For some, ruling out possible matches based on their income means being realistic, not superficial.
Alix Abbamonte is a 33-year-old freelance publicist in New York. In the past few years, she’s made several online profiles—on OkCupid, Tinder, Match and eHarmony—none of which have revealed her (variable) income. Still, she always checks to see the salary of potential mates and uses that information to determine if she will give a guy the time of day. “When I read that a man is making only $60,000, I am turned off,” she says. As for $50,000 or less? “Absolutely not.”
On the other hand, Abbamonte generally doesn’t believe a guy when he says he makes over $200,000, since there isn’t any way to verify that people are giving accurate estimates of their income. In fact, a 2010 OKCupid report found that 20% of its users said they made more money than they really did, presumably to make themselves seem more appealing.
So what are the implications of indicating you don’t want to reveal your salary—or of leaving that section blank, like I did?
Salary Secrets: I’d “Rather Not Say”
According to the AYI survey, 82% of online daters do not answer the income question at all, and, of the people who do answer it, 40% respond “Rather not say” instead of selecting an income bracket from $0 to $150,000+. Interestingly, the survey also found that people who choose “Rather not say” on their online dating profile are perceived to be lower earners. They have the same contact rates as men who make under $20,000 and women who make under $60,000.
It’s no wonder Michelle Frankel, founder of NYCity Matchmaking, never lets her clients skip the salary question when she’s helping them complete their profiles.
“I absolutely think it’s important to reveal,” says Frankel, 43. “Everybody has their preferences and biases—whether it’s blond hair or brown hair—and finances should be no different.”
“Everybody has their preferences and biases—whether it’s blond hair or brown hair—and finances should be no different.”
Frankel is in the business of helping people find love online (and offline), a job inspired by her personal experience: She and her husband, 42, met on JDate in 2011. Frankel and her husband both revealed their incomes in their profiles (they each made more than $150,000), and she says that the numbers “definitely” played a part in them getting together. But the couple is in the minority, since more than 80% of JDate users choose to leave their salary blank or select “Will tell you later.”
Van Wallach, 56, a senior proposal writer for a major professional services firm, was a member of JDate and Match.com before he started dating a woman he met on JDate in 2008. While he ultimately decided to select the “Will tell you later” option, he initially listed his income as between $75,000 and $100,000.
“If [income is] important to you, I’ll provide that information up front and you can decide immediately,” he says.
Wallach says he gave “zero consideration” to potential mates’ incomes—except when he saw they were higher than his. “That signaled they may be aiming for a lifestyle or relationship that I just couldn’t afford, given post-divorce debts and child support.”
JDate user Yan Falkinstein, a 31-year-old attorney who lives in Northridge, California, says he doesn’t want to be judged by the number on his paycheck.
“When I first started online dating, I was a student,” he says. “I was in college, and then in law school making less than $20K working part-time. Most girls probably wouldn’t want that anyway.” But years later, Falkinstein is making $85,000 and he still doesn’t list his income. “I changed my ‘About me’ section to say I’m an attorney. That should say enough,” he says.