Hey Noah –
I recently broke up with my long term boyfriend of over five years and I’m begrudgingly back on the market. We were living together in a nice apartment downtown but ultimately I had to leave and find my own place.
I’ve moved into a small studio apartment and finally have most of my life back in order with the exception of one thing – I can’t afford to be single and date. When I lived with my boyfriend, we shared the expense of everything that I now have to carry on my own. At the end of the month after paying rent, utilities and student loans I have close to nothing left.
I’ve been on a few Tinder and Grindr dates but they all start in the same way – the guy wants to grab a drink or dinner and see where the night goes. I’m nervous at first and drink quickly. My inhibitions around spending are lowered and hundreds of dollars later I wake up after a mediocre hookup with a hangover and a huge credit card bill. I’ve been striking out recently with my dates and the cycle starts all over again.
How am I supposed to find a new relationship when being single is so damn expensive?
Jun, 34, San Diego
Being single after a long term relationship can be incredibly jarring. A lot of our identity can be wrapped up in our previous partnership and not only do we need to rediscover our own self but eventually navigate the evermore complex world of dating in the 21st century.
Be single for a while
You may view this as the least desirable option, but prior to moving back on the market you need to rediscover yourself as a single person – and all of the positives and negatives that go along with it. By quickly moving back onto the dating scene after a breakup from a long term relationship you’re setting yourself up for the same mistakes and toxic dynamics from before. Give yourself some time to hit the reset button.
Keep it simple
After you take some time to relax, rediscover and reset, you might be ready to hit the dating apps again. Just because your matches suggest the standard wine and dinner date doesn’t mean you have to oblige. Suggest a free movie in the park, or a picnic. If you’re feeling adventurous, perhaps a day in the sun at Black’s Beach? You’re fortunate to live in San Diego with beautiful year-round weather; use that to your advantage. Simple can often be better.
Free and almost-free
There are fantastic articles and resources online dedicated to finding free and almost-free date options in your city. Outdoor movies, gallery openings, a bottle of wine in the park. We promise you won’t look cheap if you spend some time crafting up a unique outing. Chances are you’ll stand out from the crowd who are likely defaulting to the bars and restaurants as well.
Be yourself, and embrace it
Avoid hiding behind the fact that you are on a budget. You should be honest and forthcoming from the beginning. By attempting to be someone you’re not through the mask of your credit card, you’re setting in motion the potential for more deception down the line. If your new date takes the lead and suggests the bar down the street, a truthful answer around your life on a budget will serve two purposes; an effective barometer for jerks and mismatched lifestyles and a signal that you aren’t prepackaging yourself through fantasy – so be yourself!
Avoid the marketplace mentality
Finally, with seemingly unlimited options for finding a gay date in 2017, it can be easy to churn through guys in search of the perfect match. You’ll cut down the amount of date fails if you focus on quality over quantity and avoiding the marketplace (or should we say meat market) mentality. We live in a society with an overabundance of choices – just take a look at the detergent options at the grocery store. Or the faces on Grindr.
Once you are ready to hit the dating scene again, invest your time in searching for quality over quantity. Remain open and honest about your need to be frugal. And get creative with your dates – that’s where the fun in dating really begins.