The death of the dinner date


In recent years, somewhere between endless Tinder swipes and countless OkCupid matches, the dinner date has fallen by the wayside.

As online dating surges in popularity, few millennials have the time, money, or desire to sit with a stranger over a long meal. Only 7 in 10,000 messages in a recent OkCupid IAC survey suggested “grabbing some dinner” and a somewhat less scientific survey this reporter conducted of several dozen actively dating 20-somethings found that dinner has become a highly taboo first date. Last month, Moody’s Investors Service slashed its operating-profit growth forecast for the restaurant sector. (This appears to complement another trend noted by market researcher NPD Group that suggests 57% of meals In the U.S. are eaten alone.)



Dinner is an expensive first date for someone you are just meeting.

Coffee makes for a quick exit if there is no chemistry.


Very sad. Courtship is nearly destroyed.


I don’t think it necessarily means that. Dinner is a pretty big commitment for someone you just met. High pressure and high stakes. Once a romantic connection has been established then dinner is a great date. Of course I’m not really one to talk about first dates with strangers. I’ve had three relationships including my now wife and in all 3 cases we were friends first for some time.


Yes, my sister is currently dating and this is her preferred method for the reason mentioned above.


I agree (and I’m a Gen X-er).


I think it’s also linked to the fact that “dining out” is now a very dated thing, and younger people don’t see it as something they’d normally make into an event.

I didn’t go to a restaurant until I was 17 in 1975, when we went out as a family of four to celebrate my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. I remember it was a really big occasion for us, we all dressed up and my mum was nervous!

It wasn’t anywhere very fancy, just a local restaurant, but all the same it was a milestone for me and something very unusual for my parents.


Perhaps now more Catholic dioceses will start to consider ministries for single Catholics – who are easily the most neglected and ignored demographic. Considering how everything at most parishes is geared exclusively towards couples and families with small kids, I can’t say I’m exactly surprised that singles (like me) when left to their own devices would rather not go through the motions. It’s not worth the hassle. Courtship will NEVER be destroyed.


Im not sure getting coffee versus dinner for a first date are all that different, in the past on first dates, I have usually met for lunch (sometimes dinner), and it was usually at a TGIFs type place, nothing too expensive or fancy, but better than McDonalds.

Imo, it takes longer than just ‘getting coffee’ to see if there is a connection, its pretty sad if younger folks do not have time or money for this type of first date, plus if thats any indicator of their lifestyle, any relationship they get into, may not be that great for the other person.


Dating is long in my past, but this reminds me of something that at least amuses me.

Back when I was dating, the only girl I took to dinner in the conventional sense was “the rich girlfriend” (doesn’t every young man have to have had one of those?) She was quite taken with me, it seemed, even clingy, but boy, was she rich! Lived in “Gatsby territory” on Long Island; mega-rich.

Anyway, dinner was her suggestion. I guess she was used to that sort of thing and didn’t realize that dinner out is not a “trifle” to a poverty-stricken young man. She enjoyed it. I didn’t.

Just as I disentangled myself from the relationship with the “rich girlfriend”, I met the woman who was to become my wife. Neither of us had two nickels to rub together. Our “dinner dates” consisted in sitting on the levee in St. Louis watching the boats go by, talking about life, and eating bagels from a paper bag. Well, I’ll admit, sometimes we shared cucumbers when one or the other of us had enough money for them.

Best “dinners” I ever had.:slight_smile:


Makes sense. People are taking longer to marry. Ten years’ worth of dinner dates is expensive.


Courtship will never die. Looking at it from an ROI (Return On Investment) angle is not the proper way to look at it. My dinner dates were not at fancy restaurants for the most part. After we got to know each other, we went out to 2 fancier restaurants, but both of us were practical enough where we did not have the need to dress up for a really expensive restaurant.

For Catholics, it’s not a time issue, it’s a getting to know the other person issue. Quick and easy rarely works and even then, restaurants are not all there is. Dinner and a movie is pretty much out today. Too much immoral stuff out there. Getting to know her family and your family was helpful, not “We’re old enough to make our own decisions.” True, to a point. If you two aren’t willing to go through this process, it’s often, “Oh my God! I married somebody who’s an idiot, incompatible, into booze and/or dope, etc.” No surprises is the goal.

If you can’t enjoy each other’s company in a variety of settings or he or she is not practical, or willing to make a lifelong commitment (divorce is always the get out of jail free card; I’m not referring to abuse), then end it.

Dinner dates are not dead. There are more restaurants out there that charge less than $100.00 a couple.



What an endearing story about your wife to be and your “dinner dates.” Thanks for sharing. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun.


Occasionally my husband took me out to a dessert joint. I think he spent more of the money on buying me a rose every week! Our dates usually consisted of photography ventures around campus and town. (I miss the roses. :wink: But, now we have a home instead, so I’m blessed.)


I just remembered (how could I not have?) I really did take her to “dine out” once, though I didn’t pay for it.

Now and then, we would go to some nice place that served drinks and had good music. We would buy one drink and listen to the music as long as the people there tolerated it. Drinks weren’t too expensive then, and we were careful what we bought.

My wife was then a nursing student, and was very nice to a woman in the hospital where she was interning. The woman was there to have a baby. Anyway, the woman asked her if she would babysit on occasion for pay, and my wife agreed.

One night, I was to pick my wife up at the home of the woman and her husband, and did. The husband was very nice, and he asked me where we were going to go. I told him the one place where we were going for sure, then a couple more where we might go. When we got to the first place, which was a combined dinner and drinks and music place, a really nice one, the maître d’ asked if I was “_______” saying my name. Astonished, I replied affirmatively. He informed us that “the check is taken care of.”

Could have knocked me over with a feather, but my wife and I ordered a very nice dinner and enjoyed it. Sure enough, no check. Next place we went to, the same thing happened, except that we didn’t eat there. Next place, same thing.

I later learned that the husband was the son of the head of the Mafia in Kansas City, and was being groomed to take over the “family business”. I guess he called those places before we got there.

I was never asked to do anything in return (luckily) though the husband did tell me he might have a job opening when I finished graduate school. Needless to say, I didn’t take him up on it. I liked the river, but not enough to someday be at the bottom of it with concrete shoes on.

But yes, we did actually dine at a very nice restaurant on that occasion.

It’s interesting how poverty can be if you’re young. It’s almost romantic. Later on, there’s nothing good about it.


I agree wholeheartedly. The single Catholics are the most neglected and ignored even if that person is/has been a weight-bearing column at the parish (or comes from such family). What many with whom I speak who are single (like me) in the parishes believe is that the church (intentional small “c”) tends/ministers to the families because they are the ones bringing forth the “new/future generation/s of Catholics”. What the church many times forgets is that many of the single (or widowed) are the ones who are the Religious Ed Teachers (Catechists) of these same children who are the future generation or of the adult convert who is bringing the whole family “in”. I too would rather not go through many of the motions, but meeting each other’s family and friends would be a must do; however, I would do all in my power to avoid as much of the unnecessary motions as I possibly am able - nicely, canonically, and legally.

Most likely the Church (intentional “C”) will stop neglecting and ignoring the single Catholics in the future. I for one am trying to “change things”, but will not spend years- on-end doing it. Alas, I also know that as a :curtsey:, am also limited, which is perfectly fine because I would not change that for any-thing!

About the cost of restaurant-eating: I remember fondly a “first lunch out” where I was asked what I wanted. After reading the menu and finding a dish with basil, said I wanted that one. My Host kept insisting I could select something else. I wondered why and realized my dish was the least expensive of them all! I gave polite thanks for the consideration granted and said that was what I really wanted whether it had been the least or most expensive. We then decided to start the meal by giving each other half the meal in order to have more variety. My dish was the one we each liked best! :extrahappy:

In the meantime, there is this very helpful self-admonition by St. Teresa de Jesús that is most comforting:

**Let Nothing Disturb You
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.

Obtains all things,
Whoever has God
Lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.

Santa Teresa de Jesús `
(Santa Teresa de Ávila
España: 1515—1582)

Luz María :curtsey:



Back when I would get to know a young man – at church or in class – before a first “date,” having dinner made perfect sense. We already knew each other a bit.

But meeting someone online and then on the phone… Making that first face-to-face meeting a dinner just seems a bit too much time, expense, and pressure. Much easier and more comfortable to meet for coffee.

Dinner dates come later, after the couple’s gotten to know each other the way we used to do BEFORE the first date.

No big deal. Dinner dates still exist. It just takes a little longer to get to them. :smiley:


I started going to a Catholic young adult group this year and it’s one of the better things I’ve done since graduation a year and a half ago. I use to be the maintainer for the Catholic Center at the public university I attended, but that community simply vanished for me since I was no longer a student and working full time.

It took me a good 4-7 months, from when they announced it, for me to start attending out of laziness (and I’m rather introverted; I could go days without talking [to other people] and still be relatively “sane”). And it took another 3 months for me to become a regular (I would go like once a month or something max). Then I started going to all the events and now I see everyone practically every 3 days.

The best part is that we’re on the deanery level. We’re for the entire city. Not just a single parish. And we’re not a “Singles” group. We’re not focused on dating, but focused on making friends and growing in our faith. Of course, many of the older folks (I’m one of the youngest members, at the practical dinosaur age of 23) are getting married through people they’ve met while being in the group. I’m glad they’re all older than me, by at least 4 years :smiley:


My first date with my husband was for dinner. We worked together and we went on our lunch breaks, so it wasn’t long (okay, we both went over to 1.5 hours on our lunches!) but it was dinner. And it was a great date, obviously we are married!


Since when is the Church ignoring single Catholics? There are all kinds of programs for single Catholics either looking for a potential marriage partner or not. Sometimes, one of us just needs to walk up to our parish priest and point out the need or contact our Diocese.

Sadly, being a single, practicing, faithful Catholic is no longer promoted by the media. Living together, casual sex and so on, yes, but it was not always that way. Too many young people have made the wrong choices regarding relationships. It’s time to rebuild, and sometimes God calls you or someone else to step up.

Today - some people have NO IDEA what dating means or any sense of relationship building consistent with Catholic norms.


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