“He probably couldn’t afford to take me out another night,” I concluded.

For a split second this revelation eased the anxiety that had mounted in the early morning hours as I stared up at the ceiling of the Soho Airbnb on my last trip to New York two years ago. Grabbing my phone off the nightstand, I typed in Glassdoor.com and searched the salary of freelance set design assistants.

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As the search results loaded, I thought, “Yes, that’s it!” A sick satisfaction momentarily replaced heartache after hours of contemplating why he hadn’t texted me back the night before. In 2014 “ghosting” didn’t yet have a formal name, allowing us all to hang on a bit tighter to false hope.

Believing that he didn’t have the budget to treat an out-of-towner to another night of $80 tapas plus drinks felt less painful than the idea of him secretly having a girlfriend or not finding our evening together as magical as my imagination made it out to be.

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However, looking back on the girl who sat there in the Airbnb that was probably out of her price range in the newly purchased velvet romper that was 100% unnecessary, I’m not sure she technically needed to be spending another night out either. While she had a reliable paycheck that could cover extra trip expenses, she should’ve have been saving every penny to live the big city life someday too.

I Can’t Afford to Date Right Now

Now if someone were to type “part-time dog walker” into Glassdoor.com they might discover why dating isn’t at the top of my list either. They would also know the reason why I cook every meal, ride my bike when I can and haven’t replaced my liquid foundation in 2 months. I’ve turned into a child whose parents pay for the dentist, as well as a watered down version of my mother in the 90’s. Last week I wore a fanny pack into Smart & Final and asked about any “special sales.”

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It’s not cute.

Between paying 4 times my Arizona rent and spending every second figuring out how to do so, I’ve deleted Bumble and slashed social activities to anything within a $5 Uber radius. Because of this, dating has not just taken a backseat, it’s been thrown in the trunk and left to linger there, perhaps until an out-of-town friend is picked up from the airport. “Oh yeah, I forgot this existed.”

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One might think that a girl doesn’t incur any expenses due to dating. Though the last guy I went out with experienced an uncanny ROI, having spent only $3 on parking plus a donut, I recognize this is not the norm and feel for guys who easily spend over $100 per date. However, while the costs are less, they still add up to an amount I can’t currently justify.

Let me explain.

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How Much It Costs Me to “Date” Someone for a Week

This is an estimate which consists of 2 hypothetical hang outs that are based off the 2 guys I have liked in LA so far. Justifications are provided below the chart.

  • Total hours = 22 ($264 worth of dog walks/freelance)
  • $$ spent = $112
  • Total time + money = $376

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Yes, this exercise is entirely hypothetical and the costs could be significantly less or more. However, there are some expenses that are incurred prior to meeting if one is actively dating, including Uber rides, coffees and drinks during failed dates. Then following this week, there are certainly additional expenses depending on the outcome.

Costs of the Aftermath

  • If I like them and they like me: Birth control ($50/month), appearance (tans, new clothes, etc.), Uber rides, on and on
  • If I like them and they don’t like me: Nightly wine ($60/week) and conversations with my parents and friends on the phone resulting in missed productivity because I’m sulking
  • If I don’t like them and they do or don’t like me: $0

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Open but Not Seeking

Deep down I know that New York Assistant Set Designer didn’t ghost due to budgetary reasons, but I wouldn’t totally fault him if he did. While he could’ve texted before the day I left, instead of being a sketchy asshole, I understand the need to conserve resources. Likewise, I am aware that by saying I can’t afford dating, I’m sending out the wrong energy which will only result in less money and less dates.

Though Bumble is suspended and social activities are minimal, I’m still open to dating. As long as he’s cool with fanny packs, likes me sans-spray tans and brings the tequila if I cook the tacos.


Photos by laphotos.co with help from Destiny @ destinylalane.com