Dare to Ask: Does a man of modest means have a chance with a woman with dough?

By Phillip Milano

The Florida Times-Union

Question

I don't have a glamorous job, but I enjoy it and it pays my bills. Some women who caught my eye on a singles Web site are professionals. One asked what I do for a living. She hasn't talked to me since. Will "independent women" give guys with lower incomes a fair chance? -- Dave, 26, Berea, S.C.

Replies

Most women want a man of means as much as most men want a woman who is physically attractive. -- Lyddie, Chicago

I found that men who earn a lot less than I sometimes can't afford some events. If I pay, it throws the balance of power off. -- Cassandra, 37, Chicago

I am a professional with a Ph.D. I married a "poor guy," and was that a mess. I prefer the men to be well-educated. -- Leslie, 26, Tampa

I met my man when he was a cafeteria worker. My mom worries about us, but so far, so good. Problems may arise from lack of money, but ... it helps that we are both very easygoing and non-extravagant. -- Natalia, 23, New York

Those same women who see nothing wrong with looking down on your income (and yes, they're looking straight down at your poor butt) are probably the first to think it's awful that guys want "hot" chicks. -- Brian, 25, Indiana

Expert says

Maybe if we all spent a little less time worrying about getting ahead or which mate had the bigger salary, and a little more time on love and peace, we'd have fewer allergy symptoms each March.

Until the rest of you totally get that connection (what, there isn't one?) we'll muddle through solving stuff like this with experts like sociologist Christine Whelan.

Whelan, who's written books on relationships like "Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to True Love," commissioned a 2006 Harris survey of high-achieving men and women.

It found that a third of the women married someone who didn't earn as much as they did, and 67 percent would be comfortable as the primary earner.

Nowadays, there are more independent women, and they can choose whether they want a similar mate, Whelan said.

"Potentially, more women earn a good income and see it as a freeing thing. They can marry for love. The flip-side is plenty of them say no, I'm educated and can make a good living, but I don't always want to have to."

Often it's not salary but education, social class or willingness to toss out gender roles that's vital. Education and upbringing give us a particular way of seeing the world, which usually is at the heart of long-term compatibility, Whelan said.

"Sex and passion only last so long; then you have to talk to someone at the end of the day," she said. "For example, on 'Family Guy' they were having a fight over a trivia question, and the guy said, 'You don't know that? The cat would know that answer.' And she said, 'Not everyone went to college.' It shows the fights you can have ... that can end up with one person sleeping on the couch."

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Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee), moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general column comments to phillip.milano@jacksonville.com. You can also hear his podcasts or watch his TV spots.