Some media reports suggest rotten economic conditions are creating a bull market for romance.
The claims are reminiscent of those dubious old theories of hemlines rising and falling with the economy, plus a little pop psychology about looking for security in insecure times and how a slowdown inspires consideration of things more important than money.
It sounds plausible enough. When one has been laid off, perhaps there is a little more time to devote to getting laid. And well might one, in uncertain times, grow more susceptible to the charms of someone to share one’s life — and split the rent.
The evidence cited, though, is a little less than convincing.
Exhibit A: Since the economy began to tank, online dating sites have reported a spike in business. These, of course, are merely people who are looking for someone else, not necessarily finding them.
It could be equally true that the stampede of new singles on the market is a sign of a whole lot of dumping going on. The unemployed may have all sorts of time to update their Lavalife profile, but they are seldom at their most confident and attractive. (I write from couch-bound, self-pitying experience.)
Exhibit B: Adult toy shops are also touting a surge in business, the implication being that couples are cutting their entertainment expenses and staying in for cheap thrills. But a hefty proportion of their wares, it must be noted, are perfectly serviceable in a do-it-yourself context. No compelling indication of a recession-driven stampede of romantic mergers here, either.
Money is often cited as one of the worst sources of tension in a relationship, and it goes all the way to the top. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his wife, Ontario MPP Christine Elliott, last week found themselves on opposite sides of the harmonized sales tax debate in Ontario. Ms. Elliott stated that despite the disagreement, they would remain married. The Minister has expressed relief.
But if money is the root of your relationship-rocking squabbles, less money is hardly a solution. Ironically, though, there are some signs that divorces are down, as couples who might otherwise bail eye the potential legal bills and decide to hang in for now.
So are we getting more with less? The signs are inconclusive, and economists do a bad enough job of predicting our behaviour with money, let alone love and money. Do you feel lucky?
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• For more views on relating, go to Love Bytes at www.metronews.ca/blogs
– Steve Collins offers his best guesses on relationships for Metro every two weeks.