The financial cost of dating for men

Often surveys can be taken with a pinch of salt. Nobody really knows if eight out of ten cats actually prefer Whiskers, and nobody really cares if 51% of Americans think storms affect Cloud computing. Surveys rarely churn out any new info, but sometimes they do reinforce a belief you may already have.

Such was the case when dating app Plenty of Fish recently revealed that going on dates is expensive. Bloody expensive, in fact, especially if you’re the guy. The average Brit spends £1349 every year on roughly 13 dates, which makes it doubly unlucky for some. Take a look at for a bit more detail if you want to.

Many people on Twitter seemed surprised by this, as it wasn’t something they had experienced. It is, however, sadly relatable for many of us, and if anything feels a little on the low side. After all, 13 dates isn’t all that many for some serial daters, who may be going on two or even more dates a week, let alone just over one a month. And when the expenses start being broken down it’s easy to see how they add up.

For those who live outside of London there’s firstly the cost of travel (going on personal experience, if I walk to the train station this clocks in at about £15). As much as people don’t normally buy new clothes for every single date, the cost of these should be averaged out over the course of a year, so even a couple of shirts/trousers/shoes/jacket/aftershave/jewellery/other every few months means things can easily clock in at about £20 a time.

Tickets to events have been cited as a typical purchase for many, which is definitely not unusual. Gigs can cost anything from £5-£50 (or more)a go, with sporting events hitting £60 each (having taken dates to sports events I can confirm this is actually a far more fun date than it sounds). Taking an average of those gets us to about £30 a head, so two tickets adds £60 to the total.

Next up are drinks. Often these are shared, round by round, but somehow as a guy it’s common to end up buying one or two more than your date. If you’re in central London then you’re not seeing much change from £15 for a round, £20 if you’re at a cocktail bar, so just three rounds (it’s a schoolnight after all) adds at least £45 to the bill.

And finally comes food. Many women (though not all) at least offer to go dutch, with many insisting upon it. Again, the London tax may bump up the price a little, so for an average meal in an average restaurant you are looking at £30 each, not counting the traditional bottle of wine.

None of that is unusual or extravagant. Perhaps if you are going for food you wouldn’t go to an event, or vice-versa, but the total bill of £170 is far from absurd whilst also being totally, utterly absurd. Removing going to an event, which takes plenty off even if you’re not going anywhere amazing, still means you’re spending three figures, all in the hope of finding someone to connect with who, statistically speaking, probably isn’t A One anyway.

At this point it’s worth addressing the thing that many readers will be screaming in their heads; “Not All Women…”. Of course, not all women would accept a guy paying out that much. Of course not all women even want to spend that much on a night out. Of course not all women expect it, rather than a couple of drinks and a stroll along the river.

But enough women do, or at least don’t object to it when it happens, to prove that the stereotype is based on unwelcome facts rather than absurd impossibility. Men feel under constant pressure to do this, with probably deep rooted psychological reasons as to why. Some of it is no doubt about proving their financial stability in order to demonstrate they would be a good mate. Some may be about proving they are cultured, or that they know cool places to go that will keep you interested in seeing them. Some is definitely about showing off, while some is probably also because men simply don’t know any other way to act.

There is a common expectation that the person who does the asking and decides on the date then pays for it. Combine this with the fact that most women (yes, yes, Not All Women…) hope/demand/expect the guy to both make the move to ask them out in the first place and then hope/demand/expect them to come up with where to go, it’s easy to see how the guy then ends up paying out. The guy will hope that their date will pick up more of the thinking, planning and bill for the second one, but since a vanishingly small percentage of first dates end up in second dates it doesn’t really make any financial sense for him to count on this happening.

This leaves us with two things that need to change. Firstly, MEN; stop paying out so bloody much!!! It doesn’t really impress anyone at all, at least not those worth keeping, and will cripple you if you keep doing it over the course of a few months. Keep dates simple and keep them cheap, at least until you know them better. There are loads of free or low-cost date ideas which will actually help you stand out from the crowd.

And if she offers to go halves, let her. Don’t say that she can get the next one unless you’re damn sure there’s going to be a next one. Let her contribute as much as she wants to; you’re not paying for her time after all. She is a modern, independent woman who isn’t expecting you to pay for everything however nice it might be to offer.

And WOMEN; don’t accept it when a guy goes to pick up the bill! If he buys tickets to an event, pick up commensurate value elsewhere, pay for half the drinks and if he suggests somewhere really expensive suggest something more low-key instead. He’s probably just showing off; if he insists then it may mean he’s just peacocking, and that’s rarely attractive.

And don’t roll your eyes and say “I NEVER do this!”, that’s the same attitude that gets guys crucified whenever they mention on Twitter that Not All Men do all the terrible things that it is claimed All Men do. It really doesn’t matter if you as an individual don’t, if you’re not actively doing something to challenge norms then you are actively reinforcing them.

Start as you mean to go on in a relationship; on an equal footing. If it’s not sustainable to keep dating as you are starting then, possibly, the relationship itself isn’t sustainable either, which makes all the money worth nothing at all.

Some things are expensive things to do on a first date

3 thoughts on “The financial cost of dating for men

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  1. Dates are so expensive these days! I’ve been in relationship for little over four years now and many of our date nights are quiet nights in because as well as it being cheaper, most restaurants don’t have blankets lol! That being said, we do go out a few times a month to our favourite go-to’s if we can spare the pennies. As far as picking up the tab goes when I was single, it used to take a lot of convincing the guys to let me cover half the tab or pay for dessert etc. either because of societal expectation or they came from traditional backgrounds where the man paid for everything. If they enjoy doing that, that’s fine. If they want to go Dutch, fine too. I found it best to just go along with what made him most comfortable on that front. However there was one time I offered to cover half the bill and the man got mortally offended, proceeding to go into a 20 minute long lecture on how my offering to do so emasculated him. Suffice to say that wasn’t fun!

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