Online dating could save singletons over £3,000 compared to dating in person

Lockdown 3.0 might not be the best time to be single, but at least it could be saving daters money for their trouble.

Ocean Finance has done some sums and found that virtual dating could save singletons £3,224 a year compared to IRL dates.

Assuming daters would buy things like a new outfit (£52), theatre tickets (£140), drinks (£36) and a cab home (£15) for a pre-pandemic date, the average cost per date could come to around £300 – although yes, this is a rather large estimate.

The average dater goes on around 13 dates per year, meaning that if they’re going on these fancy dates, they would spend roughly £3,900 in 12 months.

Don’t think you’re safe just because your go-to date is dinner or drinks. Even if your spending just £30 on a date night, if you’re hitting the dating scene hard and going out once a week, that’s £1,560 a year.

Meanwhile, even on the extreme end of spending, virtual dating can set you back much less than IRL dates.

At the most you can expect to spend £52 per date, assuming you’re buying a meal to eat at home (£10), supermarket cocktails (£6), and new top (£26), as that’s all that can be seen during a standard video call.

A more conservative estimate might be £20 a virtual date, just for food and drink (because really, who’s buying a new top for every Zoom sesh?).

They also compared and included the cost of 20 popular dating apps and sites, and found that the average cost of a subscription is £139 a year.

Sarah Neate, Editor-in-Chief of Ocean Finance, said: ‘Whilst these strange times may have made singletons believe it’s hard to meet “the one”, there are still some positives to virtually dating. 

‘For one, the lockdown has heightened many singletons’ desires to create a genuine connection and pushed people to act more seriously when looking for love in lockdown. In our study, we found that 42% of singletons like the fact it’s easier to end a virtual date if it’s not going well.

‘However, our virtual dating is not just saving singletons time, but money, too. Pre-pandemic, the average theatre date cost £300, taking into account a new outfit, dinner, drinks and a taxi ride home. Even a less lavish cinema and dinner date would cost £178 when considering the above additional costs, which are often forgotten about. 

‘Our research found the virtual version of these dates to be much cheaper. Instead, you could watch Hamilton on Disney+ or a new series on Netflix, purchase a new top instead of a full outfit, switch the restaurant meal for a dine-in supermarket deal, and swap cocktails in a bar for premixed versions. In total, this date is significantly cheaper at around £52 per date. 

‘So, while the mere thought of meeting a date for the first time via video chat may seem scary, it’s worth reminding yourself of the positives. Plus, once upon a time finding a partner via a dating app seemed like a weird concept, but that stigma is far from over. It’s now the norm.’

If you really want to push the savings boat out, you could easily opt to spend nothing at all on your virtual dates.

A lot of dating apps have free-to-use options, and the only things you really need to pay for to date via video (assuming you already have the laptop and/or phone you’ll need to take part in calls) are your electric and internet bills.

How much can you save with virtual dating?

Spending on IRL dates is subjective too, but by and large you can at least expect to spend money on things including travel, food and drink no matter where you go, so virtual dating still presents an opportunity to save money.

However, Ocean Finance also conducted a survey of 1,000 single people which showed that, despite the savings, just one in 12 of them would keep dating virtually when dating face to face is safe again.

This comes as little surprise when you consider all the many pros of meeting up in person, not the least of which includes actual physical contact and the chance to once again enjoy activities that don’t involve sitting in your own house.

However, for now, daters just have the choice between video calls and exercising with one other person, so they’ve got no other option but to save.

At the very least, the money you save on dates now could go towards some exceptionally cool dates in the future.

While virtual dating might not entirely replace dating in person once the pandemic is in the past, the occasional virtual date could still be a great way to save some cash when lockdown is over.

On top of that, having your first date(s) be via Zoom is a good way to get to know/vet each other without having to meet up in person.

If you’re stuck for ideas this Valentine’s Day, we’ve got seven alternative virtual date ideas including creating your own cocktail recipe and practising eye-gazing.

We also put together a list of 59 questions you can ask on a virtual date to keep the conversation flowing.

For more money-saving advice as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join Metro.co.uk’s Facebook group, Money Pot.

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