"A fool and his money are my favorite date," -Anonymous.
Very few people will openly admit to being materialistic, especially women looking for love. But whenever you hear them talking about a woman who "married well," they aren't talking about how she found a guy who absolutely adores her, is a secure, kind, smart, caring and affectionate person. "Marrying well" means snagging a guy with money and lots of it.
A handsome male relative of mine, who is now happily married, once lamented during his single years about how whenever he would go to a bar with his three best friends - an investment banker, a lawyer and a pharmacist - women would smile condescendingly and turn away after he told them he was a high school history teacher. "I guess nice guys finish last," he sighed. This is not the truth, of course. They can finish first - as long as they can afford it.
I never claimed to be "holier than thou" immune to the pleasures of conspicuous consumption. Marrying someone with money means not having to worry about making ends meet, being able to invest in children's education, or being bogged down by debt. Most couples argue about money anyway, creating financial problems, rather than "irreconcilable differences," the number one cause of divorce in America. But all it takes is a stock market crash, an unwise investment, a lay-off or business failure to make all those benefits obsolete. That's why a woman dating a man solely for his money is no better than a guy who will only date girls who are stick thin with gigantic breasts and a matching rear-end.
For the time being, I will refrain from stepping up on my soapbox and addressing what I have heard from unabashedly materialistic girls. Some say they have "high standards," they are the best, so they deserve the best, which means looks, personality, and money. "It's just as easy to love a rich man as it is a poor man," my grandmother once said. Another argument is that if a gal is going to put up with a man's natural stupidity and annoyances, she ought to get compensated in some way (i.e., bracelet, necklace or DVD player.) Then there is the ever-noble "I want a guy with a lot of money so I can stay home and raise my children." Here is my response to all of these very valid points.
Princesses with allegedly "high-standards" are compensating for something rather simple . low self-esteem. A diamond tennis bracelet, a night out on the town, a $300 dinner is not so much indulgence as it is much-needed affirmation required for a girl who is so insecure she needs to feel worth the high price men must pay to date her. But no amount of money in the world, or love from another person for that matter, can ease one's dissatisfaction with her reflection in the mirror.
A woman who dates for money (and this will sounds very harsh) instead of personality is little better than a prostitute. Granted, she may have what could generally be referred to as a "relationship," but the premise is still the same - she spreads her legs, he pays. Take away all the other pretenses and what's left can be found by answering some of the "dating ads" in the back of Artvoice. Also, if a girl overlooks a man's flaws in favor of the lifestyle he can provide her and he eventually goes broke, she's stuck with a plain old moron she might have not even been friends with, let alone dated, or (gasp!) had sex with.
The same goes for women who marry for money in hopes of having a life of relative ease and better child rearing. This is a lot trickier, particularly because I, too, would rather stay home with my infant child than leave him or her in day care for 10 hours a day. But if God forbid her husband loses his job, or, worse yet, dies, and she can't afford to pick up the pieces on her own, she could find herself in a terribly helpless situation. Whether we like it or not, in our society, money equals power. When a woman gives up her earning capacity, she reduces her say in financial decision-making and is reduced to a child with an "allowance," and becomes more of a liability than a life partner.
Besides, wealthy men are on guard against potential gold-diggers anyway and may take longer to commit because they need to make sure women's intentions are genuine. At the risk of stereotyping "financially stable" young men, wealthy college-aged guys are very unlikely to be self-made and are probably still arrogantly riding mommy and daddy's gravy train.
On a personal note, my boyfriend is struggling to pay for school himself (with the help of a zillion loans) while paying for food, rent and other bills, all on his own. Needless to say, there is little time for dinner at swanky restaurants. But he treats me like more of a lady than any other guy I've dated. What he does for me means more because I know that the dozen roses he brought to the office for me was several hours' pay and didn't come as easy as dipping into a trust fund.
One day, he will probably be earning a lot more than my measly journalism salary will provide. If we stay together, he will trust me because I was there from the beginning. If it doesn't work out, I will take off in the car I bought with my own money and get on with my life.