An Increasing Number of Singles Are Just Dating for the Free Meals

"No one's actually taking anything seriously"

Dating apps
She's only there for the steak. (Getty)
Getty Images/iStockphoto

We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but if you proposed dinner on a first date, there’s a chance they said yes just for the meal.

“If it’s dinner, I’m not going to say no, so that I don’t have to go home and cook,” one 22-year-old woman told The Atlantic. “If it’s a guy that’s inviting me out, I do expect them to be the one to pay. If it involves food, I am always down.”

And in spite of the many “media outlets [that] have been fascinated by women who are in it for the food,” as the magazine put it, at least one 26-year-old man copped to the same tactic. He said that when he receives messages from guys on Tinder to go out, he’ll take them up on the offer even if he isn’t fully into it.

“I do always reach for my wallet, because I’m also not just a mooch,” he said, while adding that he’ll pick up the tab if the suggestion came from him. “It’s kind of what you do nowadays in this whole dating-app world. It’s just like, if I’m not going to get anything out of it romantically or a relationship out of it, well, at least I can get a free dinner out of it.”

Apps, as he suggested, are a huge part of this modern-love problem, since they make dates and people so readily available that the rarity of a first date is lost on many. “No one’s actually taking anything seriously,” he said.

And science agrees. A study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science discovered that, out of 1,000 women polled, about 25 percent said that they had gone on a date with someone they weren’t attracted to just for a free meal. And those who fessed up said they’d done it an average of five times each.

As for why they only polled women? “We chose this focus in part because of its consistency with traditional dating scripts and because this type of ‘foodie call’ has received media attention,” the researchers wrote.

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