How the high cost of living is changing the dating scene | CBC News

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A few years ago, a typical David Yarranton date night used to include dinner and cocktails at a trendy restaurant.

But with the cost of living rising, the 27-year-old is getting creative. He still enjoys a night out, but he’s just as happy to cook a meal at home or head out for an afternoon of ice skating and hot chocolate.

“I think that’s just as effective for getting to know someone, without necessarily breaking the bank,” said Yarranton, who lives in Calgary.

The balancing act, between impressing a potential girlfriend and staying on budget (without looking cheap), has always been a part of dating. But with inflation on the rise, it’s getting harder to attack.

Going out to dinner with a new love costs about eight per cent more than last year, according to October figures from Statistics Canada. Extending the night with drinks at the bar means spending about another four percent relative to 2021, on top of already higher daily costs for rent and groceries.

that’s something left postponement schedule dates entirely, while others simplify their date nights by suggesting casual activities rather than elaborate ones, according to recent surveys of users of dating platforms, Plenty of Fish and Bumble.

Casual dating gains popularity

The trend away from “fancy” dating and toward more casual dating has manifested itself in Bree Woolard’s love life this year.

The 24-year-old, who recently moved from Toronto to Calgary, has about 30 dates in a “50 First Dates” challenge: a self-imposed TikTok experiment aimed at helping her meet new people in the wake of a breakup.

Bree Woolard is in the middle of a self-imposed TikTok experiment to go on 50 first dates. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Whether it’s due to rising inflation or a change in location (or a bit of both), she’s noticed that the types of dates she’s been invited to have changed in recent months, with fewer dinner parties and far more hikes.

There have also been some awkward money moments along the way, like the time a date took Woolard to a fancy restaurant where she unexpectedly ended up footing the bill.

“We still have a great time,” Woolard said.

“But I think going forward it’s important, more today than it used to be, to have that conversation early on and say, ‘Hey, I just have a budget,’ or ‘Hey, I’m trying to save costs this month… Can we do something different?'”

‘A barometer for the consumer’

Before setting foot on a date, some budget-conscious singles are also saving money by cashing out on dating apps and websites.

Revenue at Plenty of Fish, for example, has been hit by “deteriorating economic conditions,” according to a recent earnings letter from the company Match Group, which also owns Tinder, Hinge and a variety of other apps. and dating websites. Other “established” brands such as Match and OkCupid also saw declines this quarter, the letter said.

Stock image of hands holding a smart phone with a heart, indicating a dating app.
Some dating platforms have seen their revenue drop as a result of the current economic conditions. (iStock/fake images)

Inflation has also affected the “à la carte” offerings of some of these platforms, the company’s chief financial officer said during a recent Nasdaq investor conference. In dating app jargon, this could mean, for example, the option to pay money to improve your dating profile and show it to more people.

“People, they’re reading in the press about layoffs, they’re reading about the recession, they’re getting more nervous and so we’re seeing a pullback,” said Gary Swidler, who is both Match Group’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer. , and who said that this is more common among some demographic groups, such as younger users. “We are a barometer for the consumer to a certain degree.”

Bumble Inc., for its part, has told investors it sees an opportunity in the current economic environment: positioning the app as a cheaper way to find a potential partner than going to a bar and hoping for the best.

“Our weekly boost subscription costs less than a beer in a New York City bar, and the expense of going on multiple dates in a week really adds up quickly,” CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd said on a recent call from third quarter earnings.

“We are leaning towards this from both a product and marketing perspective.”

Talking about money, early

One potential downside to dating on a budget is that it can create stress for couples if they’re not on the same page about it, says Adam Galovan, who studies dating relationships at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

“It can be challenging when you have certain expectations, and when you have these costs and periods of inflation where you might not go to places that are as nice,” said Galovan, an associate professor of family sciences at the university. department of human ecology.

And while finances are a common area of ​​tension in any relationship, Galovan noted that it can be particularly tricky to navigate in the early stages.

Adam Galovan at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Adam Galovan, associate professor of family sciences at the University of Alberta, says it can be difficult to talk about money at the beginning of a relationship, when people are trying to do their best. (John Ulan)

“I’m a big advocate of communicating and talking about things,” Galovan said.

“But in the dating scene, sometimes you’re trying to impress or make the best move forward, so those conversations can be a little hard to have at first.”

Despite the difficult conversations, anthropologist Helen Fisher believes that the openness toward economic outlets is, to some extent, a reflection of a greater maturity on the part of daters and part of what she describes as a trend toward dating. the “smart quotes”.

Still courting, but trimming

Fisher, who is also Match’s chief scientific advisor, is part of an annual research project commissioned by the dating platform that surveys singles across the US.

This year, it found that more respondents expressed a preference for casual dating, with a large majority listing similar attitudes about debt and spending as important traits in a relationship.

A growing number said they were also more open to doing free dating activities or going somewhere close to home to save money on gas. Compared with previous years, more said they were also taking video calls with potential suitors before spending money and energy on an in-person date, Fisher said.

“People are still courting, but they’re cutting back to save money, there’s no question about that,” said Fisher, who believes the trends in her study apply to Canada and other urbanized countries as well.

“They are less interested in how you look and more interested in whether you are financially stable.”

A group of people having dinner in a restaurant.
A recent survey of US singles commissioned by suggests that financial stability is becoming a more desirable trait. (Shutterstock/Monkey Business)

be intentional

As for Bree Woolard, she still has nearly 20 dates to go, but she’s taking a temporary breather to give her brain, her heart, and her wallet a break.

“Christmas…is very expensive, so I’m focusing on where I want to spend that. It’s mostly with friends and family,” she said.

“I think you have to have the right mindset to date, so [I’m] waiting until I feel that again.”

Yarranton, meanwhile, has begun seeing someone else on a regular basis. And while part of the fun of an early relationship is planning trips and special outings together, she said these days she worries about planning and budgeting ahead.

“I don `t believe [inflation] should stop you from living your life,” he said.

“You just have to be a little more intentional about where you’re putting your money.”

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