Back when the economy first started to spiral downward, I wondered in this space what all the gold diggers would do because the pool of Wall Street guys -- and their stock, so to speak -- was going steadily down.

The Material Girl mentality has been a pet peeve of mine for a while, as it makes those of us who enjoy our work and who are interested in the actual essence of a man feel like a minority in the dating jungle. It’s kind of sad to have to explain to an eager guy who’s been previously conditioned that the kind of car he drives and his net worth are not on my list of need-to-knows on a first date.

I’m much more inclined to notice how he treats the waitress or whether he is actually listening to what I say or if he sees life’s gray areas instead of unleashing absolutes. Really.

So maybe this is why I cannot get out of my head something I saw on, of all things, VH1’s show called “Undateable.” According to its Web site, it is based on the book, Undateable: 311 Things Guys Do That Guarantee They Won’t be Dating or Having Sex, written by Ellen Rakieten and Anne Coyle and it “exposes the deal breakers that send women running for the hills and leaving so many men wondering why they can’t get a date.”

Intriguing, right? One might ask what I was doing watching a show that offers dating advice from Snooki, but it was one of those hot days where channel surfing in the air conditioning was my sport of choice. One minute I was amused about a segment on whether guys should wax their back hair. The next I was disgusted when Bethenny Frankel of The Real Housewives of New York and Bethenny Getting Married? had her say in a segment about whether or not the man should pay on a date. Frankel points to herself down yonder and says if a man wants to get to “South Florida” or, motioning to her whole body, “any of this” he better pull out his wallet.

Thank you, Bethenny, for clarifying the definition of prostitution. Why hook on a street corner if we can date with this convoluted attitude out in the open over sushi?

This makes me shake my head and wonder what Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem fought for over the last 40 years. Why have we reduced ourselves to giving of ourselves only if men ante up? Shouldn’t that make women feel slimy? Can we not separate sexual freedom from using it as a weapon?

And is it any wonder men are confused? They hear this on a mainstream television show and assume that someone like Frankel speaks for the rest of us. Let alone what young women are thinking when they watch this! That it’s acceptable and even the norm to behave like this? It is especially disheartening because VH1’s demographic isn’t exactly set-in-their-ways retirees, but more in the category of our most impressionable citizens. Add in every bratty bride show on television and it’s no wonder we have so many entitled divas in the making. Is a guy supposed to be the final piece in a woman’s wedding day puzzle?

Meanwhile, in the demise-of-marriage category, regardless of the sordid list of women Tiger Woods has bedded, Elin Nordegren seeking $750 million in a divorce settlement is just beyond my comprehension. It actually wound up being a reported $100 million, but even that is absurd. It seems to me a swanky house or two, children well provided for, and the privilege of never having to work another day in your life can be got for, let’s say, $25 million.

During a visit to comedy club one recent night, two of the 10 comedians did jokes about how women won’t date them because they don’t make a lot of money. I cringed, not because it isn’t true but because it probably is. So many of my gender are hyper focused on a man who will fit into their preconceived picture of status and lifestyle and they don’t even know how damaging that is.

In this economy especially, maybe we could re-evaluate our priorities. I like a hot pair of shoes as much as the next girl, but I can buy them for myself. My identity is not tied into how many square feet my home is. We can be confident enough in ourselves to enjoy when a man opens a door, let him pay if he wants to without making it a demand and not place Material Girl expectations on every dating situation. How about cultivating some substance that is its own kind of attractive?

Recently I had a guy send me a drink across a restaurant and he was a gold digger’s dream – loaded, charming, gorgeous, ambitious and with a mesmerizing Italian accent. The cliché package. He would have paid for anything and everything. But truly, he wasn’t interested in anything I had to say.

Dreamy? Not so much.

Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.