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Thursday, June 16, 2011

On My Level - Part 2 :: Elitism in the Dating Game

I have witnessed and taken part in many discussions amongst young singles that have either directly or indirectly touched upon the issue of 'eligibility'.

Such discussions are often inaugurated by one or more women who are curious to uncover the thoughts and opinions of the men present.

"So... I mean, what is it that guys look for in a woman?"

The question above may be followed by some sort of contextual reinforcement in order to minimize the amount of generic answers received; and Voila! ...another 'relationship conversation' has begun.

Soon enough, another one of the most common questions posed by single women during such conversations arises:

[Variation 1] "Why are men intimidated by successful women?"
[Variation 2] "So do you guys find women who make more money than you intimidating?"

In the past, I have taken pride many times in responding with a confident "Absolutely not... I actually find [advanced material/occupational/educational success] to be attractive." I may include clarifying statements and/or scenarios along with my answer to ensure that no one misunderstood me to say that my attraction is either limited to abundantly successful women, or somehow contingent upon how earthly successful she is. In other words, I measure the quality of a woman based on factors that exceed her material accomplishments.

Today, however, my response to the question of 'intimidation' may require some adjustment. This adjustment comes as a result of my own observations and encounters with many [not 'all'] women who use their own material success as a template to gauge the quality of their male counterparts.

I have sat quietly and listened to too many women openly and emphatically refer to themselves as the 'cream of the crop' while explicitly referencing their advanced degrees, occupations and self-sufficiency to substantiate these claims of echelon. To them, a 'good' woman possesses these credentials; and a 'good' man, therefore, matches or exceeds these credentials. Rarely are virtues such as wisdom and integrity discussed as discriminating factors. Instead, salary expectations, occupational status and superficial appeal seem to rank as the highest priorities.

As some of these women are straightforward in communicating such standards, others are much more subtle. During relevant group conversations, one or more may share their past dating experiences; emphatically recollecting the pros and cons of each encounter. Sadly, it is usually in hindsight when these particular women finally assess the character of the men they date - ie. AFTER he has cheated; AFTER he has managed to keep their dating status 'ambiguous'; AFTER he has shown himself to be as just shallow in his own assessments of her relational eligibility.

Following the long list of cons, the pros usually consist merely of the external attributes that 'fooled' them into believing that Mr. Wrong was Mr. Right - ie. how he dressed; where he worked; what he drove; his affiliations; how nice his smile was; etc.

"Girl... I thought he was it! I mean, he was a lawyer, had a nice place in that new neighborhood I told you about... brutha was gorgeous! No kids, goes to church, paid, went to Morehouse, girl....More-house...[etc etc]."

Now, external appeal, within itself, is not something that should be overlooked in its entirety. However, it should be kept within proper perspective.

Presently, many women place much too high of an emphasis upon what a man has as opposed to who the man has proven to be. What a man has can be justifiably weighed as important - ie. Does he have a job and is it steady and progressive? Does he have transportation and does he maintain it well? Does he have good credit and, thus, properly manage his finances (a reflection upon his character - who he is).

However, when a man's possessions are weighed against lavish standards and then used to make a qualitative assessment of his relational personhood, it is no longer justifiable – just as it is equally absurd for a man to use the physical appeal of a woman as the sole and exclusive factor in assessing her relational personhood.

Those women who advocate such lofty standards often present several common arguments in order to substantiate their expectations. Some of these arguments, within themselves, may possess some level of validity. However, when considering the positions in which these particular women stand, most of the arguments prove to have no real merit.

1. Stability/Security
For women, financial stability and security are two of the most essential attributes of a marriage.

Are the bills being paid?
Is the rent/mortgage taken care of?
Is there food on the table?
Are the children provided for?

It is imperative that each of these questions, among others, are answered with a consistent 'yes'. Wherever there is a 'no', there is a lack of stability and security.

However, the dynamic changes when considering the female demographic in question.

On their own, these women are able to maintain a lifestyle where all facets of stability and security are taken care of - and, in many cases, with luxury. Therefore, any supplementation provided by a man with any level of stable income - provided that he's financially responsible - would only add to an already secure and stable lifestyle. So, for these women, this argument would only prove valid if they planned to quit their own jobs and rely solely upon the occupational competencies of their husbands-to-be; which is not an unreasonable scenario...albeit unlikely.

2. Respect
Generally, a respectable man is one with good character and who exercises sound wisdom and discernment. He works hard and smart at whatever he does. He is trustworthy. He has integrity. He is responsible and respectful. These credentials describe a caliber of man that demands respect.

These are also the credentials that are often NOT considered when the argument of 'respect' is posed by many women within this particular demographic.

Instead, this argument is founded upon the notion that if a man is to be worthy of his woman's respect in a relationship/marriage, he must be at or above her 'level'. Otherwise, she 'can not' respect him. This may be one of the most poignant arguments because it strongly implies that a man with 'less' is, in fact, less.

Less than what exactly? Respectable?

Again, once the material status of these women is considered, there really could be no other insinuation besides the 'eligibility' of respect.

One couldn't say "less than capable of providing for me" since she has proven to be capable of providing well above her own needs.

One couldn't say "less than capable of relating to me" as it would only further incriminate since it implies that earthly prestige is key in order to spark and maintain a substantive relationship.

3. The Double Standard
In terms of general attraction, men are known to be visually stimulated and physically motivated more than their female counterparts. Therefore, in general, attraction for a man typically begins with his subjective perception of a woman's physical attributes and presentation. In other words, if he likes what he sees, a level of attraction has begun.

In cases where the man is looking for any type of substantive relationship far and beyond mere sexual gratification, the same physical attributes that he has found favorable are simply not enough to substantiate a decision to pursue that female. In other words, she may look good, but is she good for him? This is the question that many men ask themselves once they have found a woman to be at least physically attractive. It is a question of her personality, her character, her values and more.

Now, there are other men who fail to ask themselves this very question. These men in particular, once having found a woman to be physically attractive, use her physical appeal as the sole measurement of her relational eligibility. In other words, instead of factoring in her character and holistic compatibility, these men are assessing and choosing their women based exclusively upon on their 'looks'.

In terms of superficial attraction, this phenomenon, devoid of any further assessment of the substantive quality of a woman, is no different from a woman's use of material prestige as the sole measurement of a man's relational eligibility. Both methods are equally as vacuous and ultimately ineffectual. Nonetheless, there are members within both genders who refer to these insipid discriminative practices of the opposite sex in order to condone the same fruitless practices of their own. The general underlying argument is as such:

"[The opposite sex] do it all the time. Why can't we?".

This is one major facet of the 'double standard' argument.

Another facet of the 'double standard' argument generally seeks to draw a universal parallel between the materialistic standards of some women and the natural regard that men have for a woman's physical appeal.

One who subscribes to such an argument may assert that a woman's preoccupation with the material assets of a man is no different from a man's preoccupation with the physical assets of a woman. However, unlike the first component of the 'double standard' argument which seeks to condone one shallow perspective on relational eligibility by implicating another, this component attempts to draw a direct link between shallow materialism and the natural inclination for physical attraction.

It is a case of "apples and oranges"; indicating a common misconception that suggests that a man's basic inherent need to be physically attracted to his potential 'wife' is merely unambitious and sophomoric.

This facet of the 'double standard' argument, then, infers a general misunderstanding of both men and the key areas of relational [marital] intimacy.


Because the above arguments fail to substantiate or excuse any notion that a man must achieve an elevated level of material success before he is relationally eligible, it would be more than reasonable to suggest that the true genesis of such lofty requirements is materialism and elitism.

Materialism: a doctrine that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress
1. the socially superior part of society
a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence

Many women, having placed such a disproportionate emphasis on material success, have demonstrated that they are subconsciously - or perhaps even consciously - concerned more with collaborative earthly status than substantive intimacy.

Many times have I heard such women fantasize about finding that 'right man', having that 'big wedding', buying that 'big house', and living that 'big lifestyle' happily ever after. Clearly, then, it is about finding a man who is able to transform such a fantasy into a reality; and a man who appears less than capable of bringing such a fantasy into fruition is, therefore, not eligible.

So while they may think and/or claim that they are seeking a respectable man who can help provide a stable, secure, and holistically successful relationship, these particular women are actually in search of a man who is best equipped to provide a superficial image thereof.


Many of these women are preoccupied with a man's level of prestige because they want to look good with him. There is often a desire for the proverbial 'power couple' image. It sounds nice. It receives critical acclaim amongst friends and associates. It is a step up on the socioeconomic ladder.

From this perspective, the societal prestige of being a lawyer 'complements' that of, say, a doctor. However, the societal prestige of a school teacher and that of a doctor do not complement one another and, therefore, the two individuals are not considered 'compatible' - unless, of course, the female is the school teacher.

Some of these women, having been raised in luxurious accommodations most of their lives, express the 'prerequisite' that a man must be able to provide her a comparable, privileged lifestyle. This is perhaps one of the many perverted instantiations of the 'security and stability' argument. Such a woman has placed a higher value upon the prospect of living an opulent lifestyle rather than upon the prospect of a progressive and substantively successful relationship/marriage. While her desire for luxurious accommodations does not, in and of itself, demand disapprobation; it is the misapplication of such a desire towards the assessment of relational eligibility that does.


A dominant concern with the acquisition and/or maintenance of image and status implies that there is a lack of concern with substantive personal growth and character.

Sure...generally speaking, most women want a man with integrity and commendable character. However, to allow themselves to be distracted by the prospect of palpable clout only places them at risk of ultimate relational disappointment.

Such women, having placed a higher value on material prestige, fail to assess whether or not their chosen male prospects have the integrity and character to help build a healthy relationship. Their disregard for essential virtues such as integrity and character, then, signifies a strong lack thereof within themselves; and it is that very lack of character within these particular women that actually renders them relationally ineligible. ironic.