Restaurants are busy on Valentine’s Day, but many couples early in their relationship avoid them.
In recent years, somewhere between endless Tinder swipes and countless Ok Cupid matches, the dinner date has fallen by the wayside.
Even for a casual dater going on one or two dinners a week or a month, the costs quickly add up.
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As online dating surges in popularity, few millennials have the time, money, or desire to sit with a stranger over a long meal.
Only 7 in 10,000 messages in a recent Ok Cupid survey suggested “grabbing some dinner” and a somewhat less scientific survey this reporter conducted of several dozen actively dating 20-somethings found that dinner has become a highly taboo first date.
Location-based apps like Tinder and gay dating app Grindr have made the number of potential partners endless and the prospect of buying dinner for all of them impossible.
In large cities like New York and Los Angeles, a dinner tab for two at a midprice restaurant can be well over $50, not including wine and aperitifs.
“In theory, I like the dinner date, but nearly every time I’ve gone on one as a first date I feel like I’m trapped with somebody who got stale after the first 15 minutes,” said Christine Victoria Waller, a 35-year-old childhood educator who lives outside of New York City.
“For beginning dates, I prefer a cocktail someplace nice, with the option of it turning into dinner if we are feeling it.” Online dating has been instrumental in this shift toward more casual outings like coffee or drinks, said April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert.
Moody’s Investors Service recently slashed its operating-profit growth forecast for the restaurant sector.
(This appears to complement another trend noted by market researcher NPD Group that suggests 57% of meals In the U. are eaten alone.) There’s good reason why people don’t want to sit through a meal with a stranger for an hour or, often times, longer.
It’s also usually harder on the man’s wallet, studies show.
Three-quarters of about 1,000 people asked in a 2014 survey by personal finance site Nerd Wallet favored men picking up the check after dinner, with only about 20% preferring to go Dutch and an anomalous 4% saying men shouldn’t pay the bill.
You could end up having five dates a week or even five dates per weekend.