Beauty is subjective and is hardly absolute. A society may build in individuals a broader concept of beauty including what constitutes a good relationship, and these views evolve based on other societal factors. For instance, scientific evidence on health may transform perceptual views of what body size is healthy or normal and hence change our perceptions of beauty.
Let us focus on the sensitive subject of body size. Fat or big bodies may be perceived as a symbol of wealth in one society or generation and viewed quiet the opposite in another society and generation. Big women may be sort for in some societies yet may only make it to the beauty pageant as mere spectators in other societies. A long beard may be a turn-on in one society but a turn-off in another. Notwithstanding societal ideals, individuals make the ultimate decisions about their choices; they define their notions of beauty and mark boundaries of acceptable conduct in a relationship.
As such individuals are attracted by different attributes. The attracting attributes may include all or some of the following characteristics: physical features, culture, religion, education, lifestyle, dress sense and economic factors; the list is by no means exhaustive. In this article I will discuss money, perhaps the most controversial source of attraction, one that people dare not mention as the reason or cause for being attracted to someone.
Why do we find it at best embarassing and at worst repulsive to admit that we have been drawn to someone because they have or we think they possess a healthy bank balance? Money can be deliberately used by those who possess it to draw in potential lovers, but why is being attracted to someone because of it seen as immoral by many? I want to argue that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being attracted to a rich person for the very reason that they are rich; in fact I am of the opinion that we all at varying degrees subconsciously harbour economic considerations that determine who we are attracted to. Certainly not many people would be attracted to street beggars!
For a measure, I do not believe people ever love or are attracted to others for simply what they are. Being attracted to someone cannot be taken in isolation as only a matter of the heart for it is a bigger package, a social construct. Societal ideals and life experiences as well as needs create and recreate our perceptions of social relationships. And yes, partly you are attracted to someone for what they are but that is because what they are fits into your conceptualisation of an ideal partner at a given time. So it is not only what a person is but also how they fit into our preconceived notions of an attractive person and a desirable relationship. It is perhaps the reason why people will tend to be attracted to relatively similar characters in their course of social relationships. If we were attracted only to what people are then we will be attracted to everyone we meet but that does not happen because individuals have social and economic values that determine their choices. I have here discounted attraction due to impaired judgement caused by intoxicating substances.
Those who view being attracted to someone because of their financial wealth as immoral are guilty of ignoring the fact that economically privileged people will quite deliberately use their wealth as a bargaining tool. Rich people, especially men, occasionally flaunt their wealth to attract their targets that include the most beautiful women. It is therefore hypocritical for society to blame those attracted to the rich for obvious financial reasons.
Terms like ‘gold-digger’ are often used when younger women fall for rich older men yet the fact that the older man would have used his money to attract the younger woman in the first place is conveniently ignored. I also think it is a folly to assume that just because someone has been drawn in by the riches of the other person they do not love the person but their money. Is a person attracted to a more beautiful partner only in love with the looks and not the person? People may go for a rich person just for economic security not because they want to abuse the money and there is nothing stopping them from genuinely loving the person.
What if they did want to use the money to maintain the standards that initially drew in the richer partner? I still do not see the problem as the other person also socially benefits from the company which may even boost their own ego and social standing. I believe in such a relationship financial stability may lead to social stability as all needs will most likely be met without the temptation to stray out of the matrimonial home. It can be argued that the relationship is mutually beneficial in that one person has their economic needs met while the other gains socially; the two need each other for a fulfilling socioeconomic life.
In conclusion, I argue that money does play a role in relationships but that role varies from one relationship to the other as lifestyles differ. Whether being attracted to someone due to their financial wealth is right or wrong is a value judgement, not an objective argument. It is rather subjective to conclude that a person initially attracted by the other’s wealth will only be in love with the money and not the person. I consider it a wise decision not a social travesty for an adventurous person with an economically demanding lifestyle to deliberately target a rich person for a partner. Furthermore, the two people involved in the relationship are consenting adults who, it can be argued, would have carefully weighed their options and understood each other’s motives and interests before making the decision to be together. The most important factor to consider is that the parties to the agreement mutually benefit from the association. It is therefore disingenuous for anyone to claim there is only one beneficiary, ‘the immoral less financially privileged person’. If it is not immoral for one person to lure another with financial wealth, it should be morally acceptable to be attracted to someone because they are rich.