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In this rough economic time it’s affecting all aspects of our lives. People are losing their homes, their jobs and it may just be enough stress to break up a marriage. Being single isn’t easy either and it’s fairly expensive. Going out on dates can get pricey. This is another reason I established the short coffee date rule. It’s only a few bucks to grab some coffee with a first date to find out if there’s chemistry. You don’t have to spend a $100 on a night out on the town with a blind date to only find out there’s not going to be a second date.

I remember when I was in my early twenties it was never a problem guys taking you to dinner, buying you drinks, it was easy as pie. Granted I’m 10 years older now, though every time I meet a guy he thinks I’m 25 not 35, (so for you pessimistics out there I’m not old & fat now). Though guys just don’t buy girls drinks out at the bar like they used to. Or even dinner for that fact. I know some guys that won’t take girls out to dinner at all.

Older guys in my experience usually will still buy drinks and dinner, maybe because they’re still in the traditional role model. Whereas if I meet a guy in his twenties, forget it. They hardly ever buy drinks. It’s either the economy, everyone’s broke so you’re all on your own type mentality. Or younger guys are just not as established and think, “You women want to be independent, great, buy your own drinks.” All I can say is, no matter what your age is, if you hit on me and think I’m going to give you my phone number or go home with you, I damn well better have a drink in my hand.

Actually the reason why I started doing short coffee dates was because of a bad experience I had with a man off Match.com. It was actually my first date from that site and he was older than me, in his 40’s. He asked me out for dinner, I accepted. When I got there I knew it wasn’t going much farther than that night. There was no chemistry at all. We had dinner, I wasn’t going to just walk away and be rude in the first five minutes of meeting him. Yet maybe I should have because his behavior that followed the next day was more like a 10 year old child than a 40 something adult.

He texted me the next day that he wasted his money on dinner with me, he was so disappointed and that I was nothing like my profile. First of all my photos are all recent, I never lie in a profile what’s the point. He was a bible beater and I’m not religious. I checked the box “not religious” on my profile. He wanted June Cleaver Sunday Church Girl. I’m not even close to that, so that’s his fault for not reading my profile. What did he expect from a first date, to run off to Vegas and get married? Jesus. It’s a meet and greet with a stranger for the first time. Get the corn cob out of your ass and relax a little.

Since he was so bent out of shape that he spent $20 for me to eat and there were no huge sparks and wedding bells after a few hours, I decided I would never do that again. If you keep it short and inexpensive, then neither party feels that they’re obligated to anything.

After this date I met another man who insisted on having lunch. So we went to Moe’s, cheap enough. As soon as I saw him walking through the parking lot I knew I could never kiss or make out with him. Plus his attitude on the phone right before we meet was awful. Once at Moe’s I ordered my food first and proceeded down the line and paid for it myself before he could. I didn’t want to get a nasty text from him the next day that he ”paid for my lunch” and we didn’t move in together afterwards. Funny thing was, since I took it upon myself to pay for it and didn’t expect him to, and then all of a sudden his attitude changed. He was all happy, perky and into me. I still didn’t like him. If I liked him I would have had him pay for me. This time since I knew I wasn’t into him and I didn’t want to leave feeling like I owed him something for a crappy lunch, I bought it myself.

Everyone is different in their morals and values and I’m not out to use anyone or get a free ride. Though as a woman I am more traditional in the aspect that I think men should be the ones to pay for a date. If you ask me out, why should we go dutch? Even if it’s just coffee, you asked me out, you buy the coffee. At least that’s only $3.50 out of your pocket. I’m not asking for a five star dinner on a first date.

If you’re a guy and you’re feeling the economic woes, ask the girl to do something you can afford. Such as a picnic on the beach, pack some cheese n’ cracks buy a bottle of wine. That won’t cost more than $15. Or in Tampa we have free outside movie nights. Grab a blanket, some lemonade and cuddle to a romantic movie under the stars. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to impress a girl. Though one thing is for sure, if you ask a girl to pick up the tab, there will never be another date.

Being creative and romantic goes a lot further than throwing money around. You don’t have to let the person you’re dating know you’ve hit hard financial times. Just figure out ways around it and don’t make the woman pay or go dutch. That’s a total turn off.  Cooking a romantic dinner at home is a better.

Tara Richter

Tara Richter is an Internet Dating Coach in Tampa Bay. She is the author of “The Dating Jungle Series” and an Internet TV Show Host.