Matchmakers find business booming on Wall Street

NEW YORK Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:17pm EST

A street sign is seen in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New York, February 10, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

A street sign is seen in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New York, February 10, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - It's all doom and gloom on Wall Street but high-end matchmakers say when America's wealthiest bachelors are humbled, some start looking for love.

"In these economic times, the dynamics have really shifted in favor of relationships," said Rachel Greenwald, matchmaker and author of a new book called "Why He Didn't Call You Back."

"Casual dating seemed to be a by-product of the go-go days of past years when the stock market was booming," she said.

"People had disposable money and they wanted disposable relationships. Now things have really shifted emotionally."

Samantha Daniels says she has more clients than ever willing to pay $25,000 and up a year to meet women through her company Samantha's Table. She said some men simply have more time to focus on relationships because their business is on hold, for example those in real estate or hedge funds.

Others are not in the mood for endless first dates with different women and want a partner who will deal with their ups and downs.

"Everything is so volatile every day, and some days you're in a really bad mood," Daniels said. "Nothing is worse than if you're in a really bad mood and you have to put on your happy face for a first date and be all energetic and happy.

"Men need to have something in their life that's stable. Usually it's their business life, but if it's not that, they're looking to have some stability in their personal life," she said.

Matchmaker Janis Spindel also said business was booming.

"The other day I had a 30-year-old who wrote me a check for $30,000 up front without batting an eyelid," she said.

Amy Andersen, founder of Linx Dating in California, said February is set to be her best month ever.

She recently spent a week at a luxury hotel in New York interviewing some 20 women for a client who wanted to meet a graduate of the same Ivy League university he attended.

The client, who paid more than $50,000 for the search, is "slowly dating one of the girls and trying to figure out if there's long-term potential there," Andersen said.

NOT SUCH A GREAT CATCH

But while super-rich men in finance may be more open to love, they are not quite the catch they used to be.

A blog claiming to be written by wives and girlfriends of bankers, Dating A Banker Anonymous (dabagirls.wordpress.com), features tales of disgruntled women forced to give up pricey restaurant meals, for example, for home cooking.

It warned women this week to expect little more for Valentine's Day than a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park -- a far cry from the diamonds and ritzy nights out they might have enjoyed in years past.

Daniels said finance used to be the first occupation women would say was attractive in a partner.

"Women are realizing at this time they'd rather be with someone in an occupation that doesn't have as much risk associated with it," she said. "They want a more traditional type, going back to what their grandmother used to say -- 'You want to be with a lawyer or a doctor.'"

Men too are looking for something different, Daniels said.

"They've seen a lot of friends whose wives or girlfriends left them because times are tough," she said.

DIVORCE IS LIKE FUTURES MARKET

Divorce lawyers say hard times also can destroy love.

"I have some situations brewing now where the lack of resources has definitely caused some stress on the relationship and brought things to a head -- business opportunities dried up or people are at home now whereas they used to be at a job," said Brett Kimmel, whose clients have included rapper 50 Cent.

He said divorces are becoming more complicated because couples are finding it harder to sell their home and to split up other assets. "Cases are taking a lot longer."

Raoul Felder, a high-profile divorce lawyer, said there had been a spike in divorces as the economy started to tank because "a lot of mice want to leave the sinking ship."

He forecast there would be more when the economy picks up but said for the moment, there is a lull because financial uncertainty makes couples think twice about embarking on a potentially costly divorce.

"It's a bit like buying futures because divorce takes eight months to a year to be finalized," he said. "You're really guessing what's going to be happening eight to 12 months away."

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Sandra Maler)

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