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Dating in the time of recession

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Whether we are in an actual recession or not, here is the bottom line: gas prices are up as are other prices, and many people are in fear of losing their jobs and/or are underemployed.

In times like these, who wants to go on an expensive date? Even married couples that have a “date night” begin to cut back and stay home.

For example, I recently did the traditional dinner and a movie date. Though I do not do this one too often, here are the cost break downs:

Dinner at a medium price restaurant — including meals, appetizer, no dessert, iced tea and tip: $56.29

Movie tickets: $18

Movie Snacks: $18

2 Coffee-Like Drinks and one big cookie: $12

Total: $104.29

For one date!

Enough of that bad news. Here comes the good news.

All it takes is a little creativity and imagination to come up with great ideas for great dates that don't cost an arm and a leg.

First of all, lose the traditional and worn out “dinner and a movie” date. Get creative. And no, going to the movie first and then to dinner is not being creative. Besides, dinner and a movie is a lousy way to get to know someone or to get the spark back in a long term relationship.

Second, you do not have to spend a lot of money just to have fun. Here's just one creative example:

I call this one the “bookstore and coffee” date. You can do this as you are getting to know someone or as a fun date in a long term relationship. Go to a large bookstore together and look around. Pay attention to each other's interests. Talk about them. Share books with each other. Find something you are both interested in and read some of it together. Better yet, read to each other.

You might buy a book or two or you might not. Next, get some coffee. Most big chain bookstores have made it really convenient to do this by having a coffee shop right in the store on right next to the store. Have a coffee and actually talk with each other.

Here's the cost breakdown:

Bookstore, cost of one book and one magazine: $17 (could have been no cost)

Coffee shop, 2 coffees and a piece of lemon cake: $11.95

Total cost: $28.95 plus tax

And the added benefit of talking and getting to know each other.

Whether you are just getting to know someone or are trying to revive a long term relationship, my challenge to you is to get creative and have fun with your dating. And to check out 300 creative dating ideas I invite you to visit

Jeff Herring, MS, LMFT, is a marriage and family therapist. E-mail him at or, for more tips and tools for living you can visit For information on great relationships visit