Everyone enters a new relationship with different expectations. But according to a new survey, the majority of us are looking for more than whatever it was we had before. Up to 60 percent of people surveyed said they’re trying to “date up” by finding romantic prospects who can introduce them to new people, bring them on cool vacations and improve their lifestyle.
Basically, they’re not saying she’s a gold digger. They’re saying we’re all gold diggers.
The survey polled 2,000 singles and found that 72 percent of respondents felt like they had settled in past relationships, with 62 percent saying they deserved better in their next one. Similarly, 70 percent thought dating up would improve their lives.
Admittedly, these findings should be taken with an extra large grain of salt, as the survey was commissioned by Seeking.com, formerly Seeking Arrangements, a site known for helping sugar daddies meet sugar babies and vice versa. In February, the company rebranded to make its focus helping “success-minded” individuals looking to date, so it’s not entirely surprising that a poll of their users disproportionately focused on status.
“It is good to have the belief that you deserve the best. Finding love can be hard especially if you’re picky when it comes to certain traits, but as the old saying goes, there is someone out there for everyone,” Brandon Wade, CEO of Seeking.com, said in a press release. “It is clear singletons aren’t looking to just settle for anything that comes along these days and there is nothing wrong with that, it just might take a little bit longer to find but will be worth the wait.”
And yet, in the age of dating apps, it’s not hard to imagine other singles “dating up” as well. In fact, a study from the University of Michigan showed that men and women on the apps tend to message people who are seen as up to 25 percent more desirable than they are.
To therapists like Tim Stein, the issue isn’t that people are dating out of their league, but that they’re often only presenting a certain version of themselves in order to do so. “Our culture teaches us to make ourselves attractive to someone and then the primary question in dating becomes ‘Do they like me?’ and ‘What do I need to do so they continue to like me?’” Stein explains. “If this dating pattern leads to a committed relationship, there is often the abrupt experience of, ‘You’re not the person I thought you were.’”
He adds that this realization is usually a two-way street: The person you’re with can sense that you’re not dating them for who they are, but rather whatever figurative or literal pot of gold they possess.
Meanwhile, matchmaker Tammy Shaklee has learned from her clients that aiming higher can be a self-protective strategy. “Online dating, they tell me, provides volumes of ‘potential opportunists’ seeking them, so why shouldn’t they strive to meet their equal or better?” she explains. But to Shaklee, as with Wade, aiming for equal or better isn’t necessarily a bad thing: “Equal doesn’t always mean the same digits in the bank. Meeting someone who has those same goals and values is usually a good match in compatibility.”
So, even though this survey looked at a specific cross-section of the dating pool, the takeaways are relatively universal: People like to shoot their shots, no matter how impractical they may be. But those trying to dig for gold without being realistic about what they’re after — and what they can offer — are only fleecing themselves.