Cost of dinner, show and brush-off? Up to £1,500 a month for serial daters

Which is why the internet's latest wheeze is coffee dating: it's cheaper, quicker and a lot less humiliating
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The Independent Online

They are young, single and wealthy - and enjoy a fabulous social life thanks to the phenomenal success of internet dating.

They are young, single and wealthy - and enjoy a fabulous social life thanks to the phenomenal success of internet dating.

Yet it is not all good news: they are alsolaying out a fortune on up to five dates a week. New research has revealed that online daters are spending up to £1,500 a month taking out people who they realise, after the first 15 minutes, are not for them.

For traditional men the expense can come from having to shoulder the cost of the date. Taking into account the cost of dinner, cabs, drinks and any other entertainment, that can cost more than £100.

Women may want to split the bill but will also have invested heavily in new outfits, shoes and hairstyles.

That's at the higher earning end. But even at the lower end, the survey, which quizzed 5,000 members of the loopylove.com website, found that the average spend for men per date is £27 and for women £16. The average number of dates per month for men using the site was 11 and for women seven, meaning that the cost can exceed £1,500 a month.

A YouGov poll last month for the Maestro card found that Britain's 8.6 million singles spent £8bn a year on dating. It also revealed an 11 per cent rise in spending on hairdressing, restaurants and accessories, with 60 per cent of men prepared to pay for the first date and 64 per cent of women happy to split the bill.

All this is resulting in another dating revolution - an industry which is changing as quickly as the technology that drives it. Speed dating is considered past its sell-by date, principally because of the difficulty in attracting men to the sessions where singles meet numerous members of the opposite sex in a round of three-minute interviews.

To keep the cost down, potential couples are now turning to coffee dating. Singles arrange to meet for just 20 minutes during the day for coffee, during which they weigh each other up and decide if there's enough chemistry for a full-blown outing.

Sara Pearce of Gorgeousnetworks, an elite dating agency, said they have been encouraging members to go on coffee dates. "With the coffee date you're not committed to anything," she said. "There's no embarrassment if it doesn't work out and you haven't spent a fortune.

"The problem with speed dating is that you can't articulate yourself properly. It's like being in an interview and men seem to be refusing to show up; they find it too contrived."

Peter Schmitt, 38, who runs his own business in Hampshire, has been online dating for 18 months. He said the cost of his four or five dates a month was getting out of hand. "I live outside London, so I'd have to factor the cost of a hotel into the date," he said. "I'm very busy but don't meet people at work. I meet a lot of interesting people, but most of them are not for me. Coffee dating fits much more easily into my schedule and you can normally tell quite soon if there's any chemistry."

Lorraine Adams, a PR executive from Chelsea, agreed. "You can feel a bit of a fraud on a date if you know quite soon it's not going to work out," she said. "Coffee dating is more relaxed, and it's a more natural way to meet someone."

'You can easily spend £100 in a club - that's without dinner'

Peter Schmitt, 38, from Hollycombe in Hampshire, runs a consultancy business

I go on four or five dates a month and I suddenly thought, "Hang on a second, I'm spending £100 to £150 per date." I'm old-fashioned and believe the man should pay for the first date. But you can easily spend £100 in a club, and then there's dinner and cabs.

There are three good reasons for coffee dating - time, cost and commitment. It's better than speed dating because you can get to know a lot more about them, but if it doesn't work out you haven't spent too much time or money. You do know in 20 minutes if you're attracted to someone."

Peter's typical date spending:

London train fare: £32

Hotel: £80

Pre-dinner drinks: £30

Dinner: £150

After-dinner drinks: £30

Clubbing: £100

Taxis: £40

Total: £462

Coffee dating:

Four coffees: £10

Total: £10

'Men should pay for the first date'

Lorraine Adams, in her 30s, is a PR executive from London

I think the man should pay for a first date - in fact every date, that's the man's thing to do! The right man doesn't have to spend anything, but if you are unsure about someone you're unlikely to want a second date if he comes across as being tight-fisted.

If I was going on a date with someone I had high hopes for, then I'd quite likely have a blow-dry for £25 and maybe buy a new outfit for £200 and shoes for £100. There's nothing like feeling confident in new clothes.

It's nice to go out for dinner on a second date but when you are a serial dater it's much better to meet for 20 minutes or so first. I was going on four or five dates a week. It's quite hard to keep all that up.

Lorraine's expectations on a date:

Pre-dinner cocktails:£25

Dinner for two: £100 to £150

Theatre tickets: £80

Clubbing: £100

Taxis: £40

Total: £395

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