The cost of love


With the eharmony ‘Cost of love’ report revealing that Aussie men spend twice as much as women on dates, we asked what Rory Gibson thinks about our dating spending habits. 

“While money doesn’t buy love, it puts you in a great bargaining position.” So said the English poet Christopher Marlowe, and he was right. Wealth doesn’t make you a nicer person or better looking or appealing to a potential lover – unless of course he or she is a shallow, calculating swine. What money gives you is more choice, and that’s always a good thing.

But how much should you spend on a date, particularly the first few? And what about those awkward moments when the bill arrives and you’re not sure what the etiquette is about sharing the costs? eharmony’s Cost of Love Report shows that men spend about twice as much as women do on dating ($8203 vs $4185) each year, which is surprising in this age of equality. Or perhaps it just means men go on twice as many dates.

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What’s clear is that a lot of money is being spent on romance, which is ironic given it is a priceless commodity. The fact is, you can spend too little on a date and you can spend too much. Doing either of those two things can be a passion killer. For instance, if you do all the hard work to get someone to agree to go out with you, and then take them to the two-for-one schnitzel night at the RSL and then ask them to pay half when the bill comes, don’t be surprised if you struggle to get a second crack. It just smacks of being tight-fisted, which is an unappealing trait.

At the other end of the scale, taking a new date to a place that is ostentatiously over the top and laughably expensive has the potential to make a lot of people uncomfortable, especially if they are thinking they might have to contribute to the cost of that $300 bottle of mineral water you ordered to help wash down the unicorn steaks. That’s just flaunting money for the sake of it, another unappealing trait.

Almost all my female friends who have given internet dating a whirl have encountered a man who for some weird reason spends most of the date telling her how much money he has and the toys – cars, boats, shares, real estate – he has bought with it. Perhaps this is the human equivalent of bower bird or peacock behaviour, an attempt to woo a mate with displays of finery and baubles. Fellas, stop it. Don’t be a c**k, because the hens don’t like it.

I think that if you ask someone out, you should be prepared to pay for it. If your date insists on sharing costs, fine. But if you’re the initiator, don’t even mull over it. You’re paying. Look on it as an investment that could pay off big time. If it doesn’t, so what? You’ll live, and you’ll still have your dignity.

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On the other side of the table, if someone is spending money on you, respect that. My youngest son went on his first ever proper date to a cinema, paying for two tickets to the movie for him and the girl he was sweet on out of his meagre pocket money. When he came home he was terribly disappointed. “She talked all the way through the movie,” he said incredulously. “I really wanted to see that movie too.” That chick never got a second chance.

If you turned up to every date with a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates, took them to a place where there’s a big chance they will be comfortable and relaxed, and spend the same amount of money on them as you would on yourself, you aren’t going to break the bank but you will go a long way towards getting a second date.

Perhaps the last word should go to famous American preacher Ralph Sockman, a loquacious man notable for being quotable: “A true lover always feels in debt to the one he loves.”

Looking for cheaper date ideas? To help Aussies find exciting dates without breaking the bank, we’ve put together the Great Date Guide featuring the best dates around Australia under $50. Tell us your favourite date ideas below or join the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today- find someone made for you.

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