Cost Of Loving Is A Dating Trend With Which We Can All Commiserate

As 2023 is in full swing, dating trends defining the year so far include ways to have fun getting to know someone without spending your entire paycheck. We've all heard of the term "cost of living" to describe the amount of money it takes to live in a specific geographical area or to determine monthly expenses, but when it comes to the world of dating there's a new trend emerging called "cost of loving." A play on words, the terminology is pretty much spot on in its reference to the amount of money it costs to metaphorically live in the dating world. Not to mince words here, but the dating world simply isn't a cheap one to be in. 

A 2023 analysis published by MoneyGeek looked at 500 restaurants across 50 cities in the United States and found that the average cost for a date night consisting of dinner at a restaurant coupled with seeing a movie in a theater is $159. For perspective, when broken down by the average time it takes to go on a dinner and movie date night from start to end, the average hourly cost of dating is approximately $35. For many people, the cost of going on a date is more than their hourly wage. Yes, it's that expensive– which is why it may come as no surprise that dating trends are now veering away from costly outings and people out on the dating scene are being more pragmatic about their meal and activity choices.

Slimming down the cost of dating

Regardless of where you are on the dating spectrum, whether you're going on a first date or you've lost count of how many dates you and your partner have shared together, inexpensive and free activities can be just as romantic as high-dollar ones. In fact, a picnic by a gorgeous lake can even be more romantic than a high-end restaurant. As the Cost of Loving trend picks up steam, dating activities with low price tags are becoming more popular. If you're feeling adventurous, challenge your date to a garage sale or thrift store scavenger hunt to see who can put together the tackiest outfit, or visit the library to share your favorite books and learn more about your date through their favorite reads. Try to find the most breathtaking view of your city to have dinner over, or plan out an inexpensive multi-course meal by prepping a homemade appetizer to eat in a park, dinner to be eaten at a place where you can watch the sunset, and dessert to be relished under the stars.

Volunteering is another great way to get to know a potential partner's interests and values while having fun helping with a local clothing drive or spending time with cute pups at an animal shelter. And if you're not a fan of dating apps but want to become more active in your community while trying to meet new people, volunteering is a solid way for a potential "meet cute."

Financial honesty can feel awkward

Even though the traits of being responsible, fiscally knowledgeable, and honest are desirable in a potential partner and attributes you likely want to possess yourself, being transparent about what you can and can't afford when planning dates can be awkward. You may think that if you tell a person you're interested in taking on a date that you can't fit an expensive dinner and movie into your budget at the moment, they'll believe that you aren't financially fit. But when inflation is quickly skyrocketing and a recession is looming, being savvy with your finances may actually be more of a good thing than you realize. Regardless of the global economic environment, being smart about your money and not overspending are healthy habits to practice, and meeting a potential partner with a savings account may very well be more attractive than meeting someone who spends lavishly using credit cards. Keeping yourself out of debt from dating is a good plan, too. 

The Cost of Loving trend is coming about at a time when openly discussing sexual intimacy and past relationships are easier conversations to have than dialogues about money. From this angle, think of all discussion topics as being equal when speaking with a person you hope to date. Don't be afraid to be honest about what you're able and willing to spend on dates, and encourage the other person to be open about their own budget. In the end, honesty is the best policy.