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.