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Study: How Long Does It Take to Meet ‘The One’?

Yoni Cohen
How Long Does It Take to Meet ‘The One’? | Top10.com
Dating isn’t easy. Between dinners, movies, and drinks with numerous potential partners, most of us wish we could hit fast forward and go ahead and meet ‘the one’. But how long does it take the average person to meet that forever someone? Both in terms of relationships with the ‘wrong ones’ and the number dates it takes before you just know.

And on top of the time and potential heartache involved, costs can also add up quickly. Have you ever wondered how much people actually spend on dating before meeting ‘the one’? 

Well, thanks to a new study we’ve conducted on this very subject, you no longer have to wonder. We’ve found the answers to each of these questions.

Interested to know how long it takes people to meet and know they’re that they’re, well, ‘the one?’ Read on. 

Our Methodology

We surveyed married couples across the U.S. about the number of serious relationships they had before meeting their partner, along with the number of dates they went on with their partner before they knew they were the one. 

Next, we paired the average number of dates it takes both men and women to know they’re with ‘the one’ with the cost of a date of a date in cities around the U.S. to estimate the cost of knowing you’ve met that special someone. 

Our cost of a date night calculation includes 4 assumed date night expenses: dinner, a movie, a rideshare, and alcoholic drinks. The rideshare cost was based on Uber’s published rates for each city and the average length of a rideshare trip. The dinner for 2, movie tickets, and drinks were based on Expatisan’s cost of living resources. 

How Long Does It Take To Meet the One? Comparing Men and Women

Chart showing the number of dates and relationships it takes men and women to know they’ve met the one

First, we asked married men and women how many serious relationships they had before they met the partner they ended up marrying. Men and women were very similar in their responses, with women having an average of 2.46 relationships and men an average of 2.51. 

After they met and started dating their current committed partner, it took women an average of 4.66 dates to realize they were with the one and men an average of 5. 

Chart showing the number of dates and relationships it takes men and women to know they’ve met the one

And the above provides a more detailed breakdown of the results for men and women for both questions. Some of the results we were surprised to see: 

  • It took only 1 date for more than 10% of men and 15% of women surveyed to know they’d met the one. This certainly supports the age old saying, “when you know you know.”
  • Nearly 1 in 10 men and women went on 10 dates with their partners before they knew they were it for them. We’ve heard countless stories of couples with long marriages that weren’t so sure about one another in the beginning. Long lasting love can grow over time even if there aren’t fireworks on the first date

Projecting the Cost of Meeting ‘The One’ for Men and Women

In addition to being time consuming and emotionally draining, the search for the perfect partner also gets expensive. We projected out the cost of meeting ‘the one’ in cities around the U.S. by pairing the average number of dates it takes men and women to realize they’re with the one with the average cost of a date in each city. 

Did you know that, in some cities, singles spend upwards of $1,000 or more on dates with someone before knowing they’re the one? It’s true. 

In general, if you’re from San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, or New York, you can expect to shell out more than the rest of the country while trying to determine whether that special person in your life is really ‘the one.’ In other words, if you’re from one of these cities and you haven’t met your soulmate yet, it might be time to start saving because you’ll need a pretty hefty dating budget to power through your single years.

On the other end of the spectrum, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, Richmond, and Cincinnati are among the least expensive cities in the country when it comes to the costs you’ll incur while getting to know your soulmate. In all of these cities, you’ll spend less than $750, which may still seem like a lot, but it’s really a bargain compared to dating costs in other parts of the country. 

US map showing how much women spend on dates with ‘the one’ per city

US map showing how much men spend on dates with ‘the one’ by city

Interestingly, we found that men typically have to spend slightly more than women do on their path to meet ‘the one.’ This is due to the fact that it takes men an average of 5 dates with ‘the one’ before realizing it’s a fit, compared to women’s average of 4.66. 

In pricier cities like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle where men can expect to spend $757.30, $724.70, and $686, respectively, on dates with ‘the one’ before realizing the person they’re seeing, is ‘the one.’ Women in these cities, on the other hand, typically spend slightly less: $705.80 (New York), $675.42 (San Francisco), and $659.62 (San Jose). 

While New York is the priciest date night city in the country in general, Oklahoma City is the least expensive. Men and women in Oklahoma City spend significantly less than the rest of the country as they date their way to ‘the one.’ 

Does all this date night talk have you thinking it’s time to start dating again? Good news. We’ve put together a list of the best dating sites in 2024 just for you! Happy dating!

Yoni Cohen
Yoni Cohen is a contributing writer for Top10.com. Yoni started out in journalism as a breaking news editor, but soon moved on to become a senior lifestyle editor and has 10+ years of experience in creating content on topics that really matter to people.