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Love doesn’t cost a thing? Actually it does–and a lot. And while many believe the onus of paying for a date is on the man, dating costs for women amount to more than chump change. In fact, the money we spend on dating could be seen as a small investment portfolio.

A recent study by showed that American singles spend about $60 a month on dating. Of course the amount spent on dating depends on the city in which you live. In the Big Apple, dinner for two and a movie costs about $135. Dinner for two, a bottle of red wine, and a movie cost $230 in San Francisco, $211 in Atlanta, and $193 in Kansas City, MO.

Women still rely (for the most part) on men to pay for dates, especially if it is a new relationship. Anna (first name only), a 42-year-old speech pathologist based in the DC metro area, told us, “I have never treated a date in the beginning. Most of the men I have dated always paid. I have done things like paid for breakfast, but never on a date.”

Just finding a date can be expensive and signing up for online dating isn’t cheap. “Roughly 30 million unique users, or about 10 percent of the U.S. population, visit dating sites every month,” according to Nielsen. And many of them pay a hefty sum for the chance to meet their perfect match. At the two biggest subscription-based sites in the U.S., ($42 a month) and eHarmony ($60 a month), users can save by signing on for, say, a six-month bundle ($24 per month and $40 per month, respectively), “but most subscription sites automatically renew until the customer cancels, and those fees can add up,” wrote Marketwatch. FidelityDating, a dating site for people who have been cheated on and are seeking faithful partners, costs $30 per month.

Anna used and spent about $65 for three months.

Once a date is made, there’s also the matter of needing money to prepare for your first encounter. “On average, a woman can pay less than $100 per month on dating. If she’s in a long distance relationship it leans toward $500-1,000 per month (or as often as they travel),” dating coach Dr. Aesha Adams-Roberts, The Black Love Matchmaker and creator of Black Love University, the only online coaching program designed by a Black woman for single Black women, told us. “The sisters tell me they’ll book a hotel, get a rental car, and plan other activities while they’re traveling.” Adams-Roberts regularly coaches Black women on which dating sites to use, how to handle who pays for a date, and offers image consulting at $125 per hour.

Ana usually spends far more than $100 in a month on looking for love. “I have typically spent between $200-$300 for dates depending on the occasion,” she said. “I may spend $50-$75 on manicure/pedicures.” Bianca Payton, 27, who works in finance and lives in Atlanta, drops around $100 on clothing and $200 per month on hair and nails when dating. Both Ana and Payton said their biggest expense is clothing.

Now once every thing is set, the next expense is the date itself–but most of the time women aren’t paying. When looking at gender preferences, 37 percent of men feel they should pay for the first date and 51 percent spend more than $100 monthly on dates while 29 percent spend more than $150 a month. Reader’s Digest found 87 percent of women say they would sometimes pay for a date; and 66 percent spend less than $50 per month on dates.

“I have never been on a date where the man expected me to pay or go Dutch,” Anna said. “I have really only ‘treated’ when I was offering to bring my date breakfast or lunch to his job.” And while Payton says she has treated her dates, she would take offense at being asked to go Dutch. “I don’t really have a limit on what I would spend, but for both typically less than $80,” she shared. “I have never gone dutch. I would be insulted if someone took me on a date and ever asked to split my meal. I have treated a guy I was dating to dinner before and it did not have to be a special occasion — typically it was because I just wanted to, but always after he has taken me places and acted like a gentleman. I would never suggest going dutch. Either he pays or I pay.”

But if you feel strongly about treating or going Dutch, there are ways to keep expenses in check. “My suggestion to a woman going on a date is to meet somewhere casual for a coffee or appetizer and go Dutch so the man doesn’t ‘expect’ anything after the date,” suggested Gary Spivak, founder of FidelityDating.

There are some additional hidden dating costs, as Adams-Roberts pointed out, like “paying tolls, attending singles events (which cost as low as $5 and as much $40-plus), professional dating photos ($150-$300), and gas/subway.” There is also the time spent on dating, and as you know time is money. According to, the average American dater makes roughly $30 per hour while working. So, if a date takes about four hours that equals $120.

And then there are dating scams through which one can lose lots of money. “Women fall into traps of giving money to men in online scams,” warned Adams-Roberts. “One of my clients said she gave a man $5,000! Another woman said she ends up paying for vacations. On the last trip, the man ordered an extra $250 in incidentals without her knowing.”

Word to the wise: Know what you want and what you can afford to spend to get it and date accordingly.

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