I reactivated my online dating profile a couple months ago.
For the most part, the pickings were bleak, but I was feeling giddy about my first date with a child psychiatrist. At 36, he was only a year younger than I am. We’d exchanged a few flirty text messages, and, judging by his photos, he was just my type—tall, fit and handsome, with that bald-head-and-beard look that makes me swoon.
Before we met for coffee, I checked his profile again to look for things we might talk about. I saw that he practices tai chi every day. (Good one. I’m in the middle of a 30-day Bikram yoga challenge.) He likes books on spirituality and healing practices. (Another score. I’m reading a book about mindfulness and depression.) But then, there was something that I hadn’t noticed before: He’d listed his salary as somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000. (Uh-oh. I’m a freelance writer and editor, and mine is … well, nowhere near that.)
My heart sank. There are some women who only date guys with salaries in the high six-figures, but I am not one of those women. Actually, my mother chastises me for dating men of modest means. And, to be honest, meeting a guy who makes in the high-six-figure range makes me think, “Oh, he’s out of my league.”
Suddenly, I was fixated on the fact that this man earned more than I did.
To Tell … or Not to Tell
Still reeling from the shock of seeing the psychiatrist’s salary, I started to wonder: Should you list your income online? Does it make you more—or less—desirable if you post a certain number? Is it better just to avoid the whole issue and wait until the relationship gets serious to discuss it?
Personally, I didn’t think I’d been trying to hide anything when I’d left the salary category on my own profile blank, but seeing my date’s number made me sheepish about my own income (about $60,000 a year)—and glad that I hadn’t revealed it.
Gina Stewart, an online dating coach with ExpertOnlineDating.com, says that my salary shame is unfounded. “Most men don’t seem to care quite as much about what a woman makes as much as women care what men make,” says Stewart. “Men just want a woman who is productive doing something. I’ve yet to see a man discount going out with a woman because she makes too much or not enough for him.”
But the statistics suggest otherwise. A survey by the dating site AYI.com found that women who indicate they make upward of $150,000 are most likely to be contacted by a man. Likewise, men who say they earn more than $150,000 have the greatest chance of hearing from a woman. (Stats on interactions between same-sex online daters are harder to come by.)