finance

"This is the cost of the average date - and it's ridiculous. Or is that just me?"

Image: [500] Days of Summer.

Today I learned the average Australian spends $144.40 on a date — yep, that’s per person, per date. Over a year, you’re looking at a grand total of slightly less than $6000.

According to popular dating website eHarmony, the price of a romantic rendezvous is even higher ($170!) for those who have been in relationships for one year or less; while the average single dater schills out around $130.

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Here’s what I have to say to that: Ouch. And also… huh? I can’t remember the last date that cost me more than 80-ish bucks. In fact, the most recent one cost less than $40.

So these new figures make me wonder: have I been doing this dating thing all wrong? Should I be ordering Moet instead of the house white? Do I need to do something more special to my hair than trying (and failing) to add some GHD waves? (Post continues after gallery.)

There’s no denying dates can add up quickly — especially if you live in a part of the country where cost of living is especially high (oh hey, Sydney and Melbs), and your transport options are pricey. It also has to be said the cost of movie tickets and the accompanying snacks is comparable to a home loan these days, so that doesn’t help matters.

And according to the survey, the average $144.40 figure is based on the following financial breakdown: $42 for meals, $30 for activities (movies or event tickets), $27 for drinks, and $31 on pre-date primping (new outfit and hair).

But to me, averaging $144 per date seems a bit crazy. Sure, it’s fun to go all out and buy a new dress and new lipstick and hit the dinner-drinks-movie trifecta, but is that really the expectation every single time? God — if you’re on a first or second date, you’d want to hope things worked out.

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Admittedly, I have been single for a while so I’ve had a lot of one-off dates and short (but sweet!) flings, which tend to revolve around after-work drinks and coffees. I also try to be careful with my cash, so that could also be a factor.

I am all about the coffee date.

I guess what I really take issue with here is the notion that cheap dates are "boring", which is an attitude that emerged from the eHarmony research. "Nearly one quarter of Australians believe cheap dates are boring, and 44 per cent agree that creative and exciting dates are too expensive," reports the Daily Mail.

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With all due respect to everyone involved... nope. That's absolute BS.

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A good, fun, creative, exciting date doesn't have to cost you a fortnight worth of groceries. You can go to an exhibition opening or a market. You can prepare a picnic or eat hot chips on the beach. You can go for a hike or a bike ride or a surf. You can cook yourselves a meal with fancy ingredients at home. You can go out for couple of coffees or hit up that dirt-cheap dumpling house you spied in a side street.

All of these activities are fun and interesting and economical, and in some cases a lot more thoughtful than a cliched night out. (Post continues after video.)

Also, as one of my colleagues points out, spending less on a date can remove some of the formality. "I love cheap dates in dingy places — takes the pressure off and you feel like you can have more fun. I'd be kind of suss about a guy who felt the need to buy me a ridiculously expensive dinner in the first stages of dating," she says.

"If someone tried to buy me an expensive meal I'd say thanks, but no thanks... It doesn't cost much to go for a bike ride does it? Or walk across the harbour bridge from Kirribilli? I'd love all these," another adds.

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Here's my Oprah 'a-ha' moment/takeaway thought for you: the success of a date isn't directly proportionate to the number of dollars it deducts from your bank card. The most memorable dates that come to my mind had nothing to do with what they cost, but everything to do with the conversation and enjoyment shared.

If you want to splurge on a date, you go ahead and do that. If you're hanging out for pay day and trying to be careful, that's fine too. It doesn't mean you're not going to have fun (or get a cheeky kiss out of it if things go well).

What do you think - is $144 a lot for an average date? Or am I just being a massive cheapskate?

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