‘Don’t say you work in retail. Just say you’re a receptionist undergoing training for a higher role’. I was 18 and in my first full-time job. I had acne, jet-black hair from a tube of ‘buy one get one free’ hair dye. The baby fat still clung to my cheeks.
My co-worker was approaching 30 and wanted a partner. She was renting with three other people – the house was on a quaint street in London where the nearest tube was a 30-minute walk away. She – like many Londoners – had a standard room and a kitchen cupboard to herself.
There were no wealthy relatives or parents to generously gift a 20 grand deposit. She decided her best bet was to find a rich man – alongside my awkward self. We used to meet after work on a Thursday to head into the city (where bankers lay) to spot wealthy men. Guys in suits with designer watches, combed hair, pristine shoes.
The last time we spoke, she was dating a finance guy who only had availability on weekday evenings for sex.
It’s long been suggested that women favour providers with strong resources while men prefer beauty. Although some studies find people want compatibility and companionship, we still believe rich men seek young, attractive women. Look at Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and P. Diddy – countless Hollywood men partner with beautiful women of a younger age. That explains why many women put looks as the first step to meeting a rich man.
After leaving my first job, I moved to working in a luxury department store. During quiet periods, some of us joked about couples walking in. We shuddered at old men armed with bright-eyed girls and made-up stories for how some of the age-gap couples met.
The past decade has changed how we discuss money and dating. When my old friend revealed her plan to find a wealthy boyfriend, it felt like a dirty secret. People made casual remarks about wanting someone rich, but no one discussed going out to specifically find a well-off person.
Today, however, we’re inundated with tips. Searches for sugar daddy sites soared in 2022. TikTok has countless videos on how to meet a rich a man. Some influencers – such as Anna Bey – make a living sharing tips.
Much of the advice online is filled with clichés – head to fancy bars and establishments, look elegant and don’t dress too sexy. A man with money wants a woman he can confidently show-off in front of clients and other businessmen.
We’re in a poor financial climate. People are struggling to keep up with rental and mortgage payments; buying a house is an impossible dream for many. But we’re also living in a society where social media makes luxury a norm. Countless young people walk around with designer handbags at high-end establishments. Research shows millennials and Gen Z are entirely responsible for last year’s luxury market growth.
Perhaps the desire to live an influencer lifestyle mixed with low financial stability has made the desire for an affluent man a necessity rather than a luxury?
A woman I knew (we’ll call her Rebecca) met her wealthy suitor in a casual pub. She admitted over coffee that she did everything to find him. She signed up to expensive gym memberships, attended charity events, hung out at classy London spots. Despite her success in marketing, her income could barely meet her one-off designer pieces that she wore to impress suitors.
As we spoke, she laughed at her situation. Imagine spending thousands to meet a rich man only to stumble upon him in a cheap setting. Rebecca was not ashamed in the slightest – she didn’t care that her relationship was a contract between beauty and cash. She lived in a penthouse apartment, went on monthly holidays and had an investor for business plans.
What made her situation work – as well as similar ones I know – is that the meeting was organic. Men know they’ll find attractive women in high-end hotels and bars. When you go out with the mindset to find a rich man, you’ll likely meet one looking for a beautiful woman. It becomes a game of who can get what.
You’re better off focusing on transforming yourself and becoming compatible with the person you want to date rather than watching videos on how wealthy men expect women to dress. But it’s an easy fix to watch girls selling a dream lifestyle when you’re broke and bored.