Jan 1, 2008

Define Gold Digger.

Long before I was born, the term "gold digger" had not been coined. Instead, it was acceptable to pursue a significant other of reputable financial status. At that time, women of worth did not have to work, so gold digging was probably the hardest job they'd have their whole life, especially if the woman came from a lower class family. Always marry up.

(This post is largely about heterosexual relationships, though it can be applied to homosexual relationships as well... except since gays & bi's in same-sex relationships can't get married, the money issues become even more complex.)

In today's world, gold digging has such a negative connotation. There are definitely different levels of gold digging...

1. Date only for the money. Go on some reality show about dating a millionaire. Expect your boyfriend to buy you everything. Luxurious trips. Spa treatments. Jewelery. Clothes. A car. A mansion. You name it, he's paying.

2. Date because you like the guy, and because he happens to be successful. Well, you say you are attracted to him because he is successful, not because he has money, but... you know that's not entirely the truth. Life is expensive, and although you may work and bring in significant dough yourself, you know that in the long run you will have a dual income household and that second income will either help you buy a house... or a teeny tiny condo... or keep renting your whole life, depending on how big that income is. You want stability, and a future. You'll date a guy who makes a good salary over one who doesn't any day.

3. You date whoever. You don't care what they make. Still, you like it when they pay for your date every once in a while. You enjoy nice gifts. You're happy with whatever gifts you get, yet still like to be spoiled a bit every once in a while. Like on your birthday. But you don't care about the cost of living in the future and you figure if all else fails, you'll take care of that on your own.


I'd say I'm more or less #3. Or a cross between 2 and 3.

Let me back up a bit. A few years ago, I started to date a law student. I dated him because he had a good personality and I liked the guy. We became good friends fast and eventually we decided to give it a go. During the relationship, he was a student and then a law clerk, so he wasn't what you would call "rich." But I found out that he covered his law school tuition thanks to mom and dad before even enrolling. So he had some spare cash to spend. After he started his life in the professional world of law, I was a poor intern making about minimum wage. But he wouldn't so much as buy me a movie ticket. Eventually, I got tired of his stinginess (because I am a gold digger?) and decided to move on. There were other reasons I made that decision, but I felt like if he had the money, he should want to help his girlfriend out.

Now I'm dating a guy who will probably always be in the middle class, like me. There's nothing wrong with being in the middle class. I love this guy more than anything, and I can see spending my life with him. He's just getting started out on his career... and while he dreams of making gobs of money and considered going to law school for that reason, he is probably going to end up in a less profitable career. If he ever decides to go to grad school, his mother is footing the bill. If he doesn't, that money exists for such things as... oh... a down payment on a house.

So... in the back of my mind, I still feel comfortable dating this guy because I know there's money there. I'm not dating him because of his money, but it's kind of a safety net... in case my own career doesn't work out the way I plan.

Meanwhile, my earlier boyfriend, the lawyer (who is still my good friend) now takes in over $200k a year at 29. He owns a condo. He still lives frugally (he loves buying things on sale at the supermarket) and he'll surely save up lots of money to buy a huge house one day.

Sometimes I think of what my life would be if I ended up with him. I know in my heart that would be the wrong choice, yet to give up a life of financial security (although I'd definitely have to earn enough to cover what I wanted in life, but at least things like house and food would likely be covered) is tough to give up for the sake of love.

We're all taught that love is what we should be looking for. But when it comes down to it, life is about the survival of the fittest, and the survival of the richest. Healthcare... yea, get married to someone who has good healthcare if you want to freelance on your own. That will make your life affordable.

Money has to play a role in relationships. Otherwise it becomes a giant problem later. So many relationships dissolve because of money issues. It doesn't even matter how much you have, what matters is how you decide to spend it.

What do you think about gold digging? Is it bad? Do you do it? How does money define your relationships?


Tiredbuthappy said...

My partner was 37 when we met, and he had gone back to grad school to finally start a more traditional career (after years of freelancing and making very little money). He got out of grad school with no debt, but with only a few thousand saved. He works for a nonprofit, and now he's several years into his career, is in senior management where he works, and he's quite happy with his salary of $46K.

Do I sometimes wish he earned more money? Of course. I wish I earned more too.

Did I choose to make a life with him because of money? No. Not at all. Of course I wish he had saved more before we met, because now we're playing catch-up for his retirement, which is barely 20 years away.

But we are compatible in money matters. He's very frugal, whereas I like buying things and have to work harder to be disciplined and save money. He hates financial planning and is an extremely conservative investor. I enjoy financial planning and I'm a more moderate investor.

No, I was not attracted to him because of money he had or would earn. But I was attracted to him because of his simple tastes, ability to make things instead of buying them, and his generosity with the money he did have. And the fact is we've made similar choices--to do interesting work that is low stress and does some good in the world but doesn't pay a lot. (we're both librarians).

I'd rather have the compatible values and interests that my partner and I have than date somebody who has a lot of money.

SJean said...

Good post! My boyfriend currently is a very poor grad student--but is in engineering and a very hard worker and will no doubt make decent money. Maybe not rich, but there is a possibility. It would be nice if he were wealthy, but it isn't an issue, and it isn't how I was brought up anyway. I think it is more of an issue for girls with wealthy parents that do not get well paying jobs.

Our parents don't have a lot of money and did not pay for our schooling, nor will they help with a house. And it is fine.

I would probably not date someone who chose a low paying career or who was not ambitious and good with money. Probably not, but who knows? I would want someone of about equal status as me financially.

Post a Comment