Relationships are often portrayed as dates at fancy places with low lighting, expensive meals and a required dress code. While those dates certainly happen, they are not the norm as a relationship progresses. As college students, that lifestyle just isn't covered by financial aid. Besides, if you have found your partner, Taco Bell right before bed can be just as romantic.

The First Few Months

The first few dates are really as awkward as the media portrays. No one wants to seem like a cheapskate by suggesting the local takeout place, and both parties are a little more conscious of their manners. In the beginning, my relationship was dotted with dates at Chili's because it was all a couple of broke high school students could afford. My boyfriend had been raised as a gentleman, and he insisted on paying for the meals every time.

After the First Year

After the first year or so, I demanded to be allowed to pitch in at least the tip, then to half the bill, and eventually just to switching back and forth between who picks up the bill. We became more conscious of our money. We stopped going out as much or changing the time we would go. For most relationships, a natural way of dealing with price and deciding on location manifest. Some take turns, some play it by ear, others will just go with what one person has been craving.

After Several Years

Dinner dates will change in both frequency and type. For our six-year anniversary, my partner and I went to a steakhouse and had the most expensive meal we've had to date. We split the cost, and enjoyed one another's company. However, after a rainy home football game the following semester, we got sandwiches from a Cuban joint behind the stadium, and sat in the dark on a park bench. Despite the contrast in the two meals, both provided the same level of enjoyment.

Eating out is expensive, and the portions are often bigger than either person should consume. Try cooking at home with your partner. It's a rather cheap date, and if you can handle maneuvering through a cramped kitchen together without someone getting stabbed or burned, you can count yourself in for the long haul.