Hanging Out: The Cheapest Date?

There has been some quiet on the Facebook Dating Project front because I’ve been dating someone. Or have I? Dating seems to have evolved into something much more casual. It’s called "hanging out," which used to be something you did with your friends, but these days it could constitute the beginning of a relationship with your future spouse.

Two friends set me up with a guy through the Facebook Dating Project. I previously wrote about him in June.

Dating, as I define it, is asking someone out on a consistent basis for the purposes of getting to know them. For all of the bending of social rules in the past decade, dating still falls primarily on the man from a financial perspective. There is an expectation that a guy will call you, ask you out and follow up by planning an evening in advance. He’ll pick you up, take you to a nice restaurant for dinner, take care of the check and then take you somewhere after: an art gallery, a movie, a concert. It’s an evening. He’s invested in you. He’s taken the time to plan something and take care of the details both logistically and financially.

As this column has talked about before, dating shouldn’t break your bank and women don’t expect men to spend a fortune. But we do want to see some effort. There is something to be said for putting on your best self and impressing this person whom you are attempting to get to know.

Hanging out is much easier on guys. They don’t have to plan, and in most cases, they don’t have to pay. A hanging out scenario can consist of the girl going over to the guy’s house for a bottle of wine, a Netflix and spaghetti and meatballs. From a purely financial perspective, the guy wins in the hanging out scenario. He invests little effort and zero cash. Does the girl lose? Not necessarily. Hanging out also has its benefits.

I jumped into my last relationship too quickly so I was OK with a slower, more casual evolution in regards to The Captain (his new moniker based on my last column). When we see each other it doesn’t follow any of the "traditional" patterns of dating. He doesn’t always call first to ask me out. We both make suggestions. He likes to camp and asked me if I’d join him. I like Twilight and asked him to take me to see Eclipse. He likes Italian so I offered to cook dinner. We split the cost of the evenings instead of him paying for everything.

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