If You're Looking For Love Right Now, You're Probably 'Infla-Dating'

Experts explain the trend and offer some fun yet affordable date ideas.

Going on a lot of dates can get expensive quickly — the dinners, the drinks, the gas or ride services all add up. Factor inflation into the equation, and now your bank account is really taking a hit.

The dating app Plenty of Fish recently released its annual list of dating trends for the coming year. It surveyed more than 8,000 users and found that 48% of single millennials and Gen Zers have suggested going on more budget-friendly dates. The app has dubbed this trend “infla-dating” — or going on less expensive dates due to the rising prices of everything from food to fuel to other everyday essentials.

“Inflation concerns are dominating the headlines, and our data shows that singles are feeling the pain of higher prices,” Plenty of Fish dating expert Kate MacLean told HuffPost in an email.

Consumer prices increased 8.2% year over year in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A CNBC poll from earlier this year found that, due to higher prices, 53% of Americans are cutting back on dining out and 39% are cutting back on driving.

“It’s no wonder why singles are opting for walks in the parks over a swanky restaurant date night,” MacLean said.

"Infla-dating" is one of Plenty Of Fish's top dating trends of the coming year.
tim scott via Getty Images
"Infla-dating" is one of Plenty Of Fish's top dating trends of the coming year.

Dating expert and matchmaker Jasmine Diaz of the Diaz Dating Group told HuffPost that today’s economic landscape has made her clients more thoughtful about who they choose to go out with, taking into account whether the person will be worth the time and money.

Before the pandemic, “singles took more risks,” Diaz said. “Going on multiple lunch and dinner dates throughout the month was the norm.”

But since the coronavirus pandemic and inflation, dating looks “quite different,” she said.

“Not only are they assessing partners for COVID risk, but they’re also making economic assessments. Is this person worth a $150 dinner? Or should we do a cost-effective coffee date?” Diaz added.

Dating coach Lily Womble, founder of Date Brazen, told HuffPost that the infla-dating trend can be a good thing — and not just for your wallet. Going on less expensive dates lowers the stakes a bit, which takes some of the pressure off.

“Less pressure can mean more fun, deeper connection, or — if the date is bad — a quicker exit,” she said.

Cheaper dates take the financial pressure off, too, “especially the pressure of, ‘Who is paying here?’” Womble said. “And it requires more creativity.”

It’s easy to make a fancy date feel special. But a more affordable date can actually tell you more about this person and whether you’d be compatible, Womble added.

Some less expensive date ideas include:

  • Going on a scenic walk or hike
  • Grabbing coffee at a cute café
  • Attending a free local event
  • Going to a dog park with your pups
  • Hitting up happy hour
  • Trying a hole-in-the-wall restaurant
  • Having a picnic
  • Dancing and drinks at a dive bar
  • Bike riding
  • Doing a meditation class
  • Checking out your local farmer’s market
  • Planning an at-home movie night with popcorn and candy
  • Playing chef in your own kitchen
  • Visiting botanical gardens

“Singles are looking for authentic connections, and you don’t need to spend a ton of money to make someone feel special,” MacLean said. “If your date can’t see beyond the price tag, they probably aren’t the one for you anyway!”

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