In a particularly distasteful, front page Washington Post piece about financially-smarting fellows and the women they used to treat, we learn the economy has hurt the retro-perfect dating lives of D.C.'s less-than-hip youth.
Dating in the time of the pink slip means feeling the squeeze of the drastically reduced paycheck, the sudden sting of the layoff. From investment bankers to real estate developers to construction workers, no job means no buying rounds of $15 martinis for a pretty woman and her girlfriends. No hosting parties in the bachelor loft. And often, no idea how to present one's new self on the dating market.
The piece is evenly divided between guys who used to coast on their money -"I was so used to using my financial situation to leverage my dating" - and the women who are mad they aren't treated to everything anymore. On the upside, they all seem to deserve each other! Guys in the piece say things like, "It comes back to this whole manhood thing. Like, can you be the provider, not just for yourself but for others?" Women, meanwhile, uniformly expect to be comped at dinner, bemoan being asked out less, say it's ok if the guys don't spend as long as they act like Aalpha males" and are quoted, "I guess I'm kind of traditional. So if a guy can't really take you out or doesn't have the money or the state of mind to take girls out, then it's not going to go anywhere."
Apparently these youngsters "developed their dating skills in fat times" and don't know how to date without an expense account. One dude used to say things like, "You're not going to see much of me in the next 15 years if we start dating, because I'm going to be making a lot of money," and thinks this drive helped him land his girlfriend. How can he win ladies if he can't produce charming bons mots like that?! Now he lives at home and has to take the Chinatown bus to see her; miraculously, given the attitude of most of the women quoted in the piece, she's still with him. But the plucky kids are willing to look for inexpensive dates with underemployed Alpha males, and even get creative! One guy talks about taking girls hiking or on motorcycle rides to vineyards and says, "Now I'm more inclined to take a girl to a good ethnic restaurant...I was constantly worried about being judged for how much money I was spending." One hopes the women are prepared to slum it!
I understand this piece only purports to speak to a certain segment of the population, many of whom worked in particular areas like finance. But...seriously? 20-somethings think this way? Because the straits they bemoan sound like the everyday dating lives of everyone I know, even in the Cap. If so, I feel for the kids in this piece, because it would seem the poor things are at an impasse: the women won't date penniless dudes, the men feel like emasculated losers cause they can't roll Don Draper-style, and it seems all of them are bound to wither away in a morass of self-imposed 1950s loneliness.
Market For Romance Goes From Bullish To Sheepish [Washington Post]