Dating and Relationship Advice

Twenty years ago, Sex and the City exposed the juicy conversations that single women have in private about status and dating. Now that it’s 2020, things have (supposedly) changed. It’s become far more taboo to admit you care about a partner’s income, profession, or alma mater. But does that mean people in the dating pool today have actually gotten more wholesome? We surveyed over 1000 singles from around the country about status symbols in dating, and are here to share the results with you.

1) Your credit card is a turn-on

Next time the check comes and you pull out your wallet, just remember that your date might be eyeing the type of card you put down. Nearly a third of survey participants said that they judged their date based on the type of credit card they had.

Men care significantly more about the plastic than women do. 45% of men said they judged their date based on their credit card versus only 16% of women. Men were also far more likely to say that a miles-based or travel credit card would positively influence their opinion of their date. 80% of women said they wouldn’t care, whereas 50% of men said they would.

2) Some people just date for the perks

Want to try a new restaurant but feeling strapped for cash? Some singles use dating to fulfill their foodie desires. According to our survey, 42% of women and 20% of men have gone on a date just for the free meal. This is risky business though—what if the check comes and your date offers to split it? “Uh, actually… I was counting on you to take care of it.”

Singles look for other perks when it comes to dating as well. Nearly 1/4 of respondents said that they would be most impressed by AAA and Costco memberships — gotta get that $5 rotisserie chicken, right? Women felt more strongly about Amex and AAA whereas men were more impressed with Equinox, Priority Pass, and Costco memberships.

Additionally, 55% of respondents said that they would find a potential date more attractive if they were a frequent flyer. It’s pretty beneficial to have a date with lots of miles once Covid ends and you can travel again.

3) Start bringing your diploma to first dates

Over 41% of respondents said that they would be less likely to date someone who doesn’t have a college degree. But over 41% of respondents also said that they would be less willing to date someone with student debt. Man, people’s expectations are sky high nowadays. It’s like they want to have their cake and eat it too.

Our survey shows that the closer you are to college-aged, the more you care about the college degree. 43% of Gen Z respondents and 52% of Millennial respondents said that having an undergraduate diploma matters to them, compared to only 32% of Gen X and 27% of Boomer respondents.

Admittedly, some degrees offer more clout than others. Nearly a quarter of respondents said that they prefer their date went to an Ivy League university. 38% of millennials answered “if it’s not Ivy League, it’s not for me” when asked whether it matters what college their date went to. Considering these universities have tuition costs in the $70 to $80 thousand range...they might need to compromise on their date having student debt.

4) Your date wants to know exactly how much you make

What’s your salary?” is not exactly a classy conversation starter, but it’s bound to come up eventually. 41% of male respondents and 26% of female respondents feel that it’s appropriate to inquire about financial status either before or on the first date.

And surprise, surprise, your answer to this question matters. 33% of people said that finances have a high impact on their interest in dating someone. Money seems to be especially important to men, as 41% of men said that it impacts their interest in a date compared to only 26% of women.

5) ...And this is what they want your answer to be

Among the four age groups we surveyed (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers), millennials were the least likely to say that money doesn’t matter to them. 29% of millennials said that they want their partner to make between $50 and $70K per year. This was the most common salary range chosen by all the age groups.  

Women were nearly twice as likely as men to say that their partner’s income doesn’t matter as long as it’s more than what they make (14% vs. 8%). However, men were slightly more likely to say that money doesn’t matter to them when it comes to finding a partner (47% vs. 42%).

6) Facebook is the go-to for stalking

It’s important to do your “research” before going on a first date. Otherwise, how will you know your date’s full romantic history, favorite movies, and name of their second aunt twice removed?

According to our survey, the gold standard for stalking your date is still good ol’ Facebook. It’s probably because you can see a little bit of everything there — photos with ex-girlfriends, mutual friends, and concerts they RSVP’d to.

The only age group that didn’t choose Facebook as a social media go-to was Gen Z. 63% said they use Instagram to look up their date, and only 50% said they use Facebook for this purpose. By contrast, 75% of millennials, 56% of Gen X, and 37% of Boomers say they look up their date on Facebook. Only 61% of millennials, 33% of Gen X, and 5% of Baby Boomers look up their date on Instagram.

7) Gender norms are still a thing

It’s rare to see Don and Betty Draper dynamics in the relationships of today, but that doesn’t mean traditional gender roles have been completely eradicated. According to our survey, men still believe that they should pay for the date. 54% of men said that they would offer to pay for the full bill, whereas women are more likely to make the decision based on who initiated the date (24.4%).

These expectations certainly take a toll on men’s willingness to go on dates. Half of the male respondents we surveyed said that they have canceled a date because they were strapped for cash. Nearly a quarter of men said that they spend over $100 on dating per month, compared to only 9.6% of women..

Despite these financial burdens, male participants said that they wouldn’t want a partner who makes more than they do. 41% of men said they would be bothered if their significant other makes more money than them, compared to only 12% of women who would be bothered.

8) Men care A LOT about traditional status symbols

Across the board, men are much pickier than women about traditional status symbols, like the number on their date’s paycheck and the institutions on their resume. Or at least, they’re much more willing to admit it.

While nearly 60% of women said that they don’t care about status symbols from their date like metal credit cards, expensive cars, and designer clothing, only 34% of men could say the same.

So if you want your date with a man to go well, you should wear some Louboutins and drive a Lamborghini. According to our survey, 27% of men said that they care whether their date’s clothing and accessories look expensive and 21% said that they care what kind of car their date drives.  It might also be a good idea to drop in “I have a Ph.D. in astrophysics” every now and then during conversation. 21% of men said that they prefer their date to have a Master’s degree or above.

And if your date is with a woman, well, just be yourself. Only 4% of women said they prefer their date to have a Masters degree or above. Similarly, only 12% said they care what car their date drives and 19% care how their date is dressed.

The main takeaway from this survey is that yes, people still care about status, and yes, status symbols matter in dating. However, you shouldn’t feel jaded from reading these results. At the end of the day, even the most status-obsessed single is still just looking for love. And once you form a connection with that special someone, all of the other superficial concerns — money, education, Rolexes — will naturally fade away.