Economics of Dating: The Finance of Romance
Updated: Mar 14
As this article is published, we have arrived again at Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of St. Valentine, as the date was known for hundreds of years. For some, it’s a fun occasion to renew an intimate relationship. For others, it’s another reminder of the lack of a relationship. And for still others, perhaps in the early stages of “trying out” a relationship, Valentine’s Day can be a time of hopeful anticipation—often with a healthy dose of nervous apprehension mixed in.
Whatever your current attitude toward romance, it’s a certainty that dating—both for those in a steady relationship and those just taking first steps—is not an inexpensive activity. According to a recent survey jointly conducted by banking and finance app Simple and market research company OnePoll, most of us can expect to spend around $100,000 on dating during our lifetimes. The poll of 2,000 Americans found that the average single person spends about $168 per month on dating, which adds up to over $100,000 when spread over a 50-year “dating lifespan.” It’s no surprise that 70 percent of those surveyed describe dating as expensive.
And you shouldn’t assume that the spending ends once you’re in a relationship, even if you’ve found “the one.” Couples spend an average of $185 per month, and 49 percent of those say it’s more expensive to be in a relationship. So much for “two can live as cheaply as one.” It makes sense; most couples with healthy relationships place importance on regular date nights, celebrating milestones (e.g., anniversaries) in a special way, and making regular time for enjoying time together. All these things cost money.
In keeping with the modern proverb, “there’s no romance without finance,” 62 percent of those surveyed say the main reason they don't have a more active dating life is because they lack the funds to do so. And by the way, the financial burden of dating isn’t felt only by men; though 66 percent of men say they typically offer to pay for the date, 42 percent of women say the same thing.
But let’s face it, the benefits that most people are looking for in dating aren’t primarily financial. For most of us, finding someone to care about and share life’s experiences with is more about emotional fulfillment than financial planning.
On the other hand, there are ways to cultivate a relationship, have fun, and learn more about each other that don’t require spending money. Parks, museums, public gardens and arboretums, and hiking trails offer abundant opportunities for having fun, absorbing culture, and even getting some fresh air and exercise together, often without spending a dime. And for a low-cost alternative to having dinner out, try a breakfast date. For book-loving couples, an hour spent browsing at a bookstore or, even better, a library, can provide an occasion for making memories together. For two people who genuinely enjoy each other’s company—or want to find out if they do—a date doesn’t have to be pricey to yield a good time.
At Bernhardt Wealth Management, we specialize in helping our clients—regardless of relationship status—make wise choices for spending, saving, and investing. To learn more about how we work with clients to meet their most important life goals, please click here.