Official: frugal isn't sexy

26 August 2010, 12:51   By Julia Kukiewicz

YES, the results are in and it's as we feared: all those years of careful money management will cut you little slack in the dating world.

Credit: fizkes/

This news comes courtesy of a poll conducted by ING Direct in America (and later reported in The New York Times) which found that when asked for an adjective to describe a potential blind date described as "frugal" just 3.7% answered "sexy".

This is hardly surprising in itself - in fact, it's a bit of a mystery what that 3.7% were thinking - but, more worryingly, 15% described their frugal date as "boring" and 27% picked "stingy".

So should you think twice before paying for dinner with your Tesco card "for the points" (maybe adding for good measure "don't worry, I'm using the market-leading 0% purchases offer")?

Frugal = smart

Maybe not.

Frugal may not be sexy but, according to the ING study, there's around a 50/50 chance that a blind date will see their frugal datee as 'smart', surely a much more attractive quality in the long term.

Relationships and money

Male respondents were more likely to make the frugal/smart link than women, however: 56% of the male respondents gave the "smart" response to their hypothetical frugal date compared with just 42% of women.

US online dating site Eharmony claims that - of the 30 million matches it made last month - both men and women were 25% more likely to get a date when they characterised themselves as a saver as opposed to a spender.

All hands to the debt busting credit cards, then.

Rich = sexy

If being frugal, all things considered, is no barrier to attractiveness, though, it does seem to help to have money in the first place.

US dating site Okcupid correlated the reported income of its members against average incomes, adjusting to take account of age and zip code.

As people got older and their age group, on average, began to earn more, the site found that they became more likely to exaggerate their incomes in order to appear more attractive.

For example, the number of people on the site reporting a salary of 100,000 USD was four times higher than the incidence of the same salary in those age groups and geographical locations in the general population.

Even more intriguingly, the site found that exaggerating income was probably a good move: men earning a salary of more than 40,000 USD (about £25k) were far more likely to be contacted on the site.

Of course, people that are likely to use a dating website like Okcupid are themselves a biased sample because they're self selected on the likelihood that they'd be willing to 'sell' themselves in order to find a potential mate.

Louise Northwood, the owner of a bespoke dating agency, told us that using such sites could itself be an indicator of frugality.

"In dating as in other sectors I believe you get what you pay for," she said, "...the key point is: what is your own time worth? If you spend four hours trawling through inadequate partners would you have been better off using a better quality dating product?".

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