The Results Are In and How Much We Spend On a First Date Is Surprisingly Low
Whether you want to admit it or not, money can have an impact on first date experiences. From when someone asks you on a date to the moment you get the cheque, there’s this unspoken — and sometimes subconscious — tension surrounding what we’ve been taught to expect when it comes to spending money on a first date.
Regardless of how far we’ve come abolishing gender stereotypes, they’re still ingrained pretty firmly when it comes to first dates. Especially when it comes to the unspoken rules of who pays and how much. Most of the girls I know don’t necessarily expect a man to pay, but they’d certainly like it if they did. Most of the men I know really like paying for the first date, and some feel weird if they don’t.
“I don’t like to pay every time, but the first time I do,” says my friend Mitch. “Although, if someone wanted to split it I wouldn’t stop them by any means. I’m not Italian about it. But for me, it sets a nice tone for the end of the night, it’s almost like a hey thanks for giving me a chance kind of thing.”
Sometimes the expectations are less overt. For example, the place chosen for the date can often set the tone of the amount of money being spent. First dates are a big deal to some people, and therefore, if the setting doesn’t match their expectations, they can be disappointed before they even arrive.
This happened to a girl I know recently, who said she was asked on a first date, but was disappointed about the proposed setting. “This guy asked me on a first date and he wanted to go have drinks in the park. I just wasn’t into it because it felt lazy, y’know?”
We’ve been set up to expect a lot from a first date, by all the mainstream portrayals of romance that we’ve consumed that have led us to this moment. We, as women, want men to take us on lavish (or at least well thought-out) dates, and we often want them to pay. It’s a gesture that we’ve been taught signifies chilvalry.
New research from ING shows that Aussies spend an average of $154.16 on a first date: including $66.53 getting ready. This means that $87.19 goes to the actual date itself, which to me, sounds cheap. $87 could get you two cocktails each, a few glasses of wine, or perhaps a cheap dinner — but does the price of a date actually have anything to do with a person’s values?
We decided to ask Australian singles what they think is reasonable to spend on a date and why. Their answers (below) show that it depends on a variety of factors, including how much they’re into the person and where they go on a date.
So while it may be true that how much we spend on a date really shouldn’t matter, how much someone spends actually does reveal how much they’re into the person they’re on a date with.
Below, are 11 people’s perspectives on how much to spend on a date and where they’d go.
“$100. Same amount I’d be willing to spend on myself on a night out. I love going to a bar with nibbles.” – Lu, they/them
“Minimum $150-200. Bars are more my element for first dates. Drinks and banter. Cocktails are pretty expensive, so $150-200 gets us 3-5 cocktails each.” – Morgan, he/him
“Depends on the person, but max of $250. I always pay on a first date, for two reasons: Gift giving is one of my love languages, but if I don’t like the person, I feel even more compelled to pay because I feel bad for wasting their time.” – Josh, he/him
“My first dates usually cost $10 – $5 each on coffees. I like having a guy pay on the first date (in my opinion, it shows chivalry), but don’t want them to spend a lot, so I find just having a coffee with them as the perfect solution.” – Sangeeta, she/her
“$500-800, enough for nice wine, food, dessert and potential for later evening affairs. I appreciate the value of a first date, and if I’m serious about a woman I want to make my intentions clear.” – Angus, he/him
“Max $100. First dates are basically job interviews, start simple coffee and a yarn with a walk about or something similar. Second dates go a bit more posh, dinner + bar hopping and I’d expect to drop $150+.” – Angus, he/him
“$150. I always like going somewhere that gives you the option to drink alcohol or coffee, good food menu so you can either way big or light and great spots to go afterwards if the chat and vibes are going well.” – Patrick, he/him
“I love to pay the whole bill, it’s kind of my thing. I think $150 for dinner for two, and then drinks we can take turns buying rounds. I think if it goes over like $350, it’s fair to split. It’s kinda case by case.” – Patrick, he/him
“$300, but depends on the date and person. If I really liked them and we went to fancy restaurant, or even a cocktail bar, that would probably be the amount I’d spend. But regardless of if it was a fancy bar or just some beers and dumplings, I’d pay.” – Patrick, he/him
“$200-$400 for dinner and drinks afterwards.” – Andrew, he/him
“$50 – $200 depending on the circumstance. Depends on circumstance. Did I know them before? Is it going well? If so then we’d probably move to another location. If not, we’d probably just have a few drinks and call it a night.” – Chelsea, she/her