This may be one of the first blog posts I’ve had in some time where the title matches the topic of the blog. Minimal significance, though something to note.

I’ve spoken to a decent number of older couples who look back towards their young dating days with great fondness. There’s an air of innocence and gaiety in their words as they speak of how they first met, the environment at that time, and the emotional connection they felt at such a young[er] age.

Yet, there’s one thing that never ceases to shock me at how contrasting of an environment our dating worlds have become; oftentimes sitting in their large houses, we speak of the younger days where they could only afford to eat Ramen, mac and cheese, or spaghetti during those early dating years. Eating something as fancy as chinese take-out was considered a rare weekend treat.

I can’t help but be reminded of my earlier dating years where it seemed acceptable to take a girl out to Bento Go-Go (Korean Sushi place on OSU’s campus) for a Valentines Day date (<$20.00), or when a simple afternoon could be spent laying on the grass outside of Griggs Reservoir. A 12-pack of cheap beer was considered an acceptable offering ($9.99) when coming over for late night dinner. It reminds me of the times where Lydia and Tyler would go out on OSU meal plan dates; eating at places where their BuckID was accepted as currency for food. Swipes ($8), my friend, were a powerful tool.

Yet, the change in the dating game seems to be ramping up at a very quick pace. Sure, it was easy to get by with cheap dates in college. But the change in the dating forecast (cost) seems to have skyrocketed as soon as leaving college. Shortly after graduating, I went on a few dates with several people. Several dates with different people at different times, mind you. On one of the dates, we started off at a relatively classy restaurant ($90) in Columbus, OH, and ended the night by walking over to a local wine bar ($45).

This is where it would be appropriate to have the screeching sound of a needle being ripped off of vinyl.

A wine bar. Seriously? It’s in this moment where I realize the stark contrast between the dating moments of older generations, telling me of the mac and cheese days where they were living off the change between the cushions, and the dating situation we are now societally bound to uphold. The closest thing to mac and cheese I’ve ever had on a date was a plate of Betty’s ($12) (Columbus restaurant) famous mac and cheese, or a recent home-cooked meal with four kinds of cheeses cooked into the recipe. It wasn’t velveeta or American cheese, I can assure you that.

A friend of mine (who shall not be named…Neethi) told me of a first date where she went to an upscale steakhouse for a first date. This was the type of steakhouse usually reserved for older individuals who have reached a reasonable level of success, or for a special anniversary dinner for a working-class couple, etc. It was shocking that somebody in the <25 year-old category could go there for a first date. Sure, biting into a filet mignon might be a good way to start a date. Yet, I feel the emphasis on the surroundings and year of the wine being poured can easily overtake the importance of getting to know the person sitting across the white tablecloth from you.

The point?

The dating and relationship system seems to have drastically changed. Sure, I am sure there are still a great many people who still indulge in Kraft Mac n’ Cheese for dates, but the young professional adult world seems to be shifting dramatically in the expense area of dating, weekend thrills, and expensive underwear.

While I certainly enjoy high-end meals and outings, it’s important to keep in perspective the fact that many of the other patrons in the same restaurant were probably not able to afford such outings on a regular basis when they were your age (assuming it’s a seasoned crowd) and that it’s ok to kick things down a notch in budget without the loss of romance.

No expensive bottle of wine, cut of kobe beef, or piece of sushi will ever replace or outdo the $8.00 it costs to park El Matador State Park and watch the sun set behind the ocean from the semi-private beach that costs nothing to enjoy.

El Matador State Park
  • I think you make some good points… We’ve spent $100 on really nice places and also $10 on chipotle that we’ve eaten sitting on a playground at a park. And I have to say that the memories of both are just as good.

    A great steak’s delicious no matter who you eat it with…but someone who makes eating a sack of 10 from White Castle seem just as good is really special.

  • Aaron, I completely agree with you. In my years of dating, the experiences which have meant the most are the ones with men who treat me with high respect and deep value regardless of the amount of money they spent. Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice meal every once in a while, however, I would much rather have a dish of Mac and Cheese with someone who truly values me and values getting to know me than a high end steak with someone who is only out to display his finances. Sometimes the less money involved the more authentic one must be.

    Thanks for your posting.

  • Hey Aaron!! Sammy wants to invite you over for Kraft Dinner!

    I remember telling my then fiance… that I didn’t care if we ate the rest our lives at McDonalds, that our journey together was going to be a rocket ride!!

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