Does Seeking Financial Security Make You a Gold Digger?

Why People Dig

Not so long ago, it was considered sensible for a woman to seek a good provider. Nowadays, we’re all expected to pride ourselves on our independence and choose (or mostly choose) someone for love. Any interest in a man’s prospects can feel mercenary, despite the still-shaky economy and even though women still earn less than men-77 cents for every dollar. And while college degrees help, they don’t close the gap: College-educated women earn five percent less the first year out of college than their male peers, and 10 years later, even if they keep working, 12 percent less. For all the news coverage of the fact that men got hit worse in the latest recession, on balance, men remain ahead.

The term “gold-digger” summons up the image of 22 year olds kissing ancient lips hoping for a fast inheritance. But what do we think about college students entertaining sugar daddies who help cover their tuition? There are more than 50 shades of gray, any number of circumstances in which women (and men) who lack resources enter into relationships they might otherwise not choose. Gold-digging happens when people are greedy but also when they feel trapped.

Digging Into the Future

To answer the question, “Are you a gold-digger?” take the other person’s point of view. Often they’re somewhat clued in to your terms. “As long as the other person gets something too and feels like the deal is fair, you’re not using them,” Lorraine says. “Also, you know how good it feels to take care of someone, so that’s something to gain, too.”

Hank, who is studying political science, sees marriage returning to its origins. “For millennia, marriage was primarily an economic relation. The privileged could afford romance. Then democracy spread, and the poorer in western industrial democracies found themselves enjoying some of the benefits the wealthy had previously had entirely to themselves. Now we are losing ground.”

Put starkly-rich man vs. poor man-how many of us would choose strictly for love? Walker knows two friends, one an actor, who is “poor as a church mouse and lives in rented rooms,” and a multi-millionaire entrepreneur. Although the actor is better looking and a better conversationalist, his girlfriend left him for the entrepreneur. “It’s just common sense,” she says.

– by Temma Ehrenfeld

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Does Seeking Financial Security Make You a Gold Digger?  was originally published on