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Two Sense: Dating for Dollars

I'm working part-time, going to school and, to be completely honest, occasionally date guys I'm not interested in long-term primarily to get a decent meal or an event invite. I even put a profile up on a dating site known for its moneyed bachelors. A few of my friends are giving me grief for it, but I see dating and even marriage as a kind of transaction and I think people who claim otherwise are kidding themselves. Right?

He Said: I don’t see a moral dilemma here since guys looking at your profile and contacting you will have ample opportunity to make their own decisions. Also, I have a feeling that any guy who dated you would figure out pretty quickly what your game was and either play along or move along. And finally I have to agree with you that dates and marriages are calculated transactions. It’s terribly unromantic, but all of us screen our potential mates by asking: Are they good enough, and am I? What am I getting out of this, and what do I have to give to get it? We may do this instantly or over time, but we all do it. And most couples continue a relationship only as long as both parties feel enough of a balance. No matter how a breakup is presented, the awful punch line is this: the person leaving believes they can do better than the person being left. Of course, if you get married and especially if you have children, you have a huge obligation to make your relationship work. For now though, I say game on.

She Said: Entire books have been written on this topic. Indeed, entire societies have been founded on it: Until relatively recently, everyone was okay admitting that marriage was basically an economic transaction meant to benefit both parties (and their offspring). But in our post-industrial, post-Romantic, post-feminist world, marriage has evolved to mean something much more qualitative for most people—at least consciously.

Sub-consciously? Well, that's another story. Take a stroll on Upper Fillmore some afternoon, or anywhere in Mill Valley, and watch the women pushing strollers with honking solitaires on their left hands. Notice how many of them are butt ugly and/or grossly overweight. Right, none. In exchange for their youth, fertility, beauty, and (often) housekeeping, their partners have given them money, a home, and gifts from Tiffany.

Some people, like the friends you mention, think the post-femininst world is about pure intentions and fairness. I disagree. I think it's about everyone making their own choices, taking their own chances, and owning up to responsibility for their own lives. If you want to trade your youth, sex, beauty, and time for a nice dinner or fancy event, that is completely your prerogative. People trade money for education, emotional counseling, health care, and the care of their children. Why shouldn't they be allowed to trade it for love or sex or simple companionship? In the end, the old maxim still holds true: All's fair in love and war.