I wrote before about how unemployment shouldn’t deter single Catholics from dating. After all, if the unemployment rate is so high that being unemployed is common, why should it be a deterrent from starting a relationship?
I’m currently under-employed and have been for the past three years. I’m looking for full-time work, but in the meantime, I thought I shouldn’t let my employment status keep me from looking for love.
I’m so glad I made that decision. I met the most wonderful man ever, who is enrolled in graduate school after having lost his job a year ago.
I mentioned how we’ve both been taking advantage of our situations to spend more time together. It’s been lovely. Just the other day we were talking about how limited our time would be if we both had full-time jobs. Might as well make the best of a bad situation, right?
In the meantime, we’ve been scouring our city for free or affordable things to do on dates. As expensive as New York City is, it’s full of free events.We’ve been enjoying summer in the city the way that tourists, and not many residents, are able to. There’s a popular adage about living in New York: People move here to enjoy all it has to offer, and what happens is they end up working so much to be able to live here that they have no time to enjoy all it has to offer. And that is the truth. But much to our delight, being unemployed frees up all that time we worked away before.
Last night he and I were talking about how everyone should be doing what we’re doing. He suggested that I spread the word about free summer dating. So here it is: If you’ve decided to take my advice and start dating, despite unemployment, you would do well to research ideas for free or cheap dates.
Here are a few things we’d done over the past month or so: gallery visits, museum trips, ferry rides, park visits, lectures, outdoor art fairs, free outdoor movies and concerts, zoos and parades. These were all excellent times for us, and we plan on continuing our free dates.
If you made a date with someone and are strapped for cash, look into any of the possibilities I mentioned. Scour your local paper for outdoor events; summertime is rife with free festive events like parades, concerts and performances. My city sets up screens in many of its parks and shows movies after sunset. One of the parks near my home has weekly free outdoor Shakespeare performances. We’ve gone to a few of them, a picnic blanket and a bottle of red in hand, and had a blast. I’ve seen many towns offer free cook-outs, concerts and dance performances.
Also, many city or state parks have fun events such as walks, swimming or hikes for free. Check for events sponsored by the local fire or police department; often the Police Benevolent Association offers many recreational events during the summer. Attending a local sport competition is almost as fun as the professional games. How great would you feel cheering on a local team of kids playing sports? And speaking of competitions, I don’t know about you, but I find that groups of kids competing at anything – chess, spelling, swimming, running – endlessly charming! Check out what your local parks and recreation offers this summer and take advantage of all the offerings there are. Now is the best time!
If the outdoors is not your thing, there are still plenty of things to do that are free. Art galleries are always free, but the snobby attitudes are part of the deal. Museums, sculpture gardens, zoos and other tourist attractions often offer one or two nights a week where people can pay on a sliding scale; some even have free nights.
Check your local theater groups for discounts or free performances. Here in New York, theater capital of the country, many places offer deep discounts on tickets to dress rehearsals. If you can get a group of kids together, call it an educational trip and you’ll get in even cheaper. Look around for opera or theater troupes that offer outdoor events. Lincoln Center, home of the Metropolitan Opera House, has weekly free concerts, dance lessons and lectures in their courtyard. It’s wildly popular, as you can imagine, so getting there early is a must.
Speaking of lectures, the nerd in you will be overjoyed at the plethora of free lectures available. Most museums in my city offer free admission with attendance to a lecture. If nerdy pastimes are your thing, summer is the best time to find free competitions like chess, scrabble or the crosswords. Believe it or not, there are such things. And watch out because the competition is cutthroat!
Finally, one date idea that is immensely popular on CatholicMatch is the old standby of Mass and brunch. Skipping a restaurant brunch to save money is easy. Instead, why not a picnic of homemade goods, right on the church grounds? I think that would be lovely! Other ideas for CatholicMatch dates could be going to adoration or church concerts together. Check your city or town’s churches for free events sponsored by the church. In most places, these are common. Many cities host monthly Theology on Tap or Catholic Underground gatherings. I’ve gone in the past and met lots of new people, heard lovely music, had some spiritual sustenance and spent absolutely nothing. I highly recommend events like this.
Once again, if unemployment has been preventing you from dating, I think you’ll find it doesn’t have to be a barrier. Go out and enjoy the summer with someone lovely! And happy free dating!