What you need to know:
- In an era where more women are graduating from college and making big money, most still insist the man has to come armed moneywise and socially.
“Hello Caroline, I am a mature lady, a proud mother of two daughters. I am a hardworking lady and very independent.
"I am looking for a very mature man. He MUST be FINANCIALLY STABLE... because I am not badly off either. I need someone who drives because I drive too. I am not ready to pick up someone from the bus stop. I want to pick him from the airport.
"I am very serious about this please. I can't relocate because I am already established where I am. This man should love traveling because I travel a lot too.”
This is the message that Caroline Gikunda, an entrepreneur based in Malindi and the founder of CaroLove Dating App, got from one of her social media followers who was searching for love.
It set in motion a heated debate over the woman’s high demands. Not too many men were pleased. Many men who commented castigated the said woman for being too materialistic and cosmetic.
The majority of women applauded her for knowing what she wants and not shying away from demanding it. Money and class go hand in hand, they said.
According to Caroline, many men felt aggrieved by the woman’s insistence on financial stability because they weren’t financially stable or in the same social status as the woman.
Finances and social status have become a common bone of contention in Kenya’s modern dating. According to sociologist Nathan Gachoka, with economic and academic liberation, women are no longer afraid to demand financial and social standing in the profiles of the men they want to go out with.
This is echoed by Caroline who is a big advocate of financial stability. Caroline says that women who lower their bar to accommodate struggling men set themselves up for failure.
“Dating a struggling man when you are stable is a recipe for disaster. My stand over the years has remained the same: The man must be financially stable. No two ways about it. He must be able and willing to take care of his woman, just the way my father took care of my mother,” she says.
From her experience in running a dating app and match-making on her social platforms, Caroline says that not too many men take it well when women search for men within their financial or social class. She says that money is particularly a sore thumb.
“Whenever a lady puts a search and indicates that she is interested in a financially stable man, men start shooting missiles and atomic bombs! Doesn't financial stability culminate in provision?” she poses.
Caroline maintains that while a woman may accommodate a man who earns less or has lower qualities than she does, this sort of arrangement has a very short shelf life.
“Your woman may compliment, help, support, and stand in the gap for you as her man. But you should never be very comfortable in a relationship where you’re ‘kept’ by the woman. The day the sexual excitement calms down, or the convenience stops, is the day your relationship will come to an end,” she says.
Caroline adds that being a class above your spouse means that you have the authority to lead. If you can’t measure up, you should target women who are within your abilities.
While admitting that she cannot date a man who is not financially stable, Caroline says that women who insist on financially stable men are not necessarily expecting these men to give them money.
“These women just don't want to pay your bills. They don't want to be asked...‘Uko na mia tatu hapo kwa M-Pesa unitumie please???’ They don't want to be sent ‘Please call me, thank you!’ They are looking for love not to adopt a bearded man!” she says.
She also spells out that these women’s financial emergencies are not pocket change.
“These women's emergencies are not power that power tokens have run out, it's not a tyre burst, it's not about cooking gas that has run out while she is boiling indomie or salon money,” she says.
“If a financially stable woman says she is stuck, her project needs Sh1.7 million and her bank credit manager has failed to approve her loan facility. Unless you are up to the task, stay away!” she says.
Modesty and ambition
There is merit to this. According to psychologist Ken Munyua, a career woman looking for love shouldn’t go for the extremely disadvantaged man. It is wiser to go for a man at her level.
“The minimum should be a man who earns slightly lower than you but has the grit to improve his earning ability. You can measure this by checking his financial habits. If he earns less and is a spendthrift, chances are that he could drag you into his poor financial habits,” he advises.
When it comes to money and relationships, Munyua adds that character and financial power go hand in hand. Apart from checking the status of his pockets, check his character too.
“Don’t date him if he is the type that will take you on a cruise with an expensive yacht but treat you like trash. Date him if he is modest, has tangible ambitions, and projects to improve himself,” says Munyua.
Evolutionary, a woman with class and cash will not settle for a man below her for the long term.
According to Dr. Chris Hart, a psychologist and the author of Single & Searching, high-class women look for men with the highest social status. This usually means rich and intellectually stable.
Dr. Hart says that an alpha woman’s relationship with a poor man can hardly work due to authority, respect, and self-esteem.
“These kinds of relationships don’t fail because men are intimidated by the alpha women. The problems only start when the woman grows disappointed with the man as she inevitably does at some point,” he says.
“Once she loses respect for her partner, intimacy slowly fades away because desire is based on respect and admiration. Women need to be able to admire their partners for their relationships or marriages to thrive,” he says.
Dr. Hart adds that powerful, smart, and ambitious women have very high expectations, and that is one of the main reasons why their relationships fail.
Globally, it is estimated that every year, more women than men are becoming college educated, with the median sex ratio being higher for women in colleges and universities.
A 2019 research study by Belgium’s Ghent University on women looking for love on the dating app, Tinder, found out that women now prefer highly educated men, even though this pool of men is not adequate.
“Both men and women prefer someone who is of similar education,” says Professor Michele Belot, a professor of economics and director of the Behaviour Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh. When you look at a pool of speed daters, Prof. Belot says, people target those they can academically relate with.
“You can actually see who they pick between people who have different types of education. There is a preference for similarity. It’s almost a biological thing. There is a very strong preference for similarities along a range of attributes, such as occupation and interests,” he says.
While money may be a top priority for some women, there are others who are put off by how a man grooms regardless of the weight of his wallet. These are women who say that money does not buy class.
A year ago, Janet Waithera called off his relationship with a well-off businessman, due to his poor glooming, low education, circle of friends, preferred social joints, interests, and depth of conversations.
“He had good money, a fleet of matatus and, was in the lucrative large-scale wheat farming,” says Janet who runs her own law firm.
“He knew how to make money, but he was uncouth and tribal, and a traditional chauvinist. He had dropped out in class 8,” Janet says.
Faith Siele, an economic analyst, says that she can never date a man who does not have a degree.
This is because of an embarrassing night she had at her workplace in December 2019.
“I was dating this guy. He was good, and courteous. He loved me and was financially stable with a steel bars wholesale business along Thika Superhighway. But he was a form four leaver,” she says.
“On Friday December 20, I took him to my workplace for the end-of-year party. As he interacted with my colleagues, it became very clear couldn’t hold a decent chat. He made attempts at political and economic chatter which left me hiding my face in my hands,” she says.
Education gap narrowing
Unlike the traditional woman, today’s modern woman is opting to build a good career and attain higher academic credentials before she can date seriously or even settle down in marriage. But this new order is working against her social life.
Apparently, the professional, educated woman is finding it hard to get a good man to date or marry.
“The future of mating looks grim as more educated women compete for fewer eligible males,” cited a 2019 report that appeared in the US financial journal, Wall Street Journal.
The main reason why the educated career woman has low luck with love is the rising educational disparity between men and women. “In the game of life, love, and relationships, the educational disparity between men and women has become a problem as more women rise through the ranks and classes,” the report stated.
By 2027, women are expected to account for about 60 percent of all Bachelor’s degree graduates,” cited the report. It suggests that even though there is no shortage of men to go around, men are running away from dating and marrying women above their league.
One of these is Justus Njuguna. He says that two years after graduating with a marketing degree from the University of Nairobi, he got into a relationship with a woman who hailed from a well-off family.
“They lived in Runda. I lived in Uthiru. Her maintenance upkeep from her parents was twice my salary. Her English had gone to school while my tongue couldn’t tell the difference between ‘hello’ and ‘harro’! But I imagined that my love for her would conquer all,” he says.
Their love story crumbled when she invited him to a family event. Justus says that he turned up in a smoky 2004 Toyota Belta he had borrowed from a friend to impress.
“I was held up at the estate gate because I looked out of place. She had to come for me. During the event, I was totally embarrassed and out of touch,” he says.
“No one shook my hand firmly and properly. No one held a chat for more than a minute. I looked worse than the caterers. I knew I was out of my depth; she was out of my game,” Justus who broke up with the woman a few days later, says.
No problem dating against class
There are men and women, though, who have no qualms dating against their class.
“Unlike the time of our fathers, today’s woman is as equally, if not more, competitive financially and career-wise,” says Daniel Ntoyai, the founder of Goodhealth First, a pharmacy wholesale shop in Nakuru County.
“I would not mind having a woman who is career-driven or who has that nose for money. It would be a plus if she actually earned more than me because this means that chances of getting wealthy would be higher,” he says.
Pamela Simiyu, says she can date a man who earns slightly less, but notes that, lower pay should not be an excuse for lack of class
“It is not so much about the money you have, even though money is a big factor, but how you dignify yourself and your image. I would not date a man who has a decent job but who lives in a nasty neighbourhood regardless of whether he earns more or less than me,” the 38-year-old pediatrician, says.