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Sex vs. salary: Which would you rather talk about?

Let’s talk about your salary. If you were sitting around with friends eating, and someone asked you how much you make, what would you say?

Ramit Sethi

Sex vs Salary Cover

My friend, a perpetual Manhattan bachelor, just got into a relationship with a sweet girl.
So naturally, we invited them out and asked EXTREMELY uncomfortable questions, primarily for my amusement.

  • “How’d you make the first move? No, no, slow down…literally, tell us every word. Show us your text messages too, please.”
  • “How do you talk dirty in bed? Here, I’ll pretend to be her, and you play yourself. Go ahead.”
  • “Have you said ‘I love you’ yet? Why not?” (They’ve been dating for 10 days.)

Lessons learned: Introducing your significant other to us is a special kind of gauntlet.

If someone had asked me those questions years ago, I would have clammed up and gotten super embarrassed. “…that’s really inappropriate dude!!”

But over the years, I’ve realized that some of my favorite people are brutally, refreshingly honest. You can ask them ANYTHING and they’ll answer.
As I wrote in my book, there are certain areas of our lives — surprising areas — that we HATE sharing:

‘We asked how many people pay off their debt in full every month,’ said Greg McBride, the senior financial analyst for, says. ‘The number of people who said they paid off their credit card every month was high compared to the number of people who actually do. They were more willing to give their name, age, and even details of their sex life than providing the amount of their credit card debt.’ Really? Their sex lives? I would like to talk to these people…alone.

Let’s talk about your salary. If you were sitting around with friends eating, and someone asked you how much you make, what would you say?

In my experience, the vast majority of us would not answer (including me). But why not? Is the number…

  • Too personal?
  • Something that makes us feel bad?
  • Embarrassing because our salary is too low (or too high)?
  • Capable of making things “weird” and damaging relationships?

I think for a lot of us, the answer is YES! All of the above! It’s opening up a can of worms that we just don’t want to deal with.

And yet…we all want to know. How much does SHE make? He makes WHAT? Oh wow…I had no idea you could earn that much at 31.

Beyond pure curiosity, I want to start a conversation about how much we make because there’s amazing support when you’re able to share how much you earn, and how much others of a similar age and educational background earn. You can know if you’re on track and you might discover you’re woefully underpaid or paid very well.

You just don’t want to talk about it with people you know.

So today, I’m going to try an experiment: We’re going to ANONYMOUSLY share how much we make. And as you do, notice how it makes you feel.

Note: If this makes you feel uncomfortable, you should probably check out my huge free guide to salary negotiation and getting paid what you’re worth.

Questions (feel free to answer anonymously):

  1. What’s your annual income?
  2. Stats: Your age, location, job title (e.g., “31, Marketing coordinator for a tech startup in San Francisco”)
  3. What number would be “comfortable” for you?

And tell us what you think about seeing other people’s salaries. Anxious? Relieved? Jealous?

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