I’m Calling It: We're Entering a Dating Bull Market

Bring some Gordon Gekko energy to your love life

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Paula Boudes for PureWow

The year is 1992. Dominick, a 24-year-old commodities broker, is standing on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). The heating oil ring is a cacophony of activity: shouting traders, hand signals flying left and right and the clamor of ringing phones and electronic beeping. Dominick’s heart pounds as he watches numbers flash across the ticking board above. "Sell! Sell! Sell 100 contracts at $22!" he shouts, his raspy voice rising above the din. He locks eyes with another broker across the ring who nods in agreement. Just like that, he’s made his first big trade on Wall Street. 

After the closing bell, Dominick and his posse of well-tailored traders walk to Harry's at Hanover Square. The atmosphere is electric—buzzing with brokers who share war stories from the day. They pound shots of tequila, celebrating Dominick’s win, before walking over to Delmonico's for dinner. “Where to next, boys?” he asks, topping off a bottle of Château Margaux. The group ultimately decides on Limelight, and the former church is packed with an eclectic crowd from Wall Street types to fledgling artists and models. And then, just when he thinks his day couldn’t get any better, he sees her: black leather jacket over a floral dress, loose blonde waves falling over her shoulder. Little did Dominick know that this was the woman he would marry four years later. 

At this point, you’re probably wondering: What does a fictional tale from 1992 have to do with dating today? Well, the story above is loosely based on my parents (though, my mother would never be caught dead wearing floral and leather). They met in the ‘90s, when the stock market was booming and the nightlife bustling. And while the heating oil ring and Limelight may be relics of the past, I predict that this summer is about to look a lot like the heyday of our parents. Welcome to 2024’s dating bull market.

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What Is a Bull Market?

A bull market happens when stock prices (or other investments) are rising or are expected to rise. It’s a time when the economy is doing well: people have jobs, they're making money, and they feel good about spending and investing. A bear market, on the contrary, is when prices are falling. This is when layoffs happen, businesses are struggling and news surrounding the economy is negative. So, for the purposes of this article, you want to think of the bull as positive—it’s when you feel optimistic and confident about spending. The bear can also be treated as a negative, where you might feel worried about finances and hesitant to make investments or big purchases.

What Does a Bull Market Look Like in Dating?

As with any bull market, you need to understand the bear that came before it. For singles, the most recent bear market was onset by the pandemic in 2020. Stay-at-home orders made it impossible to meet someone outside of dating apps, essentially creating a dating recession. This, in turn, caused us to behave much like investors in a bear market: start selling stocks (breaking out of toxic relationships) and proceeding with caution before making new investments (intentional dating). It’s also worth mentioning that people tend to spend less in a bear market, so businesses make less, which hurts the economy further. (Hence, the struggle I’ve seen with post-pandemic dating.) After lockdown, we continued to prioritize self-care—and we started ditching dating apps when it felt more like a tiresome chore. As a result, you have fewer people going out, meaning less opportunity to meet someone new (read: bubble theory). 

But I, an economist of romance if you will, predict all of this is about to change. 

In the last three years, New York has entered a new Gilded Age of socialization. You have the rise of clubsteraunts—like Jeans and Little Ways—which start as trendy 7 p.m. dinner spots before turning into a club at 10 p.m. Influencers are now fighting tooth and nail to score exclusive memberships at social clubs, like Zero Bond, which have become post-pandemic playgrounds for New York’s elite. And it’s not just about securing a reservation at The Mulberry (which is like winning The Hunger Games), or paying the $200,000 initiation fee at Aman Club. There’s an uptick of interest-based activities that are quickly replacing dating apps. Think: chess club, backgammon club and pickleball—which are all easy, low-pressure ways to meet someone outside of Hinge. 

The days of staying in and ‘finding your peace’ are behind us. While the last four years have been largely defined by post-pandemic social anxiety—and the struggle to meet someone IRL—people are sick of feeling lonely (and quite frankly, bored). And as we exit the bear market of the past few years, you’d be wise to ready your portfolio for the looming bull market ahead…

How to Make the Most of a Dating Bull Market

Let’s use the scenario inspired by my parents as an example. Dominick is high off of the adrenaline rush of his first big trade. He then takes this energy—and a new sense of confidence—out on the town with him. He bounces from bars to high-end restaurants with an open mind and optimistic outlook. And this is what puts him on a path to meeting someone he wants to get serious with. It’s not that Dominick was actively looking for a relationship (he certainly didn’t go to Limelight on the hunt for a wife). But his aura, coupled with a buzzy social scene, put him in a prime position to make genuine connections.

This is what the bull market is all about. Confidence, optimism and growth. Instead of focusing on how and when you’ll meet someone, you want to start by taking risks. It doesn’t have to be as drastic as spending your rent money on a social club, nor does it mean you’re obligated to join a pickleball league (big pass for me). You simply want to position yourself in places where you can see and be seen. Start small by taking a good book to a wine bar and hanging out solo. (No, you won’t look weird. And yes, people will approach you). Or, if you’re more extroverted, try bringing people together from different social circles. (This is your sign to book a Hamptons house with your college friends and co-workers.) Just like smart investors in a bull market, you want to leverage your position and maximize returns. Because at the end of the day, there’s no point in scoring a table at Studio 151 if you don’t treat it like Studio 54. 

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Associate Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Associate Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, beauty...