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While sipping on margaritas, my friend Cassandra told me the story of a date she’d been on a few years ago. The man was a colleague and when he asked her out, she hesitantly agreed with the caveat that she’d have “one drink” before heading home. When she finished her drink and made the move to leave, he insisted she stay for “one more.”
Cassandra had just begun working at a non-profit that summer and money was tight. The bar was very expensive and the drink prices made her cringe, but she eventually acquiesced to her date’s pushiness, mistaking his eagerness as a willingness to pick up the tab.
But to her surprise, at the end of the night her date insisted on separate cheques. Cassandra finished this story by saying, “I didn’t even want that second drink.” The whole situation made her feel uncomfortable. In turn, her date didn’t understand why Cassandra didn’t want to go out with him again.
I’m telling you this story not because it’s unique, but rather because it isn’t. When I asked friends to share their experiences with money and dating, I heard at least four different versions of Cassandra’s drink debacle, all within a week.
I’ve also had my own fair share of awkward financial moments in my dating career. There was the time I went out on a blind date with a man who ordered a bottle of wine and $80 worth of tapas, despite my insistance that I just wanted a coffee. He spent the second half of the date complaining about his financial issues before suggesting we split the bill. Another time, I went on a date with an individual who told me we would have to share an entree because he couldn’t afford to pay for both our meals (in this case, I offered to go Dutch).
Lastly, there was the gentleman who decided to be proactive and text me before the date.
“I just wanted to let you know that I’m very broke and won’t be able to pay for your drink tonight,” the message read.
While it would be easy to write off these grim anecdotes as proof that Canadian men are cheap, I don’t think that’s the full story.
According Match.com’s annual Singles in America report, the average single person spends $1,596 annually on dating efforts. That’s approximately $133/month. For many people that’s more than the cost of a pricey gym membership or a premium cable subscription.
It’s also important to keep in mind that most people don’t necessarily find someone they want to settle down with after a year of dating. According to another recent poll by UKDating.com, women said that they spent an average of 2049 GPB (a little over $3,000) and went on 24 dates before finding someone they wanted to settle down with.
As the old saying goes, “you can’t get something for nothing.” At the end of the day, dating isn’t just an emotional commitment, it’s also a financial one. And like any other kind of investment, returns are never guaranteed.
Eliza Duchamp is a Toronto based dating expert and author of Where to Find a Rich Man: 50 Places to Meet and Attract Wealthy Men for Love and Marriage. As she explains, “I wouldn’t call quality Toronto men cheaper than any other male metropolitan dwellers, so if you find yourself going Dutch or treating him on the first date or two, it’s usually one of two reasons why: 1) He’s financially unfit to be dating right now and he probably needs to get his life together first or 2) he’s not trying to impress you or doesn’t think you’re worthy. In both cases, I recommend politely turning down any further rendez-vous and moving on. Let’s raise the standard, ladies!”
Regardless of your gender, you need to have the necessary time, material resources and emotional bandwidth to connect with another human being, if you’re going to date. In other words, if you can’t spring for a $7 glass of wine, you probably have other priorities you need to focus on.