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My love don’t cost a thing

June 19th, 2005

Dr Petra

A report in today’s Independent on Sunday suggests online daters could be spending up to £1500 per month on meeting and dating people they meet on websites. The average spend for men per date is £27 and men have an average of 11 dates per month. Women pay less (£16) and have fewer dates (7), but nevertheless both genders are shelling out on people they’re unlikely to meet again.

Part of this could be a fault of online dating. Although it’s great to meet and date a variety of people, there’s no reason why you have to spend big money on a first date – especially with someone you don’t really know.

However, the Internet can lead us to feel we know a partner well, but when you meet in person the magic may not be there. Pressure to impress can also lead to people feeling they have to spend – along with stereotypical gender role expectations – where men feel they have to pay.

It’s expensive being single! But it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of activities you can do that don’t cost anything – like a walk in a park or trip to an art gallery. Low cost activities such as a coffee date, or trip to the movies can allow for a less pressurised date with time to get to know each other. If you decide to meet again you can pay out more, but there’s no reason you have to spend money from the get go.

The cost of dating is particularly difficult for people on low incomes or benefits. Those with experience of mental distress or physical disability may be particularly discriminated against, and may feel there’s no point in even trying to date if you can’t afford it.

There’s a lot to be said for keeping things short. It not only cuts the cost but also keeps you safer. Be sure to tell someone where you’re going, whom you’ll be with, keep your mobile with you and call when you get home. A short date – e.g. an hour for morning coffee or afternoon tea, means you get to see your date in person and decide if you want to see them again. If you don’t, you’ve not wasted much time or cash.

It may sound mercenary, but frankly who’s got £1500 to throw away? If you have, spend it on yourself rather than spending it on dates you’ll never see again and who probably won’t care how much you spend. After all, you know you’re worth it!

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