Do Women Look Down on Men Who Earn Less Than They Do?

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. working wives now out-earn their husbands, and many believe they’ll soon make up a majority. Women hold more managerial and professional jobs, they earn more college degrees, and long-term economic shifts favor fields dominated by women.

The times, they are a-changin’.

In The Richer Sex: How The New Majority Of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love, and Family, Liza Mundy explores the profound ways the new economic order is transforming the dating scene, the marriage market and the balance of power within relationships.

The feminist site, Jezebel, says “the pervasive notion that men are afraid of high-powered women is kind of bullshit, and that research shows “men will be just as adaptive and realize what an advantage a high-earning partner can be” in the near future.  (Mundy) encourages women on first dates to “own up to your accomplishments, buy him a drink, and tell him what you really do.” Her book is based on recent research that shows that while lower-income women are marrying less often, ladies in the top earning percentile are getting wedded in droves — their marriage rates have increased by ten percentage points.”

Amen. Men really do like smart, strong, successful women. However, it’s not just the men that have to adapt to the new world order. Women do, too.

If you’re a high-earning woman and you out-earn most men, there are two primary reasons you may struggle with relationships:

1) Men don’t necessarily want to date the female version of themselves. The fact that you’re successful, busy, high-powered, etc., isn’t what’s most important to him in a relationship. So “owning up to your accomplishments and buying him a drink” is probably not the best strategy for such successful men. On the other hand…

2) You may not have any respect for men who make less than you.

And that’s a shame. Because if there’s one thing that men figured out long ago, it’s that if you’re a successful man, you don’t need to marry a woman for her money. You can marry her for love, kindness, support, laughter, attraction, values, children, respect. We respect you for all these other qualities. What you make is irrelevant if we make money.

So, if we’re going to embrace the notion of women being equal to (or greater than) men, you can’t just say it’s all on men to suck it up and not feel emasculated because you’re successful.

It’s your job to stop looking down on men who have lower-paying careers.

Once you embrace this vision of equality – and start valuing men for things other than their ability to provide for you (when you can already ably provide for yourself), perhaps there’ll be more successful relationships between higher-earning women and lower-earning men.

Read the article here and share your thoughts in the comments below.


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  1. 31

    I think it has more to do with your partner’s ego. If someone’s ego is in check, they should be able to respect whatever your income is or isn’t. My recent gf believed that she earns much more than I do. Here’s the thing, she made some very negative ASSumptions about me on the issue of money because she focused on ONE aspect of my finances. There’s some unfinished business lingering for a little while longer but it is under control. But the minute we talked about it, she started putting me down, I didn’t even bother to defend myself. She never asked how much I earn. I never asked her how much she earns because I truly don’t care. What she doesn’t know is that I am saving everything I bring in. My company is outstanding. She has no idea how much because she blew a gasket, with her erroneous assumptions and used the opportunity to judge me as less than her. It was so disheartening, watching her flip a switch and seeing how she became so cruel to me, seeing how she is about money was so horrifying that I let her go. I saw how materialistic and greedy she is. I think she wanted a trophy, not a loving mate. Here is what I do know – the only thing I want for/from my mate is that they are happy and fulfilled in what they do. I don’t care how much they earn.

  2. 32

    Everyone, please spare me the “male ego” bullshit about income disparity in a couple. I’ve dated online, on and off, for the last 7 years, in NYC. I can tell you that the majority of single women in their 30s list their partner’s income as being ‘very important’, etc. I make in the mid-50’s and have a stable job; I’ve found that women who made the same or less than me found my income a problem when they considered dating longer term. 

    I’m talking about women who liked my company, initiated sex with me and introduced me to friends and family. The breaking point came when we talked about my income and my career prospects. 
    Women typically want a man who is: taller than they are, older than they are and richer than they are. It’s called hypergamy and feminism will not wish it away. My female peers, professional women in their mid-30’s, are vocal in their desire that their husbands start to make enough money so that they can quit their jobs and start families.  These are liberal Manhattan career women who mated with men who are their exact equals in education, career and income. And yet they expressed (frequent) dissatisfaction that their men weren’t shouldering the financial burden for both of them. It’s the WOMEN’S egos that are being bruised by equality, not the men’s. Get it?

  3. 33

    Jeffrey, the article to which you linked does not actually support your points, but it does explain why some women are unwilling to enter a LTR with men who earn less or nothing at all.

    This article points out that, even when some men make no income, 1) they insist upon being treated as though they had a profession (the examples of artists, actors, and composers who neither bring in income nor actually produce anything), and 2) they do not pick up their fair share of household duties such as cleaning and cooking and childcare, even if their wives have been working all day. Obviously, not every unemployed man would behave as these men do, but apparently enough do so that women are wary.

    You see, if a woman chooses to stay at home in a marriage, it is expected of her – and she usually delivers – that she’ll shoulder the burden of household duties and childcare, and that the children will take the father’s name. Hence, it is actually a partnership.  But when a man stays home while the wife works, is he subject to the same expectations as a stay-at-home wife; and if so, does he deliver?  Your article seems to indicate no.

    Thus, it should be perfectly obvious to you why women care about whether a man works and brings in income.  It is not about feminism or anti-feminism; in fact, it’s not about gender at all. It’s about fairness: a human concept that we all recognize from the earliest years.  No one – male or female – desires to enter into a relationship in which s/he makes all or most of the money and still has to come home and do all the household and childcare work, while the partner does nothing. Again, not all stay-at-home husbands would freeload like this.  But because societal expectations haven’t evolved sufficiently to ensure these balances, every couple needs to discuss this before they enter a LTR, rather than avoiding the topic.

  4. 34

    “Betsy recalls the first and last time her husband [made dinner]. “Tom made dinner one night,” she says. “I came to the table and there was spaghetti, in the pot, right on the table. No salad, no bread, no napkin folded at your place. Why didn’t he know about the rest of it? He does know about the rest of it. He’s been eating all his life!”

    Wow, I wouldn’t want to make my wife dinner either if she was going to act like a spoiled, ungrateful brat.  I make more money than my boyfriend and I worry about resenting him in the long run.  But after reading the Alpha Women, Beta Men article I can see that the resentment comes from women who either 1) don’t discuss the issue or 2) don’t appreciate what their man brings to the table (literally).

  5. 35

    Meghan: the quote you included is more a function of Betsy being difficult to please, rather than any fault of Tom’s–if it’s not done HER way, it’s not done right.  Most guys wouldn’t care if they were served just spaghetti, no salad, no bread, no napkin.

  6. 36

    This is all just a further illustration of female hypergamy run amok.
    If a guy is financially stable(regardless of what his job is – and whether he even works or not), what is the issue?
    Even if someone is intent on naively attributing career or education to character traits, is it really worth indulging a *lazy* untested assumption in individual cases?
    It is far more reliable to assess prospective mates on a case by case basis, where independent indications of relative compatibility can be reasonably assessed.
    It occurs that females who are hasty to disqualify a man based on job/education qualifiers, are merely rationalizing their hypergamous tendencies.
    It’s OK to ‘want what you want’, but at least be honest on where the onus lies with female dissatisfaction(ie. in this case – female hypergamy). 

  7. 37

    Joe: that’s basically what I was saying.  If you’re gonna ask a man to do something that he’s not used to doing (I’m assuming that he hadn’t cooked that often), appreciate the fact that he did it, not if he did it right.

  8. 38

    By “right” I mean to your satisfaction.  We women do have pretty high standards!

  9. 39

    My personal opinion, for what it’s worth, is that how much you each make is far less important than that you have the same attitudes towards money. If one person is cheap and the other generous, or if one loves to spend and the other likes to budget, they probably won’t get along, regardless of their respective incomes.
    In my most financially harmonious relationship, my boyfriend earned significantly more than me but we were both generous with each other and not overly materialistic so this aspect of our relationship was extremely harmonious, and I suspect it would have been the same if the roles were reversed.
    Similarly, I was once in a relationship where my man earned a lot more than me, but he loved to spend money, sometimes before he even had it, and I like to budget and be methodical about money so there was always tension about finances.

  10. 40

    I think what each one makes is not as important as how each one spends wife makes almost four times what I make because I’m still doing my residency in surgery but I still try to take up responsibilities as much as I can and I feel like she very much appreciates that.we do have problems sometimes because I like to save from whatever I make which is almost impossible now so I just gave up on saying and spend whatever I make now with her but I must confess she really helps me in times of difficulties.the secret is be genorous to her and if she loves you she would appreciate you

  11. 41

    I’ve seen men dumped for no longer making as much as they had before.

  12. 42
    a woman

    This man is so wrong, what even gives him a right to say what women REALLY think and feel?  I’ve read a few of his blogs and believe me they do not represent me or my freinds!!
    Ofcourse women don’t respect a man who earns less.  I’ve seen my freinds become more wealthier than their partners and they lose respect for them and the relationship breaks down because of it.  One of my freind blatanly told her bf to get a better job or his OUT! to be honest he was living with her in her house and one day she realised love just wasn’t enough!!  A woman needs to respect her bf and most of us cant do that unless he is a provider and responsible for bringing home the bacon.

  13. 43

    I recently realised that my boyfreind cant keep a job and had a relationship with a string of women who owned their own houses and had a good income.  He kept pushing me to get a better job while he cant even keep his! decided enough was enough.  I expect a man to be the provider, according to the bible a man who does not provide is worse than a non believer!  rightly so!
    men these days want to have their cake and eat it, in the east (esp muslim countries) women stay at home and take it easy while men have to earn and be the breadwinners.  This is how it was intended by GOD AND NATURE dont let nasty selfish men make you think otherwise so they can put their load on you!!

  14. 44
    Evan Marc Katz

    a woman: “This man is so wrong, what even gives him a right to say what women REALLY think and feel? I’ve read a few of his blogs and believe me they do not represent me or my freinds!!”

    I presume you’re talking about me. Funny that you should say I’m wrong about women looking down on men who earn less, when you bust out this statement in your second paragraph:

    “Of course women don’t respect a man who earns less.”

    Hmm. At least you don’t have to worry about me misrepresenting you when you do such a great job of contradicting yourself in one comment.

  15. 45
    Karl R

    gemma said: (#43)
    “I expect a man to be the provider, according to the bible a man who does not provide is worse than a non believer!  rightly so!”
    You’re very selective about taking that verse (1 Timothy 5:8) out of context. The chapter is talking about children and grandchildren taking care of their widowed mothers and grandmothers.
    I seem to recall that Jesus was rather critical of the pharisees when they did the same thing.
    a woman said: (#42)
    “Of course women don’t respect a man who earns less.  I’ve seen my freinds become more wealthier than their partners and they lose respect for them and the relationship breaks down because of it.”
    “A woman needs to respect her bf and most of us cant do that unless he is a provider and responsible for bringing home the bacon.”
    That sounds as fickle as the men who become wealthy and successful, then decide they should trade their wife in for a younger model. The men’s desirability has increased (with his success) and their wives’ desirability has decreased (with their looks). Why aren’t these equally justified in seeking a wives they can desire?
    I married a woman who respected me even when she (mistakenly) believed that she out-earned me. I’d recommend that any man do the same.

  16. 46
    David Meyers

    My answer to the question:
    Yes, absolutely.

  17. 47

    Well I do feel repulsed by guys earning less than me, partly because they expect me too feel bad because I earn more. Ass for women becoming breadwinners, it is fault of men they don;t want to work, it is their problem. I always date guys who earn more than me.

  18. 48

    I was married to someone who earned more than me. Over the years the dynamic changed and I ended up earning double what he earned. I was happy to cover everything financially for this reason took us on holidays he had everything he wanted.

    What I did protest to is he still expected me to be a housewife and a breadwinner and be lazy and do nothing to support me…by support i dont mean financial i mean emotionally, with tasks.

    When we split he then had the nerve to tell me I looked down on him because I earnt more… i look down on you because you are lazy and expect your wife to be the breadwinner and the maid!!! 

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