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"It's not about impressing the other person, because you can't [afford] to impress them."That's been the experience of Johnnie Hobbs of North Hollywood.
The 26-year-old aspiring actor, tap dancer and writer has a full-time job at the Apple Store in Pasadena and says the economy "hasn't affected me that much." Still, he said, when he goes out, "You're trying to save money as best you can without telling the girl you're saving money.""It's a very thin line between sort of being that man and also understanding that I may not have the money right now," he added.
It's also manifesting as a hesitancy to reach for the check at the end of an outing."Guys aren't jumping on it anymore," Fields said. Men ages 25 to 44 are feeling the most stressed about the effects of their personal economic situations on their love lives, according to the e Harmony survey.
"It's uncomfortable."Wendy Rice, a 33-year-old chef from Hollywood, said she'd also experienced an unusually high frequency of daters playing "chicken" with the bill."Some guy took me out to dinner at Benihana's and he only brought 0. You're taking me out,' " said Rice, who, on the Craigslist ad she posted last week, asked, "What happened to date night? Psychologist Diana Kirschner speculates it's because American men derive so much self-worth from their jobs."A lot of self-esteem and self-love and the identity of being a powerful person is tied up with work in this culture," said Kirschner, a New York City relationship expert and author of the dating guidebook "Love in 90 Days." "It can really stress people out if they're out of work or financially challenged or feel like they can't do their normal courting routine."But even though less income often means lower self-esteem, it doesn't have to be that way, Kirschner said."When there's less money available to go on fancier dates, people can have a very simple connection that's even more fulfilling," she said.
Those disturbing trends aren't likely to end any time soon.
In fact, they're likely to continue, bringing twin results: even higher anxiety levels, and impulses to entwine one's life with that of another."Stressful times can have a big effect on people's desire to be in relationships," said Gian Gonzaga, an e Harmony research scientist.
"When people are feeling stressed about the economy and feeling stressed about their love lives, they're more likely to want to be in a relationship than when they're not feeling stressed."Gonzaga was part of the e Harmony team that analyzed the results of a new relationship anxiety survey conducted by Opinion Research; 92% of 1,092 respondents reported feeling stressed about the economy.