NEW YORK CITY — How does one spend $20,000 on dating in a year?
Take the average dinner date bill of David, a 30-year-old New Yorker who recently revealed his expenses to DNAinfo:
► A drink at the bar: $15 ("Most of the time they were running late so I guess that is one drink for me," he said.)
► Shared appetizer and dessert with two main meals: $84
► Bottle of wine: $55
► Round of drinks at a nearby bar if it goes well: $30
► Tax and tip: $50
The total is $234 for one date and David estimates he goes on these dinner dates at least six times a month. To be clear, this man, who asked that his last name be withheld, works in finance, lives in the West Village and doesn't mind footing the bill for local places he likes to frequent. The Beatrice Inn (entrees are from $23 to $36) or the similarly priced Bobo are two examples.
Sometimes he pays for his date's cab ride home if she has a long subway ride ahead and then there are the subscriptions for a handful of dating sites. Match.com, for example, costs $36 a month.
"I literally had no idea," David said, of his $20,000-plus in annual dating expenses. "I had thought about it, but I never bothered to add it up."
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New York is an expensive city with an active dating scene, so it makes sense that its residents are doling out tons of cash to find love or a brief stint of companionship. However, few calculate the true cost of dating or ponder whether they are getting what they want for the money they spend, according to dating experts.
"Often these guys are shocked when they realize how much they spend on dating and, since they're all single, how poor their return on investment actually is," said Chris Luna, a New York City-dating coach.
"If someone is making $100,000 a year and they are spending 10 percent on dating, that's insane."
In his dating seminars, Luna has his participants, who are mostly male, face what they spend. He estimates that dating once a week can cost $7,280 annually, $14,560 for two dates a week and $21,840 for three dates a week over a year.
"A small percentage of guys get high off it, but a vast majority of guys are frustrated," said Luna. "Who wants to spend five, 10 or 20 grand on dating?"
A few single clients have brought up the subject of dating expenses to Russell Bailyn, a financial planner. One client made a decisive switch from $200 dinner dates to meeting for coffee.
"I thought it was brilliant. When I was dating I would often do dinner as a first date and it's true that the majority of times that person doesn't turn out to be your wife," said Bailyn. "It doesn't make sense."
And this isn't just a story about men, money and dating. Women are also on the hook.
Polly Mosendz, 23, a reporter who lives in Greenwich Village, recently embarked on a dating campaign of sorts with a group of friends who made a pact to start dating frequently.
Between cab rides to and from a date, buying a drink at a bar with the hope of meeting someone and splitting the bill about half the time, Mosendz said she spends $130 each week (or $6,760 for the year).
"This is kind of my necessary spending — what's the other option? Dying alone?" she said.
Jason Rak, a 38-year-old clinical social worker, hasn't met his match in the 10 years and estimated $60,000 he has spent dating in New York City. His dating expenses have ebbed and flowed throughout that time, trailing off when he is in a relationship and picking up again when he is single.
"How much is too much? When do you find that happy balance from meeting new people and enjoying life to when you are saving for a family and what happens after?" said Rak, making the point that the $60,000 he spent on dating could have been used as a deposit on an apartment.
Online dating provides more options for more first dates but relationships are rarely the outcome, according to Art Malov, a dating coach. Singles are not choosing their dates wisely and are relying on quantity over quality, he said.
"Spending money is a side effect, but [a client's] pain point is that it's not going beyond the first date," Malov said.
Both Malov and Luna advocate for low-key first dates like grabbing a coffee and walking around a park. The problem with an impressive restaurant is that it often takes both people out of their comfort zone — the girl dresses up and the guy puts on his $2,000 "Hugo Boss date suit," Luna said.
"I tend to feel like you should start investing in the relationship after you begin to feel like — I don't want to sound harsh — you are getting a return on this investment, that this might be the person you want to start building unique experiences with," he said.
As for David, the 30-year-old in finance, he said he doesn't regret his $20,000 annual dating bill. He tried coffee dates, but those often cut into a sacred Saturday afternoon, which he prefers to spend with friends — those outings are more valuable than a $234 dinner.
"If I wasn't on a dinner date with a girl, I would probably be out with a friend grabbing dinner, grabbing drinks," said David. "The company is just different."