Fear of being alone, lack of money, and boredom are sending the recession-hammered online in search of their perfect mate. Not sure that seems like the right mindset for finding that special someone, but you can’t succeed if you don’t try.
Time: When the going gets tough, the tough go online-dating.
“I just got laid off, and it’s the holiday season. The last thing I want right now is to be lonely,” laments Kate Miller, 24, who used to work at a nonprofit in New York City. “Along with getting a job, finding a boyfriend is definitely a top priority.”
We always thought we wouldn’t want to have to deal with an awkward “So what do you do for a living?” conversation if we didn’t have a job. But more power to you, Kate.
Miller is part of a surge in new-member enrollment, adding to the ranks of some 60 million visitors to online dating sites each month. Dating colossus Match.com, which charges users $35 a month, reported its largest monthly membership growth in seven years in November, while Perfectmatch.com reported a 47% jump in membership over the past quarter.
“People crave reassurance and comfort during stressful economic times like this,” said Dr. Martha Leibmann, a New Jersey–based therapist who has witnessed an increasing number of single patients venturing into cyberspace to find a partner. “They are afraid of being alone even in good times, but that fear is especially heightened nowadays.” A poll recently conducted by Opinion Research Corp. and sponsored by popular dating site eHarmony backs up Leibmann’s theory. Of 1,092 respondents, those who said they felt stressed by the current economy were 14% more likely to aim to be in a long-term relationship within a year, compared with those who were not stressed by the economy.
Manhattan psychologist Kevin R. Kulic considers the accessibility of online dating to be a potential silver lining for singles who have lost their jobs in recent months. “Suddenly, people are now able to commit themselves to finding a partner without the constant, time-consuming strain of their careers,” he says. “They can’t hide behind their BlackBerrys anymore.”
Even for those who still have their jobs, online dating has another advantage over more traditional dating rituals: it’s cheaper. Julian Glasser, 32, a real estate broker in Chicago, was forced to make financial sacrifices after the declining housing market took a toll on his formerly ample commissions. Among them was a shift in his dating habits. “I was spending less time at bars and clubs meeting girls and more time at home trying to find girls on the Internet,” he says. “I used to spend hundreds of dollars a week on my various dating efforts, whereas now, I only spend $50 a month on online dating, and I’m pretty much guaranteed success.”
Fabulous! But we’re keeping our BlackBerries.