How Much Should I Spend on a First Date?

Man Holds PaycheckThe question of how much to spend on a first date certainly hasn’t changed much in recent memory, though many other dating do’s and don’ts have definitely changed over time. Indeed, in the 21st century, women no longer have to wait by the phone to be asked out; they have been equal on that score for decades.

Today, there are more questions about the economics of dating; who should pay the tab as well as how much should be spent. First dates, however, occupy a special category. What to do on a first date, and therefore what to spend, will usually be determined by the objectives or expectations of the first date.

What do singles spend on a first date?

Surveys conducted by are broken down by gender and reveal that men are far more likely to spend a large amount of money on a first date than women. Men think they are expected to shell out large sums to entertain their ladies, while on the other hand, 58% of women don’t want an expensive date.

Forty-six percent of women respondents said it would be okay if their date used a discount coupon to help pay for a date. Apparently in this economy, “budget” is the new chic! Half of men spend more than $50 on a date, while women are three times more likely to spend only $25 or less.

Women will spend more on preparing for a date on their hair, make-up, and clothing than their male counterparts, but far less on the date itself. Women are always expected to be at their best while many younger men appear rather slovenly, even when out on a first date–unshaven is the new “clean cut.”

Are you just meeting your date?

Online dating sites have grown tremendously in recent years; so many first dates are with people who have never met in person. The website Statistic Brain estimates there to be 54 million single adults in the United States. Of that number, the Brain says that 40 million have tried online dating services!

Objectives of this kind of first date are generally limited. Neither party wants to invest a lot of time or money in someone they may not want to meet a second time. As these first dates tend to be brief, getting-to-know-you sessions over coffee or perhaps a cocktail, they are usually inexpensive.

For safety’s sake most of these dates occur in public places like coffee houses, bookstores, etc. The person who extends the invitation would generally expect to pay the tab for coffee or dessert, though in this day and age each party might prefer to bear the expense of their own beverage.

The old adage, a gentleman always picks up the tab, has gone the way of the horse and buggy. Of course, nowadays the two parties getting together on a first date may be of the same gender, so who is to pay or how to split the check can lead to interesting discussions by two relative strangers. Bottom line: Coffee and /or desert for two, $10 to $20.

Are you a teenager, or want to act like one?

Teenage dating hasn’t advanced much at all over the years. Teens, restricted by age limitations, parents, and general lack of funds and transportation are not going to spend much money on dating at all. Older teens with part-time jobs would be more likely to take in a budget film or go out for a hamburger or pizza. Their objectives are alone time with minimal adult supervision.

Mostly, teens engage in the practice of “hanging out.” Spending time in one’s bedroom is generally permitted as long as the door is open and one or more adults are present somewhere in the home. Teens will engage in almost any activity that doesn’t cost money.

If there is a budget for a date, it will be nominal unless it is a special occasion. Otherwise, teens will spend whatever the market will bear. Translation: Whatever amount of cash Mom or Dad will part with. Kids are creative, finding any number of ways to pass the time with little monetary expenditure.

Teens usually just enjoy being with one another; they value alone time and privacy. Teen first dates don’t even have to be face to face. First dates are often virtual computer dates that can include visual (cam) and voice (mic) or just involve text messaging. Occasionally, teens will actually chat on a traditional telephone. Bottom line: Teen date, hanging out, $0 – $20.

Do you already know the person you’re going to ask out?

Yes, there are still adults who meet and get to know one another and then decide they’d like to go out on a “real” date. The objectives or expectations for a first date in this category would be very different than the situations described above.

If two adults have developed a friendship at work or are involved together in other activities, a first date may be a signal to take the next step in forming a romantic relationship. This first date may be carefully planned, with activities selected to create a positive impression or that the dating partner has indicated a preference for.

In these situations, money becomes less of an object in favor of a positive outcome. This could be anything from a goodnight kiss and the promise of a second dating encounter to an extended first date and perhaps a day or a night (or both) that neither participant will soon forget.

Whatever your objectives for a first date, it’s important to remember the principal benefit of dating is companionship, regardless of the chosen activity or amount of money spent on impressing your dating partner. Bottom Line: Meaningful first date, $50 – $100!