go for brunch at the Collins Quarter, a cute restaurant not far from my apartment. I have a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich with a cold brew coffee, and he has short rib hash and regular coffee. We split the bill ($19 each) and go our separate ways, saying we’ll hang out again soon. I spend the rest of the afternoon catching up on reading for class and Googling both Sam and Rob. Sam texts me, and we talk off and on for about six hours until he finally asks me if I want to hang out this week. We’re going to an art exhibit Wednesday night. Am I dating two people? I think I am.
Dating-related spending: $121