In terms of dating, the recession will likely cement the shift feminism started several decades ago. Gone are the days where women with an old-fashioned sense of etiquette wait for the man to pick up the check.
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"Women are pitching in more and are more understanding about money," Weil says. Meanwhile men feel less pressure to take their dates to pricey restaurants or on expensive vacations.
"Regular dates will be more low-key. They may be more like bowling, or maybe some group activities, rather than going to fancy restaurants on a regular basis and having expensive drinks," adds Hart. But that doesn't mean romance is dead—it's just parsed out more slowly. "Special" days, such as birthdays or anniversaries, will "become special again," since splurges are less frequent. Hart expects those moments of celebration to take on new meaning. Cheap Dates During The Recession
Weil adds that this mindset shift that could outlast the slump. "People are starting to realize what's important," she says, and that's a lesson that can stick.
The sudden change in our nation's economic state may also spark a shift in the dating philosophy. With the collective understanding that having money isn't necessarily a top requirement in a relationship, the chances of people finding love might improve, Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman, a psychologist and author of Dating From the Inside Out predicts.
"There are so many aspects of a person," she says. "It's kind of sick that we only focus on jobs or money." Perhaps the diminishment of both was all we needed to see that clearly.
With strapped wallets, tightened belts and the national unemployment rate nearing double-digits, we can only hope that rumors of the recession's demise prove true—and soon. Here at YourTango, we wanted to know how the economic downturn in the U.S. has affected dating, marriage, sex and family already, and which of these changes will stick when the recession's over.
Andrew Cherlin, author of The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today, says that since people tend to pull together during a crisis, it wouldn't be surprising to see an overall rise in the marriage rate when the recession's waved the white flag. But, the longer the downturn continues, the more people become discouraged and irritable, which takes a toll on relationships. Poll: How Has The Recession Affected Your Love Life?
"The sooner we can bring about an economic recovery, the more American families we can save from potential despair and divorce," Cherlin says.
Pepper Schwartz agrees that the recession could cause an uptick in new coupling. The sociology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle and author of Everything You Know About Love and Sex is Wrong, says, "People can get distracted by careers and other kinds of ambitions, but when things get tough, they really want a partner—somebody to face life with." Marriage Is Not Dead!
One thing that's certain: the weddings taking place in this recessed economy are more modest than they have been in years past. Carley Roney, cofounder of The Knot Inc. (a media company focused on weddings and marriage), says, "With these life events, there's a momentum that goes way beyond what's happening in the economy right now." She points out that couples are finding plenty of ways to cut costs, from hosting smaller weddings to celebrating on Friday nights instead of more in-demand, and therefore costlier, Saturdays. Meanwhile, those putting the wedding off may decide that living under the same roof—sans marriage certificate—is a better option. "Some people are saying, 'OK, it's time to move in together, because it's cheaper,'" Roney says.
That kind of thinking will be particularly pronounced among blue-collar workers who are seeing their jobs dry up, says Cherlin.
"Blue-collar men and women are still trying to marry, to live the American dream, so they start more partnerships and eventually enter into more marriages, but many of these relationships fail," he says. He predicts that more children may be born out of wedlock thanks to the turndown, as the number of cohabiting couples rises. Blue Collar Dates
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