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5 Tips For Fun and Affordable Dating in a Recession

Dating? In this economy?

It’s no secret that things are becoming increasingly expensive. With grocery and gas bills rivaling what could once have been a monthly mortgage payment, it’s hard to imagine being able to afford dating in a recession. Weekly Uber bills and split bar tabs? No thank you.

Nothing kills the mood quicker than the word “recession.” It’s daunting to imagine having a conversation about your newly-tightened budget with someone you met on Hinge two days ago.

“Sorry, I’d rather not go to that steakhouse because…I hate steak?” Dating is already awkward enough without throwing finances into the mix.

Dating in a recession - paying the bar tab

Dating in a Recession is Worth it

With the impending recession, some financial content creators are publishing lists of things you should keep doing during a recession. These lists include important things, like going to the gym, buying healthy food, and seeing friends. We’re here to make the case that dating should also be part of that list for single folks.

When the economy starts to tank, it’s easy to withdraw socially as a means to save money. Maybe your brain automatically equates dating with expensive dinner bills, but it doesn’t have to be like that.

While deleting the dating apps may save you a couple bucks on a few dates, long-term, this contributes to a loss of momentum in your dating life. And that can be challenging to regain.

Dating in a recession - first date

5 Things to Consider When Dating In a Recession

If 2008 taught us anything, it’s that not all jobs are recession-proof, and many of us will need to squirrel away cash in case we lose our income. But you can maintain your financial cushion while still dating around. Here are a few things to consider before you swear off the apps until the economy turns around.

Dating in a recession - couple cuddling

1. Vet potential dates more rigorously before the first date.

Read: ignore your friends telling you to “just go on the date,” even if sparks didn’t fly when you met Wesley at the local dive, in no small part because of the guarantee of free food. We hate to break it to ya, but in this economy, that’s not a certainty.

Dating in a recession is unlike other times. It’s important to assess if the date is financially worth it before calling an Uber and using $12 worth of Sephora makeup. This means being brutally honest with yourself about how interested you are in the person.

If you’re on the dating apps, you might even want to do a FaceTime date first. Plus, try to clue into red flags early on. Douchey Hinge profile? Nah. Unresponsive texter? Not for you. Already told you about how excited his Mom is to meet you? Bye.

Dating in a recession - texting

2. Remember that dates don’t have to be expensive.

Even if your dream date involves curling up in the corner of a sexy bar sipping a martini (extra dirty) and exchanging a close-range conversation with your new beau, it doesn’t have to be that way. Though it’s not as sexy as watching your date throw down their rock solid AmEx after indulging on champagne and caviar, you can go on low-cost dates. Even free ones.

Another option is to skip the alcohol, which is often a sizeable chunk of the tab. Think: coffee dates, a long walk, beach picnics, or diner dinners. These cheap dates won’t set you back a Benjamin or two, and they’re all great ways to get to know someone.

If you do want to drink, you could crack a cold one open at the park to avoid those bar markups.

Important to note here: we do not recommend having dates at each others’ homes as a means to save money until you’ve built trust. Safety comes first, so get to know someone before putting yourself in a potentially compromising situation.

Dating in a recession - coffee date

3. Reconsider traditional dating roles.

In straight, cisgendered relationships, there is often an expectation that the male should pick up the tab on the first date – or even the first several. For many daters, a man who accepts your offer to split the bill is a social pariah.

In general, it’s probably a good idea to reconsider the financial pressure we put on our male dating prospects. But we should especially be more lenient during a recession. Offer to split the bill on dates to relieve some of the monetary burden from your date (and then pray to the universe that they don’t accept your offer).

Don’t want to risk splitting a hefty dinner bill? Suggest somewhere more affordable beforehand so you don’t end up with a seafood tower, Veuve Clicquot, and a date who wants to go splitsies.

Dating in a recession - woman paying a bill

4. Take your date’s financial stability into account.

A past version of you might have been into a person solely for their good looks and fun personality, but recession-you might want to add “financial stability” to the list of green flags. Swoon.

This isn’t necessarily so your potential beau can become your sugar daddy (there are whole websites for that). But financial stability signifies this person won’t be expecting you to fund their lifestyle down the road.

Ain’t nobody got time for jobless couch surfers in 2022.

Dating in a recession - typing on calculator

5. Consider your date’s spending habits.

Are they a high-roller who is going to make you feel weird for not wanting bottle service every weekend? Or on the contrary, do they refuse to spend money on anything and Venmo request you a dollar for eating their bag of microwave popcorn?

It’s challenging to date someone whose spending habits are vastly different from your own. The dynamic creates pressure for one party to spend more than they’re comfortable with, and for the other to live a more frugal lifestyle than they desire.

Get a sense of how your prospect spends their money early on to determine if you’re a good match. It’s only natural that there’s a bit of variation, but a Dave Ramsey stan might have a hard time dating someone who spends like a Real Housewife.

By Jess Lohr

Jess is a Cambridge-based, Syracuse-born twenty-something who loves coffee, dogs and stalking Zillow for her future home. Her favorite ways to kill time include strolling through Boston’s cobblestone streets, socializing over a glass of wine, and reading finance books (if only 22-year-old Jess were like this).

She has spent the past 4+ years working in Consumer Insights, and when she’s not working on her 9-5, you can find her pursuing her most recent side hustle as a dog sitter. Jess is co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast and lifestyle website with the mission of helping post-grads navigate adulthood.

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