Adventures in Online Dating: Should You Reveal Your Income?

Penny Wrenn

What’s Your Number? Why Some of Us Choose Not to Go There

There are a few reasons why I don’t list my salary on my profile—and rarely look at my dates’ incomes. It’s not that I’m shy about money. Anyone could google my name and see that I’ve written about being in debt. But, on a practical level, I’m a freelance writer and editor, so my salary fluctuates and I’m never sure what I make each year until tax time rolls around.

More importantly, I’m a casual online dater—yes, it would be great to meet The One, but I’d also like to find someone to join me at happy hour. It seems to me that conversations about money should be reserved for people who are either in or looking for a serious relationship.

Amanda Clayman, a New York–based financial therapist, has a similar perspective to mine: She doesn’t believe that you should include your income in your dating profile. “It just seems like a very private piece of information to make available to people who you don’t know,” she says. When it comes to the topic of money, it’s better to wait until you get to know each other, when it seems natural or appropriate to bring up.

But how much can a single number really reveal?

Looking Beyond the Numbers

“Someone’s salary is the least of their money issues,” says Richard Kahler, a financial adviser in Rapid City, South Dakota. “What’s the point of knowing how much someone makes? It doesn’t tell us about their spending habits or their net worth. Someone could make a lot, but then spend every dime of it.”

“What’s the point of knowing how much someone makes? It doesn’t tell us about their spending habits or their net worth. Someone could make a lot, but then spend every dime of it.”

Perhaps that’s why some people who list their salaries online don’t immediately blow off potential mates based on their income. When Krystle Evans, 31, and Marcus Harvey, 33, met in 2012 on OkCupid, they had to learn to see past each other’s paychecks.

They’d both listed their incomes online—her salary hovered around $100,000 while his was in the midthirties—and Harvey was nervous at first about going out with someone who made significantly more than he did. But he figured that he’d give it a shot and reach out to her anyway. “In her profile, she talked about being active in her church and the community, which let me know she’d be more into substance than money.”

Finances did in fact prove to be an issue in the beginning stages of their courtship. Evans paid for most of their dates, and she let Harvey know that she wasn’t interested in continuing to bankroll their relationship. After explaining that his income wasn’t steady (he’s an actor and a teaching artist), Harvey stepped up his game by planning activities through sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

A year and a half later, they’re now engaged.

As for my date with the psychiatrist, was he The One? I don’t think so. He was handsome and nice enough, but the conversation was stilted more often than I would have liked. Maybe I was feeling insecure because of the salary issue, so I wasn’t being my usual charming self. Or maybe there just wasn’t any chemistry. But I don’t think there will be a second date. One thing is for sure: When my mother hears that I went out with a guy who made so much money, she’ll have something to say about it.

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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.