Fallacy of the Expensive Date

I was recently talking with a friend about going on dates. She stated that she couldn’t go out, because she didn’t have the money. To which I replied, “Hogwash! Of course you can, you’re just going about it wrong. Dates don’t have to be expensive.”

When I say “date”, what do you picture?

Is it some image of getting dressed up in special clothes, guys picking up the ladies, then heading out for an expensive dinner followed by a movie or a trip to a favorite bar? If so, then you’re stuck with the formal, old-fashioned definition of a date.

In reality, a date is simply spending time with someone that you may have a romantic interest in, for the purpose of getting to know them better. Whether you are finding out if you like more than their appearance on a first date or strengthening a decades-long relationship, the time spent together is the important part. Knowing the true purpose of the date frees us from any formal definition.

With the focus simply being to spend time together to get to know someone better, there are limitless possibilities of things to do and places to go. You are no longer restricted to a restaurant-then-movie format. In fact, you don’t have to eat at all. There is no law stating that a date must involve food.

Cheap Dates

It is nice to share a meal while on a date, but there are many variations that you can try.

  • Go during a different time of the day. Many restaurants have lunch specials that are cheaper than the same meal later in the day.
  • Go out to eat, but only have dessert. Why not?
  • Prepare food at home. A common bit of money-saving advice is to prepare your own food. Cooking together can be great fun, so enjoy it as a date!
  • Go on a picnic. Don’t want your date to see where you live just yet? You can still cook, or just pick something up, but who says that you have to eat inside?

Because you are focusing on the other person’s company, there is no requirement to “have fun” as almost any shared activity will be exciting for you.

  • Peruse a book or music store together. You will discover each others’ tastes while finding numerous subjects to talk about.
  • Talk a walk. If the weather is nice, head out for a stroll. Visit a park or explore your city on foot. Stop and get coffees or snacks, but get them to go.
  • Play a game. Inside, outside, as a couple or with friends, old-fashioned board (or card) games can provide hours of entertainment, and are far more interactive than a video game is.

(You can find even more date ideas here and here.)

Have fun, don’t break the bank

Dating is supposed to be fun. It’s easy to become too serious about the results, or about what you’re “supposed to do”. Relax, focus on the person you’re with, and have a good time. Be open to opportunities that may not be traditional. Expend your more of your creativity and less of your money. Most importantly, enjoy yourself.