Love don’t cost a thing? The price of dating and finding love on a budget

4 min | 06 April 2023

Chanté Joseph
Chanté Joseph

Dating can be a minefield, and if you’re not careful, a costly one. So how do we keep it budget-friendly?

You’re relaxed, sinking into the plush restaurant chair and content with your meal. The date has been going well, and you’re basking in the moment – could they be The One? Then, suddenly, the waitress strides over holding the folded receipt and places it on the table – equidistant from you and your date. 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' theme-tune plays, and you’re transported to the Wild West. Who will draw for the bill first? Who pretends to use the bathroom so someone else can pay? So much of dating culture awkwardly revolves around money: who spends it, how much and on what.

The single tax is a thing

Single life can have considerable expenses, so much so they call it a ‘single tax’. This is the burden of having to pay for everything on your own or paying more when doing things solo. Even the cost of health insurance can be more expensive if you’re single so, understandably, people might be keen to shack up to split the costs.

Finding The One is not a cost-free process either: the UK dating industry is expected to be worth £290.6 million by 2022. If you’d like to be matched with someone, that could cost you upwards of £6,000. Perhaps you don’t mind searching but want to be coached on how to find your perfect match? Coaching can knock you back nearly £1,000 a month. And then there's the dates. Research conducted by a dating app into the economics of dating found that, on average, Brits spend £1,349 on dating every single year. The survey of 2,000 single adults reported that people spent around £106 on a date.

Dating apps and emotional spending

By 2035, more than 50% of relationships will begin online as we become a nation increasingly obsessed with dating apps. However, these platforms present their own money challenges. Many dating apps offer paid subscriptions and ‘boosts’ to increase the visibility of your profile. These small expenses over time can add up and make looking for love online a growing expense.

Dating on a budget?

Lockdowns popularised walking dates as a cheap and informal way to get to know people. Throw coffee into the mix, and you have the perfect pressure-free way to get to know someone.

Affordable and fun dates can include bike riding, free museums, puzzle-solving or open mic comedy nights. If you do want to spend up, make use of mid-week specials, happy hours, budget sites and discounted set menus. There is no correlation between how much you spend and how good a date can be.

Try to focus more on how you make your date feel, and think about the experience you're having together. If you’re ever stuck for ideas there are a range of articles, social media accounts and event aggregators that can do the hard work for you.

Ultimately, dating should be fun, not something that tires you out or breaks the bank. Though it may be awkward, setting expectations at the start can help to avoid the even worse problem of getting caught managing a relationship outside of your budget.

Feelings of loneliness might ramp up the desire to spend time and money on apps and services that help you find love, this is a form of emotional spending. In these cases, it may be better to step away from the dating scene completely and get over the dating fatigue you might be experiencing.

Don’t let dating get you or your bank account down; continue to check in with yourself and set limits on the money you spend finding a significant other – and make sure you have fun.

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