The Economics of Your Love Life in Your 20s — The Article Nobody Else Will Write

“If you want your pockets to jingle, stay single.”

I threw out random quotes to be a jerk while a buddy whined about his most recent break up. I couldn’t be bothered. I’m not a bad friend. I just can’t hear the same pity stories every few months from the same people. Life’s far too short to spend it feeling sorry for yourself. We all have that friend who can never seem to get their finances or their love life in order.

The economics of your love life

Does the following meme sound familiar?

The Economics of Your Love Life

Dating and money.

What’s more fun to discuss than these topics? I’ve saved some money and been on a few dates and in a few relationships, so I figured I would write the article that nobody else wants to in the personal finance world.

Are you single in your 20s? Did you happen to get married at an early age?

Let’s have some fun and look at the economics (this is Studenomics) of your love life in your 20s…

What are the economics of being single?

“Little boys tease little girls when they’re 8, and women still love it when they’re 28 and 48.” — David DeAngelo

The amount of money that you spend when you’re single vs when you’re in a relationship is drastically different.

Being in a relationship can get expensive. Everything is for two. Dinner for two. Movies for two. Drinks for two. Trips for two. You have to always buy for two.

You’re hoping that your partner pitches in sometimes, but for the most part, the onus is on you to pay. You can’t be selfish. Even if you stop for a quick bite to eat, you have to think about your partner and if they’re hungry or not. You have to plan events for two.

This is both good and bad. Good if you love your partner and don’t mind spending the money. Bad if you’re cheap or a personal finance blogger that tracks their spending.

Then there’s the other side to dating…

You can save money with a partner if you have similar values on finances. This is rare, but I’ve seen frugality zealots get together and save money like nobody’s business.

When you’re dating you don’t have to stress about going out, paying for expensive dates, or worrying about the next time you’re going to get laid. As someone in their 20s this is important. Don’t even try to tell me that sex isn’t a priority for you. Unless you’re a corpse of course. Having a partner means that you never have to worry about the next time you’re going to be with someone. This can really keep you in line and focused on your other goals since you’re not always looking to find a date.

How does that joke go? Sex is like air. You don’t realize how important it is until you’re not getting any.

You have to go out more often when you’re single.

You spend more money this way. You’re always out and about trying to meet someone new. When you meet someone new it’s usually a short-term relationship, and you’re back out on the hunt.

You can’t stay in because it’s boring. You want to constantly be meeting new people. The chase is often better than the catch.

Time to ask the important questions…

Is it better to be single or in a relationship for your wallet?

What’s better for saving money?

Personally, it all depends on what my situation at the time is. Every point in life is different for me. There have been times where I was studying and working full-time, with blogging thrown in there. I didn’t have time for much else at all. Then there were summers where going out and working out felt like my job.

In 2010, I spent a fortune on going out all summer. Thankfully, I had a job and was making money through blogging. My buddy and I literally went out almost every single night. Luckily, we figured out how to cut costs (taking the bus and pre-drinking).

Some single guys just sit at home and do nothing. Others are out every single night looking for another story.

It all depends on your lifestyle choices/spending decisions when you’re single compared to being taken.

If you enjoy hanging out at home with your girlfriend every single day, then being taken will be better for your wallet. If your girlfriend wants to go out every single night, then it might make your pockets feel lonely.

This naturally leads into…

What about marriage, moving in, and commitment?

My friend recently let his girlfriend move in with him. He hates it. If he’s reading this, sorry for outing you like this, but you should know by now that I’m a natural instigator. I don’t want to be miserable. I don’t want to live with someone who I can’t stand.

I can’t tell you what to do here because I’ve never fully moved in with someone. I’m also not going to be there in the middle of the night for you. The traditional advice is to do what makes you happy. Follow your heart. I guess?

In reality, we all need to open our eyes up a little bit!

Are you just dying to be in a relationship? Are you willing to marry the next person that you kiss? I have friends like this. They’ll move in with the next person that looks at them. I don’t believe in that. I want you to open your eyes up and see what this world has to offer. There’s so much to explore and see. I have so much traveling of the world left to do before I think I can move in with someone.

Then there’s the flip side here…

What about heartbreak and loneliness?

It happens to everyone. Some dudes get lonelier than others. Some guys have no luck with ladies and are not willing to improve. Others love their independence and have no issues with meeting women.

My advice is to become more interesting. 

Get out there and see what the world has to offer! Learn more, read more, improve your appearance, approach strangers, and take some business risks if you have to. Do anything to become more interesting.

When you’re having a blast, you won’t have time to be lonely or to feel sorry for yourself. And nobody wants to be around a miserable person. I want you to be the type of person that you would like to meet.

How do you make yourself more attractive?

Attraction isn’t a choice.

Do you ever notice this? You see a beautiful girl on the street and you fall in love. You think about her non-stop. Your friends don’t get it. You don’t get it either. Attraction isn’t a choice. Conversely, you might see some attractive female with an ugly walrus. You wonder why. You want to know why? Because she’s attracted to his confidence, attitude, or something else.

Attraction isn’t a choice. You can’t try to be logical or to force someone to like you. It’s not that nice guys finish last, it’s just that everyone on this planet wants what they can’t have.

How can you become more attractive/interesting instantly?

  • Go on trips. Have you been anywhere fun lately? Any stories to tell? Anything to talk about? Go on a trip and come back with legendary tales.
  • Have good stories to tell. Everyone loves a great story-teller. You won’t even have to focus on the content. It’s often the character that makes the story.
  • Work out. You’ll look better and you won’t have any time to feel sorry for yourself. You’ll be constantly pushing yourself. You can check out our other site, Kettlebell Rebels for more details on this one.
  • Learn more stuff. The more you learn, the more you have to talk about. What have you learned lately?

Why would anyone want to be your friend or talk to you? Do you have anything interesting to discuss?

You need to stay busy in your 20s. Life’s too short and this is the best time in life to take control of everything. You can start a business, go on cool trips, and save up tons of money.

What if you’re too busy to even go out? There are other options.

Should you try online dating?

Why not?

You have nothing to lose. I used to mock online dating until I met a buddy that sold me on it. My friend used to love online dating because he had his own business and worked long hours. He didn’t have time to get drunk every weekend or to spend his evenings gallivanting. So he turned to online dating and loved it. The aforementioned buddy who just moved in with his girlfriend, he met her online.

What dating sites should you try?

I’ve noticed that the free sites like Plenty of Fish are a joke. Girls go on there to feel good about themselves. They get validated by horny guys that are throwing out essays full of empty compliments.

My friend even tried an experiment. He convinced one of his female friends to create an account. By the time she logged in for her second appearance, her inbox was flooded. How do you expect to get through?

I suggest that if you want to try online dating that you join one of the sites that charge a premium rate and take the time to ask you more about your personality. These sites will do their best to set you up with someone who you’re compatible with. The rest is on you. I personally have never met anyone off the Internet. Not sure why. But it’s worth a try if you’re bored right now. I’ve heard of many positive experiences.

That’s all that I have to say about the economics of being single compared to dating.

What’s my conclusion on the economics of dating?

Life’s amazing. If you’re single, take the time to improve yourself and to meet as many people as you can.

If you’re taken, don’t forget that you’re still an individual.

I find it absolutely hilarious when personal finance writers debate whether they would date someone in debt. Um, have you ever experienced amazing chemistry before? That’s the last thing that you’re thinking about.

Getting married, now that’s different, you have to discuss everything about money before you go through with it.

I do feel that you spend more money when you’re single only because you go out more often and don’t have anyone to keep you in check. This doesn’t mean that you have to find a partner ASAP. Just a personal observation.

Taken = you hang out with the same person all of the time and plan activities together.

Single = you go out on random nights and on many dates.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker

What did you guys have to say about this dating?

This article was originally published on 04/23/13. We will update it and look it over every year before Valentine’s Day with some new thoughts.

Jordan chimed in with:

“During college, I was single, alone, and in a hell hole. I probably spent more money trying to get friendly with ladies, most of whom wouldn’t give me the time of day. It’s kind of soured my thoughts on dating as a whole, but it’s forced me to be more independent. Whether it’s better to be single or in a relationship for your wallet is one thing, but which is better for your peace of mind is a whole other ball game (Gods, I hate cliches).”

Stephanie had to say:

“Glad someone wrote this! The beauty about getting married or being engaged vs. being single or dating is that the things you invest money in (dinners, vacations, house stuff, etc.) are an investment that will grow something that will last (like memories when you’re older). When you’re throwing money at a casual relationship just to win them over, you never know if that “investment” will last 3 years, 3 months, or forever.”

Bridget joined in with:

“Everything that matters further on, matters at the start. No point in pursuing things with someone you’re incompatible with in one important thing or another.

Besides, I haven’t found a correlation between great sex and a debt, so rest assured you can get the former from a partner that doesn’t have the latter.”

I’m curious to learn more about your situation. You guys single? Married? Dating? Confused? How have the economics worked out for you? Do you spend your life savings on dates?

33 thoughts on “The Economics of Your Love Life in Your 20s — The Article Nobody Else Will Write”

  1. Glad I had my coffee before I stumbled on this one. (Quick note on protected sex – please, please, please use latex (and lots of it) until you replace it with a ring! Safety is sooooo sexy!) And in defence of free dating sites – OKCupid is awesome – it worked for us! Sure ladies need to weed through a swamp of dick shots – but it’s a numbers game whatever site you use, and the price is right. 😉 As a former recipient of the flooded dating site inbox – quality, thoughtful, respectful messages ALWAYS stand out and get noticed.

    I’m 26 and have been married for almost a year – my cost of living is amazingly low – far, far less than it was when I was single. Half a rent, half utilities, half on groceries – and we live with room-mates so all of this is correspondingly lessened. We’re able to live in a way nicer place, and for less money than I ever did alone.

    I think there’s a lot of fun to be had in cheap dates – walks, museums, picnics, happy hours – and I’m also a big believer in splitting everything pretty equally cost-wise until you’re really serious with somebody. When my partner and I started dating we divided dating costs, when we got serious, he started paying for more because I was a student at the time. Now he’s a student, and I pay the lions share.

    It’s nice to know it all comes out in the wash. 🙂

    What an enjoyable read – thanks Martin!

      1. It’s awesome!

        When we were looking to move, another couple we’re close friends with was also looking for a new place, so we decided to pal in together on a trial basis. We rented a big three bedroom apartment – the other couple has one room, and my husband and I have the other two. We all share food, cleaning and utilities expenses. It’s amazing to only have to cook a couple of times a week – and that every now and then someone else cleans the bathroom and takes out the trash. 🙂 Another benefit – built in fun times! Games nights, food battles, movie viewings – we have a lot of fun for free just kicking around the house.

        Sometimes you hear a little something through the paper-thin walls, of course – but you’ve heard of keeping up with the Joneses? 😉 It’s really a blessing in disguise.

        1. Haha I know exactly what you mean. Thanks for being so open!

          That’s actually an amazing setup. Wow. So cool. Couples nights can be really fun. Do you guys have a Wii? I find the most fun activities (aside from drinking) are random Wii games and karaoke.

  2. “I find it absolutely hilarious when personal finance writers debate whether they would date someone in debt. Um, have you ever had great sex before? That’s the last thing that you’re thinking about. Getting married, now that’s different, you have to discuss everything.”

    Don’t you typically date someone before you marry them?

    1. Not me. All or nothing!

      Lol I should have been more clear on the dating. I’m sure that debt becomes an issue further into the relationship, but at the start does anything besides chemistry and how well you get along matter?

      Btw, what’s your story? Single? Married? Confused?

      1. Everything that matters further on, matters at the start. No point in pursuing things with someone you’re incompatible with in one important thing or another.

        Besides, I haven’t found a correlation between great sex and a debt, so rest assured you can get the former from a partner that doesn’t have the latter 😉

        Since confused is an option, I’m going to select that for my description, but I want it on record that I’m pretty certain I’m not married.

        1. Haha aren’t we all a little confused? Don’t be confused for too long! After living with someone for a few months, the government considers you married!

  3. I have to agree with what you are saying. Your spending will always fall back on the kind of lifestyle you have. Depending on your preferences, you budget will play out. Single or taken, you need to be in control of your financials and try your best to not let outside forces apart from responsibilities affect them in a negative way.

  4. Glad someone wrote this! The beauty about getting married or being engaged vs. being single or dating is that the things you invest money in (dinners, vacations, house stuff, etc.) are an investment that will grow something that will last (like memories when you’re older). When you’re throwing money at a casual relationship just to win them over, you never know if that “investment” will last 3 years, 3 months, or forever.

    Add me to the confused pile, please 🙂

    1. Haha good point Stephanie. With a casual relationship, you’re not sure why you’re investing so much time and money. Is it for the short term buzz? Do we think it’s going to develop into something serious?

      Lol another confused one? You living together? I’m technically single, possibly confused haha!

  5. Jordan Rodriguez

    Hey Martin, I’m a writer doing the same thing as you and I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about one day. But seeing as how this is a dating blogpost, I’m going to steer clear of that for now 😉

    This was a great article and it made me reflect a bit on my past relationships. I’m currently single/casual. I have a thing with my ex, but at the same time we’re dwindling towards breaking off for good and re-entering the friend zone.

    I’d hafta say being single is definitely better if you can control your spending. However, going to clubs and what not is a blow to the wallet. Talking to cute girls is hard without liquor, but having something casual takes some of the sting out of rejection. On the other end of that though, spending money on someone every now and then comes with the current situation lest someone feels used. Ya know, paying for dinner here or there. Either way though, someone is going to pay it back, and not necessarily in cash 😛

    Ironically, a lot of this started in my last year(s) of college. During college, I was single, alone, and in a hell hole. I probably spent more money trying to get friendly with ladies, most of whom wouldn’t give me the time of day. It’s kind of soured my thoughts on dating as a whole, but it’s forced me to be more independent. Whether it’s better to be single or in a relationship for your wallet is one thing, but which is better for your peace of mind is a whole other ball game (Gods, I hate cliches).

    That’s all I got.

  6. I love your conclusions on the economics of dating. Especially the debt one, I didn’t even know anything about my current guys finances when we got together. My money is mine, his money is his.

    As for my personal experiences with the economics of dating…
    Been there done that with all of it – dating, marriage, divorce and dating again. Dating was cheap as, coz I am female and guys paid for everything despite me offering to pay. Also, I was Mormon, so no sex before marriage.

    Marriage and divorce both hideously expensive, not just the wedding, but the whole relationship. Last year my ex husband cost me $23,000 which I posted about. I have no desire to repeat marriage. I was married for 8yrs, have 2 beautiful daughters whom I love and am very grateful for all I learned about myself and for the fact that I managed to escape alive (literally, domestic violence was involved.)

    Post marriage has been the best. I focused on myself, my daughters, our goals and dreams. I improved myself and now have exactly what I want.

    And coz everyone assumes I am mid to late thirties when they read about me, I’ll add in that I’m 28 and finally living the life I want.

    1. Thanks for your comment and unique perspective Kylie. I’m happy to hear from someone that has been through the whole gauntlet.

      I’m offended to hear about the abuse. That sort of behavior makes me sick.

      I think we would all love to hear more about your current situation!

  7. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich

    Favorite Valentine’s Day post yet, at least I laughed regularly.

    I think the cheapest state is recently broken up – you don’t eat as much and you become a weird, social hermit that just watches TV and hides in bed during your free time. Or maybe that’s just me. But since it makes my wallet happy, I’m going to stick with it 😉

    1. Hahaha Mel. Very good point. What TV series have you gone through?

      I must warn you. The next stage is filled with lots of fun, adventure, and self-discovery!

  8. How about those who experience life & enjoy themselves on a regular basis without staying at home AND don’t revolve their lives around sex or finding someone because they’re content without either? Those whose passions in life are something a bit more interesting than money or sex or finding someone. Sounds like this article only addresses those who have an issue with finding out what they truly enjoy. Those who revolve their lives around finding someone seem boring because they don’t do anything else. Plus, getting to know someone can involve outdoor activities like biking, hiking, going on adventures that don’t really require much money. A lot of that seems to be lost in this article and I really hope that this is mostly for fun, not what you actually think and do.

  9. Also, it says the article nobody else will write but this mentality is very common so the title confuses me. This mentality has been the mainstream view for many years.

    Why does single equal going on many dates? I know people who don’t really go on dates. They hang out with people they enjoy being around regularly and if they really like someone beyond that they may go out with each other on a date. These ideals seem very old fashioned and again, not what I’d consider “the article nobody else will write” but more like “an article that describes a mainstream lifestyle that is quite outdated.” I’d like to know what you think about my critique on this issue.

    1. Thanks for your input Jingles. I can only speak from my own personal experiences and those that I deal with. I’m glad that you brought these points up.

  10. My husband and I were married a week after I graduated from college in May 2005. Starting off life with two incomes and living on just one helped us accumulate what we have today (one paid off rental home, our dream home with a mortgage around $200k, and a couple hundred thousand in retirement accounts). This only works if you live off of less than the couple makes AND both people in the couple are natural savers. Thankfully we have stayed that way…

      1. We’re just riding this horse until it bucks us. We like self-employment and hope it continues. But when/if it fades away, he will probably look into becoming a public librarian and continue reffing. I would continue working online for whatever was left and look into expanding my pet sitting/pet services side hustle.

  11. Another very great article for me personally I find I spend more money when I’m In a relationship, or a casual dating fling with someone, my favourite parts of this article”when you’re in a relationship you have to buy everything in two” so true and that adds up, another great read Mr. Dasko

  12. I really enjoyed reading this post and loved how deep down in the core it got. I have noticed being single has saved me a ton of money. Although I am a female and the stereotype is that men pay for everything, it was quite different in my past relationship. Everything went right down the middle and we went out a lot. Being single for the past year showed me how much money I saved on almost everything, especially not having to buy gifts. I do believe they both have their perks!

    1. Love to hear that you’ve been saving money. Thanks for the comment Alexis. Do you find yourself going out more that you’re single now? Did you eat out more when dating?

  13. I just recently (a year ago) got a girlfriend and I think the spending has increased a decent amount. The reason for this is because I enjoy doing the same things I used to do but so does my girlfriend so my expenses have doubled. I think it’s imperative for your partner and you to do things together and if that costs extra money then so be it. Thanks for the post.

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