Money can’t buy love. Except on Valentine’s Day.

It’s late to mention this, but if you haven’t quite wrapped up your Valentine shopping (which is to say, “If you read this and thought, ‘Oh, $%@%!'"), I have a quantification of the requirements that may guide you.

This information was obtained through painstaking research by … somebody. It came to me ready-to-use in a press release, and it raises more questions than it answers.

We’ll get to them. For those just looking for guidance before they hit Wal-Mart on the way home, though, here you go. According to my sources, this is what “she” expects “you” to spend:

• If you’ve been dating less than two months: $60.

• Dating more than two months but less than four: $100.

• More than four but less than six: $200.

• Six months or longer: $300.

And there’s an addendum you can take as a warning: If you’ve had even one date in February, she’s “hoping” you’ll give her something, “even if it’s only candy.”

Not a whisper about what you can expect from her, though. And thus the gender bias that poisons our society rolls on.

I don’t think I’m cheap. I tip decently, though I don’t believe in tipping. (Get back, waitpersons: All I’m saying is that you should be paid an adequate wage so you don’t have to depend on random generosity.) I’ll pay extra for something I like even when a budget version is available. Money is for spending.

Still: Do you spend 60 bucks on somebody you’ve dated three times? Especially when (sticking to the she-expects angle of this report) you probably paid for her dinner, concert ticket and babysitter, too? Where is the outrage, not only from males, but from women lessened by society’s assumptions?

Maybe it’s the tone that ticks me off: After X number of dates, it says matter-of-factly, you’re expected to spend X dollars. Yet if you presented a date-by-date schedule of what you expect, you’d be exiled to Neanderthal Land in a blink.

It’s possible, I guess, that my understanding of dating is dated. Back when I was picking ’em up at 7, a guy (even an average guy, like me) might “date” three or four girls in rotation. Miniature golf on Friday with Sandi, a movie Saturday with Paulette, to the beach on Sunday with Marcia. Nobody got mad, nobody got jealous, nobody expected a 60-buck Valentine.

Of course, nobody got naked, either. Back then (pre-sexual revolution; that happened while I was in Vietnam, and what a happy surprise for a returning veteran), three dates might get you to first base. Unless I mean second base—this was so long ago, I’ve forgotten where the bases were.

I know it takes less time to circle those bases than it used to, though. Maybe that’s what’s bumped the ante. Back in the day, three bucks was plenty to spend on a girl you were dating casually. More than that, and her father might start pondering your intentions.

Today, if my information is correct, that kind of casual dating hardly exists. Maybe the heightened pace and intimacy, coupled with the narrowed field of participants, have hiked the individual payout.

Still, 60 bucks strikes me as a lot to invest in a five-week relationship. For men of prime Valentine age, students or guys in starter jobs, it’s a day’s take-home. The landlord or Budweiser probably has first claim to that money.

What it comes down to, though—trust me on this; I’ve been married 34 years—is that if you’re dating a woman with unrealistic expectations, you can expect trouble.