The Financial Confessions: “I’m An Atheist Who Used JDate To Find A Successful Man”

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Disclaimer: We at TFD do not endorse the behavior described in this Financial Confession, and have decided to share it because of the author’s honest remorse about what is a fascinating — if deeply problematic — phenomenon. 

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This is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever written, and even though it’s not actually under my name and it’s something I did four years ago, I still shudder with shame when I think about it. Have you ever had a secret that you felt so badly about you couldn’t tell anyone, that you thought even your best friends would judge you if they knew? This is that secret for me, and even though now I’ve worked up the courage to tell my very best friend (who, thankfully, did not totally throw me out of her life, as I feared she might), it’s something I don’t think I’ll ever tell a significant other, at least for a long time. It’s just too embarrassing, and says too much about me that I don’t want to admit was ever true.

So, enough stalling. The story, which starts by me setting the scene:

I was a 24-year-old recent graduate of a “good” program in DC — aka one of the programs that’s supposed to get you a good government/political job — doing unpaid internships and freaking out about my mountain (read: over six figures) of student debt from my undergrad and grad degrees. I was barely scraping together enough money with my night-and-weekend serving job to stay in my crappy room in a crappy shared apartment. As the first post-grad year came and went, I began to freak out that I would never know financial stability. I know that, looking back, I was being ridiculous about my expectations for financial and professional success at my age, but I was drowning in debt and felt like I had no good opportunities on the horizon.

So I started looking for a guy who made a lot of money to make my life easier. I wanted to fall in love, yes, but I wanted to have a Prince Charming figure who could take me to restaurants and on vacation and make my parents feel like I found a “catch.” I wanted something in my life to feel like an accomplishment, and I wanted to enjoy nice things like many of my wealthier friends were, and that — sadly — meant a man, in my warped mind. I started looking on OKCupid, went on a few dates here and there, but largely wasn’t finding the kind of guy I wanted. I wanted a guy who was established, who had a good job (yes, in my mind, I actually conjured the “doctor or lawyer” image), and who didn’t care if I made any money yet. So I started an account on JDate, because I knew several girls who had met successful guys through that site, and I thought it would increase my chances of a “catch.”

I cringe so hard even writing these words, because I know it makes me sound like the most egregious Sex and the City plot of all time, but it’s true. It’s actually the decision my brain made at that time, and I rationalized it to myself by saying that, because my father’s mother was Jewish (although I was not at all raised in the tradition, and am deeply atheist myself), it wasn’t *that* bad. I know it was that bad. And I know that it was just an extension of me going onto places like OKCupid and specifically looking for guys who made over a certain amount, except that it had a seriously problematic (yes, read: anti-Semitic) undertone. I told myself, “it’s not so bad, plenty of the guys on here are functionally atheist, or don’t have two Jewish parents,” or whatever. My head was full of rationalizations and excuses to get out of what I was really doing: targeting a certain group of people for my stereotype about the amount of successful men in that group.

I went on several dates, and actually ended up going out with a guy (yes, a lawyer) for about six months. It didn’t work out for a lot of reasons, but frankly the biggest part of the problem was that I knew from the start that the beginning of our relationship was tainted. I could never admit that I had targeted him in the way someone with a fetish might target someone of a certain size or skin tone. I felt ashamed about the way I’d approached dating, and the way I’d valued people (including myself). When I landed a job I’d coveted at the end of that year, and realized I was moving into a more adult perception of myself (and no longer felt desperate and panicked every time a bill came), I felt thoroughly disgusted with the way I’d operated the year prior. We broke up, and I took almost an entire year off dating.

The truth is, the fact that it was JDate, and Jewish men specifically, wasn’t even the worst part for me. The worst part is that I had a serious period of thinking, and justifying, “I’m not doing much with my life, and I don’t have much money, so I’m going to find a successful man to fill in those gaps and solve those problems.” I looked at a man as means to an end (even if I convinced myself I was actually looking for love), and I found the worst, in my warped mind, most efficient, way of getting there. I had almost no respect for myself at that time, and felt that I had nothing to show in the way of “accomplishments” for my life until that point, while everyone else seemed to be zooming past me. Having a “good” man who had a great résumé became my ticket to feeling successful. By proxy, I guess.

For a long time, I tried to just forget this time in my life, and I erased every piece of digital evidence of it that I could get my hands on. I knew, and still know, how much someone would judge me if they heard me say what I did, and how someone might think of me as a gold-digging bigot (and they wouldn’t be wrong to make that judgment, even if I know that is not who I am). But I’m starting to think that I should talk about this, because the pressure for women to not just be successful in their professional and financial lives, but to have “scored” in terms of who they are dating, leads us to do sometimes-crazy things. I know women personally — and have heard many stories — of women who have been equally cunning in their search for a “catch,” and have used tactics or made personal compromises that they probably look back with just as much shame as I do.

But I know who I am, and I know that person is not who I am. One day I’ll work up the courage to tell more people in my life, if only so I can be something of a cautionary tale. I let my financial stress and social pressure push me into doing something I’m forever ashamed of. I can’t take that back, but I can learn from it.

-Alison

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  • Violaine

    We have all done things we aren’t proud of. Thanks for sharing. I stayed with my ex longer than I should have (I wanted to leave him two months before I actually did) – I was saving money to pay to move out of our shared place and I didn’t want to pay the extra-fee for breaking the lease early. I am not super proud of that and it wasn’t my shiniest hour but I have grown up and I now treat people with more consideration. We all have to learn 🙂

  • mr. steal your costco samples

    all in the game.

  • Christian Gonzales

    I’m glad you shared this, and am glad you learned a deep and personal lesson about your actions. The one thing of this i feel is unfairly justified, is in the end where you say ” I should talk about this, because the pressure for women to…. have “scored” in terms of who they are dating, leads us to do sometimes-crazy things”, because I feel like this pressure is not one that people forced upon you, but a pressure that you imagined to be true. Friends and family naturally want you to be with someone who has their shit together and is successful in that sense, but to feel pressured into dating someone who is rich enough to fund your life and dream lifestyle just seems unrealistic and like a perceived pressure. Then again, perhaps i just move in totally different circles.

  • April

    This is NOT that bad of a thing to do. I think the author has more than enough remorse for the questionable judgement. She isn’t actively lying to anyone anymore either.

    This is far from the scariest person we’ve read about on here.

    • Exactly. It would be one thing if she made up elaborate lies about going to temple and having a bat mitzvah and dated a dude who made her skin crawl. But I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to date a financially successful man and turning to a dating resource that seems to have more guys like that. It’s not that shitty tbh

    • Tara

      Definitely. Remember that one girl who ruined her life with debt and her fiancee didn’t make very much, so their relationship ended, and then her closing line was something like “now I’m just going to date guys who make six figures”? That one was WAY more heinous.

      • Maya

        Or the shoplifter who made six figures and talked about how smart she was? There have been some real takes over here.

    • Samm Wechsler

      This definitely isn’t the scariest confession, but as a Jewish person, this is the one that made my skin crawl the most.

  • Maya

    TBH the disclaimer on top feels unnecessary and pretty judgmental. 99% of the Financial Confessions revolve around behavior that shouldn’t be “endorsed” by a PF blog whether it’s racking up unnecessary debt or shoplifting or whatever. That feels like the point of this section. It’s a place where people can confess the shitty money-related things they’ve done because it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones messing up and in many cases we can learn from someone else’s mistakes. I think the author has written with a lot more remorse and honesty than many other financial confessional authors have, and that’s a big thing. Further castigating her by putting up a huge disclaimer about how this isn’t a behavior TFD recommends is unnecessary.

  • nycnative

    Is it just me or is this not that bad? The disclaimer really over-sold it. Most of this obviously depends on how much she lied to the guy about her finances/religion once they were dating, which would be shitty. But online dating is notorious for this kind of sorting — everyone sifts potential matches by occupation, income, politics, religion, etc. etc. – we’re just not supposed to talk about it for some reason. But when I tried online dating of COURSE I looked for men who were stable and had a good job because – duh – I did not want to support a child-artist and wanted someone who was reliable, committed, and invested in their career, like I was. I don’t think a young, struggling woman looking for an older, successful man is a surprising situation or one really worth judging. I’m glad she has figured out that she can support herself and look for love in a healthier way, but the actual article was pretty pedestrian after that intense disclaimer.

    And SB: I actually heard a few times over the years of friends of friends who were on Jdate and were openly not Jewish on the site, and no one seemed to care — they still went out on dates. It’s not like Jdate is only for hassids. And as a Jew myself, why does she think using Jdate was anti-semitic? Just because Jewish guys are more likely to be smart, well-educated, and in good careers? Tell me what I’m missing here.

    • Anon

      I think the idea is that she was tapping into the old stereotype of Jews as wealthy, which isn’t necessarily a negative trait but has been deployed in hugely antisemitic ways. (Protocols of the Elders of Zion, etc). It’s sorta like going on a site for asians to find a guy who is really good at math. It’s a positive stereotype (now) but it’s kind gross that she went there. I think there’s an argument to be made that it’s not always clear how to draw the line between having a certain “type” – even racial types – and stereotyping people, but the whole “I’m going to date a Jew because Jews always have money” reads a little differently because historically the perceived wealth of Jews has been an excuse to murder and rob them. I agree that she’s maybe being a little harsh on herself but I don’t think she should let herself entirely off the hook.

      • nycnative

        Thanks for pointing this out and I do see that aspect of it. In my mind the stereotype was always the “money-grubbing/miserly Jew” and the idea that she’s looking for a Jew who will spend money on her and share his wealth was sort of the opposite of that. But I definitely hear you!

        • Anon

          Oh, I see. I don’t think I was parsing the stereotype that finely. Yeah, that makes sense. I think I was reading it as she felt uncomfortable because she felt like her relationship to the guy was transactional in some sense. Like she saw it as one more instance in a long line of thinking of Jews as bankers – you go to them for money but have to give something in return (in most cases interest; here, sex). It doesn’t sound like her relationship was that mercenary but she sounds like she was bringing that baggage in.

          • nycnative

            This is another good point – the stereotype of the exploitative money-lender. If she was bringing that baggage with her and assuming that in exchange for nice dinners she would have to do certain things to “pay it back”…I hadn’t thought of it that way but that makes it super, super gross.

    • Samm Wechsler

      I’m Jewish as well and I found this uncomfortable because I have been fetishized for being Jewish. It is an uncommon situation, but it really makes my skin crawl. She followed a stereotype and dated a man who had no idea that she had sought out his general qualities rather than him specifically. It sounds like she would have accepted any successful Jewish man that was interested in her and was not interested in a man specifically, just the idea of them. I find this very creepy and a terrible way to start a relationship.

      Plus, like Anon and nycnative said down below, there is a stereotype of horrible Jewish men exchanging money and sex with “shiksa goddesses.”

      Disclaimer: I am of the mindset that Jewish people ought to marry each other. Obviously this doesn’t work for everyone and everyone’s situation is different, but I think it’s something upon which importance should be placed. To this end, I wish that goyim were not allowed on JDate. If a Jewish person really wants to marry a non-Jew or a non-Jew really wants to marry a Jewish person, they ought to seek them out in real life. JDate exists as a way for like-minded Jewish people to find each other, and I feel like the non-Jews on it are making a mockery of it.

  • QuestM

    But isn’t this point of a financial confession? To tell the stories related to money we normally will not? I am quite sure that TFD team does not recommend most of the approaches from the confessions section to their readers. My suggestion – either add the editorial disclaimer to all the posts in this section or remove this one.

  • MissLilly

    After reading the disclaimer I have to admit I was expecting worst as well. It’s a really good article to be shared because it happens a lot. Because of social media and if expectations weren’t high enough – everyone wants to share a glamorous life before they even reach 30. Travel, good restaurants and a good date. At least she was honest about it, lots of women carry on with that, because that’s the best way they know. Is it wrong? Well I wouldn’t do it, but it’s a choice. I have my boyfriend for more than 10 years, so I’m clueless about the realities of today’s online dating. It’s not easy! I have friends who deliberately target a certain social status simply because they don’t want to have someone taking advantage of them (again!) and their financial position, so they search for equal peers. Again it’s all a matter of circumstances and choice. But the more we talk openly about this issues, than the better.

  • Trust me, if going on Jdate to find and date a successful guy, while working on your own life to the point where you got it together, is the worst thing you’ve ever done, you’re doing just fine!

  • I can’t believe there was a disclaimer on this article! Financial confessions are confessions, and this one wasn’t as bad as some of the other ones that have been posted on TFD, mostly because she is obviously sorry and has learned her lesson.

  • Winterlight

    I don’t think the author is a terrible person, though using JDate in this fashion feels pretty creepy. She’s clearly learned from her choices, so I see no reason to berate her.

    For the record, Judaism has a long tradition of Jewish atheists. My dad used to say, “Jewish atheists know how the God they don’t believe in expects them to behave.”

  • Lina Abascal

    this is 1% as bad as i expected from the disclaimer and tweets leading up to it. but regardless interesting.

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