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The Gen-Z Journal: The Cost of Dating

Isobel Lawrance 3rd May 2023 No Comments

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The Gen-Z Journal: The cost of dating.

Hey, I’m Izzy, MoneyMagpie’s inhouse Gen-Z-er. Welcome to the first-ever instalment of my brand-new column, ‘The Gen-Z Journal’, where I chat about life as a Gen-Z gal, navigating her way through financial independence in a cost-of-living crisis. Today, let’s look at dating. 

Most of us have likely been on a date resulting from a dating app. There are over 8,000 dating sites globally, and with the rise of working from home post-pandemic, many of us are using dating apps to find meaningful relationships. 

Even before covid lockdowns, online dating was hugely popular. I know for me personally, when I moved to a new city to go to university, it was a way to meet new people and connect with others. But lockdowns took digital marketing to new heights. 

82% of those on dating apps say they are looking for a romantic relationship, and almost a quarter (24%) say they are looking for marriage. In fact, 14% of people who marry say they met on a dating site. 

It can all be super exciting and fun to get glammed up and go on a date, but the financial cost is not so fun. 

The price of love 

The average singleton goes on approximately 15 first dates before they find ‘the one’. I’m only 25 and I am close to reaching that number (eek!), but I suppose everyone is different. I know I’ve spent more than intended on dates from time-to-time – you get along so well that dinner turns into drinks, or you have so much to chat about that you lose track of how many tipples you’ve ordered to the table. 

But what’s the real financial burden of dating? 

Well, it turns out love does cost a thing – £1,652 to be exact. Imagine 15 dates is the number of dates most of us go on before finding a partner, well…that’s almost £105 per date. According to research by Novuna, Women and men spend approximately the same amount per date, spending £60 and £68 respectively.  

But why does dating cost so much, exactly? 

Well, not only do you have the cost of the date itself – dinners, drinks, the cinema, bowling, and other fun activities – but many of us splash out on looking good for our potential partner. 

Over a third (35%) of people say they go shopping for new clothes and accessories before a first date. I know I’ve done this too, with my wardrobe suddenly feeling like a pit of rags. Then there are new haircuts. A quarter (25%) of women have spent money on a haircut in preparation for a date, with 37% of men treating themselves to a fresh trim. This comes at an average cost of £40. 

And despite living costs tightening elsewhere, many people are still willing to pay for true love. Match Group, who own Hinge and OkCupid, said the number of users paying for their dating sites rose 7% from July-September 2022. 

The search for love (and discounts) 

The rising cost of living has impacted the way we date, however. Those who are single have been impacted more than couples, with rising bills and day-to-day costs falling on just one person. According to Novuna, singles pay an average of £1,851 on monthly bills, compared to £991 for couples. 

So of course, many of us are likely to have less disposable income for dating. I live in a house share with three of my friends, and not only did our rent rise when we renewed our tenancy, but our monthly bills went from £39 a month per person, to over £116 each. Not forgetting other bills like broadband and Council Tax shooting up last month. 

Still, the search for love hasn’t waned for many – it’s just the frequency at which we seek out companionship has lowered. Although almost a quarter (24%) of single people said ever-increasing living costs were a major impediment to their dating lives. Many have reduced the number of dates they go on (I deffo fall into this category), and some have even postponed them altogether.  

Others choose to prioritise dating over other plans (totally understandable), and over half (52%) of people said they’ve sacrificed other plans for a first date. However, nearly 30% said they have delayed paying bills or cut back on necessities to fund a date. Please don’t do this – no romantic pursuit is worth getting in debt for, I promise! 

Many have even upped their game in trying to save money on the dates themselves. I’ve been on a few low-cost or even free dates, and let me tell you, they can be some of the most memorable. I am lucky enough to live in a seaside town, and some of the best experiences for me have been chilling on the beach, taking a walk along the coast or even getting a takeaway coffee and watching a sunset. They may not have led to love for me (boo!), but I haven’t given up hope yet. 

61% of daters said they had taken considerable steps to get a discount on a date, including pre-booking through an app or website to get money off, or choosing a specific date and time to receive a special offer. 

An expert’s guide to love 

I got to chat with Dawn, Founder of matchmaking company Crowd 9 Agency. She has long-term experience in the matchmaking industry, dedicated to helping people find true love. I asked her to give me some of her top tips when it comes to dating. Here’s what she had to say. 

“A great idea for a first date is breakfast. It’s not a flashy event, so it shouldn’t break the bank. Plus, you can get a sense of whether your date is a morning person or not, and it’s a good chance to check out how they dress. Evening dates usually force a person to go all-out and scrub up, however you can’t be expected to dress like this all the time, so a breakfast date is how your date will present themselves most of the time. 

“Also, as a plus, if you get on, you can spend the day with them. If it’s a fail, you have the rest of the day left. I actually love bad dates; they result in a great story if anything!” 

Any advice for during the date? 

“Talk about yourself, don’t hold back, don’t be embarrassed; it’s important to talk openly about your beliefs, your values and your interests. It’s equally important to ask questions about their likes and dislikes. If you are not on the same page about certain matters, but can show encouragement and understanding, that’s fantastic.” 

What does your agency do? 

“We are professional matchmakers. We put forward ideal partners for our members to meet. Members can meet at our events and bring friends for moral support. No ghosting, no catfishing, no apps! We also arrange introductions for shy members. 

“We have a team of experts in the fashion, hair and beauty industry. Our members can access this team for confidence building and styling tips. Plus, we offer our members discounts to selected restaurants and salons. 

“We also have a relationship expert who is also a mental health clinician, to help our members realise why they have a ‘type’ and why it may not be working out for them.” 

You can find out more about Crowd 9 Agency here.  

Is the cost of love unavoidable? 

I think getting out there and dating will always have a financial cost of some sort – even if it’s just the bus or taxi fare to the date and back. But there are ways to keep costs down. Here are some cheap date ideas: 

  • Go on a walk – we have so many areas of natural beauty in the UK, so utilise them! 
  • Have a picnic – this can save you loads on food and drink 
  • Go to the beach and watch the sunset – beautiful scenery can lead to romance 
  • Go to a free museum or gallery – interesting date idea, and gets conversation flowing 
  • Try street food / food from a food truck – this is often cheaper than a restaurant 
  • Play some games – there’s no better way to break the ice than with a bit of competition, so grab a pack of cards and let the flirty banter commence 
  • Dine out with a discount or voucher – you can find loads of great deals online and on restaurant apps! 
  • Find a pub with extras – find a pub that offers board games, pool or snooker for free entertainment with your refreshments 
  • Go to a comedy show – there are often a host of free or cheap comedy shows happening, you just have to look for them! 
  • Find local events – check your local council website for free and fun events near you 
  • Go to a festival – as we near summer, many places host free-to-enter festivals, with some offering low-cost entertainment  
  • Go to an arcade – take a few quid and go on the penny slot machines!


Thanks for reading the very first entry in The Gen-Z Journal. If you have anything you’d like me to talk about, leave your comments below! 

Speak soon – Izzy x

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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