Inflation is on an upwards trajectory, and everything is costing the earth: rent, mortgage repayments, and you guessed it, dating. The internet laughed about a Sydney café charging $11 for a side of avocado, but it’s an allegory for a wider trend that is making eating and drinking outside of home increasingly unattainable.
It’s something researchers at dating app Bumble are calling ‘dateflation’, encompassing how the rising cost of living is impacting our dating lives. According to Bumble’s statistics, a third of singles said they would choose not to date because of financial stress with three-in-five believing that the more you earn the more you should contribute on the date.
Increasing financial stress has a knock on effect, with more Aussies willing to branch out when it comes to the way that they’re dating, with walking or going to the beach seen as affordable alternatives to ‘wining and dining’.
Bumble’s resident sexologist, Chantelle Otten, told marie claire Australia that, “financial stress is having a profound impact on the dating scene”. Yet, she feels it is “inspiring” to see the “creativity and resourcefulness” of modern daters facing a cost-of-living crisis.
It’s Otten’s view that while financial pressures can make dating harder, there are ways to find romance even while you’re feeling the pinch.
How To Date On A Budget, According To Chantelle Otten
“Dating can seem daunting when you’re watching your wallet, but it doesn’t have to be. My top tip? Swap out the idea of impressing with your wallet, for impressing with your authenticity,” Otten suggests.
“It’s not about the flashy restaurants or pricey activities, it’s about showcasing who you truly are.”
Some low-key dating ideas include walks on the beach, free exhibitions, or even a cooking session at home. “Don’t underestimate these simple, shared experiences. They’re golden opportunities to bond and create lasting memories,” she adds.
“Remember, the goal is to find someone who values you for you, not for the thickness of your wallet. So, don’t be afraid to be upfront about your situation. The right person will understand and appreciate your honesty.”
Should We Be Bill-Splitting In A Cost Of Living Crisis?
In Bumble’s research, single women were more likely than single men to embrace the idea of low-key and free dating.
While it’s hard to exactly correlate this to the pinch of cost-of-living pressures combined with the gender pay gap, the statistics did say that women were more likely than men to want to split the cost of a date due to financial pressure.
In heterosexual couples, where there has always been some tension around who should pick up the bill, it feels almost anti-feminist to expect men to pay for the date, and Otten agrees that there are two sides to this story.
“It’s a tricky balance, isn’t it? On one hand, we’re pushing for gender equality, but on the other, we can’t ignore that societal expectations often have women spending more before the date even starts. And let’s not even get started on the wage gap,” she said, referencing the beauty expectations placed on women when dating (which come at a cost).
“My take? It’s all about communication and personal comfort. If a date offers to pay and it feels right, great. If you’d prefer to go halves, that’s cool too. It’s about setting a precedent that suits you both as individuals,” she adds.
Chantelle Otten’s Ultimate Low-Cost Dates, Revealed
While Otten may now be happily loved up, she has been on a range of dates over the years.
“I’ve dated people from all over the world, all with different backgrounds and situations. I’m all for keeping things real and fun without needing to flash the cash,” she explains.
“I used to love the thrill of hopping on a date’s motorbike, just zipping around town and exploring new areas—nothing beats that rush of adrenaline mixed with fresh air.
“Another fun one was trying to cook a meal together—it’s a true test of teamwork and patience. But my all-time favourite? Being invited for dinner at a date’s house or checking out a free art exhibition.
“It’s less about the cost and more about genuine connection and seeing if we vibed together. It’s all about creating those shared experiences that build a solid foundation.”
We couldn’t agree more.