Finding Love Online in a Recession

Recession sparks increased interest in online dating

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The stock market slump may be contributing to a surge in online dating. “On days when the Dow went down by 100 points we found an increase in our site usage relative to when the Dow increased by 100 points,” says Gian Gonzaga, a senior research scientist for dating website eHarmony. That site also saw a 20 percent spike in users between September 2008 and January 2009 compared to the same time period a year prior. “People may not always immediately make the connection between an external stressor, such as the state of the economy, and their close relationships, but our survey shows that people who are stressed about the economy may be drawn to long-term relationships even if they are not aware of it,” Gonzaga says.

Long-term relationships where couples share living expenses often save both parties money, but Gonzaga says that is not what is fueling this trend. “Companionship, not financial stability, is what appeals to them most about being in a long-term relationship,” he says. “Close relationships help people cope with stress, so we gravitate toward finding and maintaining them when times are tough.”

Another popular dating website, Match.com, has also seen business boom as most other sectors of the economy slump. Membership grew 17 percent in December. Interestingly, Match.com’s fastest growing demographic is Americans age 50 and older, who currently make up 20 percent of all members. “People say they are using online dating because the economy is so bad,” says Whitney Casey, a relationship insider (yes, that is really her job title) for Match.com and author of The Man Plan: Drive Men Wild... Not Away. “You can e-mail rather than having to go spend money on a drink.”

[See Boomers Meet Their Match Online]

Tell us, will you be searching for love online this year?