Exploring Whether a Coffee Date is Seen as Low Effort in Modern Dating

September 25, 2023

Coffee dates have long been a popular first date option. They are casual, inexpensive, and easy to end if you’re not feeling a connection. But recently some people, especially on social media, have started criticizing coffee dates as being too “low effort.”

This criticism came to light in a recent viral Instagram post, where a woman shared a message she received on a dating app. The man had suggested meeting up for coffee. In the comments, people piled on, calling coffee dates cheap and saying the man must not be very interested. Some even claimed women “deserve at least a meal” on a first date.

So is this really the prevailing attitude, that coffee dates are low effort and lazy?

The Appeal of Coffee Dates

Coffee dates have a lot going for them, which explains why they have been a first date staple for so long. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Inexpensive - Coffee dates allow both people to feel out the chemistry without a big investment. Coffee or tea is usually under $5. This takes the pressure off.
  • Casual setting - Coffee shops have a casual, relaxed vibe. This can help ease those first date nerves. There's no stuffy, formal atmosphere. You can focus on the conversation.
  • Easy exit - If the date is truly awful, you can make a polite exit after finishing your drink. You don't have to sit through a whole meal.
  • Good for talking - Sitting across from someone at a small table is ideal for talking and getting to know each other. The setting encourages conversation.
  • Sober - Meeting for coffee means both people can have clear heads. You get to know the real person, not the liquored-up version of themselves.
  • Daytime vibe - Coffee dates often take place during the day. This can feel safer for women meeting someone for the first time. Daytime = less likely to be misconstrued as a hookup.

So while coffee dates may be simple and inexpensive, they check a lot of boxes for a smooth first date experience.

Does It Really Signal Low Interest?

The criticism that coffee = low effort implies that the person asking is lazy or not truly interested. But in reality, suggesting coffee could signal a few different things:

  • They want a low pressure first meeting to see if you click
  • They are trying to be considerate of your schedule and budget
  • They prefer daytime meetups for safety reasons
  • They don't drink alcohol themselves and want a sober first interaction
  • They want your personality, not your drinking habits, to shine through

automatically assuming coffee = disinterest is unfair. Plenty of great relationships start with coffee dates. It's about the conversation and connection, not the beverage choice.

Coffee vs. Dinner: Two Schools of Thought

The backlash against coffee dates seems to come from two schools of thought:

1. Coffee is too casual

This group views coffee as not classy enough. They argue a proper first date should be dinner at a nice restaurant, which shows more effort.

2. Men should treat women to a meal

Some believe men are obligated to spend money on a woman to prove interest and financial stability. In this view, coffee is cheap and the man is just looking for easy sex.

But do expensive meals really lead to better relationships? Not necessarily. Fancy dinner venues can be stuffy and awkward for getting to know someone. And "free meal" mentalities often lead to disappointment on both sides.

Does Cost Really Equal Effort?

At the heart of the "low effort" accusation is the idea that cost = effort. In other words, men prove themselves by spending. But this outdated concept does a disservice to both genders.

For men, it promotes reckless spending on strangers instead of saving for the future. For women, it encourages entitlement and undermines independence.

True effort is better shown through:

  • Carefully choosing a location conducive to talking
  • Arriving early to secure a good table
  • Dressing nicely and grooming yourself
  • Actively listening and asking thoughtful questions
  • Suggesting another activity if you're both feeling it

These gestures show you value the person and the date itself, regardless of the price tag.

The Verdict: Coffee Isn't Low Effort, But How You Approach It Could Be

Coffee dates themselves aren't inherently low effort. They actually have a lot of benefits for making both parties comfortable in an initial meeting.

However, your mindset going into the date can determine the effort level. If you roll up late, dress sloppy, and barely engage in the conversation, then yeah, that's low effort.

But if you choose a nice spot, make an effort to look nice, and are fully engaged and interested in learning about the other person, a coffee date can be a great first interaction.

At Filteroff, we're believers that it's not where you go, but who you're with that matters most on a first date. So don't be afraid to suggest meeting up for coffee to start. If the conversation flows effortlessly, the date location won't matter at all.

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