THE DAT­ING GAME

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - SO­PHIE ELSWORTH PER­SONAL FI­NANCE WRITER

So how much does it cost to plan the per­fect first date?

SINGLETONS on the hunt for true love are spend­ing a small for­tune to woo a new lover and are go­ing to ex­treme lengths to look per­fect on a first date.

While dat­ing can hurt the heart and the hip pocket, it’s far from stop­ping daters from splash­ing out in the hope of find­ing romance.

The ING Di­rect Cost of Dat­ing re­port has re­vealed the hope­lessly sin­gle spend on av­er­age $79 on the first date and al­most a third of those fly­ing solo go on a first date once a month. That’s $948 a year.

It also showed chivalry is far from dead — more than half of men (56 per cent) are keep­ing tra­di­tion real and are pre­pared to pick up the bill at the end of the night.

And for the Romeos out there, their largesse is ap­pre­ci­ated by more than a quar­ter of women (26 per cent) who ex­pect their date to cough up and pay.

On­line dat­ing ser­vice RSVP’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Dave Hey­sen said how much you spend on a first date isn’t key, in­stead “it’s the thought that counts”.

“Go­ing to McDon­ald’s or get­ting a Groupon voucher for Pizza Hut won’t cut it,’’ he said.

“For guys, tak­ing a girl to a footy match isn’t prob­a­bly the best start un­less in their pro­file they have said they love a team, so you have to think about what both peo­ple en­joy.”

He sug­gests avoid­ing lav­ish restau­rants and said there are no prob­lems with “go­ing Dutch” on the first date and split­ting the bill.

Re­la­tion­ship psy­chol­o­gist Peter Charleston, dat­ing ex­pert on TV show Seven Year Switch, said pick­ing the right lo­ca­tion is key and some top­ics are taboo.

“Pick some­where where there aren’t too many dis­trac­tions be­cause if it’s a first date you need to get to know each other. A lit­tle bit of quiet and less noise helps,” Mr Charleston said.

“First dates are all about try­ing to get rid of the nerves quickly as you get to know each other. And don’t keep talk­ing about your ex, that’s a big turn-off and shows the new per­son (he or she) doesn’t stand a chance.”

He also urges daters to steer clear of re­veal­ing what school they went to, where their fam­ily is from and to avoid name drop­ping.

Restau­rant su­per­vi­sor An­nie Croke, 23, and her now boyfriend Alex Kelso, 23, had an un­usual first date where she paid for the lot.

“For our first date I paid for ev­ery­thing be­cause Alex for­got his wal­let,” she said.

“We went out to the mar­kets and went out for lunch and then we got an Uber and I paid for that too, but then we went out a few days later and Alex paid for din­ner.

“Over­all it’s an ex­pen­sive re­la­tion­ship.”

The re­port showed one in four Aus­tralians are pre­pared to spend $100 or more on pre­date prepa­ra­tions, from buy­ing a new out­fit to get­ting their hair done.

They are also pre­pared to buy a new pair of shoes and spend on makeup, man­i­cures, pedi­cures and even get their teeth whitened.

With many dat­ing sites and apps avail­able, Mr Hey­sen said those that charge a fee of­ten at­tract the more se­ri­ous dater and weed out singletons look­ing for some­thing more ca­sual.

An­nie Croke and Alex Kelso. Pic­ture: Tony Gough

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