Why I’ll NEVER date a man who earns less than me

A couple of years ago, I was longing for a spot of winter sun in Cape Verde. Considering the cost of flights, hotel and new beachwear, I calculated I’d need several thousand pounds to spend a fortnight away in style. 

At 51, I’m a successful woman earning a six-figure salary from my own wellness business, so I didn’t baulk at the price. But my boyfriend . . . I knew he couldn’t afford to come unless I paid. 

Ben and I had been dating for six months and got on brilliantly. At the time, chemistry was all I thought about in a relationship. I’d never dreamt of judging a man’s suitability via a peek at his bank balance. But I’m not shy about having money conversations, either, so I knew Ben’s job in IT earned him a salary of £30,000.

For Ben, ten years my junior, work was a means to enjoy surfing at weekends or rugged camping holidays in the summer.

He had zero career ambitions. I knew he would see it as odd if I went on holiday by myself. But I also couldn’t imagine anything more humiliating — for both of us — than me paying for him. In the end, I simply didn’t go.

Samantha Scott, 51 (pictured) says she even checks a prospective date works where he says he does

It wasn’t the first time I’d changed my plans because he couldn’t keep up. If we went out for a meal with his family, he’d pick a cheap and cheerful all-you-can-eat place instead of the proper restaurants I love. For weekends away, he’d hunt for the best value option, whereas I wanted comfort and an ensuite.

When we split, not long afterwards, I had to be honest with myself: we hadn’t made it as a couple because the financial imbalance was just too much.

It was sad — but that moment opened my eyes. I’d been through grinding poverty and built my successful business through hard graft. But I’d never stopped to demand the same drive and inner fire in a man.

For far too long, women have been told it’s rude to talk about finances and greedy to appear interested in what a man earns. It’s often assumed that a woman who asks about money is a gold-digger, someone who wants to glide on the coat-tails of a far wealthier man — but for me, it’s the opposite.

These days, I would never date a man who earns less than me . . . and I passionately believe no woman should.

In fact, I now routinely comb through a prospective date’s social media accounts, then check he works where he says he does by phoning his office reception and clarifying his position. If he’s a business owner, I’ll confirm that’s the case with Companies House. It sounds extreme but it saves hassle and heartbreak knowing a man is solvent. I’ve been frank with my female friends — most of them independently wealthy — and they have been really supportive. Some say they even took my advice.

I have warned my daughters — Ella, 22, and Yasmine, 18 — that whoever they build a life with must have the same income and financial mindset as them, and I think they see my point.

That might sound harsh or unfair, but it’s a philosophy I’ve developed from long and bitter experience.

She insists that for far too long, women have been told it's rude to talk about finances and greedy to appear interested in what a man earns

She insists that for far too long, women have been told it’s rude to talk about finances and greedy to appear interested in what a man earns

Over the past five years, since starting my business, I’ve dated at least a dozen men who earned less than half what I did. And I’ve learned the hard way that being a sugar mummy is a thankless and deeply unsatisfying role. I’ve worked for every penny I have, and I no longer want to share it with anyone who doesn’t understand that.

I had a happy, middle-class upbringing — my mum ran her own cleaning company, while my dad was a chief technical engineer in the RAF. They both believed in hard work.

In my 20s I qualified as a massage therapist but never quite earned enough to make ends meet. At 29, I became pregnant with Ella and decided to go it alone.

He never threw away an item of clothing until it had three holes 

All I heard from my family was: ‘You’ve ruined your life’. My disapproving great-aunt parroted these words to me so frequently that I became convinced I would live in poverty for the rest of my days. Her voice is still burned into my psyche.

Two years later, I was in a committed new relationship and expecting Yasmine. But although I was sure he was The One, it didn’t last and I found myself a single mother of two with no prospects, aged 33.

I desperately needed stability, but instead I kept chasing romantic dreams, dating men as penniless as me. ‘Who cares what he earns or how irresponsibly he behaves when you’re in love?’ I thought.

I lived hand-to-mouth. Some months I made money, others I didn’t. I survived by learning exactly how long different supermarkets took to process card payments — if I timed it right, I could buy a big food shop up to four days before I actually got paid, knowing that the charge wouldn’t land in my empty account until the next cheque (hopefully) came in.

But I was sick of living that way. So when I met successful people at networking events, I paid attention to their attitude to money.

It was a revelation, especially when it came to the handful of wealthy men I dated after meeting them at these events.

In her past, Samantha says she desperately needed stability, but instead 'kept chasing romantic dreams, dating men as penniless as me'

In her past, Samantha says she desperately needed stability, but instead ‘kept chasing romantic dreams, dating men as penniless as me’

They enjoyed all the perks of wealth — designer clothes and cars that cost more than I’d earn in five years. I’d be taken to restaurants people would kill for a table at and, without even having to look at the menu, my date would order heavenly food for me. Some women might consider that patronising but I adored it.

Now, you might say that this goes against my own philosophy — that no one should date a much poorer partner. And looking back, I agree that my insecurities probably would have sabotaged a long-term relationship with any one of those men.

But all the time I was learning from them. I watched how they talked about wealth, how they saved and invested. And then I took a huge risk to pay for a professional course — something I’d always told myself was too expensive but now saw as an investment in my future — then set myself up as a life coach five years ago.

I earned £30,000 in the first year and my business has grown from there. I now earn a comfortable six-figure salary. Still, it took me another three years to apply those lessons in my personal life. I kept chasing romantic dreams, regardless of how much a man earned.

There were the straightforwardly stingy lovers, the worst of whom would measure out two coffee cups of water to pour into the kettle, so he didn’t waste more electricity than he needed to.

He would follow me around his home turning off the lights, drive at a specific speed to get an extra mile out of his tank, even re-use teabags. With his clothing, he had a rule that he never threw an item away until it had three holes.

You might call it thrifty, but just try living that way.

The businesswoman insists she isn't shy or embarrassed about her methodology. Stock image used

The businesswoman insists she isn’t shy or embarrassed about her methodology. Stock image used

Another would show up at my home empty-handed when I’d cooked dinner, without even contributing a bottle of wine.

Then there were those who went to the opposite extreme, spending recklessly because they just didn’t understand money. And then, inevitably, these men expected me to bail them out.

 I ask pretty direct questions. If he won’t answer, he’s hiding something

The most brazen got into the habit of organising our dates around shopping expeditions. He’d point at things and say, ‘I’ll get that once I’m paid’. On one occasion it was a designer shirt, another time the latest iPhone.

It took me a while to realise that, actually, he was waiting for me to say, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll buy it for you’.

Needless to say, I didn’t. And once I spotted the pattern, the relationship didn’t last long.

Another ex used to come with me on supermarket trips and casually drop his groceries into my trolley on the assumption I’d pay for them. That might sound like a small thing but his arrogance amounted to treating me like a cash machine.

I recently met up with him for a walk in the park and we went for cake and coffee afterwards. He hadn’t changed, apologising for forgetting his wallet.

Then there is the emotional baggage of an insecure, needy partner. I earned four times the salary of one man I dated. At first, I couldn’t understand why he was so quick to anger. But slowly, I came to see that he just didn’t feel good enough for me.

Whenever we had a disagreement, he would bring up the difference in our finances as if it was my fault — ‘I can’t financially provide for you,’ he’d whinge. I wasted hours trying to reassure him, reminding him that I valued his other qualities, such as kindness.

But nothing I said could change the way he felt and I refused to engage with such guilt trips, so, inevitably, we split up.

For years, I blamed myself for my failures in love, telling myself I was too ‘business-focused’. One man even told me I was not relationship material because I was too busy earning money.

But after my breakup with Ben, two years ago, I adopted a new approach.

As well as doing my research, I ask pretty direct questions on a first date, including whether a man has any debt, what kind of house he lives in (and if he owns it) — and if he doesn’t want to answer, well, I assume he’s hiding something.

Most men are stunned, the majority laugh nervously and the rare one I actually want to be with respects me for being so blunt and answers honestly. I might have fewer relationships but they are far better quality.

I’ve come to realise that true love grows only when you’re on the same page. Looks and passion are no longer as important to me.

This isn’t sexist — I’m sure it’s just the same for wealthy men dating women who earn less.

Samantha is even careful about the people she lets into her friendship circles, as she says jealousy can 'rear its head'. Stock image used

Samantha is even careful about the people she lets into her friendship circles, as she says jealousy can ‘rear its head’. Stock image used

My love life has improved since I changed my approach

These days, I’m even careful about whom I allow into my friendship groups. If they don’t earn the same income as me, jealousy will always rear its head. Friends on different incomes really don’t have a future.

Since I changed my approach two years ago, my love life has improved beyond belief. The man I dated most recently had his own business and earns about the same as me.

On our first date, he thought it was funny when I said I’d checked him out online. During our six months together, we went to high-end hotels and restaurants and spent time together that didn’t involve slobbing on the sofa watching Netflix.

It’s not just about dating rich men. But I do believe a true partner must not resent your success or feel threatened by it.

I’m not shy or embarrassed about admitting this. After all, a few generations ago, it was accepted that your life partner should be of roughly the same social and economic standing.

We have rejected that traditional approach and I believe we are less happy as a result.

I’m not intimidated by money any more. I’m not afraid to say that if you are the wealthiest person in the room, then you need to be in a different room. And the same goes for a romantic relationship.

Interview by Samantha Brick

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