After separating from my wife of 12 years last year I decided I wasn't interested in dating and just wanted to have some fun sexual adventures - all good. However, I have made some very good friends, some of whom have become "friends with benefits" whereby I've had lots of dates / social meets without paying, and also punts at ridiculously reduced rates (overnights / weekends for the price of a couple of hours).
I've also experienced a sugar daddy type "relationship" where I've contributed a set amount towards rent expenses rather than paying per punt, and other than that our time spent was much like civvy dating - dates / weekends with pretty much guaranteed sex - certainly a lot more / better quality sex than I ever got from a civvy.
I have tried a bit of civvy dating but found it slow going. Most civvy women on dating sites appear to be very suspicious / cynical that men are just looking for hook-ups / one-night-stands. Go figure! But as a result, I would say yes civvy dating can be a huge waste of time/money if you "play the game" - ie act as if you're really NOT after sex when in fact you really are. Given some of the great experiences I've had punting I'd rather stick with a punting / sugar daddy type deal that's guaranteed sex than tolerate weeks of bullshit dates only to realise that the civvy you're dating is not that into sex at all, or just plain crap at it.