On yesterday’s episode of her podcast, Misspelling, Tori Spelling revealed a fear of hers that she says kept her in her 18-year marriage to Dean McDermott longer than she should have been. 

 

“One of my biggest fears, and this perhaps did make me stay longer, is I feel like in our world it’s difficult to be with a man and have him not feel emasculated,” she said to Shannen Doherty, her former 90210 costar. “Not by our doing, but by who we are and have been labeled by society.”

She went on to describe the sense of guilt a woman can feel in a romantic relationship for being the one to make the money and have the power and the fame. 

“Like, how am I ever gonna be with a man and he doesn’t feel like less than me just because of my status?” she questioned.

 

Shannen sympathized with her, describing the difficulty a man might have being with a woman that “can get a reservation at any restaurant”, particularly if they themselves don’t yield that same power, and reminded Tori that there are still men that “have their own status”, even if it may not look the way Tori might expect it to.

“Maybe in a completely different field. Maybe a man is a partner at one of the top law firms,” Shannen said. “So everything he did — going to school, graduating, being an intern, working his way up the ladder — has shown that he’s a really hard worker with a ton of perseverance and believes in himself enough in order to get there.”

 

Tori, with her back taxes and all, is onto something here. Recent studies show that women are becoming less economically dependent on men, and considering a lot of women are facing less and less pressure from family and society to marry and become mothers, significant changes to the dating landscape have followed, leading to a “rift” between college-educated women and prospects without a degree. 

In a report from the Survey Center on American Life, nearly half of the single women surveyed that hold a college degree said that their relationship status was directly related to “an inability to find someone who meets their expectations.” For single women without a college degree, only 28% reported this being a major reason for not being partnered up.

 

The report looks at a series of additional criteria women might consider as either an asset, a liability, a factor or non-factor in their partner selection process. Things like religion, whether they have children from prior relationships, their politics, whether they live with their parents, and even their height. And one of the most interesting conclusions drawn from the report is that women with a college education appear to weigh all of this additional criteria when it comes to dating because “they can afford to be more selective”.

This not only goes back to what Tori was saying, but also paints a larger picture about the implications for other women. Because if she, a white, blonde woman living in a part of the world and working in an industry where she is often rubbing shoulders with other high net worth people, what might this reality being spelled out in the study, and in what she’s saying, look like for women of colour? For people who don’t run in circles or have networks like Tori’s?

 

When I had my daughter, I joined a group called Black Moms Connection on Facebook. It’s a huge network of Black women, mostly throughout North America, that mostly offer parenting tips and support for one another. But during my time as a member, I’ve noticed an influx in the amount of conversations pertaining to frustration over the dating scene, especially as it pertains to high-earning Black women who struggle to find Black partners with comparable salaries to them. 

According to this study, the salaries of white men outpace the salaries of white and Black women and Black men over the course of a lifetime, most likely allowing them to maintain their status as the higher earner in their romantic relationships. That’s not the case for everyone though, because Black women begin to outpace the salaries of Black men as they get older, and it happens at a pivotal point where the selection of a life partner typically happens.

 

So really, it’s the cultural aspect that mostly distinguishes the frustration of women of colour from hers, or at least adds another layer. When high-earning Black or Latinx women want to settle down with Black or Latinx men that are either in or above their salary range, they’re often forced to settle in one way or another. And with Black women pursuing higher education and being more likely than Black men to earn degrees, this means that the pickings are becoming more and more slim. 

In a previous piece I wrote, I responded to a conversation Emily Ratajkowski hosted on her podcast High Low. The conversation was about men feeling emasculated by her wealth and success. I described sharing a deep love once with a man who earned significantly less than I did. But with a recent job change giving my salary a notable boost and learning more about how men function in relationships where they are the lesser earner, it would take a lot for me to put myself in that situation again.

As an outsider listening in, because Tori is a rich white woman and perhaps one of the most well-known nepo babies of all time, hearing her ramble on about the difficulty she has finding a man after divorce because she’s just so rich and so powerful might be easy to dismiss. It’s easy to brush the conversation off, especially when she says things like “our world”. It’s very clear that she’s speaking about the experiences of a very specific group of women, mostly white, mostly in Hollywood, are having. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t speaking to a larger truth that is, in fact, shared amongst high-earning women, even outside of Hollywood.