There is no doubt that the dating landscape has dramatically evolved since the the turn of the millennium from the introduction of several new words into the English language (ghosting, dick-pic) to the blurring of traditional dating parameters (polyamory, casual hook-ups). Each new interation on how we define relationships adds a new layer of difficulty when navigating the minefield of dating, leaving many young people unable to explicitly say what their status actually is.
Aside from the emotional and psychological strains of dating (because let’s be honest, some dates a fucking taxing), the one thing that people often neglect to talk about, is the cost. Last year alone, statistics suggested that around 34.5% of the British population over 16 were single- although you should take this stat as an estimate considering the aforementioned lack of clarity with relationship status.
And according to a recent article published in the Independent, in 2018, single people are forecast to spend 96 million hours dating and spend £2 billion on bad dates- not even the good ones. So whether you arrange the occasional date or you’re a ‘binge-dater’ (yeah that’s a thing) even one date can really set you back. From buying an outfit and getting ‘date ready’ to fitting the bill at the end of the night, the average date costs around £29 per person. Commit to one of these a week, and you’re looking at nearly £120 a month… on shit dates with people you’ll probably ghost anyway.
And with over 26 million global users and counting on Bumble alone, the dating game is only getting bigger. In fact, according to one study, you’re statistically more likely to see an alien than find true love on a night out in London (that’s 500 times less likely in case you were wondering). So with singledom on the increase, and the odds of meeting the one getting depressingly slimmer each day, is your relationship status having a detrimental impact on your bank balance too?
Although the stats seem quite telling, suggesting that being single will set you back, when I spoke to actual human beings who have been negotiating the dating world IRL they profess that it’s cheaper to be single.
Amy, a 24 year old from Cardiff, argues this very point- “it’s much cheaper to be on your own, that’s why the government supports and encourages marriage.” She went on to mention that it is also down to the fact that as a single woman, she has no one to treat but herself. Other young women agreed, such as Mia, an Analyst from London, who felt that the lower cost was down to lower levels of pressure. “You don’t have to buy expensive presents,’ she said, “you don’t have to go out and do stuff when you’re single- you can just stay at home.”
And in fact, men shared this sentiment. Callum, a self-professed ‘chronically single’ 27 year old believes that being in a relationship actually does cost more; “There are expenses which are universal whether you're in a relationship or single, such as dinner, drinks, fun dates, etc,” he told me, “but relationships have the added expense of buying gifts for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's day, and even Mother's day (if you've got children) too.”
And what emerged from these conversations was that overall, it was women who had the easier financial ride, unfortunately playing into the stereotypes that women don’t pay for dates.
George, a PhD student from Manchester has been casually dating for 3 months. “I think women on average will find being single cheaper, because a lot of guys (myself included) will often insist on paying for a date if they like someone,” he admitted. “Yeah... like there's always a chance that the woman has a free date, there's almost no chance of that happening for the man, so on average it will be cheaper for women.”
Matt, a 25 year old engineer agreed; “I do think that some of the stereotypes of men paying still exists, and there are some men out there that still like to do that. Also a lot of girls I know get drinks bought for them on nights out. So I would say yeah, even if just slightly, it’s cheaper for women.”
But it still doesn’t quite add up. If you’re in a relationship and all of your rent, bills and expenses are halved, then why is it cheaper to be on your own?
Trainee Lawyer, Katy, shed some light on the matter; “It depends how much your boyfriend eats because if you're single you try and go out more and socialise but you're only paying for you and if you're in a relationship you share costs... but boyfriends eat loads.” Hmm...
28 year old Lois, who has been in a relationship for nearly two years, agreed; "I definitely think it's cheaper to be single. It’s tricky if your partner earns more and you feel that sometimes you need to match what they spend even though you know you'll probably regret it the week leading up to payday.”
So although the statistics suggest being in a relationship will do your bank balance the world of good, for those millions of singles out there, being on their own is keeping their finances healthy and leaving more to spend on themselves.
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