Notables to Self: What Makes a “Good” Job in the Context of Romance?

Benjamin Mann is a young professional currently living, working, and dating in Toronto. More of his writing can be found at 

I never used to care what people did for a living and it bugged me when others did.

I’ve been the lead singer of a band before so I know how easily people can be swooned by certain roles and skills. And I always used to think that was ridiculous.

I constantly challenged people’s ability to gauge romantic value, attractiveness or compatibility by the refinement of a skill or an entry on a résumé. How could what someone does for a living make them sexier? How could it provide an accurate projection of their performance as a partner and a family member? It seemed shortsighted and childish; like being a “Belieber” or a “Cumberbitch”.

Recently though, I realized that I’ve been looking at it the wrong way.

The issue is not the strategy of using a person’s top-line career to glean character insight and boost or diminish attraction. In fact, after meeting thousands of different people in thousands of different professions, I believe that’s not only an unavoidable strategy, but a statistically intelligent one. For example, while nurses and midwives aren’t all the same, it’s safe to assume that they will tend to exhibit consistent benefits over, let’s say, escorts, when it comes to being a romantic partner. Not that I haven’t met some lovely, admirable escorts – I’m purely talking odds here.  

The real issue is that many people don’t actually use a person’s top-line career to glean insight into character and priorities; they use it to glean insight into social status and projected lifestyle.

It’s a bit about money, it’s a bit about perception, it’s a bit about primal, childhood-propelled instincts – it’s a bit about a lot of things. Unfortunately, what it’s rarely about is true compatibility and healthy romantic collaboration over long stretches of time.

I had a conversation with an acquaintance recently about the kind of partner they wanted. Near the top of their list of desired qualities was, “a good job”. But that didn’t provide me with any valuable information. So naturally I asked, “What makes a job, “good”?” The answer I got spoke entirely of future lifestyle and the job’s ability to facilitate a lifestyle that was both low-effort and adequately luxurious.

To go even further, the frank statement was made, “It’s not that I need to be rich; I’m just not looking to marry a teacher or a cop.”

Apparently “good”, at least in the context of jobs for a spouse, had little to do with nobility. And while it’s a preference, there are still logical flaws with this perspective.

Very few jobs can be considered “secure” these days. I’ve seen people in every industry get laid off in all kinds of markets, so “good” with the intended meaning of, “secure” is naïve and old-school.

Somehow, Nicholas Cage blew through over $150 million dollars in a decade and I’ve seen many once-successful people burn out their bank accounts. So just because someone makes a lot of dough, it doesn’t mean they know how to use it wisely. “Good” with the intended meaning of “guaranteeing future comfort”, is far from perfect.    

For our own sanity and the next generation of lovebugs, maybe we can consider adopting a more natural definition of “a good job”? 

Maybe “good” can mean, “supporting products and services critical to the ethical evolution of our civilization”. Or what about, “not exhibiting apathy towards social ethics in exchange for large sums of money”?

It’s not that is has to be altruistic. It just has to be…you know…good.

With many of the classic “good jobs”, as the saying goes, the devil (and the angel), is in the details. You’re a lawyer? What kind of lawyer? You’re an investment banker? What do you finance? You’re a cryptic “entrepreneur”? What is your business trying to accomplish and why? At least with social workers and teachers, they can do a lot of damage being bad at their job, but it would be hard to categorize their jobs as “bad” outside the discourse of wealth.

I’m not a daft hippie. I know cash enables comfort and despite what a lot of flakey shmucks might say, money does bring happiness. At a certain point, too much financial stress can be imposed upon key stakeholders and virtue quickly turns into irresponsibility. But when you combine a bloated standard of comfort with a sense of entitlement to that very comfort being provided by someone else’s efforts, you end up with some pretty bad definitions of good.

When I say I’m looking for someone to be a good, attractive partner, I try to keep a consistent definition of good when I talk about their jobs. I’ll take care of my own preferred lifestyle; that’s on me. So if we’re talking about attractive jobs they could have, I think of it a bit in reverse: a “good” job would be one in a field that attracts relatively few bad people.

And so far, that perspective has done me pretty good…says the broke writer.



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