The game of love can cost a pretty penny. Take the popular reality TV series The Bachelor. Female contestants are expected to bring their own wardrobe for the entire show. (That’s seven whole weeks!) This includes the entire kit and caboodle, from stiletto heels and evening gowns to hair products, accessories, and makeup to city cruising and hiking outfits. The cost for these single ladies? Anywhere from $1,800 to a whopping $8,000. Looking good on the prowl ain’t cheap!
Getting the bachelor to ask you, “Will you accept this rose?” could add up quickly.
Male contestants on The Bachelorette, however, spend a lot less on appearances. How much do they spend to be on the show? Anywhere from $500 to $3,500 in an attempt to woo the bachelorette.
When it comes to the real world, the costs of courtship are lower, but there’s still a discrepancy in how much men and women spend in their journeys for love.
The Costs of Dating
According to Match.com’s 7th annual Singles in America survey, men spent an average of $1,855 per year on dating, whereas women spent $1,423, per Mental Floss. This includes throwing down dough on eating out, entertainment, clothes and personal grooming, and on dating apps. Singles are spending roughly $80 per date and going on about 20 dates each year.
As you might’ve guessed, it costs more to date in major cities: $2,069 in the Big Apple, $1,816 in Chicago, and $1,788 in Washington, D.C. Despite the major costs related with courting, talking about cash in a relationship is tricky. Here are our tips for approaching the subject:
Whether it’s what we observe from our parents, or what’s been culturally instilled in us from an early age, we might bear assumptions that no longer ring true in our modern age.
For example, who takes the bill at the end of a date? Per the Singles in America Survey, nearly half of men believe in footing the bill, while only 36 percent of women think that men still should. What’s more, when it comes to going splitsies, 71 percent of males enjoyed it when a woman offered to pay, and 78 percent of women said they had offered. When my partner and I first started dating, we went Dutch from the get-go. It wasn’t about gender roles, it was just what felt right for our dynamic.
You also don’t want to assume you know what the true costs of courtship entail. A good friend of mine was getting annoyed that his girlfriend wasn’t paying her fair share. He was paying for most of the meals and movie tickets. Plus, he had to fork over gas money to drive out to see her. When he brought this up to her, she pointed out that she had made up for it by buying pricey lingerie. This was a “hidden” cost that my friend hadn’t even considered. If you’re not sure what your date is thinking, don’t be afraid to ask. That can help prevent conflict and bouts of resentment.
You probably don’t want to talk about credit scores, debt loads, and tax brackets on the first date — unless you want to scare them off. As the tried-and-true adage goes: Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS). In the early days of courtship, start with the easy stuff. There’s no need to pry when all that’s required is deciding who will be paying for dinner.
In the early days of the relationship, it might be best to observe instead of outright asking. You can learn a lot about someone’s approach to money in the spending decisions they make and their lifestyle choices. Are they are a saver or a spender? Do they generally seem optimistic about their finances, or can you sense glimmers of pessimism? Piecing together these hints can help you figure out whether they have a healthy relationship with money.
Handle With Care
Chatting about finances in a romantic partnership is no easy feat. As it can be a heavy and sensitive topic, you’ll want to approach it with finesse. I like to bring up light topics when it comes to money, such as finding a bargain at my favorite online store. If I feel like talking about my finances, I’ll do so in a way that could lead to a deeper discussion. If they’re not feeling it, don’t pressure them to share.
And whatever you do, don’t judge. People might feel shame about not earning enough, or about their debt situation. (Yes, debt shame is a very real thing.) If you’re going to approach a tricky subject, come from a place of empathy and understanding.
Time the Ask
Getting financially naked is essential to a healthy relationship. Once you get more serious, you’ll need to pull back the hood and reveal the state of your finances. This includes your credit card debt, net worth, how much you earn, as well as your hopes, fears, and concerns about money.
Yes, it’s a lot. But the last thing you want in your relationship is financial infidelity, or keeping a money secret from your S.O. If you don’t know where your partner stands, you won’t be able to build a life together based on shared values. Talking about money is oftentimes difficult and scary. But doing so will help you build trust.
Know There Will Be Differences
We come in with our own mindsets, behaviors, and habits around money. If you and your partner have different ways of handling money, you’ll need to communicate boundaries, expectations, and work on shared goals.
My partner and I have pretty different ways on how we treat our money. I am super cautious, and need a lot tucked away for emergencies to feel safe. My partner feels comfortable having a smaller cushion for his rainy day fund. My threshold for what makes me feel safe isn’t the same for him. He doesn’t own a credit card, and pays for everything upfront. While I pay off my credit card balance in full each month, I love racking up those credit card points!
Pencil in Money Dates
Most of my coupled money nerd pals carve out time to go on money dates with their significant others. It’s a perfect time to discuss progress on shared money goals, share wins, and hash out any issues. You can make it fun. Get out of the house, and chat over coffee or ice cream. As you most likely each lead busy lives, you can squeeze in a time to chat while driving to dinner once a week.
Dating is expensive, and talking about money is hard. But unless you swear to a life of singlehood, these are costs and challenges you’ll need to take into account. With a bit of know-how, planning and tact, you can incorporate finances into dating and relationships like a pro.