Is it Foolish to Date a Guy Based on His Potential?

Is it Foolish to Date a Guy Based on His Potential?

Hi Evan,

Is it ever okay to date a man for his potential? I met a nice, smart man, but let’s just say he’s going through a transition right now. He just recently switched careers and is starting from the bottom at his new career. He was successful in his last profession, but wasn’t happy with his job anymore and decided to leave. In the midst of switching careers in a tough economy and getting his second Masters degree, he has accrued some debt (and maybe a little chip on his shoulder, but that’s a different dating question!). He is very smart and I am sure he will get on his feet again, but is it wrong of me to not want to be with him until he does or unless he does? I’ve dated men before who were trying to change or trying to reach their potential, but they never did. I don’t want to get caught up in that again.

If I wait for him to become more stable professionally and financially before committing to a relationship, does that make me a bad person?

(Background so you can better assess the situation and have context:

This man is 40 and has never been married. I am 32 and a successful lawyer, so him not being financially secure right now is not really an issue for me. However, him constantly hinting that he does not have money is kind of off-putting, especially after only the third date. Mind you, I don’t expect extravagant dates and I have paid for half our dates.

We’ve been seeing each other at least two to three times a week for two months. He has asked to be exclusive. He is funny, smart, and attractive. I would not hesitate to get in a relationship with him if he was more stable.) –Jane

Dear Jane,

Once upon a time, I met a 31-year-old woman who we’ll call Donna.

Donna owned her own small business, traveled around the world, and made upwards of six figures. She was also divorced and really wanted to settle down, get married and have kids.

At the time, I was 30 and was a customer service representative at JDate. I was paying my way through film school, where I was getting an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA, so that I could become a college professor and teach the one thing I knew how to do. My income at the time? $32,500 – and all of it went to pay for my cost of living, film school, and my regular dating habit.

My financial state was temporary. My character was permanent.

Donna and I had great chemistry. She was very feminine and playful, and would undoubtedly be a good wife and mother.

We went out maybe 5 times before she told me that she couldn’t continue to see me. She said that I was a great guy. She said I made her laugh. She acknowledged our great chemistry. She basically said what you’re saying about your new guy, Jane.

“I’m ready for the real deal. You’re in transition. I can’t wait.”

I understood her logic, but I also knew something that she didn’t:

My financial state was temporary. My character was permanent.

This is what I told her, in response:

“You can break up with me if you want, to find some safe, older, lawyer to live an upper middle class lifestyle. I respect that. Just know that one day, I’ll have money. But your lawyer won’t make you laugh like I do. And he won’t turn you on like I do. I hope I’m wrong, but I know I’ll be right.”

Am I suggesting that women everywhere should bank on their man’s unrealized potential? Absolutely not.

Was I lashing out a little? Sure. But I meant what I said. My situation was based on choosing a highly risky career in Hollywood in my 20’s; it wasn’t some sort of slacker/character defect. At 31, I might as well have been 21. I was starting over. But I was going to make it. Anyone who knows me for a short time knows that I’m a doer, not a talker.

Donna heard my speech, smiled, kissed me, and told me that she may have been making a mistake, but she was doing what she had to do.

I was hurt and used it as fuel to further my career. One year later, I wrote a book, dropped out of film school, and started e-Cyrano profile writing. Five years later, I was married to a woman who believed in me and saw my potential. And yes, we ran into Donna at a party once in Hollywood. She’s 41 and, while she’s now in a relationship, she’s not yet married with children, as was her intense desire ten years ago.

Does my story mirror yours? Maybe. Am I suggesting that women everywhere should bank on their man’s unrealized potential? Absolutely not. In fact, as a policy, it’s usually a bad bet to see a man for what he could become and it’s a much safer one to see who he currently is.

There is the 50-year-old dreamer who refuses to get a real job because he wants to be the next Channing Tatum.

There is the 40-year-old guy who stays in a safe low-end job because he has no real ambitions for his career.

There is the 30-year-old guy who is content playing video games and smoking pot and doesn’t take any initiative in getting an adult life on track.

And then there’s your guy.

“Successful in his last profession, but wasn’t happy with his job anymore and decided to leave. Switched careers in a tough economy and got his second Masters degree. Very smart and I am sure he will get on his feet again.”

There you have it, Jane.

Your guy is going places, whether you’re with him or not.

And unless you want to be the Donna in his life story, I’d get on board his train now.

Join our conversation (181 Comments).
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  1. 31

    Lia #25 referencing #18
    As a male it is very difficult to get dates with women if you don’t have a job. It is unreasonable to expect that she’ll be interested in you long term if you are not employed. It is rare to find women who don’t expect to bear less, if any, of the burden for your entertainment together. I don’t come across women looking for stay at home husbands. On a lark I pushed my income on my dating profile way up. Had a lot more traffic for those couple of days.
    I came across something about why women aren’t as focused/interested/captivated by naked men as men are by naked women. If a man is naked, one can’t tell anything about his status and income and his worth as a provider.
    Jane’s story is a common one these days, accomplished women only being interested in more accomplished men. Seems Jane is scared she might end up having to be the primary breadwinner or that when this guy gets a job it won’t be the right job with the right income.

  2. 32
    Karmic Equation

    I tried eHarmony when I separated from my now ex-hubby, and I am definitely in the minority of women. I remember what I focused on were the pictures. And I think I had my age search was set between 35-50 (I was 39 at the time) — And I remember being aghast at the pix of the men who were “50” but looked like my grandpa. Maybe they didn’t age well, but I was thinking they HAVE to be lying about their ages, because they look so much older than their posted ages. I never even bothered to look at their profiles. Maybe I missed out on a lawyer or successful business owner. LOL. I don’t regret that. Like you said, I have to kiss that face. No way!

  3. 33

    @ Mark 29
    I was baffled by your comment so I went back a read the other posts again.  There is an overwhelming majority that say finances are not the thing that determines whether or not he would be a good relationship for her.  Most said that character and integrity are what matters.  Nearly every post has this thread.  
    There were a few posts that stated that men who are focusing on getting a new career going and stabilizing their finances may not be in a space where they want to commit.    
    Even the one who posted the comment about what level of income she personally would be comfortable ($50K) with also stated, “many men do not commit until their careers and finances are in order.”  
    Not everyone on here is single.

  4. 34

    Jane, if you’re sure he’s going to be successful again, why are you thinking about giving him up until that happens?  When he’s successful again, it will probably be without you.  In the meantime, you’ll be starting over with someone else (and someone else, and someone else).

  5. 35

    @Barbigirl 27,
    This woman doesn’t need to wait for her boyfriend to achieve stability before they get married and have children.  It’s so funny, women can quit their jobs, have no education, and don’t expect to have it held against them.  Plus, she is putting the cart before the horse b/c he just asked her to be exclusive, not to marry him.  Dating a man who left a lucrative career and who is starting over should not be such a source of anguish, esp. if he’s a great, intelligent guy who will “make it” again.  
    The great thing about the 21st century is that when women have good careers, they don’t need to worry about men who decide to quit higher paying jobs to perhaps teach or work in a non-profit.  Of course, women who think that men should pay all of the bills do care I guess.
    It’s hard to say without her input…is she worried about what people will think that her BF makes less money, is she still wedded to the idea that even if she doesn’t need his money, he should be able to take care of her.  There some dissonance between what she CLAIMS is important to her and what she CLAIMS she doesn’t care about and the fact that she is actually torn about dating him exclusively (not marry, just date).  I’m not sure she realizes that she is contradicting herself here.  
    If the roles were reversed, this wouldn’t even be a question.  Starting a new career does not equal deadbeat.  If she listens to a lot of my fellow women here, she will probably wind up like Evan’s ex, still hoping for a perfect unicorn and getting nothing.
    One of my friends, an ex-lawyer who hated that lifestyle remarried a fellow lawyer a couple of years ago.  Well, turns out he hated the law too and he quit and is now in grad school.  She is not freaking out about that.  He’s a smart guy, he’s in an excellent program, and when he starts over, he’ll be happy.  She has a very good paying job and they can afford kids even if he is a student.  She used to be the kind who thought the man should make more money and she would quit and be taken care of but she grew out of that and it let her have a happy marriage with a very nice guy.  She said “I just want him to be happy whatever he decides to do.” And women with that attitude are way more likely to live happily ever after.

  6. 36

    Well ladies, we wanted equality and we got it because men are asking these sort of questions now about us.  Yes I am aware that men don’t generally care what our profession is but they are looking at how we handle money and our ability to support ourselves.  So for every finger we point at someone there are 3 pointing back at us.

  7. 37

    Maybe this is harder to grasp for a 32-year-old who probably hasn’t been in her job that long, but these days, it’s not uncommon for someone to have 2 or 3 careers over their working lifetime. Gone are the days when everyone spent 40 years at the same company and retired with a gold watch at the end. Marrying later and not having kids, or having them later, has given some people the freedom to do make those kinds of changes. There’s much more of an emphasis on job satisfaction and fulfillment these days, coupled with an uncertain economy in which many people have no choice but to change careers if theirs becomes redundant.
    Do Jane and her boyfriend share the same goals? Does he really want to be married? Does he want kids? Where does he see himself 5 years from now? As long as someone has the talent, ambition, and drive, why not give them a chance, especially when it’s only 2 months in?

  8. 38

    Have to say that the fixation on dollar amounts is laughable. As is the idea that men won’t commit until they’re financially stable in their “chosen” career. Furthermore, people have children under all sorts of economic circumstances. It may be easier to have a child when you’ve hit some sort of “stability point,” but if the majority of people actually waited for that to happen, the planet would have a hell of lot less humans on it.
    It’s much more likely in this day and age for both major financial fluctuations to occur, as well as multiple career shifts like the one Evan wrote about. Definitions of success – even superficial ones based on money – are tied less and less to someone picking a single career path and then climbing up the corporate ladder. You can be in a financially stable career one day, and out on your ass the next. Often for no other reason than because of “downsizing,” “retooling,” “off-shoring,” or “phasing out.”
    Jane needs to understand that men still feel the pressure to “be the breadwinner,” even when it’s not necessary. In addition, men are still defined in large part by their careers, even though our lives are so much more than that. Her bf’s comments about money are probably tied to that as much as anything else.
    I think people who are focused heavily on how much a potential partner makes need to be honest with themselves. You want a partner who will compliment your material needs, and see that as important. Stop lying about it being about the quality of a person, or whether or not that person would make a good partner. That’s bull. It’s about you and your needs.
    Frankly if more people – men and women – would just be honest about this kind of thing and stop dating people who don’t “measure up,” there might be less misery and judgment. However, I’m guessing that at least some those material girls and guys have that nagging voice, deep down, that says “no amount of wealth and entertainment will guarantee a good life.” If Jane’s bf is an otherwise great partner, I hope she listens to that deeper voice before it’s too late.

  9. 39

    @Karmic #32 – Well all you have to do is watch any episode of Patti Stanger’s “Millionaire Matchmaker” to see how “attractive” below average to down right ugly men become to SOME women just because they’re “rich”. Yes, but before you marry them you still have to kiss them and have sex with them. I guess the richer a man is the”ewwwww” factor becomes less and less? 

  10. 40
    Karmic Equation

    @JB 39

    Agreed. Can we say Bill Gates and Zuckerberg??

    I avoid watching non-cooking reality shows (love Chopped and the Iron Chef shows)… Anyway, there was a show about Sex (“Evolution of Sex” maybe?) on Discovery. It’s shown periodically. There were lots of experiments about how women and men differ about sexuality and attractiveness.

    In one segment they showed pix of men of varying attractiveness to women and had them rate them on just physical attractiveness. Most men graded out the way you would think. Then they did the same thing BUT ADDED HOW MUCH the man was making to a different set of women, inverting the $ with the men’s rated attractiveness in the first experiment. So the least physically attractive guy was shown to make the most money (over $200k), and the most physically attractive guy made the least (less than $30k)… And wouldn’t you know it, the least attractive guy who was a 5 in the previous experiment became an 8 and the 8 became a 6.

    You’re not wrong that the more money a guy makes, the more attractive he’ll be to a lot of women.

  11. 41

    While I believe that there probably are women who date and marry men they aren’t attracted to, strictly for these men’s money, I’ve got to ask… Do we need to bring people’s looks into this? Because this really rubs me the wrong way. After a certain age, none of us look like Hollywood stars, especially if (as is the case with most of us on this thread) we never did to begin with. After a certain age, it also no longer matters. Thank god we’re not in junior high anymore, and are capable of being attracted to people for who they are, not for their stunning good looks. JB, how do you know that your ex-gf’s lawyer boyfriend isn’t a fun, caring, loyal, and otherwise great guy and that’s why she is with him? Heck, maybe he even reminds her of you, who knows? Personally, I’ve kissed a number of faces that may not meet your standards of male beauty, and guess what, it wasn’t for the money, and I would totally do it all again.
    Nathan — I like a man that enjoys what he does for a living, and is good at it. I find it a turn-on. It’s not like I choose my partners for their career accomplishments or salary, but there appears to be a correlation. I do agree with you that no one is job-secure these days.

  12. 42

    I’m still not sure why people here think it’s so taboo and awful to have certain expectations about someone’s finances when you’re looking for an ltr leading to marriage. If you want a guy to make MORE than you, you’re foolish. If you make a very high salary – six figures – and want someone with the same, you’re foolish. But to expect a reasonable, moderate salary to ensure compatibility is just being realistic. That doesn’t mean you cut off anyone who doesn’t make that, just that it’s a potential red flag to be aware of. For the record, I am also wary of guys who make way more than me, and don’t want a flashy wealthy alpha male. I don’t require a college degree either. My last bf was 35 and making 45k, we split dating costs, and it was fine- he was smart and hardworking. But his lack of ambition to seek a better job I found puzzling because he was so brilliant, he really could have done more. 

  13. 43

    Jenna #42,
    One  more time for Jenna and those in the cheap seats…You dont need a moderate salary to ensure compatibility. Good investing and debt free living will accomplish that same goal. Cash flow comes from good investments and salary. You just look at the salary part. Thats why you are foolish.
    You keep trying to defend your stance but in the process you are excluding guys (or deem them to be red flagish)  who dont meet your threshhold. SInce you have made it  clear that your guy has to make a certain amount, can I ask what do you bring to the table besides your $75k salary?
    Maybe the guy with a 45K salary has almost a million in his IRA because he is a great investor. Maybe he has other investment income separate from his job that wouldn’t be included in his profile. You just look at the occupation and salary and assume that is it. That tells me that you are a lousy investor or a naive investor because anyone who is financially OK knows good wealth is  generated through debt free living and investing. Not just a job.
    And remember this is a blog for women to understand how men think. And there have been a few guys here telling you how we think. Instead of embracing it and adapting to it, you continue to fight it and justify why you are right. Makes me wonder how serious you are about really wanting a LTR.

  14. 44

    Jenna is actually making a lot of sense. She says she isn’t chasing after the wealthy, doesn’t require college degree, splits dating costs… Sounds reasonable to me. As for minimal income requirements, I’d say we all have those. Show of hands, who here will marry a man in his 40s that has never in his life been able to support himself? there you go, there’s your minimal requirement. It may be 10K/year, but it exists. Personally, I’d be wary of a hypothetical guy who’s made all his money by investing but cannot go out and earn any (not sure that people like that exist in real life though). If he has a job and loses it, he’ll still be qualified to find another, but, if he doesn’t have any and a market crash wipes out all his investments, what is he going to do? Take my savings and invest them, since his are gone? Nah, I’ll pass.
    That said, my advice is to completely ignore the salary part of Match profiles, and to take the occupation part with a grain of salt. The salary piece especially is just begging people to type inflated numbers into it. On a few occasions I have seen guys enter accurate numbers under their salary. It usually was high, in the six figures, but they had nothing else to offer. Their salary was their only selling point. I would not recommend anyone to date any of those men.

  15. 45
    Girl in the Midwest

    @ John at #43.
    You’re right that good investing and debt-free living is a very important skill.  I prefer a guy who can live within his means.  However I also find what Jenna at #42 says to be very reasonable.  I think she’s saying that there shouldn’t be too much discrepancy in the overall financial situation between two people.  And I agree.  I think that too much difference (in any aspect such as education, finances, age, etc.) between two people decreases the likelihood of a stable long term relationship, in my experience.  Of course, I am still at an age (28) where I can be picky about these things and still end up with a reasonable pool of men who are willing to date me.  I’m sure my standards will change as I age, that’s just life and adaptation and being realistic.
    And you’re right, this is a blog for women who want to understand men.  I think about each piece of advice critically and cherry-pick the ones I think may be useful to me.  Then if that doesn’t get the desired result I try a different bit of advice.  I’m willing to deal with the consequences and don’t blame men or other women for the results.  It works for me, and may not work for everyone.  So even though I may question and challenge, I’m still very receptive to Evan’s advice and find this blog very very valuable.  Maybe that’s what Jenna is doing.

  16. 46

    @Goldie – After a certain age, it also no longer matters(looks)….LOL What planet are you living on? This is the most superficial society in the world. Yeah, you know what “certain age” that is? 85+ in the nursing home.
    “JB, how do you know that your ex-gf’s lawyer boyfriend isn’t a fun, caring, loyal, and otherwise great guy and that’s why she is with him?” I don’t know and never will but she’s still gotta kiss that ugly mug… and I can assure you He DOESN’T remind her of me. He might remind her of Larry David. Oh and for the record of this discussion……she’s a secretary. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 😉
    To you and Jenna I think the point John was mostly trying to make is a man’s “salary” MAY just be a part of his income/net worth potential due to many circumstances. Yes John we all know about the “wealth building” courses/infomercials and the people that are “great investors” etc….. Good for you if it works for you. Most women just want stability. I don’t think Jenna is being unreasonable at all at what she’s looking for.

  17. 47

    Thumbs up!
    Interesting that you should make comments about cheap seats, hehe.  Agreed about debt free living and good investing but neither of those comes magically.  The man in your example with a 45K salary, has that BECAUSE he has investments not the other way around.  It is difficult to begin investing with a 45K salary and nothing else.  I’m not saying it can’t be done but I’m saying it’s rare.  So either the man had parental money to begin with or he had another influx of cash, neither of which says anything about his abilities as a provider.  This brings me to my second point.  I share Jenna’s views and I don’t want a provider.  What I do want is a man who, at the beginning of our relationship, has the means to support himself while maintaining the sort of lifestyle I am used to.  I am not talking about 2, 3 or 5 years into marriage when one of us loses our jobs or becomes incapable of working.  But when entering into a relationship, income (be it from investments or working a 9-5 job) IS important.

  18. 48

    John, you’re trying too hard and sound kind of bitter. Give it a rest, you’re obviously not reading these posts too carefully.

  19. 49

    Sorry for the double post but to be clear, I’m not talking about Jane’s situation.  Chanceshate high that she has a winner on her hands but he also has extenuating circumstances.  I’m just refuting the idea that thinking about income is somehow shallow.  It’s one of many deciding factors but it IS a factor.

  20. 50

    My last bf was 35 and making 45k, we split dating costs, and it was fine- he was smart and hardworking. But his lack of ambition to seek a better job I found puzzling because he was so brilliant, he really could have done more.
    Was your boyfriend happy? I bet he was. Maybe he liked that lifestyle and it worked for him. Whats so puzzling about that? So then you come along and it bothers you.   Then you try to justify it by saying he could have done more. Maybe he didnt want to do more. And that makes you sound bitter. So instead, you post on the boards trying to get people to buy into your belief that a guy should make X number of dollars. Because you know, if other women agree with you, then you did the right thing by not being with him anymore.

  21. 51

    JB you said “Most women just want stability. I don’t think Jenna is being unreasonable at all at what she’s looking for.”
    From my understanding, it seems that Jennas boyfriend did have stability. Its just that his stability didnt come with a high enough salary for her. That is her right of course but she doesn’t sound that much different than Donna in Evans story.
    Evan it would be an interesting twist if Donna ever did consult with you on what she is doing wrong that she cant find a guy to settle down with.

  22. 52

    @ JB 46: “@Goldie – After a certain age, it also no longer matters(looks)….LOL What planet are you living on? This is the most superficial society in the world. Yeah, you know what “certain age” that is? 85+ in the nursing home.”
    It really depends on the person. To some of us it’s 85+, to some it’s 25+, to some it’s always, and to some it’s never. Whatever planet I’m living on, I am not the one wondering why women choose “ugly” men. This reminds me of another poster I saw on here a few months ago, a woman in her 20s, who couldn’t understand why she, with her amazing looks, was single, while her fat and ugly girlfriends were getting paired up? I find it amusing when people assume ulterior motives right away — oh, the fat girl has no trouble getting dates because she must be easy. He must have married her because she’s a pushover and lets him get away with anything. Or, as we see here, let’s assume that anyone who marries an unattractive man (did I hear the names Gates and Zuckerberg?) is only doing so because she prostitutes herself in exchange for his money. Melinda Gates? Really??? now I’ve heard everything. FTR, I find BG pretty attractive. He reminds me of what my Dad used to look like at that age.
    Anyway, what I’ve found is that a person’s brains, personality, character etc, at a certain point in their lives, actually become what makes them attractive. They shine through to the point where you don’t notice the flaws in their appearance anymore — you genuinely find them good-looking because of what they are. Not what they have, what they ARE. Just like a technically good-looking man or woman will quickly become unattractive to others if they don’t have any of those things. Granted, it depends on what social circles you move in. What I just said is probably not as true in showbiz as it is among high-tech professionals, in academia etc. Still, even if you and your friends place a high value on appearance (which I find pretty weird at 50+, but who am I to judge), it still wouldn’t hurt you guys to learn how the rest of us operate, just so you aren’t always left wondering or assuming the worst of people. For most of us, being able to see past the looks is a natural part of growing up. Shortly after my divorce, I dated a guy who looked like Brian Posehn (go on, google him). As in, people would approach us at parties and tell him he looks like Brian, and he’d say “I know, I get it all the time”. But he was smart, he was funny, great companion, easy to be with. When I looked at him, I really and truly saw a stud. I used to be pretty shallow in my 20s, and to be able to see people like that, for what they are instead of what they look like, was a hugely liberating experience for me. I highly recommend to everyone that they try it, if they haven’t already.
    FTR, I agree with your other point that it’s possible to have a high salary and low or no discretionary income, if the person has to support a family. Personally I find this acceptable in a partner (especially since I’m in that position myself), but understand people that don’t.

  23. 53

    I “window shop” on Match from time to time (my profile is hidden) and I have noticed that there are men who have an income preference for the women they date.  I don’t look at the women’s profiles so I am not saying the percentage is close but that there are men with an income preference as well.  
    I would also point out that a lot men have an age range preference that is far younger than them for the bottom age (sometimes as much as 20 years) and a top age preference that  doesn’t even include women their own age.  Does that mean all men who have a preference for how a woman looks are shallow and only want to date women who were embryos when the man was graduating from high school?  NO, NO, NO!!!
    Jenna #7 got quite a bit flack for stating what she did.  She is not bad or wrong and she only stated “… but if he’s not making a minimum of $50,000 (I make nearly 70) I would hesitate.”  she wrote “hesitate” NOT “I would can his worthless ass.”
    Goldie #44 I believe the last paragraph is good advice.  
    From time to time I still hear from the man I was dating over three years ago.  He is still struggling financially and he is still bitter over his divorce.  It is not his financial situation that gives me pause.  Maybe it should but I believe in him I know he is a man of integrity and he is brilliant.  But that bitterness and his lingering obsession with his ex-wife does give me pause… not just pause but a NO FREAKING WAY attitude.  

  24. 54

    Question: Is this guy’s story a Slumdog Millionaire kind of story or a Les Miz kind of story? Point: Good character is a good thing, but it really isn’t a predictor of how the story will end. Especially when what you’re trying to predict is how much you may lose if you stay invested in something. Not just talking about money here. You can also lose time, opportunity, self-esteem, self-respect. Next point: No one can say with any certainty how anyone else’s story will end.
    EMK: Think you are too hard on Donna. Maybe she realized that it was hypocritical of her to be dating and pretending that she wanted to be married with kids because she didn’t really want that. Maybe she realized that she would only get married and have kids under certain conditions. Maybe the great marriage + kids lies in her future yet. Point: No one can say with any certainty how anyone else’s story will end.
    IMO, best we can all do is focus on our own story and be of good character, no matter what happens.  

  25. 55

    PS: EMK, not to diminish at all the crushing pain of having someone dump you when you’re struggling to become all that you are meant to be. Sometimes it seems like a power play, like that person who sees your vulnerability uses it against you, and that it’s almost like sabotage. You think you’re showing tremendous courage and talent and initiative (character) and they’re just being some narrow-minded lemming who is looking to use people. It’s normal to want to punish them in our minds. I do it all the time. In my mind. Working on that. 🙂

  26. 56
    Karmic Equation


    I hear where you’re coming from and agree with you AND Goldie, because you’re both saying the same thing–you shouldn’t focus on a man’s salary–but for different reasons. YOU are saying guy’s salary is not a good indicator of his financial health or ability to provide. GOLDIE is saying that people lie in their profiles, so you can’t really go by that. Either way, the takeaway is that salary should not be important in deciding whether or not to date someone from an online service. You’re both saying the same thing but from different angles.

    @Women who think that salary is RELEVANT in deciding whom to have a relationship with or not.

    If you are smart, strong, and successful (which I read to be FINANCIALLY successful)–AND YOU BELIEVE IN EQUAL RIGHTS (the silence from most women to support my position on sexual equality was absolutely deafening, so I’m gonna assume most of you were NOT in support of my position…totally ok, btw, I didn’t take it personally, but I did notice) — then why are most of you so AGAINST dating a man with low or no salaries? You should be willing to share YOUR wealth — in the same way you would have EXPECTED *HIM* to share his if the positions were reversed (“If we only did things together that I can afford to pay 50% of, we probably wouldn’t go out, wouldn’t travel, and would go on a lot of nature hikes!” – Goldie # 39 in The Secret to Successful Long-term Relationships  thread) ).

    There are LOTS of good men out there. As long as they ENJOY the job they have, even if it’s being a busboy, and he has all the other qualities you need in a BF and is a GOOD MAN, you should be happy for him and with him.

    That said, I think many of you may be using salary as a code word for ANOTHER quality that you really want:

    from RW#47: …has the means to support himself while *maintaining the sort of lifestyle I am used to*

    That is the problem: Most women want to do things with a man as long as he can pay for it, at least for himself, if not for the both of them. Why should SHE pay for him even though SHE makes enough to support the both of them? — I believe that is a selfish way to think if you’re really looking for a partner and not a provider.

    If you are worried about being “used” or feeling like a sugar mama, that’s a legitimate concern. At that point you need to trust your instincts and feminine intuition and walk away when you feel the relationship is going wrong for those reasons. Sometimes these things don’t appear until you’ve known the guy for while. Hopefully you haven’t married the guy yet, so you can still walk away relatively easily if this happens to be the case. Waiting the 2 years or so that Evan recommends before marriage has many practical benefits.

    As Nicole #35 wrote, “There (is) some dissonance between what she (OP) CLAIMS is important to her and what she CLAIMS she doesn’t care about and the fact that she is actually torn about dating him exclusively (not marry, just date).  I’m not sure she realizes that she is contradicting herself here.”

    OP doesn’t want to provide for him while he’s in transition. That’s ok. She just should acknowledge that to herself. It doesn’t make her a bad person. We all have different tolerance levels for different situations. This one’s making her uncomfortable, she should leave him and not beat herself up over her decision. Sure, he may become the next Bill Gates, but that is the risk she takes to feel comfortable NOW. Nothing worth having is free.

    1. 56.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @KarmicEquation, who wrote: “If you are smart, strong, and successful (which I read to be FINANCIALLY successful)–AND YOU BELIEVE IN EQUAL RIGHTS — then why are most of you so AGAINST dating a man with low or no salaries? You should be willing to share YOUR wealth — in the same way you would have EXPECTED *HIM* to share his if the positions were reversed.”

      Best. Paragraph. Ever.

      I’ve written about this extensively – notably here and here – .

      And while I can certainly appreciate how nice it would be to have a spouse who makes more than I do, I presume that if my wife makes X and I make 4X, then I’m pretty much gonna be footing the bills. So when women tell me on the phone with righteous indignance – “You mean I have to fly HIM to Istanbul if I want to go?!” – I can only marvel at the lack of awareness. If you make more, you don’t need a man to be a “provider” of anything but love. Men have been dating this way for years. Welcome to equality.

  27. 57

    @ Anita, I think Evan is pointing out the irony in the situation — Donna broke up with him so she could be free to find exactly the guy that he is now (accomplished, successful, etc.). Aparently, today, she is still looking for that guy, while Evan is that guy, she could’ve had him, but chose not to, and now he is  no longer available. Not sure what Donna meant by wanting “the real deal”, but sounds to me like she missed the part where, in order to become the real deal, you have to be “in transition” first. Of course, there are always wealthy guys 25+ years our senior, who have the career, the assets, and are more than willing to date or marry a woman half their age. I guess they qualify as the real deal. I don’t get it from Evan’s post that he thinks she was looking to use people — she just appeared to not have enough understanding of how life works. You cannot assume that, if someone makes 30K/year when they are 30, changing careers, and going to grad school, they’re going to keep making 30K/year forever — they’re upward mobile at that point in their lives.

  28. 58

    @ Karmic Equation, ouch! That quote is way WAY out of context. *he* likes to go out and travel. *he* wants to do things together that he knows I cannot pay half of. I’m cool with nature hikes 100% of the time. I’ve had dates at dog parks, for crying out loud, when none of us had any money, but both of us had dogs. Furthermore, I never expected anything from him. He offers, because he likes doing these things, he likes doing them with me, and he knows that, if he requires that I pay half, he won’t get to do those things with me. Common sense. You’re making a great point, but I really disagree with the way you’re using me as an example.

  29. 59

    Lia at #53
    I was a little surprised by Jennas comments at #7 but then in comment #47 she says this:  “But to expect a reasonable, moderate salary to ensure compatibility is just being realistic. That doesn’t mean you cut off anyone who doesn’t make that, just that it’s a potential red flag to be aware of.”
    I find it offensive that because he doesnt have a high salary that it is a potential red flag? No Jenna, its only a red flag if he hits you up to pay his bills. Otherwise that is not a potential red flag that he makes less than your magical $50k.
    Karmic Equation at 56:
    Good job recapping the majority of the comments from this article. Spot on.

  30. 60
    Karmic Equation


    Thank you! I love your blog and your true passion for helping women. I read a lot of other dating coach blogs, just for their insights, but NONE are as generous as you with your time and energy to give free advice. The other sites spend a lot of time pushing their “programs” and I find that way too commercial and often take their advice with a grain of salt.

    Your advice is eloquent, to the point, and doesn’t pull punches. I respect and appreciate that and have found it tremendously helpful in fine-tuning some of my thoughts, mindsets, and behaviors.

    @Goldie 59

    Your explanation of how I took your quote out of context actually supports my original use of your comment. It doesn’t matter if it’s him or you who wants to do these things. The point is that if the party having more didn’t contribute more, then neither party gets to do any of the “more” things *together.* The party who has more should willingly and graciously assume the larger financial burden of a relationship (like your bf does), if what they are truly looking for is a provider of “love” (you) and not a provider of “a certain standard of living.” If he were looking for a provider of a certain of standard of living, he wouldn’t be with you, right?

    In the past, this has been the man’s role. But due to “feminism” we can all look forward to women taking on this role…But see, the problem is, most women are selective about which equality parts they’re willing to support and sign on for.

    I’m personally willing to take on the burden of finances, because money is gender neutral to me. The person who makes more pays more. That is just a fairness thing. It’s about economics and practicality, not love or romance. But who is the hunter, who is the prey…that goes back to our lizard brains and inner hamsters, and I think changing THAT is “social re-engineering” (thanks for the term starthrower68) that doesn’t necessarily produce good relationship results, because it goes against our intrinsic masculine and feminine instincts/behaviors. In other words, hunter and prey are NOT gender neutral, but “provider” is and should be, imo. YMMV

    @Dean 60


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