The Recession's Effect on Romance

Along with the major economical and social shake-ups, the recession may have also changed the romance game.

If you went out with your sweetheart last night for Valentine’s Day, chances are you split the check. “Going Dutch” on the bill in 2011 is considered more acceptable by women, thanks in no small part to the recent economic turbulence, according to a nationwide survey by Citi.

The survey found that 61% of women say it is more acceptable to split the check when on a date due to the current recession. The survey also found that most Americans who usually spend on their partners on Valentine’s Day weren’t planning to break the bank on it this year. Hart Research Associates conducted the telephone survey of 2,002 adults nationally from January 10-17, 2011.

Jonathan Clements, director of Financial Guidance at Citi Personal Wealth Management, said the survey represents the mood the recession has created among American consumers, however, it remains to be seen if the economic climate has created a true fundamental shift in the spending habits of Americans.

“The jury is still out,” Clements said. “One of the issues out there is whether the recession will be a wakeup call for our generation, in the same way the Great Depression was for our grandparents. You have to wonder if what people say [in a survey] is what they actually believe. You may say it’s ok to split the bill, but how will you react when your date proposes to actually split it?”

The survey also found that 55% of Americans without a spouse or significant other reported that they are paying more attention to a potential mate’s spending and savings habits now, more so than they had been before the recession. Additionally, 75% of Americans said their spouse or partner knows everything about their spending and saving.

The survey found that 49% of Americans claim the economy has had an impact – 18 % said the effect was major, 31% said it was minor -- on their social life.

Spending and saving are like diet and exercise, Clements said. While they are important ingredients to someone’s well-being, it is common to slip up. Whether or not a spouse, significant other, or potential mate is privy to this information depends on how bad the slip is, and what the relationship dynamics are like.

“If you slip and you’re in a relationship, you may be reluctant to admit it, just like you are reluctant to admit that you didn’t exercise this morning and ate a whole bar of chocolate,” Clements said.