Dating by the Numbers

When my parents went on their first date in the swinging 60's of London town, they saw a movie and shared a portion of chips on the way home -- my dad probably didn't spend more than $1.50 on the whole night. Love blossomed, two children followed, and they celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary this year. It's the sort of relationship singletons everywhere dream of; they have never spent an evening apart and still hold hands into their seventies.

But, the world has inevitably changed and dating is now big business. It isn't just the rise of inflation that has seen prices skyrocket, the dating industry is a $2 billion in revenue per year venture devoted to matching single people looking for dates. There are a range of costs to consider:

Finding a date $90-180

Many people still meet and marry in more traditional forums such as through friends or at parties. But there are a growing number of singles who are choosing to look for love online via algorithm or trust their happiness to match-making services. Those who are serious about meeting that special someone can fork out upwards of $30-60 on monthly memberships, the average time to secure a date once creating your profile is 3 months, bringing the first date cost up to at least $90.

Pre-date primping $50-200

At a bare minimum, many singles choose to book a haircut, manicure/pedicure, purchase new makeup and a new outfit. Of course, not everyone will spring to these costs for every date...but confidence is mostly about how you feel. Making an effort on your appearance often costs money.

Dinner and a movie $45-100

The cost of seeing a movie currently runs at around $14, dinner at a mid-priced restaurant with a few drinks can cost $60-100 for two. If you decide to go Dutch the cost will be halved, but many prospective new couples will argue over the bill with one party still offering to pay for the entire meal.

Childcare $20-100

If you're a parent, there are yet more costs to contend with, arranging a babysitter for the evening can cost you anywhere from $20 for the teenager who lives up the street to $100 for a professional childcare provider.

There are many variables at play but it's fair to suggest that finding true love can be an expensive business. Choosing someone to date and going on what hopefully is the first date of many can run to hundreds of dollars, in my calculations as much as $270-$580 in costs.

The Daily Mail reports that most singles date for over 5 years before settling down in a long-term relationship and with the average dinner and a movie date Dutch style costing around $45, many people can be over $20,000 in the hole before finding the guy or gal of their dreams.

If this first date leads to a happy union and then no further need to date it's obviously, money well spent, but many single people find dating can often be a long journey. And as such, can be cost prohibitive.

Love really is the greatest gift so maybe it's worth the cost, or perhaps we need to start being content with lower key dates and changing our expectations of what romance should cost. After all, as the Beatles said, you can't buy me love!