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February 2011

The Valentine's Day Survival Guide for Men

Valentine's Day is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year, but it often ends ups being the cause of lots of stress for guys. 

It's not uncommon to hear married men, or men in long-term relationships worry or complain aloud about Valentine's Day. But it can be even more daunting for men who are casually dating or who are in new relationships. What should they do?  When is it too early (if ever) to start celebrating Valentine's Day with a new girlfriend?

We here at It's Just Lunch have done the research for you, so that you can feel confident with your Valentine's Day decisions.

First off, let's talk about first dates. Is it appropriate to ask someone out of a first date for Valentine's Day?

  • 41% of men said no way—too corny. 
  • 62% of women said “Sure, why not?” and would accept a first date on Valentine’s Day.  

So if you're not currently seeing someone, you should go for it and ask someone new out for Valentine's Day.

Now for those of you who are dating someone new, here are some statistics that you'll find helpful: 40% of women do not expect a gift until you are in a committed relationship. BUT the another 40% DO expect a gift after 3 months. After just two weeks, only 4% expect to receive something.


Which means that guys in newer relationships don't have to worry so much about Valentine's Day.  

HOWEVER, there are some women who expect a gift after a month (17%). So it's probably better to be safe than sorry.  When asked, Over a third of women said that they considered flowers and a card (with a handwritten note, not just a signature) to be the best Valentine’s Day gift.  Only 4% put a box of chocolate on their  Valentine’s Day ideal gift list.  Why?  Because giving chocolate makes you look like you waited until the last minute to pick up a gift and then picked it up at the local super- market. In other words, like you didn't put any thought into it. 

The Cost of Love

It's Just Lunch appeared in this recent post on MSN Money, The Cost of Money

Are higher-cost dating websites worth the money? And how much do men and women actually spend on dating and for Valentine's Day? 

Have you ever noticed all of the song lyrics about love and money?

  • "No romance without finance …. "
  • "My love don't cost a thing …."
  • "Only boys who save their pennies make my rainy day …."
  • "Can't buy me love …."

Whether you side with Madonna or the Beatles on the issue of love and money, courtship can be costly.

When you imagine your ideal partner, you probably think of general characteristics you find desirable, not the financial implications of starting a new relationship. (So unromantic!) But there are usually a lot of dinners, movie tickets, gifts and flowers involved in the journey from single to happily committed.

To quantify the cost of love, let's look at the typical expenses associated with dating over a one-year period, along with lower-cost ways to woo your sweetheart.

The cost of meeting somebody new
If you've tapped out your real-life social network, you might consider online dating, and you might get good results. A 2005 University of Bath study found that 94% of people who used Internet dating sites saw their match again after the first date, and the relationships lasted an average of seven months.

If the thought of paying for an online dating service puts you off, Big Think points to a study showing that the time people give to a match depends on how much the dating site costs. Men who paid $50 were willing to commit an average of 49 minutes to the date, while the men who paid nothing for the match were willing to invest only 28 minutes. You're also likely to receive less spam from mildly interested potential matches on paid sites.

Online dating sites generally cost $35 to $50 per month. A more frugal suggestion? Branch out by joining new groups and organizations. Always wanted to take up trail running? Find a group that meets in your area for 5 a.m. runs. Music lover? See if your city has a young professionals membership to the symphony. 

Or consider online social networking, which is the 21st century way of letting your friends hook you up. Facebook, for example, allows you to check out your friends' friends, and your mutual friend can set up a casual group date.

Dinner and dancing
It's Just Lunch, a dating service for busy professionals, surveyed 3,968 singles nationwide about how much they spend on dates. It found that 51% of men in the U.S. spend more than $100 a month on dates, and 29% spend more than $150. In bigger cities, those figures are higher. For example, 82% of men in Los Angeles spend more than $150 a month on dates.

Women, on the other hand, spend significantly less. About two-thirds of women spend less than $50 a month. Perhaps it's a sign that the Southern gentleman is still around, but 75% of women in the South spend less than $50 a month on dates.

Going on averages, that's $600 to $1,200 per year spent on dates. But, according to an ING Direct survey, most women aren't expecting a fancy dinner and expensive bottle of wine on the first date. The poll found that on average,men overestimate how much is expected of them.

There are plenty of free and low-cost date ideas that don't involve dining on a McBurger and fries, and we've covered many of them at Get Rich Slowly. Picnics on the beach, comedy club improv shows, visiting the local aquarium, checking out a museum, hiking, and wine tasting are just a few examples of fun and memorable dates that won't break your savings account. Also be sure to sign up for daily coupon sites like Groupon and LivingSocial that offer deals on activities in your city.

Flowers and gifts

Flowers and gifts are still a big part of the relationship equation. According to the University of Bath survey, exchanging gifts is the best way to ensure commitment in the relationship. In addition, online daters who exchanged gifts before meeting in person reported a "more committed and deeper relationship."


What does a more committed relationship cost? Businessweek estimates that flowers cost the average single $110 per year. Then there are holidays, such as Valentine's Day. (After all, you probably don't want to launch into a tirade about how Valentine's Day is a materialistic Hallmark holiday when you've only been dating someone a few months.) The average person shelled out $103 on Valentine's Day merchandise in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation.

Assuming the average single spends about that much on birthday and Christmas gifts as well, we'll estimate total gifts and flowers at $419 per year.

Frugal options include buying flowers at the grocery store, where you can get seasonal bouquets for $5 to $10. As for gifts, plan ahead so you have time to be more creative. Your significant other will appreciate something thoughtful, like baking his favorite kind of birthday cake or making her a romantic dinner at home, more than picking up the obligatory (and overpriced) dozen roses, chocolates and stuffed teddy bear from the Valentine's Day aisle. (These homemade gift ideas are for Christmas, but can really be used year-round.)

So, what's the grand total for one year of dating, from matchmaking to flowers? It's $1,529 to $2,129, depending on your gender, it would seem. But then, as New Wave rock quartet the Knack sang, "You can't put a price on love."

Single? 4 Ways to Approach Valentine's Season

Andrea-web By: Andrea Syrtash, Author of  "He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing)"

I know someone who claims to hibernate during the winter because all of the couples she sees snuggling up and keeping each other warm make her want to crawl back into bed. Valentine's Day is one of the lowlights of the season, she reports, and inspires her to hide out until March. She feels that the holiday hijacks the (albeit short) month of February.

While it's true that some of us consume too many heart shaped candies now, shower others with extravagant plans and presents and feel pressure to celebrate with the loves of our lives; perhaps it's time we returned to the basics of the holiday. Valentine's Day is simply an opportunity to connect with people we care about - and to take a moment to appreciate them. 

Here are 4 simple ways to capture the spirit of Valentine's Day this year...and enjoy it!


1) Reconnect with a good friend

 With busy schedules, many of us have fallen out of touch with people we consider to be close friends. (Catching up on Facebook is fun, but rarely replaces a live chat or meeting). When we connect with a friend and laugh together or share our problems with him/her, our cortisol levels decrease, making us feel less stressed and happier as a result.

In Finland, Valentine's Day is called Ystävänpäivä (I'm not going to pretend I know how to pronounce that); which translates to 'Friends' Day'! Remember in grade school we shared Valentines with friends?

Make a point this Valentine's season to reach out to a friend you love and miss.


2) Get Over an Ex

Valentine's Day causes some people to reminisce about a lost love and romanticize a relationship that did not work out.

Instead of idealizing an ex, this Valentine's Day write out all of the reasons that that person was not a match and did not bring out the best in you. If you can't remember, enroll a good friend or family member to help you make the list!

Sometimes we have to take the focus off finding Mr. or Ms. Right and concentrate, instead, on losing Mr. or Ms. Wrong.


3) Make Love a Priority

 Many say they want a relationship but don't have time to date - which begs the question: How will they have time for a relationship if they don't even have time to date?!

If finding a mate is a priority, consider: What do you have to say 'no' to, to say 'yes' to your goal of finding a relationship? You may have to say 'no' to working every weekend or the perspective that it's not worth the time and effort to get out there again.

If you want to be in a relationship, clear time and space in your schedule to make love a priority again.


4) Love YOUR life

 The best thing you can do for your lovelife is to love your life! For one thing, you are more likely to attract people since there's nothing sexier than someone who is passionate and engaged in life.  More importantly, though, your life will be more fun and meaningful if you focus on outlets that bring you pleasure. 

 Reconnect with your passions this season and indulge in activities that make you happy.  Think about what you would be doing if time and money weren't an issue, and incorporate some of those activities into your everyday life.

 Don't wait for someone else to make you happy before you get happy yourself. You complete you!


Andrea Syrtash is a dating and relationship expert, advice columnist and author of, "He's Just Not Your Type (And that's a good thing)" Her next book, about marriage, will be out in the fall of 2011. Andrea has made Google 'hot trends’, ranking in the top 100 things googled on particular days between 2007-2009. She has no idea how that happened, but appreciates the (very postmodern) honor. For more, visit

For Love of the Game

We're just days away from Super Bowl XLV and singles all of over the country are gearing up for game day, and game day dates.

We here at It's Just Lunch took this opportunity to poll our members about their game day habits and opinions and were more than a bit surprised at what we uncovered.

Here's the good news - a full 58% of those surveyed said they would bring a first date to a Super Bowl Party. So if you're currently dateless, think about asking someone to join you.

Now, here's an interesting fact, a high percentage of singles will root against their date's team. And (here's the interesting bit) there's a higher percentage of women than men who will root against their date's team - 82% for the women, 74% for the men. One way to the interpret this is that the women are more loyal to their teams. Another, perhaps, is that the men are more eager to please their dates?

Another interesting fact from the survey is that women are more likely than men to ask their date to "be quiet" (if their date is foolish enough to talk during the game). A full 17% of women will try to shut down their chatterbox date, as opposed to 9% of the men. Could it be that more women (than men) care more about football than dating?  It's 2011, anything is possible!