Dear 100 Hour Board,
Is it rude and/or ridiculous to not want to date someone (with some level of seriousness) based on their individual earning potential--or your and his combined earning potential--or is it being honest and realistic about your socioeconomic expectations?
I think if you're looking for a free ride, then it's a bad idea and kind of shallow, especially if it's the only thing you're considering. My parents used to tell me to marry rich and only date guys with high earning potentials, but given my complete lack of allure with men, I realized that even if I did only date someone with high earning potential, that it doesn't guarantee me any measure of economic prosperity. In the end, I realized that I could only count on myself and I decided that I would date guys regardless of earning potentials. As long as they were passionate and ambitious in regards to whatever they wanted to do, that was enough for me. I am skilled, intelligent and hard working enough that I have a pretty high earning potential on my own and because of that, my potential dating pool is not as limited as it might be.
At the same time, I think it's perfectly fine to look for someone who works as hard as you do, and wants a similar standard of living and is willing to work together with you to achieve that standard. I know it's seemingly commonplace for many Mormon women to completely disregard guys who aren't pre-med, or pre-law or business majors. In a way, our culture kind of encourages women to look for men with high earning potentials, since many women expect to stay home and not contribute to the income. They will have to rely on their husband to be able to support them and their children, and it becomes a relevant concern. In those cases, I can understand the desire to want to date someone who can take care of you in the future, but money isn't everything and if it's the single most important factor in the dating game, then I hesitate to condone it.
I've thought about this and my opinion has slightly changed. I think it's alright to consider it a major factor in whether you want to marry someone, but I don't think it's fair to make it an instant disqualification to date someone. I'm assuming here that you are a woman, since men (especially in Mormon culture) generally don't worry about their wife's earning potential.
I think there are some women who seek or require a high standard of living in order to be happy. I've heard such women referred to as "high maintenance" and I don't really think that's fair, but I think it's true that there are women who care a lot more about money than others. If you're that type of woman who really wouldn't be happy to live on a meager income, then obviously you should really think about it before you marry yourself into such a situation. If it's important to you, then it's important to you and you need to act on it! But your opinions could change, especially if you have similar, compatible visions of the future. You might end up realizing you don't need a huge income to follow your dreams with your future husband.
I have a few reasons why I suggest not instantly disqualifying someone from your dating pool because of their "earning potential". First, as I described above, you might realize after dating that you're very compatible and that your dreams of money aren't as important to you as finding a great man to be married to. Second, how do you know based on a few dates what someone's earning potential is? I hear talk all the time about pre-med, business, and law guys... can we stop this train of thought in the Mormon world? There are plenty of very successful and rich men with science, engineering, communications, math, music, English, and even art degrees... I know them. And there are plenty of mediocre business graduates here, not to mention that half of all doctors say that if they did it over again, they wouldn't go into medicine. This leads directly to the third reason, that personality, sense of hard-work, and diligence are much better indicators of future success than major or prior internships. And that is something you're unlikely to really understand unless you date someone first.
Anyway, yes it's important... no, it's not everything and it could be rude to reject someone just because you don't think their earning potential is high enough.