Life Advice



Singles are choosing inexpensive dates in a year of rising costs

Erin McCarthy, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Dating Advice

PHILADELPHIA — Given the price of gas, Rob Martin would no longer date someone who lives hours away. And since the cost of dining out has increased, the 32-year-old has found himself opting more for virtual first dates — such as phone conversations — before investing time and money on an in-person meetup. He keeps the first in-person dates casual, too, such as coffee or ice cream.

In recent years, he said, he ended things with someone he was dating in part because she lived too far away.

"I was spending about $20, back and forth, seeing her," said Martin, a union staff representative who lives in Royersford, Pennsylvania. To boot, he added, he didn't see the relationship going anywhere.

Dating experts in the Philadelphia region and nationwide have been hearing similar financial concerns from singles over the past year, as record inflation has driven up the cost of gas, groceries, and dining out.

The start of the new year is expected to bring the usual flood of people to dating apps and other matchmaking services, as some resolve to focus more intentionally on finding a partner. Experts said they anticipate the 2022 trends — including more creative and budget-friendly first dates — continuing in 2023.

"Everything is more expensive," said Michal Naisteter, a matchmaker and "super connector" for her company, Michal Matches, which serves the Philadelphia region. But "dating is connected to experiences," not money.


It cost, on average, 8.5% more to eat out in November than it did a year earlier, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report. In 2022, almost half of single people suggested going on a cheaper date due to inflation and the economic climate, according to a survey of more than 8,000 people conducted by the dating app Plenty of Fish.

Aleeza Ben Shalom, a dating coach and matchmaker with Marriage Minded Mentors, said she noticed a shift this year when talking to clients and other singles in her native Philadelphia.

"The general feeling was 'Is there a cheaper, easier, better way to do this? How can I maximize my time and minimize my costs?'" said Ben Shalom, whose clients are Jewish singles dating to marry.

For many, she said, that cheaper, easier way included narrowing one's pool of potential partners to local residents. Some clients used to date in New York, she added, and regularly racked up hefty bills just on tolls and gas. That is less common now.


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