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Too broke to eat? Join a dating site

An article described a new way to save: Signing up for online dating and choosing men who are willing to pick up the dinner tab. It didn't go over well.

By Karen Datko Dec 16, 2011 5:11PM

What's a young single woman in Manhattan to do when she's struggling on a $45,000 salary, and rent alone consumes $1,475 a month?


Why not let someone else pick up the tab for dinner? Not mac 'n' cheese from a box, but sumptuous meals at some of New York City's most popular restaurants.


Using serial dating as a savings plan was described by Business Insider:

(She) started eating out five nights a week using a rotation of different guys she met through the dating site. (She) kept things simple -- no more than five dates with the same guy.

She and her roommates kept track of their dates with a spreadsheed, the story said.

(She) went from easily spending $500 a month on dinners alone to having someone else dole out an average of $60-plus per night. She also stopped eating lunch and opted for a light breakfast to save even more.

Frugal! Her estimated savings in a month was $1,200.


The article prompted a firestorm. The comments left at Business Insider got so bad, comments were turned off, and the woman's name was changed. One example: "My mother would have called this girl a name - I can not print here."


Jezebel called her a "jerk." It "isn't cool to make anyone believe that you're potentially interested in a relationship when all you're really after is free food and booze."


New York Observer referred to this type of savings plan as "food hooking." Post continues below.

Jen Doll at the Village Voice said such behavior makes it tougher for everyone who is trying to find a real relationship.

It's hard enough out there; we don't need this sort of crap that makes everyone suspicious and jaded and fraught with doubts and indecision. God, please say we're not this awful.

Washington Post personal-finance columnist Michelle Singletary offered this view: "Do I even have to comment on this deceitful, trampy money-saving swindle?"


Hold the phone. The woman in the Business Insider story later told ABC News, "I never went into for money." The serial dating lasted just over a month, about 30 dates in all. That was two years ago. She lives in California now and has a boyfriend.


She said the men she dated always offered to pay, but she would have split the check if she'd been asked to. From ABC News:

"I'm a traditional girl," she said. "And to me, I feel a part of dating is if a guy wants to take me out, what's wrong with him taking me out to a dinner and me expecting for the bill to be paid?"

That sounds more like a harmless adventure -- sampling a more glamorous life than she could afford. About a month of almost-nightly dating does not a savings plan make.


What can we gather from this?

  • People you meet through dating websites might not be that into you.
  • The tradition of the man picking up the check on the first date is alive and well. 
  • Be prepared to pay your half -- just in case.
  • Singletary also offered advice to men: "Split the check, at least after the first date."

More on MSN Money:

Dec 19, 2011 2:10PM
Where I live in the Bay Area we call such women "dinner whores". This behavior seems fairly common among women who hail from Eastern Europe. My advice to single men: Never go to dinner for the first few dates. Meet for coffee first, then meet for lunch, then do some outdoor activities. After three dates you can gauge a woman's intentions. If she insists on dinner for the first date you can assume she is a "dinner whore".
Dec 18, 2011 6:55AM

Only TWO men in my life are permitted to pay for dinner or anything else: my child and a good male friend who is not a boyfriend. ( I gave a third of my savings to my loved adult child long ago.) No one else is allowed to pay. In all other cases, I pay for myself, cover the tip for both and often pay for both. Not a control issue or having lots of money:  I just  don't want anything from anybody remotely unwilling or ungracious. Most men (and I) are quite happy with that. A rich lawyer friend took me to a $5 salad bar for my birthday after insisting he wanted and wanted to really treat me! 


Before coming to the US, I was told many, even rich, US men do not like paying for women or helping with bags. It may be true or not. I try to take men and women as they are and do free events with those who are wary of spending.


Anybody who says Oh, this is so expensive after inviting me to a place of his choice is never allowed to pay for me. I quietly choose the simplest inexpensive thing, remain hungry if need be and discreetly pay for it. I avoid such expensive places again or any I cannot pay for. The friendship remains, I just don't get into their money issues. 


BTW, eating veggie at home in NYC costs me a little over 20 a week, including treating others to homecooked food! (No packaged meals, no waste, no junk like packaged cereal, pies, soda, etc. and eating everything good, fresh and on sale and receiving gifts from pals who work in catering happily.)  Yes, I  am self sufficient and feel grateful and very happy to be here.



Dec 16, 2011 5:17PM

I think craigslist has a section for Sugar Babes if you want to advertise in the right place.


Craigslist is kinda a freak show anyways.



I usually just pay for both of us, except for the huge-bar-tab dinners. It catches the men off guard.

Dec 20, 2011 2:57AM

Re those who mentioned E European girls who seek free food. Gently, you could tell them about the soup kitchens, the Hare Krishnas, Ammachi's followers, the churches and the really good free meals/groceries available in some US cities.  Maybe they have come from hungry, desperate situations in E Europe. 


It is a bit like many Chinese girls who act polite/ sophisticated while seeking a guy's money and to move in, etc. ! I asked one or two: Why? Both referred to families which suffered or knew others who suffered in mainland China,and have ingrained memories of generations of being cold/hungry/poor. So those girls are brought up to really dress well, to act peaceful and marry the richest man they can find: white, educated, malleable (and old is good too!).


Like Ringo said Love don't come easy!


It's only a mattere of questioning  these girls taht want  to live of the fatof the land , what are they ready to do for you clean your apartment  or waht? wash your car ? or wahtcan theydo for you ?

there's no freebies any more , it's sad to say  but this where this world is at nowadays . and let me tell you if you just go to other countries this girls in this situations are far worse , some even will swindle you out of money if you let them , you guy  and I mean you working stiffs wake up and smell the coffee!!! and what's worse if you let them in your house to do house work for you in return for your deed keep an eye on them absolutely  you just trust them  a bit too far and they might clean you out of other  valuables .So in order to avoid yourself some grief  is best to be watchful.

Dec 20, 2011 2:40AM

Dear Atlas Weakening


Not arguing, just saying: women usually have to spend a lot too and put in effort to look good for you....and perhaps you too like being seen with someone who looks great!  And looks expensive!!  


Looking chic is usually expensive and costs time, money and effort EACH time you 'go out'. LOL


Dear Ricardo


My sympathies. Your experiences sound horrible: except I too know (personally alas) men who cleaned out their wives/gfriends and even left the kids without anything. I know one  who even kept the child's expensive toys and another who sold her grandmother's heirloom silver.  Neither thought they were wrong even years later.


Things happen. If only I knew then what I know today! I have (99% of the times) insisted on at least giving an expensive bottle, book or tickets only to be told how much the meal cost. Again!


 Just one incident among many: For a NY man, I cooked nice meals six times in a row. Never reciprocated. He was working at a good job and had come with a proper introduction so I thought why not try. In any case, I like feeding and pampering people so I didn't care too much.  Oh well!


Dec 19, 2011 4:45PM
If your a guy its the price of finding the right girl. I have paid for every single meal on every date I have gone on. Half the girls are garbage and are absolutely just after a free meal. Sometimes I know it 5 mins in. I pay for the date anyway. I don't know why people are so angry about it, its the way it is. If your cheap or refuse to pay for a dinner you might miss out on the perfect girl. All girls want to be treated well and feel a little pampered on the first date. You don't have to pay forever, but you do have to pay on the first few.
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