Stocks are down, home values are plummeting, portfolios are a fraction of what they once were. What’s a guy to do when he’s lost it all to a nasty recession? Buy something of real value, of course.
A woman, perhaps?
No, no. I’m not talking about prostitution, or even mail-order brides. I’m referring to a trend in the dating-coach industry. Apparently, men are dropping real money right now trying to find a romantic partner who will give them emotional intimacy. They’re spending their last dime trying to get a date.
The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan, in a recent Daily Dish, reports that business for some professional dating coaches (a la Will Smith’s character in Hitch) is through the roof. Men who have lost their financial security to the recession are desperate for emotional security and validation. They have nothing left, and they want a woman to make them feel better.
I have to admit, I sort of know the feeling. Right after my divorce, I felt like a major failure as a human being. I absolutely needed a woman to love me so that I could feel good about myself again. There’s nothing like a post-divorce rebound relationship to put a skip back in your step.
And at least these guys who are hiring dating coaches aren’t spending their last dime drinking themselves to death, like Nicolas Cage’s character in Leaving Las Vegas.
I’ve grown a lot in the years since my marriage ended. I now see I’m better off loving myself, rather than desperately searching for someone to love and validate me. That doesn’t mean I want to be alone. I’ve simply come to believe that if you need another person to make you feel hot, sexy, and confident, then you are in essence giving all your power to that person. Isn’t it better to find that power within?
That said, a widespread economic downturn seems entirely different. The recession isn’t about individual failure, it’s a group collapse. With income vanishing (and ending up in the pockets of AIG execs), everyone is suffering. And when the tribe suffers, there’s nothing like a man and woman pairing up, loving each other, supporting each other, having and holding each other, to build a stronger backbone for all. Part of the joy of being is being with someone you love.
Don’t get me wrong, single parents can definitely survive on their own. But you have to admit, there are tons of benefits to being part of a happy couple – emotional, financial (two salaries, one mortgage or rent payment), physical (sex every night! Okay, that’s also emotional and spiritual), etc.
Do we need dating coaches to find our partners? Eh… everyone’s different. To each his or her own.
Do we need each other? Yes.
If you see me searching under couch cushions for my last dime, rest assured I’ll be spending it on something of real value.
I’ve been using Loveawake.com for about two months now. The compatibility matching service has netted me exactly one date. (Woo-hoo!)
Currently, there are ten women in some stage of the online matchmaking dance with me – interest shown, comparing relationship essentials, answering two questions, or emailing.
Some of these woman take a few days between responses, others take weeks or even a month. I know people get busy – I was idle on Loveawake.com for two weeks at the end of my kids’ school year.
Still, I wonder if at least some of these women might like me, but just aren’t sure about one item in my profile:
Wants children: no
(Yes, I know there might be a zillion reasons why some women are taking ages to respond. For conversation sake, let’s assume at least one of them is considering this “wants children” item.)
The reason I wonder is this: if I receive a profile from a woman, and she has marked “yes” to the wants children item, I immediately dismiss her profile. I figure she really wants more kids, and I really don’t. A lack of relationship compatibility is an instant deal-breaker. Why bother meeting? I assume a woman like that receiving my “no” profile would do the same.
If a woman marks “no” to the wants children item, I bump her to the front of the getting-to-know-you list (assuming I’m attracted and feel there’s a chance for chemistry.)
It’s the women who mark “maybe” to the wants children field that befuddle me. How can a woman not be sure?
A single mom who marks “maybe” might really be on the fence. I get that. I was that way as a single dad five years ago. I could have had more kids, or not, just fine. Now that my kids are older, though, I’m pretty sure I’m done making babies.
But a childless single mom who marks “maybe” means what exactly? She might want to be a mom someday? She might not? She wants to be a mom but she doesn’t want to seem over-eager and pressure the guy into marriage and baby from the first date? She doesn’t want to be a mom but she doesn’t want to appear lacking a nurturing instinct?
Some days I think I should mark my wants kids field to say “maybe”. Maybe some of these women would respond more quickly.
Then again, maybe I should just quit this online dating charade, continue meeting women in real life, and gauge interest the old-fashioned way – by getting to know her in person.