The Cost of Single Dating in a Metropolis

Dating is expensive

This past Monday I went on a date with a new friend from an old part of my life. We went to a medium to high priced restaurant and proceeded to go through a bottle of wine, dinner, dessert and dessert wine. We had a great time talking about people that we had long since forgotten about and seeing how we both had connections to those people. Three and a half hours later, the bill came.

How much did this night of entertainment cost? Around $150 – which we split evenly. Did I have an idea going into the meal it would be that much? Yes I did. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be aghast at the unbelievable price tag there is to being a single guy in an expensive city like DC.

It’s rare that I go out to eat, so I don’t mind spending a bit when I do. But, one or two dates a month and I start to really feel the strain on my wallet. At the PF blogger happy hour we discussed all sorts of hidden costs that can be associated with dating, but the food and the drinks are really the two primary culprits of breaking the bank. Even at a less expensive restaurant, you are still looking at $40 for a simple meal (2 drinks, 2 dinner plates, tax and at least a 20% tip as waiters and waitresses need to make money as well, right AK?)

Lifestyle Inflation

The friend that I went out with talked about how much she loves going out and she would do it three to four times a week if she had the time right now (she is studying for the bar exam in a few weeks). This has made me wonder about lifestyle inflation in the coming months for her. From what I have read, going out to eat is the largest indicator of consistent lifestyle inflation (buying cars and houses are other indicators, but those aren’t every day expenses).

For my friend, will three nights a week turn into five or six once she starts work in September? Saying that she is a lawyer and she can afford such outings isn’t the point. I think a lot of young people start to spend more money after college by saying “I will be working soon and therefore can afford it”. And then when they actually land a job, they increase their consumption further because now they have money coming in. This is how people get in over their heads with debt.

For me, trying to curb lifestyle inflation is why I don’t date that often. After a while it gets expensive and while you can meet some interesting people going on dates, aren’t their other ways to meet folks that won’t make me go back into debt?  Of course there is.  A lot of other writers talk about alternative methods to dating, but in a happy hour driven city like DC, the norm seems to be drinks and dinner.

Lifestyle inflation seemed to be a hot topic this week.  Please take a look at what my friend J. Money and Matt Jabs from Debt Free Adventure had to say about it.


While writing today I want to put a challenge out there to some bloggers that track their expenses.  I would like to see who spent more over the past year; the actively dating single person, or the married person.  If anyone is willing to compare their going out expenses please email me at

Have a good weekend and enjoy your Friday and Saturday date nights.

7 Responses to The Cost of Single Dating in a Metropolis
  1. Jessica
    July 10, 2009 | 11:16 am

    Haha, I DO keep track of expenses, but I’m not sure my expenses would be good for comparison since last year was my first year out of grad school, so I spent most my money on moving, new furniture, etc, rather than going out. Plus, I’m not married although I do live with my boyfriend.

    I absolutely think actively dating is expensive!! Forget dating, just trying to make new friends in a new city costs more.

  2. Shawanda
    July 11, 2009 | 8:27 pm

    I went to Vapiano for lunch today with a friend. We had a similar conversation about his friends not having any money because they eat out at expensive restaurants most nights of the week. Oddly enough, I ended up paying around $18 for lunch.

    I’ve been thinking about purchasing a flask to carry in my purse so that I can cut back on the number of drinks I consume at the bar, but my friends tell me I’ll look like a lush. I kind of feel that way too. It’s the only thing keeping me from purchasing that flask.

    Eventually, I think my frugal side will get the better of me.

  3. Brian
    July 13, 2009 | 1:06 pm

    @ Shawanda – I actually got into some debate with a friend in regards to the flask idea. He is of the belief that if you are going to go out, you should either drink what you can afford to, or don’t go out. I don’t necessarily agree. I have seen more than enough people do the vodka waterbottle trick and order diet cokes all night long. I will say if you are going to go and do that, make sure you are still tipping the bartender as if you are ordering drinks. He/She will know that they have only served you mixers all night and that you have become increasingly inebriated off of them. Tipping them can make your night go smoothly. (BTW- Grats on the mention in Baker’s Carnival this week!)

  4. AK
    July 16, 2009 | 12:55 am

    I agree with Jessica… having an active social life in general comes with all sorts of hidden costs. Whether with friends or on a date, I’ve always preferred going out to doing something “unconventional” (hiking with a picnic? please). The problem is first that it’s a strain on the wallet, but second that you start changing your perspective of what’s normal.

  5. mapgirl
    July 21, 2009 | 10:53 am

    I support the flask, but make sure you are tipping the waiters like you bought a drink. It’s still a beverage that was brought to your table. Don’t cheat the service. :-)

    Friends of mine used to fill random condiment bottles with whiskey. It was pretty funny. We got loaded at Austin Powers 2, in costume, to celebrate our friend who was an extra in the first movie. We had all kinds of beverages in our pockets that day. Good times!

    I don’t carry a flask, but my boyfriend has one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him use it, but we talk about taking it with us to shows w/no alcohol.

  6. mapgirl
    July 21, 2009 | 10:55 am

    ooh. Actually a great way to cut back on your drinking is to religiously alternate your drinks between an alcoholic drink and water. (It’s good for you anyway.)

    OR you can order your drink with a tall mixer. Instead of a ordering a bourbon and Coke in a highball, a friend of mine would get the same double shot of liquor into a pint of Coke. It makes your drink last longer and the bartenders usually charge the same price for the extra mixer.

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