It's 40% more expensive to be single now than it was a decade ago

Wellor Nate King, digital content associate at a Chicago museum rising inflation in the past year, it has affected more than the cost of his life—it has also changed his dating life. King always made ends meet with his nonprofit salary and can even afford to live alone. But this summer, when prices started to rise, he started to feel the pinch. When he met a woman he liked at a concert, he was between paychecks and decided to wait to ask her out. But the spark went out and they never got together.

“As things got more expensive, there was less and less money for things that weren’t just bills,” he says. “Ask yourself: should I go out on a date or get groceries next week? It was definitely a bummer, because at least for me it gets a little harder every time I get up the nerve to ask someone out.”

King’s situation is one that many singles in the US can relate to. Inflation hit this year 40-year peaka reality that singles who don’t get the tax breaks available to married people or the benefits of a two-income household, they feel. According to the 2022 Americas Singles Report, published this week, the three biggest stressors for singles right now are related to finances: the impact of inflation, the state of the economy and their long-term financial future. (This is true for all generations except Gen Z, which reports being primarily stressed about mental health.)

Read more: Why experts say high inflation won’t go away anytime soon, even if the worst is behind us

In Match’s 12th annual report, researchers surveyed 5,000 singles between the ages of 18 and 98 in the U.S. and found that they spend $117.4 billion on dating each year. That works out to about $130 each month, or $1,560 each year per person—which is 40% more than what singles spent on their dating lives a decade ago.

It’s no surprise that the financial pressures have been on the rise in recent years influenced what people look for in a partner: a whopping 96% of singles think it’s important to share similar attitudes about debt and spending with a partner, and 23% of singles say they now value frugal people more. Likewise, economic circumstances have made stability sexy: 30% of singles surveyed say inflation has made them more eager to find a financially stable partner.

Haley Sachs, founder of a financial literacy company Finances are cool and Instagram meme influencer @MrsDowJones, believes that the current financial climate, as challenging as it is, warrants positive and necessary conversations about financial compatibility. “Relationships are based on three levels of compatibility: emotional, sexual, and financial,” she says. “It’s just as important to talk about finances as it is about your family or your childhood. It’s a core element of who you are.”

Read more: How people change their love lives according to money

Maria Avgitidischief executive officer of Agape match in New York and hosts the podcast ask a matchmaker agrees. She argues that the current financial challenges facing singles can create opportunities for them to understand their compatibility with potential partners when it comes to financial attitudes and lifestyles.

“How do you spend your money? What are you splashing about? where do you want to live These are questions people are asking more and more,” she says. “You want to be consistent because financial stress is the number one reason people divorce.”

Avgitidis also argues that finding love during inflation is more than possible, noting that she started her matchmaking business after the 2008 recession and has witnessed many encounters during financial crises.

“It’s easy to blame inflation, but inflation is a global phenomenon. Love is recession-proof – people will find a way to date,” she says. “There are so many more accessible things to do now than ever before.”

Avgitidis’ advice seems consistent with what many singles are doing to pursue love even as they feel the pressure of inflation. According to the Match survey, 84% of singles prefer a casual first date to a formal one; 30% are now more open to doing free activities in a meeting; and 25% are more open to just meeting for coffee or drinks.

Read more: 9 Ways Being Single Can Improve Your Life

For King, a walk in the park has become a good, budget option. “It’s definitely different from just going to a bar, but I like it,” he says. “I found it more intimate. Sometimes in the bar, with alcohol, there’s this false confidence and it’s easier not to show my whole self.”

Nearly half of singles surveyed in the Match report said they were looking for a committed partnership. But Sachs cautions against seeking a partner for financial reasons. While being single and shouldering the costs of living on your own can be difficult, she says, it would be more expensive to pursue an unhealthy or unsatisfying relationship just to relieve financial pressure.

“Being part of a two-income household is amazing – you can split the rent, you can split the food, there’s a lot of benefits to that,” she says. “But a bad relationship, even if you’re going to split the bills, ends up being really expensive for you and your mental health. It’s important to prioritize your own financial goals.”

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Write to Kady Lang c [email protected].

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