Gold digger stereotype ready for burial

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Gold digger

Gold digger (Stephan Zabel, E+ Photography via Getty Images)

I recently received a pitch from a relationship expert offering insight on a number of topics, including this gem: "Ladies! How to be a goal digger, not a gold digger."

It struck me as tone-deaf and outdated (to say nothing of condescending and disparaging) in a time when women are the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of American households, earn the majority of both undergraduate and advanced degrees in the United States and own 30 percent of the nation's small businesses.

Ladies appear to be pretty adept at goal-digging.

But I'm not a man, making his way through the modern dating scene, trying to discern the goal-diggers from the gold-diggers. Maybe, I thought, this is a real, actual problem plaguing our great nation (not to mention our great hip-hop artists). Maybe I just move in lame, insulated, pull-your-own-weight circles.

I decided to check in with Bela Ghandi, the founder and president of Chicago-based Smart Dating Academy, a national matchmaking firm that offers image and online dating consulting services to single men and women.

How often, I wondered, do women ask to be connected with wealthy men?

"I've been in business for five years," Ghandi says. "And I've never had a woman come to me and say, 'I need a rich guy.' Not once."

What do they say?

"More than half the women we talk to list height in their top three," she says. "I hear height way more than I hear money.

"Of course I turn that around on them," Ghandi continues. "I say, 'Tell me about the people in your life that elevate you and make you happy and why they make you happy. And I never hear 'My friend Tom because he's tall.' Or, 'My friend Megan because she's rich.'"

The money phrase Ghandi does hear often, she says, is "financially stable."

"I'm looking at a profile right now," she tells me via phone, "for a woman who lives in New York City who has a PhD. Number eight on her list (of preferred traits in a man) is 'stable and successful in his career.' In the discussion underneath that statement, she says that means, 'He has a job that he's good at and he loves what he does.'

"That's the definition of success I hear most often," Ghandi says. "Have work, love what you do, be good at it. People want someone with a full life who feels good about themselves."

Sounds like a pretty good goal.

hstevens@tribune.com

Twitter @heidistevens13

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