Date for the long-term, not the short costs

Jason Ancheta

It’s date night and you’re busy tidying up to look presentable. Whether you’re combing your hair, brushing your teeth or shining your shoes, there comes the inevitable moment where you reach for your wallet. 

As you place it in your pocket or purse and walk out the door, it’s almost as if you can already feel it getting lighter. Question — is dating just as expensive as the rest of college?

No, it doesn’t have to be. College students should pursue cheap dating, but not be cheapskates. Paying less does not mean treating your date poorly. It’s just smart to prioritize experience over cost. Although it seems easy to avoid overspending on dates or social outings, science tells us otherwise.

“As a social being, you fall prey to identifying yourself with a looking glass,” said Mehdi Haghshenas, senior lecturer for the Department of Sociology. “You care far more about how others regard you in dating, so you tend to use money in the hopes of making a good impression.”

Essentially, resorting to an expensive five-course dinner and $12 drinks (no refills) is a social construct that tricks you into spending more money. The average national cost for a single date is $102.32. Even if the typical college student were to spend half of this amount, that’s still a major blow to their wallet. 

Luckily, the age-old saying stands true, the best things in life are free. Internalizing this allows us to turn our attention to wholesome experiences that don’t cost college students an arm and a leg.

If you find yourself out on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday night, the Department of Astronomy offers public star parties where you can explore the night sky. Couples can indulge in this romantic event for free. If your date is a movie lover, they might prefer a cozy, free screening of a recent Marvel movie at the Texas Union on Thursday nights, hosted by Campus Events & Entertainment.

If you and your date enjoy spending time with each other while you continue to pursue cost-effective outings, it’s a good sign. An embarrassing part of college dating includes people who just go on dates to take advantage of how deep the other person’s pocket is. By dating cheaper, both guys and gals have a shot at more authentic interaction with their dates.

“In courtship, we optimize our performative self to manage how others perceive us because our social setting dictates attraction like this,” said Haghshenas. “If you learn to overcome the role conflict between being a lover and a poor college student, then dating can be fulfilling for you.”

While dating cheap might seem like you’re cheating your date out of a nicer experience, a quick reality check is a great reminder that spending less is a sign of a secure financial future — and that's attractive in its own way. 

Don’t let your mind bully your wallet as you embark on more dates. In the long-term, you’ll be glad you got rid of your short costs.

Ancheta is a business freshman from Houston, TX.