10 Ways to Deal
Ten ways to handle it when your partner makes more money than you.
Ten ways to handle when your partner makes more money than you.
So the gender pay gap is still a thing. It’s around 20%, meaning that for every dollar a man earns, a woman earns about 80 cents. It’s estimated that gender parity among white women and men will be achieved in 2059 . . . and that’s the best case scenario.
Sadly, black women won’t see pay equality until 2124. Worse still is that Hispanic women won’t see parity until even later, in 2233.
It goes without saying that’s abominable, but thankfully there is change happening. Women are occupying more high-powered and high paying positions. While it may not be moving fast enough and it may be only in tiny steps but at least it’s happening.
The situation may arise where you meet someone, begin dating and find out they make more money than you do. Fret not, it’s happened to me . . . more than once. In the words of the great Gloria Gaynor, you will survive.
So what do you do if you’re dating someone who makes more than you? Instead of feeling emasculated, here’s a few ideas to help you get over the idea . . . and yourself.
Reflect on how you found out. Money talk is complicated for even the most intimate of couples. If you’re casually dating someone, it seems unlikely that you’d be comparing W-2's within the first few months, but with a quick stop at salary.com, you can pretty easily estimate what she makes. Personal experience tells me that this, coupled with a Google search, is pretty common. If you go above and beyond that, I may suggest taking a long hard look at yourself because anything beyond that is sorta creepy.
Understand that a woman’s paycheck doesn’t rob you of your manhood. Yes, we men have an extra appendage, but that shouldn’t define us. Just because she makes more than you doesn’t mean she’s going to rob you of said appendage, literally or figuratively. In other words, she is likely not out to hijack your masculinity. That will be defined by your treatment of her, and others, rather than what hangs between your legs . . . or what’s in your bank account. You’re not less of a man because she may make more than you.
Accept it and grow up. At the end of the day, who really cares if your partner makes more money than you? If you’re a bartender and she’s a CEO, the odds are very strong she’s going to bring in a little more cash. Neither job makes one person better than the other. You shouldn’t let your respective jobs, or income, define who you are as people or as a couple.
Don’t ask for a loan. Okay, I can’t believe I even have to write that, but it’s sage advice. She may make more than you but that doesn’t mean she wants to loan you money to help pay off your motorcycle or your credit card debt. If you’ve gotten yourself into a financial mess, it’s your responsibility to get yourself out of it. Don’t put any pressure on her to make your mess become hers.
If she doesn’t care, you shouldn’t either. It’s probably true that she’s not sitting around thinking about how much more cash she has than you. I feel it’s safe to say most women want to date guys for who they are, not what they make. Of course, that’s not always true, but believing that is a much better, and happier, way to navigate the dating game. AND if she does care about that sort of stuff, you will know quite quickly.
Be yourself regardless. Her salary shouldn’t stop you from being the person you were when you met her. It’s probably safe to say when you met, you didn’t have a note pinned to your chest saying you made X amount and neither did she. Carry on. You do you and let her do her.
Don’t get it twisted — it’s her money, not yours. Unless you’re living together or getting married, her finances are none of your business (even then, the water is a little murky these days). You simply don’t get a say in how she spends her money and what she does with it in general. It’s her money, not yours. Zip it.
Talk to her about your feelings. Communication is the spinal cord of any healthy relationship. If you know she makes more money than you and it’s hard for you, tell her. If she digs you, it would seem unlikely she’ll say, “Suck it up.” Women can be pretty empathetic and it’s more likely she’ll understand and want to help you navigate that.
Don’t forget your manners. Maybe it’s old-fashioned, but just because she makes more than you doesn’t mean you stop holding a door for her or picking up the check. When the check comes, don’t let it sit too long, grab it and be done with it. There will come a day when splitting a check or letting her pick one up will come, but early on? Own it. Maybe that’s a chauvinistic thing to say in this day and age but it will go a long way regardless of whatever tax bracket you’re in . . . or she’s in.
Forget about it and move on. Aren’t most of us just trying to get by regardless of how much money we make? We work, we pay our bills, we save a little, and we all put one foot in front of the other to move forward. If you’re into her and she’s into you, that should be all that matters. If she makes more money than you, do yourself a favor, forget it and move on.
Any relationship worth having will thrive on its own merits, not your W-2's.