The world is changing quickly, and what used to be gender norms are now considered outdated concepts. But the idea of a man paying for a date doesn’t seem to be falling by the wayside anytime soon.
Most of us have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it’s nice to hang onto tradition. And on the other hand, it can get expensive to date. So, if you’re a man who is struggling financially, your social life is going to suffer.
But does it really have to?
There are ways to work around the traditional wining and dining that can save you money and maybe even find you a better mate.
In this post, we’re going to explore all the various ways you can get into a fulfilling relationship without spending much money.
Meet for happy hour
When you’re meeting someone for the first time, you probably don’t want to invest a lot of money. We’ve all had bad dates, and it makes it even worse when you have to pay for the other person’s meal. To work around this, meet for happy hour on the first date.
You don’t have to frame the meeting as a “happy hour thing,” but you can really save a lot of money by planning your dates at the right time. Happy hours can begin as early as 3 pm and extend to 7 pm, and there are usually specials on drinks and food.
The one thing you should consider, though is that this isn’t a sure thing. If your date doesn’t want something from the happy hour menu, you might look cheap by calling out the special. Still, happy hours offer a way to get that traditional first date experience at a discount.
Plan movie nights at home
Naturally, you can save money by staying home. But we’re not talking about those Netflix and chill moments. If you want to plan a night in when she’s expecting a night out, you may have to step up your game a bit. Try planning a themed night or a romantic evening with dinner you cook together by candlelight. Follow that dinner up with a pre-selected movie. It’s okay to give her choices, but you want to avoid asking open questions like, “what do you want to watch?” That will always send the message that you haven’t planned a thing.
Get outside and get active
Depending on your personal activity level, you may want to plan a picnic or a hike (or both). The point is to get out in nature and enjoy each other’s company without spending a lot of money. You may pay for park admission and the food and wine you bring along, but that pales in comparison to what you’d spend on dinner and a movie out.
A few other outdoorsy ideas include beach dates, bike rides through town and kayaking.
And if outdoor activities are important to you, this could be a great way to find a good mate. Anyone can say they’re active and enjoy the outdoors, but it’s another thing entirely to actually do it. You’ll see early on what your potential partner is all about.
Take advantage of free days
Check your local area to see whether there are free museum or zoo days. These are days when locals can visit without paying a dime, and they could make for a very memorable and very free date.
Naturally, your schedules will have to sync up with the free days, which are often mid-week, and that could be a challenge for some. But if you plan far enough in advance, you could make a fun day out of it.
Whether you’re in the habit of volunteering or not, it’s a very honorable way to spend your time. You and your potential partner can bond over shared interests and experiences as you band together to help others. This type of date won’t cost any money and regardless of where the relationship goes, it’s time well spent. When you volunteer your time together, you’re sharing an experience that’s good for both souls.
Consider opening a dialogue
Money is one of those taboo topics that most people avoid like the plague, and for good reason. But if this is something that’s important to you, you may want to find tactful ways to bring it up.
For example, if you believe that a compatible couple doesn’t always have to go on extravagant outings because they’re happy enough with each other, you may want to slide that into conversation.
To be clear, it’s never tactful to discuss how much you’ve spent on a date. This may make your date feel like a burden, and that’s probably not what you want.
Instead, you may bring up a friend’s situation or a hypothetical to see how your date feels about the balance of financial responsibility in a relationship. This could give you an indication of whether the relationship will work out long-term.
Consider going “dutch”
On your first date, it’s customary for the man to pay. So, you should go into this knowing the expectation. If you want to work around it, consider planning a free date (like a hike or a free day at the museum).
After you decide you’d like to continue seeing this person, you may want to bring up the idea of going “dutch”. Dating advice sites like the Gotham Club have tips for helping you tackle this awkward conversation with relative grace.
There’s a chance you’ll drive someone away with this conversation, but if this is important to you, that probably wasn’t the right person anyway. You don’t have to agree on everything, but finances are rather important to relationship success. If your date truly believes that the financial burden of your entertainment as a couple rests solely on your shoulders, that may be a sticking point.
If this is important to you, it’s best to get it out in the open now. At the very least, you’ll know where you both stand and whether the relationship has potential to become fulfilling in the future.