Savings And Alone
I'm a 28-year-old guy in a corporate job. I'm out there trying to meet women and date (or hook up), but I'm not doing so well. In college, I was able to hook up and get girlfriends pretty easily, and I haven't put on 100 pounds or anything. I've noticed that three of my male co-workers (at my same level at work) are getting lots of girls. All three are in major debt from buying clothes and leasing cars they really can't afford. Is being on the road to bankruptcy really what it takes to impress the ladies?
--Living Within My Means
Candlelight all over your apartment is really romantic -- unless you're using it because they've cut your power off again.
When women finally start looking to settle down and make a life with a man, the last thing they want is some credit-card-surfing spenditarian who gets his exercise running from collection agents. However, despite this, women can also be like blue jays on shiny objects -- especially shiny objects with, say, Audi emblems -- and men's "mate competition" through spendy-spend-spending reflects that.
Research on men and women ages 18 to 45 by evolutionary social psychologist Daniel Kruger found that men who had run up credit card debt were more likely to have multiple sex partners than their more sensibly spending bros. (Women's debt level didn't have any meaningful effect on their sexual body count.)
Again -- rather obviously -- women aren't all "I'm looking for a man who'll eventually have to crowdfund our children's dental bills." However, looking at Kruger's findings, another evolutionary psychologist, Glenn Geher, speculates that men's overspending "may act as a false signal of wealth, and although it is a false signal" (of the ability to provide resources for a woman and any children) "sometimes this deception is effective."
As for why that might be, just as a guy doesn't get to ask a woman whether her genes or steel-belted Spanx are the force behind her supermodel abs, a woman won't be poring over a guy's credit report at the bar. She'll just paw admiringly at the cashmere hoodie he took out two loans and sold his twin brother into slavery to buy.
This isn't to say you need to go into the red to get girls. It's ultimately a bad strategy for any guy who wants more than a string of flings. However, what would probably lead more women to give you a chance are the first-glance trappings of success -- beautiful shoes, designer eyeglass frames, that fab cashmere sweater, and maybe a really nice soft leather jacket.
The thing is, you can get these items simply by shopping shrewdly -- like at end-of-year sales or on eBay. They'll surely cost more than the duds you'd otherwise buy, but consider them investments to get you in the door. Remember, even women who want a boyfriend who's fiscally responsible are likely to be impressed by that sweater that took four years combing a Mongolian goat to make. And let's say some woman's just looking for a hookup. It's all good; she won't know you long enough to discover that although you do drive a brand-new "alternative-fuel" vehicle, it isn't a Tesla; it's a Schwinn.