In a new survey conducted by an online dating service, three-quarters of women said they were unlikely to date a man who is unemployed. Only one-third of the guys surveyed, by contrast, refuse to go with women who don’t have jobs.
The results of the survey, conducted by the matchmaking service It’s Just Lunch, is not necessarily representative of the population. It’s Just Lunch is a dating site that specializes mainly in setting up well-educated professionals, and the data comes from the responses of 925 single women (and an unknown number of men—the site hasn’t released that info) who responded to the site’s requests to participate in the survey.
Nonetheless, the dramatic differences in the responses of the sexes may lead some to the conclusion that, as Jezebel put it, “women are just a bunch of money-grubbing gold-diggers.”
The Jezebel post disputes this claim, of course. A closer look at the numbers shows that, instead of being concerned mainly with a man’s wealth, women may just want to date men who are doing something with their lives. When asked in the It’s Just Lunch survey, “Would you go out on a date with someone whom you knew was unemployed?” one-third of women responded with a flat “No.” A larger percentage (42%) gave “Maybe” as an answer with the stipulation, “I wouldn’t want to throw a lot of time into it unless they had a game plan for getting back on track.” Men were asked the same question, and roughly two-thirds said they’d be up for dating someone who was unemployed: 19% said they had no reservations whatsoever about going out with a woman without a job, and another 46% said they’d date an unemployed women but were interested in finding out how they spent their time not working.
An It’s Just Lunch spokesperson reads these numbers as an indication that “women’s old-fashioned beliefs about sex roles seem to apply,” and that men are more desirable if they have jobs and are good providers. The Jezebel post, on the other hand, views the data in less blatantly monetary terms. The idea women are sending is that:
A man who doesn’t have job and doesn’t have a solid plan to get one probably isn’t as desirable as a mate because he lacks ambition or intelligence or some other mysterious quality that we perceive as being necessary in our boyfriends.
As much as the responses seem like they’re about money, they’re really about the qualities and values women want most in men, the thinking goes. In addition to ambition and intelligence, being employed is also probably a sign of dependability—a guy who is able to show up for work on time should also be able to be punctual on dates and able to remember anniversaries and whatnot.
Similarly, a previous study conducted for the real estate site Trulia shows a fairly big difference in how homeownership affects the desirability of men and women as dates. Just 19% of men said that they have a preference for dating homeowners. A much larger proportion of women (36%) prefer dates who own property.
Again, these numbers don’t necessarily mean that women put more of an emphasis on requiring their mates to be swimming in material goods and income. Sure, homeownership could be an indication of wealth. (Then again, seeing as how real estate values have fared in recent years, it could just as easily be an indication of debt—even foolishness.) Homeownership may also be a sign that a man (or woman) is responsible and obviously capable of settling down—qualities that are highly desirable among singles who are keen on finding a life partner and settling down.
Either that or the women who participated in these surveys just plain really want to date a man only if he has a steady stream of income and a nice house.