Should you share your income in your online dating profile?

"Six figures is so hot."

I will admit, when Penny Wrenn contacted me about this article for LearnVest the subject came as a total shock. I got married ten-plus years ago just as online dating was really taking off, so that world has largely passed me by. None of my clients have mentioned this aspect of profile management, so I didn't know that listing your income was even a thing. I don't show up much in this article because I was mostly agog at the questions Penny asked, baffled and concerned that this is what finding a match has come to. 

Having one piece of data is not the same as having information. 

Knowing someone's income doesn't tell you as much as you think about his or her actual financial life. Along with income are we going to list whether or not she has student loans? Whether he pays child support? Whether she has nine roommates or he lives with his parents? Who here might have a gambling problem? Raise your hand!

There is a time and place for communicating the financial aspects of our lives, and my feeling is that it should happen when we're able to give it the proper context. Someone reading your stated income is going to make assumptions about you that may be wildly inaccurate. 

Money is not always attractive.

The fact that this seems to mainly favor people who list a high income is also troubling. The AYI.com survey Penny cites says that men and women who disclose incomes above $150,000 are most likely to be contacted. People who are high earners are not necessarily doing the most interesting work, or very interesting or happy themselves. I know a ton of unhappy lawyers and bankers who should not be foisted on the dating populace. (Case in point: many of them are unhappy with their jobs but feel unable to change professions because they're shackled by the student loans they took out to join said profession.)

I was happy to participate in this piece, but I'm even happier to read the research and other points of view it contains. I learned a lot. I'm struck by the sense that online profile management, the careful curation of those personal details we feel make us look best, is like a modern form of burlesque. Sure, you want to advertise enough to get people in the seats, but let's save something for the show, people.