Ms Zi You FI Dating
Self

Dating while pursuing FI – and who pays on dates?

And today, one of my favourite topics, that I have a love/hate relationship with: dating. I know some of you love dating, and others are struggling for decent dates. For me, in addition to the challenges of dating as a feminist, how awkward is it to date as someone on the FI path?

Are dating and pursuing FI easily compatible?

Now there is a loaded question if I’ve ever seen one. Many, many studies and you know, plain common sense have shown that if two people share a home, day to day costs can get cheaper.  Housing costs alone are a big part of most people’s expenses – certainly my mortgage my single biggest expense – and by combining housing many costs reduce. Obviously, this comes with the massive caveat *klaxon alert* that the people have to be on the same page spending wise.

So in terms of pursuing FI, it seems you can easily conclude that a partner on the same financial wavelength would be a good investment? Since the core root of FI is to reduce unnecessary costs, it seems to share your living space with someone you love having around is a win-win. But getting to that elusive partner stage involves going through a dating and selection phase.

Read more:

When dating becomes spendy

However, if you are starting from a single position like I, you have to date and go out to try out suitable partners. Finding someone that ticks your boxes, and likewise for them is no mean feat. And this dating exercise does involve the spending of money. If you are someone who doesn’t spend that much on going out, this cost can be challenging to swallow. As for safety reasons, these are going to be dates in public places, especially for first dates.

Who pays?

And then we get into the divisive question of who should pay on a date? There are many models for to select from:

  • The inviter should always pay, as custom
  • The man should always pay, as tradition
  • You should split it, go dutch
  • The modern man should pay, as gender pay gap
  • The higher earner should pay, hello fairness

Personally, I’m a fan of keeping things equitable and splitting things – going dutch is my dating model.

Less spendy dates as a filter

Ms Ziyou Dating 3

As the first date moves to subsequent dates, I’ve found it useful to see if your date ideas are compatible, activity and cost wise. Nothing is as a good a filter as someone who loves doing the same hobbies as you. For me, that is walking, travelling, exploring, museums, running and books.

I award bonus points for men who love doing the frugal ones as well, who appreciate things like walks in the park and home cooked meals. It’s a good test of how well you get on if you can make all sort of things a fun adventure – meaning it’s the company you keep that really matters.

Compromise on things that don’t really matter to you

Indeed, one thing that I found it hard to do, but has really helped me open up the dating pool is compromising. People tend to have lots of hard stops, especially on physical attributes. And yes, I was certainly guilty of this before. You get a lot of people hung up on items like height, build, hair, education and even their job. And yet these are the filters on most dating apps so you can automatically exclude potential dates based on these characteristics.

The fussier you are the longer it will take

Following on from above and compromising, a random interjection on finding a suitable mate – as I’m sure we all have seen, some people seem to jump from one relationship to the next. They appear to want – actually scratch that need –  a partner, and don’t seem particularly fussy.  These people have no problem attracting mates.

But I fall on the other side of the spectrum. I’m much happier being single until the perfect man for me comes along. And I think that is something we all need to understand – if you want someone niche, it will take you longer to find them. The old wider you cast the net comes into play here.

But the better match you get overall Ms ZiYou Compatible Dating

In my experience, it is rewarding waiting for the right match. But this does involve many bad dates, and many more just not right for me dates.  I also found reviewing the not perfect dates useful and seeing what I could do differently next time. Were there a few incompatibility warning flags I missed?

FI and dating

In summary, dating is what you make it. You can choose to spend loads of money on dates or keep to your more frugal spending habits to attract someone on the same wavelength spending wise.

I don’t think there is ever a right answer that suits all situations on who pays on dates, but when you aren’t spending much it becomes less of an issue to overcome.

Over to you

  • What are your thoughts?
  • Do you feel dating is compatible with FI?
  • Who do you think should pay on dates?
  • Are you looking for a niche partner?

Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.

16 comments on “Dating while pursuing FI – and who pays on dates?

    1. Indeed – I think it’s as expensive as you make it.

      And actually, I think the whole point is virtue signalling? Putting your values and belief out on a pedestal?

  1. I think one should definitely “go Dutch” on dates. I sort of get why some people say the inviter should pay but 9/10 this means the man paying. Interested to know whether you’ve done the asking much in your dating adventures?

    On the whole, I think that if you’re interested enough in someone to accept a date you should be willing to pay your share. And if they want to go somewhere expensive that you wouldn’t have chosen then, as you say, it’s a good compatibility filter.

  2. It’s a long time since I had to “date”, in fact before dating apps were invented or it had become normal to meet people online instead of in person.

    Having read one of your previous articles on this subject, I wondered why it’s so important to you that you meet somebody with the same interests and opinions about everything. Don’t we develop more as people when we move outside our comfort zones and we’re exposed to different views and experiences? Now, I’m not saying you should start a relationship with a chauvinist, but wouldn’t you like to keep some activities for yourself and only share the ones you’re both interested in? That seems like a healthier balance to me.

    Specifically on dating when pursuing FI, I’m not sure that’s such a problem either unless you completely pool resources. I’ve always been frugal and saved for the future, even before I’d heard of FI and started reading blogs about it. Where I’d been studious and conservative, my now partner had lived more footloose and fancy free, and was in quite a bit of debt when we met. However, we’ve both brought so much to our relationship that I don’t think that financial impact has set me back from the bigger picture of life happiness as she encourages me to do more, has a larger circle of friends and social capital and so on. In fact, even in financial terms the nest egg which had been mainly financed from my side has enabled us to take risks and build a successful business which I’m sure I would have been too risk averse to start on my own.

    One last thought – an introvert like me has a really tough time “dating”, which feels like a job interview really. There’s a real danger that somebody who is good at superficial talking is going to get all the second dates, and the quieter thinker will lose out. That was my experience from what I remember anyway.

    1. Hi David, thanks for commenting.

      That’s a very good point on interests and opinions. Personally, I don’t think a partner has to be 100% aligned, but a good deal of alignment creates common bonds and ways of thinking. I don’t think a relationship where you are permanently out of your comfort zone would last too well, at least not for me, although I know some people manage it.

  3. Dear Ms. ZiYou, thank you so much for diving more deeply into the dating while on FI topic! It’s definitely one of my favorite topics too, but I’ll try to keep it short 🙂 I do believe that FI can be an impediment to dating, particularly if it’s the woman who’s on FI (like you or I) and not the man, because it runs counter to a very deeply ingrained societal script: i.e. the woman’s supposed to be the spendy frivolous one, and the man the provider. I don’t think that should stop you from trying, of course, but at least in my experience it’s been discouraging to see so many men totally unable to be with a woman who doesn’t need them financially. It’s almost as if they feel emasculated.

    I’m older as you know so maybe a bit more traditional, but I think the man should pay for the 1st date, but then go Dutch for all subsequent dates. That said, I completely agree it’s more fair to go Dutch every time, but again, I feel like the men I meet expect to pay and feel uncomfortable when I insist we split it.

    I’m definitely looking for a niche partner. Like you, I’m not interested in being with someone I don’t feel totally passionate about, I’d rather be by myself or with good friends instead. In the past I did meet someone who “got” me on pretty much all levels, with only enough difference to keep it interesting 🙂 so I know it’s possible and nothing else can truly match that (goodness knows I tried! :). I do realize, being older and FI, the chances of me meeting someone like that again are very slim, but that’s ok. I think there are worse things in life than never marrying.

    As a side note, I thought David’s comment about introversion and how that makes dating difficult was very insightful. I’m an introvert too, and I completely agree. In the US there’s a famous author called Anne Lamott who just got married herself, for the 1st time, at 65, and she attributed this late age to the fact that she’s an introvert and never wanted to go out. The fact that she did find the love of her life despite this does give me hope 🙂

    1. Hi FF – that’s some interesting experiences there, where men need women to need them financially and provide. I know I would struggle with a man like that.

      And yay for niche partners – they are certainly the way forward. And I so agree, there are many, many worse things that never marrying – most of the happiest people I know are single. I’ve just looked up Anne’s story and I love how the matchmaking service found her the perfect match. Such a sweet story.

  4. Going dutch is my way of dating too. Although if the guy absolutely insists on a first date and I intend to see him again, then I’ll say I’ll pay on the second date.

    Once in a stable relationship, it’s a kind of take turns system.

    I haven’t been on any new dates since being on the FIRE path, but I can imagine it being spendy as you go out to eat more often, spend money on outings, experiences together etc.

    Good if you can find someone who can derive enjoyment from things which don’t cost too much.

    Anyway, not looking forward to seeing what ‘dinosaurs’ I’ll meet when I begin a quest to date at 50 – think I need to go down the toy boy route!

    1. Cool to see you are also a fan of going dutch and taking turns paying.

      So do you think you’ll start dating when on the FIRE path? And do you think by your age clocking over you’ll attract a different type of man? And there’s nothing at all wrong with a toy boy or two …… go Weenie!

      1. I have dated while I’ve been on the FIRE path but I didn’t class it as a new ‘dating’ as it was with an on-off (definitely off) ex… I do think I will attract a different type of man, what kind, I’ll let you know when I get round to it!

        I’ve never dated anyone older than me, so perhaps I need to remain true to form! How young is too young though, that’s the quandry! 🙂

  5. My husband and I met in HS, so I have to live the dating life vicariously through this post! One thing to think about is that even when you’re past the dating stage (i.e., married or living together) some couples don’t mix finances even then so who pays for what still comes up! My husband I commingled our finances from the get go, but I know longtime married couples who still keep completely separate accounts.

    1. Hi Caroline, lovely to hear from you. Wow, you have been together a long time.

      And indeed it seems there are many different ways to work out finances in a couple, being very independant I’d probably keep my finances separate for a long, long time. But you never know, things could change.

What do you think?