Millennials Hate Dinner Dates — and the Reason Why is Actually Quite Smart

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Millennials are smart.

Before you scoff so hard snot flies out of your nose, let me explain.

Although some people swear chivalry is dead, millennials are doing dating right. And yes, their version of dating includes swiping right or left on their phones — but they’re saving money while doing it.

Why First Dates are Getting Expensive For Millennials

According to a recent report from MarketWatch, millennials refuse to go out to dinner on the first date.

The rather “unscientific” (but in my opinion, oh so totally accurate) article stated only 7 in 10,000 messages in a recent OKCupid survey suggested going out to dinner.

Why? Well, aside from the obvious fact that they’re awkward, millennials just don’t want to waste their time or money.

The article quotes April Masini, an etiquette and relationship expert, who blames technology for the rising cost of playing the dating field.

According to Masini, online dating gives “serial daters” the opportunity to schedule first dates quicker, and it’s this increase in first dates that can drain checking accounts.

It’s true, though: According to an article in GQ, college students can expect to drop $50-$100 on a date, while older adults spend $150-$250.  

Imagine doing that more than once a month. Ouch.

So yeah, millennials’ idea of chivalry isn’t dead — what’s nicer than agreeing to not throw one another into financial pits of despair the first time they meet?

(Not much, considering student loans are already doing that for them. *wink emoji*)

Why Dinner Dates Suck

The rest of the internet seems to agree that not only are dinner dates are horribly expensive, but they’re also terribly taboo in today’s day and age.

An entire article in Cosmopolitan rants about dinner dates being outdated. It says eating is just too intimate for a first-time meet up, and the author “would literally rather go on a date to a landfill and roll in trash.” SAME.

The Art of Charm also chimes in, stating that going to dinner on a first date is “too much too soon,” and that they’re “just about the worst first date you can go on.” Where is the lie?

We don’t have to take their word for it, either — after taking a quick survey in The Penny Hoarder headquarters and from my Facebook friends, first dates involving sitting down and eating dinner are known to go downhill fast.

I mean, imagine being like this Penny Hoarder, who sat down and had her date start off with these romantic six words:

“My IQ is off the charts.”

Or you could be this Penny Hoarder, whose experience was so cringe-worthy I felt the need to hug her after I heard it:

“I had a date with an OKCupid match, it was fine. But then a few days later he brought me a giant plush sheep as an “Easter gift”. First of all, I’m an atheist. Second of all, [WTF]?”

And, last but not least, some people are just flat out weird. One of my Facebook friends shared this:

“Met a guy on Tinder (of course), and we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. He got upset when I ordered from the “skinny” menu, because he said it meant he had to order something healthy as well. Which it didn’t. He acted like a child, playing with the butter, and using his tongue to move the straw around in his drink, rather than his hands. He also barely spoke the entire time, and then made me stand in the rain after, even though he had an umbrella. Still tried to hold my hand, though.”

Cheap (or Free!) First Date Alternatives

If I’ve scared you enough to hide under a rock for the rest of your life, please don’t. There’s actually such a thing as a cheap or even free date.

Need some ideas?

Here are a few — and yes, you can easily escape them if things head south:

  • Go for a walk in the park. Going for a walk in the park together is not only free, but if things get weird, you can easily walk the opposite direction.
  • Go happy hour hopping. Hit up a few different bars or restaurants during happy hour. Not only are drink specials usually pretty cheap, but you don’t have to go to the next round if it’s a bummer.
  • Go on a bike ride together. If you live in a major city, you may have access to a bike share. For a few dollars an hour, you can rent a bike — and better yet, if you already have one, it’ll be free! Plus, bikes mean quick getaways. C’ya!

Not seeing one that piques your interest? No problem — check out our post on 25 Fun, Budget-Friendly Date Ideas That Don’t Feel Cheap.  

Good luck!

Your Turn: What do you think about going to dinner on a first date?

Kelly Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.