So, you've made it to the first date. How much do you fork over for this iffy encounter?
Fifty dollars or less, according to a half-dozen singles we interviewed.
They exercise caution when it comes to emptying their wallets for an introductory meeting.
Since the union is hardly a sure thing romantically, singles say it makes sense to set moderate price limits. Others believe that spending too much -- or planning lavish first dates -- can make the organizer seem too eager. Surprisingly, though, men still pick up the bill most of the time.
"The first date is usually inexpensive," says Ace Alascio, 51, who lives in Glen Burnie.
"I'll plan a picnic or a drive, but I try to keep it around $35 to $40.
If there's a second one, I'll do something nicer, like dinner and a movie. That can run $50 to $100."
Marsha Brown says men can always tell where they stand with her by the estimated cost of her home-cooked meals.
"If I'm really interested, the first time I have somebody to dinner I'll do steamed shrimp, grilled salmon and wine," says Ms. Brown, 24, a fund-raiser for Center Stage who lives in Randallstown.
"That can cost $50. After that, if things aren't going so well, it becomes chicken and rice. That's under $20. Then come hot dogs. They're about $2. I buy the cheapest ones."
And what kind of reaction does she get?
"Some guys are just happy you're feeding them," she says with a laugh, "but most get the message."