Dating on a Budget

The economy is a mess. So it might strike some as surprising that singles are wading into the dating pool by big numbers. Despite the lackluster economy, dating services are experiencing a boom. 
“In this economy we find men and women pay, and several times on that first date the man will pay and if they continue to go out, a lot of people will alternate,” Dena Vasilakos, of Great Date Now, a Milford dating service, said.

More companies are cutting people's hours and laying people off rather than hiring, so many men say their pockets aren't as deep.

“It’s getting hard to save for a date. It's getting expensive. (You've) got to pay for food,” Devon Glasper, of New Britain, said. He had some suggestions for working around that.

“Fancy restaurant, no movie, maybe go to Blockbuster and rent a movie get something cheap,” he said.

Online personals like eHarmony and saw 20-percent increases by the end of 2008 and they said some of their highest traffic days online were when the Dow was plummeting.

Great Date Now is seeing this trend as well.

“We've had a 38 percent increase in clients right now and I think that is due to poor economy,” Vasilakos said.

But people have gotten creative with dating on a budget. They are going to community theater or local museums or even walking the dog in the park. Some people are also choosing drinks and appetizers instead of dinner.

“Instead of going out to eat, we stay in and we try to cook more, which is interesting for me cause I can't cook so I'm trying to learn,” Jenna Adams, of Glastonbury, said.

Women said it also means no more new outfits to impress.

“I think people are being more picky with who they choose because it’s expensive to wine and dine someone,” Jenn Hagist, of Enfield, said.

Hamden resident Jason Braff, and an NBC Connecticut intern, said he doesn't mind a bit, because having less money to spend on dinner and a movie pushes a couple to really talk to one another.

“It can make a couple closer or people that are dating a little closer because it does force them to spend more one on one time with each other instead of being distracted by a movie,” Braff said.

So, it seems the economy isn't keeping people from looking. If anything, it's the opposite.

“Even in hard times people want to find love,” Vasilakos said.

Note:  No interns were harmed in producing this story.

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