Putting a price tag on love this Valentine’s Day? It’s cheaper than you think.

Finding that special someone is truly priceless

Heart shape candy and Valentine’s Day sign

If you’re a frugally-minded hopeless romantic, this Valentine’s Day might just be your best yet. 

That’s according to Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and advisor to Match.com, and frankly, the most interesting person you’ll ever speak to about your love life. 

“It’s about one out of four people who’s cutting back financially,” Fisher told me. “They’re still going out and they will always go out. The basic drive for human love is a brain system, but they’re feeling it [financial difficulty].” 

Fisher and her colleague, Dr. Justin Garcia of the Kinsey Institute, has conducted the Singles in America study, a demographically representative study of 5,000 singles aged 18 to 98 based on U.S. Census data – not Match users since 2010. 

The Singles in America study has not only been cited in thirteen academic articles, but its findings are regularly featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and elsewhere. 

What’s top of mind for many singles this year? The economy, although Fisher says, few have approached her with questions around dating during these uncertain economic times. 

“I’ve had interviews with CNN, BBC, Canadian Broadcasting, New York Times, and two from the Wall Street Journal and nobody has asked me this,” Fisher said. 

Singles in this year’s survey reported a greater openness to cutting costs on their search for a special someone: 

30% of singles reported being more open to free activities

29% of singles reported being open to dates closer to home as a means of reducing travel costs

26% of singles reported being open to a home-cooked meal

24% of singles reported being open to a date in an inexpensive restaurant

And, meanwhile, a quarter of respondents reported adopting the practice of drinks instead of dinner, something already common for daters in some of the nation’s largest dating markets like New York City.

An appreciation for frugality goes beyond the awkward first date at a dimly-lit bar in Alphabet City, but also includes selection of partners as 23% of respondents expressed a greater appreciation for frugal people. 

Fisher also notes that 82% of men in 2021 wanted a partner who made as much money as them, up from 60% in 2019 while 87% of women wanted the same in 2021, up from 78% in 2019.

“Singles have grown up,” Fisher said. “They want people who are not only employed, but people who have a career. This is both men and women and in the pandemic, which I’ve called ‘Post Traumatic Growth.” 

There’s more good news for frugally minded singles. A prospective partner’s finances don’t even rank among their top five desirable traits in a partner. The survey asked respondents to rank their top five traits for a partner from a list of 30 options and found:

94% want someone who is trustworthy and willing to be confided in 

92% want someone who they can communicate their wants and needs

92% want someone who is emotionally mature

92% want someone who can make them laugh

89% want someone who’s comfortable with their sexuality

“The bad boy is out, the bad girl is out,” Fisher said.

And it appears that the spendthrift might be packing their Saint Laurent bags too.