I’ve reached the point in my life where I want to settle down, but I recently had a disagreement with a friend about my priorities, and I would appreciate your perspective. I’m 46, a college-educated singleton, and earn $210,000, not including my annual bonus. I have paid off my student loans and own my home. It’s worth about $700,000 and there’s about $400,000 left on the mortgage. Here’s my issue: I want to meet someone rich. Is that so wrong?
My friend expressed dismay when I told her that, but I see wealth as a sign that someone is ambitious and aims high. I’m sick of dating losers. The last person I dated had been living in the same rent-controlled apartment for nearly 20 years. It’s the size of my dining room. I know living in a rent-controlled apartment is something that is sought after in a city like Los Angeles and its environs. Maybe that was good when he was 20. But he’s now nearly 50.
Am I being too judgmental? When I expressed my feelings about limiting my search to dating a wealthy man, my friend gave me a look and took a long, slow drink of her margarita. That was her way of showing disapproval. But I have worked hard to have what I have, and I don’t see anything wrong with wanting a partner who has the same level of assets and ambition as I have. I work as an interior designer, and my business continues to grow.
P.S. I come from an upper-middle-class family, one that has always worked for what they have. My parents were both successful Realtors.
Single for the Holidays
If you objectify someone for earning less than your annual salary, be prepared for an even wealthier person to do the same to you.
There are many people who earn a quarter of what you earn who would rightly see themselves as winners. The median household income in the U.S. hovers at around $71,000 a year. Better to regard your own income as a gift rather than a barometer by which to measure — or judge — others.
There’s a big difference between wanting to date a guy who is “wealthy” — and/or has a job and is financially independent — and describing someone you dated as a “loser.” It’s possible that your friend quietly rolled her eyes at that. Perceptions of what constitutes wealthy are relative.
The first suggests you believe you are owed the same “yield” on your relationship as you have earned and/or inherited from your parents in your own lifetime. (That inheritance may include an education that enabled you to go to college and/or money inherited from your parents.)
The second implies anyone who has not had the same opportunities as you, or has not chosen a job that pays as well — such as a teacher, nurse or social worker, some of the most important professions in the world — is not up to par. Neither of these positions sit well with me.
Nearly half of people who are dating said in this survey that financial transparency makes them more comfortable early on in the relationship. In other words, money matters. And yet more than a third of people have hidden debt from their partner. Translation: They know money matters.
That said, using wealth as the one filter for your search for a life partner could limit your choices, and put the desire for material things or a certain “lifestyle” above other important criteria: humility, kindness, intelligence, compassion, etc. They don’t have Instagram
filters for that.
Baby boomers are expected to transfer up to $68 trillion in wealth to younger generations over the next 20 years, according to one projection by the Investment Company Institute, a global association of regulated funds. That would be the biggest intergenerational transfer in history.
Some of that wealth will be in the form of property. The world is not built equitably or fairly. Black homeownership hovers at around 45%, according to one recent estimate, while the white homeownership rate is closer to 75%. (Against the backdrop of redlining, the 2008 housing crisis and other structural barriers, Black Americans are also far more likely than their white counterparts to be rejected for mortgages.)
“‘Using wealth as the one filter for your search for a life partner could limit your choices, and put the desire for material things or a certain “lifestyle” above other important criteria.’”
Before we congratulate ourselves on where we have ended up in life, it’s important to take a reality check about where we started. You want to find a life partner who has a similar or larger bank balance to you. They may or may not share your outlook on life, financial goals — regardless of their net wealth or income — or have similar views on rich vs. poor.
Most people are just lucky to own their own home. The median income needed to buy a typical home in the U.S. has risen to $88,300 — nearly $40,000 more than it was before the start of the pandemic, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, said last month.
Silicon Valley’s commercialization of people’s personal lives — the lucrative crossroads of finance and romance, which results in people swiping left or right on a carousel of images — has brought new meaning to the dating market. And it is a market, a carousel of smiling faces hoping for their dream match.
People swipe right or left based on a variety of factors. Dating sites like Hinge, Match.com
Tinder and OKCupid are full of de facto economic indicators. Consciously or not, singletons use financial filters when choosing partners based on lifestyle, real estate and clothing.
A picture can tell a lot more about a person than they may be willing to reveal. So it’s hard to criticize you for something that most people do in myriad other ways. Just be mindful of the words you use, and try not to allow one aspect of life, however important it may be to you, cloud your judgment.
If you’re looking at dollar signs and real estate, you may miss the other factors that comprise a happy relationship. Do you share the same values? Does he listen when you have something important to say? Is he consistent? Is he a man of his word? Does he share his time generously?
Dating a rich guy won’t make you happy, even if one person’s “rich” is another person’s “moderately well off.” The bitter truth is that you’re not the first person to want to use wealth as a green light to swipe right, and you won’t be the last. Just don’t short-change yourself in all those other areas.
You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.
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More from Quentin Fottrell:
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I sold my late mother’s home for $250,000. I make $80,000 and have $220,000 in student debt. I want to buy a house. Should I use all my inheritance for a down payment?
‘This guy grifted me hard’: My date chose an exclusive L.A. restaurant. After dinner, he accepted my credit card — and we split a $600 bill. Shouldn’t he have paid?