Placing a Value on Love: How Much Does Love Cost?

Dating is time-consuming, especially if you have dated someone for years before the two of you call it quits or get married.  Since the saying is “time is money”, how much does dating cost?  A funny joke that pushed to my cell phone is below. 

Son: Dad, how much does it cost to get married?
Father:  I don’t know, I’m still paying. 

The conversation could have very well been between mother and daughter.  The joke puts a comical spin on what we go through to date or to remain married.  I tried to find an article, journal, anything that would give me some insight as to how much it cost to be in love-I will use love and dating interchangeably for this post. I found one webpage that talked about the cost of dating.  Some guy posted a question about the cost of dating and someone replied.  The person that posted the response provided the following numbers.
How much does dating a girlfriend cost on average per month?

Average Monthly Cost:

  • 8 inexpensive meals = $128
  • 1 expensive meal = $120
  • 20 alcoholic drinks = $120
  • 4 x 2 cinema tickets = $68
  • 20 roadside coffees = $60
  • 2 normal gifts = $100
  • 1 flower bouquet = $24

Total: $500        $250 per person

The numbers are relative to the situation.  I think that the above items are in line with my budget, but for someone else, the dollar amounts can be higher or lower.  This cost represents entertainment.  But what is your real investment?  Think of the actual cost of dating as being a combination of dollars and time.   A closer estimation might look like the figures below.

Actual Monthly Cost of Dating- Living Separate:

  • 8 inexpensive meals = drive-time/wait to be seated/dinner = 19 hours
  • 1 expensive meal = drive-time/wait to be seated/dinner = 2.3 hours
  • 20 alcoholic drinks = drive-time/wait to be seated/dinner = 2.3 hours
  • 4 x 2 cinema tickets = drive-time/movie = 12 hours
  • 20 roadside coffees = drive-time/wait to be seated = 23 hours
  • 2 normal gifts = $100 = selection process and pickup online = 40 minutes
  • 1 flower bouquet = 10 minutes
  • Long talks at the apartment = 30 hours
  • Dinner talks 15 hours
  • Walks in the park = 10 hours
  • Visits to see the parents = once a month = 9 hours
  • Visits to the your significant- other’s apartment = 180 hours

Total:  303 monthly hours         Annual Investment: $72,720

Actual Monthly Cost of Dating- Living Together:

Total: 8760 hours in a year                 Annual Investment: $175,200

The above numbers are obtained by assigning a value of twenty- dollars to an hour.  If you feel that your time is worth more or less, adjust the figures.  Love really is  a full-time job.

With love being such a large investment, shouldn’t you be smart about where you invest your time and money?  Dating takes on an entirely new meaning if you move your perspective from love to money.  Gold diggers are viewed as smart investors and not money hungry leeches using this model.  I certainly looked at earning potential during my dating years as I searched for my wife.  I have never talked to her about it, but I’m sure she did the same thing.  Stopping here after making the point, time is money, would imply that you should be a gold digger or at least that finances should be a factor while you are dating.  Yes, potential income should absolutely be a factor in your dating if you cannot support a family using just your potential income-but you don’t have to be a gold digger.  Potential income for this article is defined as your current or future earning potential. 

If you stop with potential income, you would be ignoring the emotional costs of dating.  How much are you investing emotionally? In this area, there are some heavy cost and substantial returns.  This is the area that Gold Diggers can lose a substantial amount of their investment or see quadruple gains.  It depends on the relationship.  If you are emotionally supported, happy, and rich, you are seeing big returns on your investment.  You are smiling ear to ear with satisfaction.  You have it all money, happiness, support, and emotional stability.  If you are emotionally unsupported, unhappy, and rich; well you are losing your investment if you aren’t already bankrupt.   Consider the cost of emotional strain.  The emotionally drained rich pay for therapists, doctor bills resulting from emotional or physical abuse, shopping sprees, exotic trips to forget their misery, and use their money to substitute emotional happiness with things.  But in the end, they are losing their investment, even if they somehow convince themselves that they are happy in between alcoholic drinks and drug hits.  The emotionally strained that are not rich are also losing their investment, they just have a harder time financing their therapy.  Gold diggers that hit it big may see the above emotional strain as being worth the investment.  If you are not a gold digger then you should be careful about the costs of the emotional investment side of dating.  Can you think of anyone paying big dividends because of the emotional side of love?  The cases range from a significant-other being emotionally unavailable to having transparent feelings; to your significant-other being emotionally abusive to having a “it can’t get any better than this” level of emotional support.  The emotional investment side of dating is important, and you should monitor your return in this area.

You would think that after looking at the entertainment, time, and emotional investment side of dating that you would have considered the actual cost of dating.  You haven’t.  There is still the cost analysis for the stakeholders.  Are there children, family, or close friends involved?   You may be saying that the only stakeholders that matter are the children.  I can agree.  I mentioned family and friends for the total picture effect, but I do agree that the main stakeholders to think about are the children, both in-common and step-children.  I don’t think I have to go into this in great detail.  The good side of the coin is that the step-parent thing is working.  The bad side of the coin is that the step-parent thing is not working.  I have heard both good and bad stories about the cost of love for step-parents and how the children are impacted. 

The cost of love is unknown.  At times the cost of love is so great that it ends tragically.  I believe that love is worth “life” when I think of how I love my children.  I know that my love for them is unconditionally worth life.  However, I find it hard for me to pay such a high cost for love beyond my children.  My father, sister, brother; the option is definitely on the table, but I need to know the conditions.  But outside of the family, I don’t think love is worth such a high cost; life.  In fact, I don’t think love should cost anything.  I hope that you are not upset with me for having you read this post just to hear me say at the end, “I don’t think love should cost anything.”  The great stories of love from Jesus giving his life for the world to the mother who dies after saving her child from a flood are not stories about cost.  They are stories about what one that loves you, who truly loves you, will do for you.  Love does cost, but I don’t think True Love costs.  Corinthians states that  4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  There is nothing mentioned in Corinthians about love costing anything.  The search for love costs.  When you find just love, but fall short of finding true love, it costs.  However, if you find true love as outlined by Corinthians, love is a gift.

In closing, when you consider what you are investing in love, dating, maintaining a marriage, however you refer to it; true love is priceless.  You are investing your trust, your hopes and dreams, your sanity, life itself.   There aren’t many things in the world considered to be priceless.  True love is priceless.  Searching for true love is expensive.  I hope that you find true love during your search.  As you search for true love, enjoy the pursuit of it.  You may never find true love, so at least enjoy the pursuit of it.  And if you find a “ I don’t like twenty-percent of your habits” versus “I like eighty-percent of your habits” it may be wise to see how that particular love turns out, depending on what the twenty-percent faults are.  When the prophecies, the tongues, and the knowledge pass away and you are left with just the quality of the love that you found, will you have a warm smile tugging at your face because the person standing before you was worth the investment?  I hope the answer for you is yes. 

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