Adventures in Online Dating: Should You Reveal Your Income?

Penny Wrenn

shocked-woman-using-computerI 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, 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 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.)

RELATED: 8 Financial Red Flags in a Relationship

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  • Mike L

    I’m a man who used to do a lot of online dating. I think it’s imperative that a man put his salary on his online profile. “I’ll tell you later” doesn’t work, because so many women will filter men based on their salary. If a man makes a low salary, you might as well put that up front to get it out of the way. If a guy makes a high salary, he has to put something there, even if he deflates his salary. It’s hard enough for men to get any attention online; we don’t need any additional reasons to get filtered out.

    I had a male friend who was making well over $150k and he put his salary as “I’ll tell you later,” because he was afraid of attracting gold diggers. I told him that he had to put SOMETHING, or else he’d get filtered out by women. I told him to put $75-100k. He was in his early 30s. I felt that 75-100k should be sufficient for any non-gold digging woman to be satisfied with. Of course he started having a lot more success on the site!

  • Sam

    I think it is absolutely necessary to include your salary in your profile. Some people are very particular about the salary that their significant other earns and it should not be looked at as superficial. For instance, I am married and it is imperative to me that my husband has a significantly higher salary than I do. I knew the career path he was headed towards when we met (I was 18) but I did not discover how irresponsible he was with money until well in to our relationship – THAT is the kind of conversation you save for later. I believe habits are fixable but salary… not so much.

    Lastly, why on earth does a woman have to feel inferior because the person she is dating makes more money than her? What is the reason for that insecurity? The fact that you’re not comfortable with your achievements is far more important than the amount of money your significant other brings home.

  • Guest

    I am female, but if I were a man, I would be really hesitant to list my salary. Women can be so calculating and shallow when it comes to finances!

    I have an online profile and I have listed my income as $150+ (I make $250k). I make plenty of money to support myself and I don’t need a man for his money, so I don’t look at the guy’s income. I do look at whether or not he is religious (I will not date someone to whom religion is important), whether or not he went to college (that’s a minimum operating requirement for me) and whether or not he reads.

    I have found that I am frequently contacted by much younger men, and of course, I filter those out since I know they are only looking for a “sugar momma”… not gonna happen! So I empathize with men who must always be second guessing if a woman is using him for his money.

    Personally, I think a relationship needs to be founded on equality, and if one person (the guy or the girl) is contributing a disproportionate amount of _____ (money, effort, planning), then the relationship is never going to be a solid one.

  • Monique A. Williams

    If his income is too high for her, than is there a threshold for too low? And if she’s just looking for someone nice to have drinks with, why does his income make him “too good” for her? The writer needs to get her self-worth in check before checking out her date’s net worth.

  • markbrooks

    To research Are You Interested news go to Online Personals Watch here

  • Stephen

    This is a shallow discussion. Why not just date and marry your pile of money?

  • La Chicory

    Proper etiquette is a lost art. I was raised that asking how much a person earned was inappropriate and incredibly rude. Common manners are being replaced by a sense of entitlement that is so self absorbed it often borders on the sociopathic! It astounds me how people feel entitled to such personal information from total strangers.

    Recently I was hiring a professional my very close friend of almost 30 years had used. I needed to know if the person had earned the value of thier commisions and broached the subject with her. Even with such a close friendship (we’re practically family) I tried to word it delicately so to give her the means to help me with the information I needed with out prying into personal territory.

    Call me miss manners if you want but I miss the days when people knew what was rude and actually attempted to be polite. Little things like please, thank you and excuse me, Giving the bus seat to a senior was expected. Today people shun what was once considered common decency. It’s a loss to society as a whole, and then they wonder why crime rates increase.

    • V-Nasty

      But crime rates aren’t increasing.

      • La Chicory

        You believe crime has not increased?! Here are some stats from Stats Canada (Canada’s governmental statist collecting agency) .
        After increasing 13% in 2004, the homicide rate increased by 4% in 2005. The 2005 homicide rate, 2.0 per 100,000 population, was the highest since 1996. Attempted murders were also on the rise, up 14% from the previous year. There were 772 attempted murders in 2005, 101 more than the previous year. (Source: Crime Statistics in Canada, 2005 – Juristat – Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Vol. 26, no. 4)

    • AngelsandDemons1

      I tend to agree with you on choosing not to post. Once we have a conversation and I devolve what I do and where, one can easily look up salary rates. I once even had someone ask me how long I had been in my profession within my county as they could likely look up the salary scales by year and figure out my income. With that being said, I choose to leave off my income because I would prefer not to attract anyone based on income; and, if someone prefers not to talk to me because of my unposted income, then they are probably not worth getting to know. nevertheless, I’ve been wondering about posting something as I wonder if it will increase responses to my profile.

      • La Chicory

        While it might increase the number of responses you receive, if that was what made the difference then these would be people as you pointed out probably are not worth getting to know. You are worth more then selling out your integrity wait for someone who values you for you, you will be much happier and better off if you do. Best of luck with it dear.