I received an email about a presumably true Craigslist personals ad by a 25-year-old attractive (“stunningly beautiful”) NYC woman wanting advice on how to meet and marry a man who earns over $500,000 a year. Why that amount? Because “a million a year is middle class in NYC.” And she doesn’t want to be just a girlfriend; she wants marriage.
Even if this is a joke or fiction, the response that was included was priceless and educational.
The response is supposedly from a man who claims to make at least $500K/year. He pointed out that she is essentially offering a business deal, and a bad one at that. Why?
“What you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money. Fine, simple. But here’s the rub: your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity … in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won’t be getting any more beautiful!
“So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! You’re 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!
“So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold…hence the rub: marriage. It doesn’t make good business sense to “buy you” (which is what you’re asking) so I’d rather lease. In case you think I’m being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It’s as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.
“By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn’t need to have this difficult conversation.
“If you want to enter into some sort of lease, let me know.”
Don’t focus on her shallowness or his coldness. Focus on the business logic. We know the common belief that many women want to marry a financially sound guy and guys want to marry an attractive woman. So while there are many exceptions, this is a commonly held perspective. When it is put so bluntly as the responder does, it is cold and heartless. But is it less so than the woman’s point of view? I don’t think so.
When I got divorced it was abundantly clear that I had unwittingly entered into a 20-year business deal with my ex. I knew we had different financial philosophies, but since we kept our money separate, it didn’t seem like a big deal. But of course in a divorce, there is no legal separation, at least in my state. I realized that I would never have gone into business with my ex, but I had by default when I signed the marriage license.
What do you think of putting romance and marriage in business language? While off putting to some, others will see that the logic does make sense.
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