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Dating Tips for Financially Stressful Times

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Just because the market is crashing doesn’t mean your social calendar has to go under as well. Interestingly, The Los Angeles Times ran an article (January 7, 2009) revealing that despite cuts in jobs, home values, investment portfolios, and spending the only booming market is the dating market.

Maybe finding love has not been at the top of your “to do” list but perhaps it’s time to reconsider. It seems that the world’s financial instability has had a silver lining. It has reminded people that love, family, and connection are what really matters.

Ironically, this market could be the best market to find love. Although money worries are stressful, take this time to focus on improving yourself—something that happens to be free. Instead of the usual shopping sprees, spend some time alone thinking about what you want in a relationship. Get on the floor and do those sit-ups you’ve been meaning to do. Finally, clear out the residual emotional and literal clutter from 2008.

Simple ideas to prepare for a date no matter how short your purse strings:

Shop In Your Closet

Find your favorite magazine (you don’t even have to spend the four bucks to buy it, you can simply look at one in the library) and see what is current and find a look you feel compelled to try. With a vision in mind of what you would like to wear, head to your closet and start sorting through your stuff. Armed with photos of what’s “in,” create two date outfits you like just by restyling what you already own. When you scrounge around in your closet you often find something fabulous that you had forgotten about. Spending a bit of time will save you money and you’ll look and feel great.

Host an In-Home Salon Night

It might feel luxurious to go to the salon to have your nails and hair done but the most high profile celebrities have the salon come to them. Invite your friends over for a simple potluck night of spa luxury fun. Give one another manicures and pedicures. Color each other’s hair. Or give each other facials. Just because you can’t afford this level of professional preening and pampering doesn’t mean you have to go without the benefits. You will save money, bond with your friends, and have fun helping each other while times are tough.

Start a Babysitting Co-Op

Whether married or single, everyone can benefit from free babysitting. To start a babysitting co-op find three other families whose kids get along reasonably well with yours. Each family gets three nights off and only has to babysit one night per month. Everyone agrees on a day of the week, a drop off time, and a pick up time. When it’s your night as the “babysitter camp director” you could provide pizza and a movie, make lasagna, or do anything else simple. It’s fun for the kids and a relief for the adults to have three free nights of babysitting for only one night of work. It reduces the stress of having to find a sitter and saves you hundreds of dollars a month.

Now, the Date: Things to Consider

Be Compassionate — Be sensitive to the fact that whomever you’re going on a date with might be under the pressure of these financial times too.

Be Up for Anything — If someone plans a date, value his creativity and little gestures more than grand acts of luxury.

Generosity Has Nothing to Do With How Much He Spends — While he may not be able to lavish you with niceties and gifts in the way that you or he might like, it’s still easy to pick out a generous guy. Despite these financial times his ability to be giving will be obvious in many ways. What are the telltale signs of a generous spirit? He asks questions and listens to what you need and care about. He makes small gestures, like bringing you a coffee on a cold day.

Easier to Focus on What’s Real — Your night out may not be as grandiose but the moments are likely to be a lot more real and meaningful. With pretenses dropped you can more clearly see the true person. It might sound corny but it’s often the small moments between people where the greatest intimacy can be created. Just think of the movies, it’s the small moments that can be the most moving. A picnic in a park. Riding a fifty-cent ferry. Getting caught in a rain storm. It doesn’t cost you anything to connect.

In financially trying times, you might shy away from dating but we say, “don’t.” It’s the perfect time to be creative, to access your best and truest self, and to build connections based on something real rather than something superficial. Just think of the Master Card ad; a new dress might be $100, a great dinner at a hot restaurant $200, but spending time with someone you really like is definitely priceless. Isn’t that what you’re looking for?

For more, check out The Divorced Mom’s Guide to Dating and learn more about authors Heather Belle King, MFC & Michelle Fiordaliso, MSW now!