Love may be free, but the pursuit of it certainly isn’t, according to a recent survey conducted by dating website Match.com. As Lifehacker reports, single people spend about $1596 on dating every year, splurging on recreational activities, food/drink, personal grooming, and matchmaking tools and services.
This insight comes from Match's seventh annual Singles in America study, which looked at the romantic habits and attitudes of over 5500 unmarried individuals around the nation [PDF]. Key takeaways include the role of internet dating in modern romance (40 percent of singles have dated someone they met online, while 53 percent have made a dating profile); tech etiquette “dos” and “don’ts” (do keep phone activity to a minimum during a date; don’t over-share on social media); and, as we mentioned before, the financial cost of attracting a partner.
At the end of the day, survey participants shelled out about $80 per date for about 20 dates per year, according to Refinery 29. That said, prices tend to be higher in big cities, so singles in places like New York, D.C., and Chicago ended up spending more to woo potential paramours: The average cost of dating in these metropolitan areas was $2069, $1788, and $1816, respectively.
Match.com's survey also found that male respondents spent more on dating than their female counterparts: They shelled out $1855 per year, compared to the $1423 spent by women. One explaining factor could be that roughly half of male respondents still believed in paying on a date (only 36 percent of women agreed with them). However, this phenomenon may soon change, as going Dutch is gaining popularity: 71 percent of men said they liked it when a woman offered to pay her share, and 78 percent of women surveyed said they offer to pay on a date.
As Lifehacker points out, dating-related expenses appear to have more than doubled in the past three years: Match.com conducted the same survey in 2013, and found the average cost of dating to be around $60 a month, or $738 a year per person. That said, keep in mind that you have the power to buck this trend: Plenty of activities and gifts are low-cost or free, so if you don’t want to blow your budget in the name of romance, try going for a hike, checking out a free art exhibit, or cooking with your date instead of eating out at a restaurant.