Couple sitting on a private airplane with chocolates and flowers

How Much Does Status Matter?

by Eharmony Editorial Team - January 13, 2009

Do you turn people away based on their career goals or lack thereof? If so, you could be closing the door on someone very special.

We won’t give you the old “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” advice. We actually do believe that, and you probably do, too, if you really think about it.

But that’s not the advice we’re offering right now. Instead, we want to challenge you to rethink your process for selecting people you date.

There are a few main reasons that some folks turn away prospective dates based on a person’s profession:

• Past problems: “I dated a lawyer once, and I’ll never date another one.”

• Money: “Teachers don’t make enough.”

• Status: “How in the world could I tell my friends and family I date an Amway salesman?”

• Motivation-related issues: “He can’t be headed for much if he’s still tending bar.”

In one way or another, all of these reasons are flawed. After all, you know that not all lawyers are alike, just as you know that money and status and career motivation can’t buy happiness. The one thing all of the above reasons have in common is that they create the very real possibility that you’ll miss out on meeting the one person with whom you could create something strong, and meaningful, and long-lasting.

Now, assuming that all of the above is true, and you’re costing yourself at least potential future happiness by turning people away based on their jobs, then what are some ways you can break yourself from this bad habit? Here are three quick suggestions for helping you “re-program” yourself:

Think Through your Priorities

One of the best things you can do right now is to spend some time thinking about what you really want in a potential significant other, and in a relationship. Sure, at first blush, you might say you want to be with someone who makes lots of money, or has an impressive job. There’s not even anything necessarily wrong with that. But put some thought into this question: Are money and status really enough to make you happy?

In other words, if you found someone who has the perfect-sounding job and makes a ton of money, but he or she makes you miserable for the rest of your life, would you still choose that life? If not, then now’s a good time to re-prioritize.

Make Yourself “Go Opposite” the Next Time you meet Someone New

Pay attention to your own reactions when you hear a person’s profession, and stop yourself when you begin to shut down the conversation simply because you hear that the person waits tables, or delivers pizzas. Instead of writing the person off, make yourself stay invested in the conversation at least for a few minutes. Maybe you’ll hear a really interesting reason he or she is doing that particular job right now.

Or maybe you’ll learn that the person is also in grad school, or preparing to take the bar. The more you can fight the tendency to immediately turn someone away based on his or her job, the greater chance you’ll have of meeting someone who could be really good for you.

Commit to Three Dates

Even if you think you could never be interested in, say, a struggling actor, or someone who does nails for a living, tell yourself to just give it a shot. The next time you meet someone who interests you, don’t let yourself turn him or her away just because of a job. Instead, commit to going out with the person for three dates. In that time, if you determine that he or she actually doesn’t have the kind of motivation or education or whatever it is that you expect in a romantic partner, you can move on. But you just might discover that people can surprise you, and that some of your stereotypes don’t hold up when put to the test.

Look, you’re right to have standards about whom you date. And you’re right, too, that often, a person’s chosen profession says a lot about them. You should stay focused on selecting a person who fits in with your life and has a chance to help make you happy. But don’t get stuck in some kind of auto-pilot rut that leads you to turn away someone who can help you create exactly the kind of life you want—even if you don’t realize yet exactly what kind of life that is.