It's not unusual for people looking for a relationship to keep a mental checklist of qualities they absolutely require in a a partner. But a recent survey by the dating service "It's Just Lunch" found that there's one box in particular that straight women want checked: they want the men they date to have jobs.
Of the 925 single women surveyed, 75 percent said they'd have a problem with dating someone without a job. Only 4 percent of respondents asked whether they would go out with an unemployed man answered "of course."
"Not having a job will definitely make it harder for men to date someone they don't already know," Irene LaCota, a spokesperson for It's Just Lunch, said in a press release. "This is the rare area, compared to other topics we've done surveys on, where women's old-fashioned beliefs about sex roles seem to apply."
Or is it?
The women interviewed for the press release didn't mention anything about conforming to traditional gender roles when asked to explain the results. Instead, they said they were concerned that they might end up having to support an unemployed man. They also said they didn't want their own activities to be limited by someone else's job status and potential financial limitations.
One women quoted in the press release reflected that a job was a sign that a man was involved in something, which could indicate a desire for a partner who is active and purposeful, rather than one who would take on the traditional role of the sole breadwinner.
Jezebel went a step further, arguing that the survey numbers could be misleading. 42 percent of the women of counted in that 75 percent camp saying no to unemployed men actually said they might go out on a date with a guy who doesn't have a job: they just probably wouldn't want to date him long-term unless he had some have some sort of plan to secure one eventually. Sounds reasonable enough, argued Cassie Murdoch of Jezebel:
I'm not sure it's so much about the traditional belief that men should be the financial providers so much as it is about believing 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. After all, a big percentage of us don't care so much about whether he has a job right this second...it's more about whether he's the type of guy who's proactive enough to find himself a new job and be able to support himself in the long run.
Still, the new survey joins an existing body of research indicating that women do want a man with some financial resources. One oft-cited study out of the U.K. in 2011 found that women today care more about a man's income and level of education than they did in the 1940s. Another study published last year found that German women increasingly look for men with salaries similar to their own. The reason, again, wasn't that the women wanted a man to take care of them. Instead participants reported that they wanted a mate with equal earning power to avoid the conflict they foresaw arising if their male partners felt insecure about them earning more.