Saving may be making a comeback, but it still hasn’t gotten its sexy back, particularly if you’re a man.
Earlier this month, the Commerce Department reported that the personal savings rate in June was a much-improved 6.4 percent and that the number had risen as high as 8.2 percent in the depths of the stock market doldrums in the spring of 2009.
Those who are single may not have been rewarded for their parsimony, though. Now comes some survey data from ING Direct, the people who would like you to save more money in their online savings accounts. In June, the company asked 1,000 people which words would come to mind if someone was fixing them up on a blind date with someone described as frugal.
Just 3.7 percent answered “sexy,” while 15 percent picked “boring” and 27 percent chose “stingy.”
Anyone who urges better money habits on the masses for a living ought to be gravely offended by this, though Ramit Sethi, author of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” tried to take it in stride. “The term frugality has been so perverted that it now means ‘No, no, no’ to everyone, whether it’s shoes or lattes or travel,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the right word.”
Yet it is a term that the online dating company eHarmony screens for in its patented compatibility test, asking people to rank themselves on a seven-point scale for frugality (along with things you would expect, like compassion and generosity).
“It makes sense, right?” asks Gian Gonzaga, 40, who has a doctorate in psychology and is eHarmony’s senior research director. “You look at the attractiveness angle, but farther down the road, money and finances are one of the biggest conflict areas couples traditionally face. And a lot of that comes down to having enough or not having enough.”
Well, maybe it makes sense and maybe it doesn’t. If your frugality has the potential to turn off nearly half of the mating pool, it raises a question: How best to broadcast your financial values and seek significant others who share your approach without coming off as a tightwad or a gold digger?
This challenge is a fairly recent one. Several generations back, personal ads could not have been more explicit about finances, since everyone knew that women generally had no income and a marriage involving a man of means was the only way to live comfortably.
This posting, from The New York Herald in 1860, was about par for the course, according to Pam Epstein, an adjunct professor at the Newark campus of Rutgers University, who wrote her history Ph.D. thesis on older ads. “A young lady, rather good looking, and of good address, desires the acquaintance of a gentleman of wealth (none other need apply), with a view to matrimony,” the ad read.
Ads from men from that period seemed custom-built to fit that bill. “The advertiser, a successful young business man of good education, polite manners and agreeable address, having recently amassed a fortune and safely invested the same, wishes to meet with a young lady or widow,” one said.
“There was this idea that men were very frugal,” said Ms. Epstein, 33, who posts copies of some of the ads she’s dug up at advertisingforlove.com. “You were going to work hard and save your money, and then by doing so, you would be able to support a wife in comfort. I do see a lot of ads saying ‘I’ve been wrapped up in business all this time and now I can support a wife comfortably.’ ”
Flash forward to today, however, and things get more complicated. Some people do put down an income range in their online dating profiles, though it’s not as if anyone is auditing the figures for honesty. Many men, meanwhile, pose peacocklike in front of their cars or boats or homes. The message here is less clear, though. Are these meant to be trophies, a sign of a fortune already amassed? Or is it the mark of a spendthrift? Or an indication that he’ll spend all of his time on the water, and you’d better be ready with the Dramamine if the relationship is going to work?
“There’s nothing admirable in frugality, because it’s invisible,” Ms. Epstein notes.
But even if you could transmit that value through an online dating profile, would you want to? It turns out that the answer to that may depend on whether you’re a man or a woman.
The ING Direct survey, which was conducted by phone and has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, presented one more potential label for that frugal blind date: smart. And in a promising sign for the nation’s solvency, that was the term chosen most often, picked by 49 percent of respondents. EHarmony also crunched the numbers for me on 30 million matches it made in July and found that both men and women were 25 percent more likely to have a potential mate reach out to them if they identified themselves as a saver rather than a spender.
Curiously, however, 56 percent of men in the ING Direct survey gave “smart” as their favorite answer while just 42 percent of women did. (The numbers were similarly flipped on stingy: 33 percent of women labeled the potential mate that way, while just 20 percent of men did.)
What’s going on here? “My suspicion is that the value of frugality depends on whose money will presumably be spent,” said Reuben Strayer, 34, a physician in Manhattan who does not broadcast his profession or true income in online personals. He always pays for the first date and does not object to providing for a wife one day, he adds; he just doesn’t want to attract the kind of woman who is specifically looking for someone who will do so.
But even if many men still make more money than women and are wary of mates who would want them to spend it, they may not want to advertise it. “Frugality may or may not have anything to do with how much he loves you,” said BJ Gallagher, 61, an experienced online dater and author of several self-help books for women. “But for a lot of women, love looks like ‘Take care of me and give me things.’ ”
My jaw dropped listening to some of the dated stereotypes coming out of Ms. Gallagher’s mouth and I told her so. “I try not to get into right and wrong,” she replied. “I’m not a professional finger-wagger. I just hold a mirror to things. I’m descriptive, not prescriptive.” She said she’d been in relationships where she provided most of the income and had seen plenty of gay and lesbian couples where one mate provided the “masculine” energy that kept things in balance.
Fair enough, but what should you do if you want to communicate prudent financial values to a potential mate without dropping the unsexy F word?
Robert Epstein, a psychologist who has studied online dating, said he struggled with this during the seven years it took to produce a beta version of the relationship compatibility test now online at arewegoodtogether.com. He suggests that people who feel strongly about good money habits talk about how they love a great bargain.
Topher Burns, 27, a Manhattan resident who is about to move in with a man he met online, said he realized that he had it a bit easier than heterosexual men who might feel compelled to pay for dates all of the time. But he still took a subtle approach in his online profile by talking about how he loved discovering the newest cheap eats. It shows, he explained, both a love of quality and a respect for value, which seems like a fine message to send no matter who is picking up the check.
The trick, it seems, is to use such subtle codes, the same way people slip in mentions of their jogging habit rather than coming right out and saying that they’re not overweight. So rather than projecting frugality outright, try dropping a classic investing book like “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” by Burton G. Malkiel, into the list of things you’ve read recently, suggested Deborah H. Levenson, a financial planner with Braver Wealth Management in Newton, Mass. ,who recently became engaged to a man she met online.
“That might give someone a sense that you were a Vanguard investor,” she said. “I think Vanguard is sexy.”
All of that said, when reading these profiles, keep in mind that these are advertisements. They will stretch the truth or lie outright and may contain not just delusions of grandeur or wealth but ones of financial prudence, too.
You may be able to tease out any inconsistencies once you get to know a potential mate. But don’t ask about them directly. One thing that everyone I talked to this week agreed on was this: Frugality may or may not be sexy, but few people want to hear about your asset allocation on the first date.
From the NYTIMES August 21
This is from researchers at UC Berkeley’s School of Information. In a study of online dating, researchers found that:
Appearances count. No duh. Why do you think so many 40-year-olds use circa 1985 photos to lure you in? And don’t even get me started on the evils of Photoshop.
Don’t waste a lot of time going back and forth online. Stories where couples report falling in love before they’ve ever met have always given me the willies. It’s so easy to look hot and appealing via well-thought-out emails and carefully edited photos. Chemistry is one of the many things impossible to ascertain via the internet, because if he smells of rotting cheese and boiled fish heads, you won’t know that until you’re seated across from him. Not to mention, when someone puts off meeting you IRL, it’s generally because they’re married.
Men lie about their height, women lie about their weight. Researchers found that men add an extra half-inch, while women “lose” an average of five pounds. In my estimation, these are extremely conservative measurements. Oddly enough, there was no mention of age liars, which run rampant regardless of gender.
Women are more likely to want to stick with their own kind. Apparently women are less likely to want to date outside their ethnicity. Nearly twice as many women as men specified that they wanted someone of the same racial background as themselves. This was the one finding that I was actually surprised, and appalled, to read.
The median age of online daters is 42 for men, 41 for women. Since we already know everyone lies about their age, I suspect this is more like 47 for men, 46 for women (though I have no credentials to back up my hypothesis; just a lot of anecdotal evidence). This makes sense since the older you get, the more difficult it is to meet people. It’s not like your average 50-year-old is going to pick up a dude at Bikram yoga or playing kickball.
Women were more likely to be freaked out when men used the word “love;” while men had a similar reaction to the word “hate” in a woman’s profile. This is simple–men who toss around the L-word too soon are usually full of crap. Women who hate a lot of things come across as bitter and angry–which is more of a turnoff than a stray chin hair or those five extra pounds you’ve been lying about.
Online dating is now the norm for singles with large parts of the population utilizing various online dating services.
OnlineSchools has compiled some startling online dating statistics that offer a revealing glimpse into the wild world of web romance.
See the online dating stats in the infographic below.
A few highlights:
* One out of ten users on online dating sites are scammers; one out of ten users leave within the first 3 months; and one out of ten sex offenders reportedly use online dating to meet people.
* One out of three women who meet men online have sex on the first encounter.
* Online, men lie most about their age, height, and income. Women, on the other hand, lie most about their weight, physical build, and age.
ABC4NEWS — About 20% of couples meet online today. The other more
traditional ways include meeting through friends, at school and at work.
Dr. Gonzaga is a senior research scientist at eHarmony whose life career is
to study the success of online dating. He goes as far as to say he thinks
online dating users will have a lower divorce rate in the future than those
who meet through other means. Dr. Gonzaga says eHarmony manages to set up
236 marriages a day simply because the survey matches ‘like with like.’
Contrary to the popular adage, the love doctor says, “opposites ‘do’
attract…but then, they attack.”
When it comes to dating, be fearless and strategic in your approach
There’s a lesson to be learned from that guy who relentlessly uses corny lines to get your attention: It’s OK to approach and attempt to meet someone new. Finesse Mitchell, author of “Your Girlfriends Only Know So Much,””says women should try it more often. An excerpt.
Chapter three: The approach
Know this: when men approach women with stupid, corny lines, they are saying, “”I know I have no shot at you, but I am not letting you walk by me without saying something.” They are actually trying to give you a compliment. And you’re probably thinking, why don’t men just say hello? Duh! Well, that’s too simple. And we only think to say that if our clever pick-up line doesn’t work. In fact, as soon as you say you are not interested and walk away, that’s when we say, “Damn, I should have just said hello.”
Some men think that pick-up lines are harmless fun and women should just have a sense of humor. Other men say they do it because they want to get a reaction out of the woman. It doesn’t matter if the reaction is good or bad, just as long as she notices them. For example, old men’s pick-up lines usually start with, “If I was just a few years younger” Disrespectful old men’s pick-up lines are similar but the word Viagra is usually somewhere up in the mix. And men that are old, but still think they got it going on always offer to pay for something when they say hello. “Hey Ms. Lady, if you ever need your rent paid or help with your car note or want me to buy you a new Honda Accord, let Rufus know. Those young guys don’t know how to take care of something like you.”
What is a great pick-up line? A great pick-up line for a man is anything we can come up with to get a woman we don’t know to smile and stick around long enough until we ultimately say something stupid or repeat a question she’s already answered like, “So who are you here with? Oh, that’s right, you did say. My bad.”
I don’t use them, but I like to hear pick-up lines, especially if they are funny. Here are some of my favorites:
Your legs must be tired, because you’ve been running through my mind all day.
One in four black men are incarcerated, guy number two is gay, and guy number three has two baby mommas. Now that leaves me so what you gonna do?
Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?
I lost my phone number. Can I have yours?
Your father must be a mason because he built a brick house!
Excuse me, Miss, did you fart? Because you just blew me away!
Are you wearing space pants? Because your ass is out of this world?
Were you arrested earlier? It’s got to be illegal to look that good!
I hope you know CPR because you take my breath away.
Do you take karate? Because your body’s kickin!
You must wash your pants with Windex, because I can see myself in them.
Your body is like a temple; it needs to be worshiped.
Yes, many of these lines are corny, but don’t lie. Some of them got you smiling, and if any of them is uttered by the right guy at the right time, you’ll either pretend you didn’t hear it (you’re in denial that he’s so lame) or give a fake giggle and play with your hair as though you just got the best compliment ever.
The lesson to be learned from Jeromeo
Women picture this: You are in a club having a good time with your girlfriends. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a guy walks right up to you and flashes his I-know-you-want-me-smile. You look him up and down and bust out laughing. Why are you laughing, knowing it’s never cool to be rude? Because this dude in his two-piece red suit has a very drippy Jheri curl that could be a fire hazard if the deejay started playing reggae music and people waved their lighters. To your horror, he also has four gold teeth that he is actually polishing in front of you with a cocktail napkin. And he is so blinged out, but with the fakest jewelry known to the twenty-five cent gumball machine.
Now what makes this guy approach you, or anybody else for that matter, besides confidence? How about the fact that whether you tell “Jeromeo” you would love to dance with him and then have his children, or flat out laugh in his face and tell him to beat it, he knows the worst thing you can say is “no” a couple of times. He gets rejected or told no all the time. In fact, he probably expects it and wipes that rejection off his shoulders along with the excess activator juice. Nonetheless, Jeromeo is still there to have a good time and knowing him, he will ask you to introduce him to one of your girlfriends who came to party because you are taking up space and wasting his time.
The majority of people, especially women who are not as bold and persistent as Jeromeo, could learn one thing from him: there is nothing wrong with approaching and attempting to meet someone new! Single women should do it more often. The number of cool guys you’ll actually meet, as opposed to the zero that you are meeting right now, would surprise you.
Just to relieve some of your apprehension, I’ll let you in on a little secret: you are absolutely wrong if you think we want to talk all night long to the guy we came with. We already know that fool. We want to get to know you. If I’m lying, I’m dying.
Here are some other things to consider that might ease your jitters:
Men will never be as hard on you as women are on us when we try to meet you.
Men will not suck their teeth and pretend to have asthma if you tap us on the shoulder to say hello.
Men will absolutely not think you are desperate, easy, or crazy if you approach us first. Remember, we are the ones who are desperate, easy and crazy.
When you see him but he doesn’t notice you, what to do?
Dear Single Ladies, I am writing this letter to inform you that when you see a guy that you want to get to know, but he is not giving you any eye contact or conversation, all is not lost. Just follow these four easy steps:
Step 1. Get close enough that he notices your presence.
Step 2. Smile at him, but look away and shake your head like he reminds you of an old friend or a good memory. He should definitely be curious about why you are so happy, and more importantly, he’s wondering if he has anything to do with that good thought in your head. Now be sure to look away because the whole thing has to be natural. If you stare at him too long just smiling, he will think you are crazy (especially if you live in New York and you’re on a subway train).
Step 3. If he does not comment or inquire about what has you in a good mood or why you are smiling at him, play it cool and walk away. If he’s not interested in your thoughts, then you can rule him out immediately and move on. Remember, the ultimate goal is to find a man who cares about you and what you are thinking. If he does show interest, proceed to the next step.
Step 4. If he asks what’s so funny, answer one of two ways:
1) Be honest. Introduce yourself and tell him you find him attractive. This will no doubt catch him off guard, make him smile back, and it gets right to the point. Is this super bold and aggressive on your part? Hell yes! Only certain type of women can pull this off or even feel comfortable being so direct. But you will find out right then and there if he has any interest in you and what his current relationship situation is.
2) Make up a story. That’s right, be a little dishonest. OK, actually just tell him a lie. Men tell women lies all the time, so don’t feel guilty. A little lie won’t hurt anyone. It won’t make you a bad person. Plus, you don’t know the dude. It’s not like you lied to a friend. Now that we’ve gotten the moral issue out of the way, tell him that he reminds you of a good friend from high school that all the girls liked, who stayed in trouble so much that he was always in detention. Believe it or not, most men will actually find that very flattering.
So let’s reel in this fish. If he responds well to either the lie or the truth, and seems interested, pull back on your fishing line and listen to see if he can carry a conversation and is worth planning a phone date and then possibly a real date. Red Lobster, here you come! Good Luck!
When approaching a guy, be natural, be confident and have fun with it. What’s the worse thing that can happen? Absolutely nothing. The same nothing that may be going on in your social life right now. So take a chance!
And to be honest, almost all guys are approachable even the one hangin in the corner. You see hangin is low stress. We get to stare at women all night, we don’t have to split our drink money in half, and we can play out any type conversation with you in our heads to blasting music which actually gives our imaginations a soundtrack. If you see men doing that, we are perfect targets and open for any conversation. Walking over and just chillin’ with a guy is a great way to meet somebody new. Eventually you two will notice the same things, laugh at the same jokes, and pick out the worst and best-dressed people together. Before you know it, you two will be talking up a storm.
Approaching a guy first is actually a no-lose situation because if he is not interested, he’ll still smile, thank you for the compliment, and keep it moving (freeing you to move on to the next guy). Or the conversation will immediately let you know that you are in the possible “cool-friend” zone and you can parlay this into meeting new people in his world thereby broadening your social circle. You may learn about events, bars, lounges, house parties, etc., you didn’t even know existed.
If absolutely nothing comes of your attempt to be proactive and he doesn’t catch the hint or appreciate the effort you made to say something to him, he’s not for you — no matter how attractive or intriguing he looked from across the room. Make a smooth exit and keep it moving. Pick another guy, another time. Just know that you did not play yourself or come off as desperate. Remember, your goal is to have a man respond in a way that shows he gives a damn.
With that being said, since I am letting you know men are easy targets eighty-five percent of the time, do us a favor: if you know you are desperate, easy, or crazy, simply give us a hint which one you happen to be before it’s too late. It’s only fair. Desperate, is something we can get to the bottom of together. Easy is not necessarily a bad thing unless the mobile clinic makes weekly stops at your house to restock your medicine cabinet. But crazy is not welcome under any circumstances. Fix crazy first and then come holla! Men will only drive an unstable woman crazier.