Does Online Dating Save You Money?

(Photo: Gail)

(Photo: Gail)

Our recent podcast, “What You Don’t Know About Online Dating,” offered an economist’s guide to dating online. Here’s one more perk: a report by CovergEx Group estimates that online dating is more cost-efficient than traditional dating. From Business Insider

The ConvergEx folks, using data from, note the average courtship time for “off-line,” traditional dating ahead of a marriage runs around 42 months – or two years longer than the 18.5-month, average dating-to-marriage cycle for people who meet online.

And using that data, they came up with a formula.

“At a conservative estimate of one date per week and a cost of $130 per date – $100 for a meal and drinks at a nice restaurant, plus $30 for two movie tickets and popcorn – the dating phase prior to an offline marriage runs up a $23,660 tab,” ConvergEx said.

“The average dating site customer spends just $239 a year for online memberships, which more than pays for itself to the tune of $12,803 in cost savings from fewer dates,” they continued. “Assuming you go Dutch, each party saves a touch over $6,400 in choosing the online route to marital bliss.”


Additionally, undesirable losers can save an extra $239!


This study fails to recognize the reality of dating in two respects: 1) once a relationship gets serious the couple does not consistently go out on fancy, expensive dates, nor does the man pay every time and 2) members of online dating sites go out on lots of dates with lots of people (at which the man pays) before they settle down with one. Just because the courting is shorter on average with online dating doesn't mean it's a bargain.


This got published? I'd like to see a controlled study, perhaps one that randomly offers people browsing online dating websites a free membership. In this study the only useful information is that people getting married do so more quickly if they meet online. I'd assume a high level of selection bias in that people participating in the online dating market are more willing to marry quickly.

From my personal experience, it was hard to filter out good matches doing online dating. Over the course of several months, I dated nearly 20 women, spent a lot of money, and met zero potential wives. I gave up dating altogether, then I met the woman I'm dating now in a bar. She's better than all the women I met online put together.


+1 for this. I find it hilarious that you bemoan the possibility of "selection bias" and then follow up with "from my personal experience" to somehow justify your claims. Nice touch!


Come on, who buys a $100 meal for every date? For four years? No way. Even in the first few dates, I very rarely spent that much, and after a year or so couples tend to default to hanging out at home with a bottle of wine and Netflix. Also, shouldn't the number be split in half given that the couple will likely either split expenses or rely on the man to pay for everything?

I'm betting CovergEx Group is trying to advertise online dating.

Eric M. Jones

Save both time and money; run a credit check on them. A score below 700 is a no-go for marriage.


Very interesting. Can we get a follow-up on how successful "online" marriages are compared to the traditional (divorce rate, etc.)? Also, does courtship-time (online or off) change the likelihood of successful marriage?


Mark Brucker

It doesn't seem to me they've made their case. No info indicates that it's because of online dating that the period is shorter. Who knows how online daters may differ from those who meet through other methods. I'd guess there are significant differences....


The rigor of studies mentioned in the books is in sharp contrast to the consistent non-rigor of studies discussed in the blog.

You get what you pay for.

W Lu

This article just economized the whl dating process. Real Romantic! Thanks Freakonomics :)


This study assumes that both on-line and off-line daters started out with the same intention/desire to get married. I'd guess that that on-line daters who end up married started the process looking for a potential spouse and weeded out the people who weren't expecting the relationship would lead to marriage.

In the off-line world, plenty of people date because they want a girlfriend/boyfriend or someone to have fun with, rather than a spouse. Many of those relationships end in marriage, but it should be obvious that people who have no priority on getting married will take longer than those who do.

Ann Ryan

I'm curious who these people are who spend $130 on a date. What ever happened to getting coffee?


Holy cow, $130 per date! Whose fat-cat derriere did they pull that number out of? My wife is an economist by training, and she would never have let me spend that kind of money on our dates.


To point out the obvious, online dating is only a saving if you meet someone nice. - And what about all those dates you have to go through to meet the right one?

Doesn't compare well to the 'value' of spending money on someone you've already met and know you like - now there's money well invested...

Just saying.