Do You Need a Man to Make More Money Than You? If So, Why?

Do You Need a Man to Make More Money Than You

My amazing intern forwarded me an article last week that she read on CNN with some not-so-surprising new statistics.

In 2007, 22% of couples showed the woman making more money than the man. That’s up from 4% in 1970.

In this recession, 4.7 million men lost their jobs, compared with 2 million women, thus leaving more women to be the primary breadwinners.

The article points out what I’ve observed previously: the issue these days isn’t so much that the male schoolteacher is “intimidated” by the high-paid female advertising executive (there are some, but you don’t want them anyway), but rather that the high-paid ad exec refuses to date the schoolteacher.

But why is this the case in 2010?

Isn’t the point of being independently wealthy so that you can do what you want, when you want?

Doesn’t the value of being self-sufficient come in not having to worry about someone supporting you?

If you’re a woman who is in the top 10% of earners – and you INSIST that your man out earn you – you’ve now eliminated 90% of the dating population.

For a self-sufficient, high-earning man, a woman’s earning potential carries very little weight. Why? Because we have always been taught that nobody is going to pay our way in life. This gives men the freedom to choose a partner based on what matters most – character, kindness, fun, humor, compatibility – as opposed to mere earning potential. That’s the FREEDOM of making more money.

So why do women treat being high-earners like it’s a curse? “If I make $200,000, then he has to make AT LEAST $200,000.”

I’ve never heard a man say the same thing.

Face it: if you’re a woman who is in the top 10% of earners – and you INSIST that your man out earn you – you’ve now eliminated 90% of the dating population. And that’s before you’ve considered kindness, compatibility, attraction, values, height, weight, age, humor, children, etc. Doesn’t that sound like a self-defeating edict? I’ll say. Which is – in my estimation – one of the main reasons it’s easier for men to find love. We’re not looking at you to support us because we can support ourselves, so we’re free to choose whomever we want.

The question remains: if you can support yourself as well as any man can support himself, what DIFFERENCE does it make what he earns? Why is your boyfriend, the guitarist, “bad husband potential” when his girlfriend, the painter, is just “his girlfriend?” Haven’t we evolved enough to true equality that it doesn’t matter who makes more as long as the couple as a unit is doing okay? Or are women stuck on the old world order where men provided and women took care of the home – even though most $200,000 earning women don’t want to be homemakers? Do women want it both ways? Do you want the option of quitting work and maintaining your high lifestyle, when men don’t have this option? If so, is this the rare double-standard that works in favor of women?

Frankly, I think that successful women holding out for more successful men is as counterproductive as wealthy men doing the same thing – which, as you might have notice, they don’t.

I would love your thoughts on whether women should continue to hold out for men who make more – with these two caveats:

1) Please don’t accuse me of being sexist for making the observation that most women want a man to outearn them. It’s an observation, not a judgment.

2) Please don’t accuse me of encouraging women to date deadbeat slackers with no money, no ambition and tons of credit card debt. It’s not all or nothing. Just as I say you can compromise on chemistry – from a 10 to a 7 – I’m simply wondering aloud why a woman with her own money can’t date a man who makes $45K, the exact same way a man with his own money can date a woman who makes $45K.

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Comments:

  1. 301
    Fi

    * Duh..I mean the reason is usually NOT that they don’t want to spend time with their kids…

  2. 302
    Helen

    Goldie, amen.
     
    May I add that to attribute stay-at-homeism (think I just invented a word there) to “nature”, as #307 attempted, is BS to the extreme.  Unless you want to become a queen ant or a queen bee, fed by others in order to reproduce, or to be a polar bear that hibernates while her offspring suckle, it is not “natural” for the female of any species to solely devote herself to childrearing while the male hunts and forages for her. No, that female has got to keep on providing for herself and her offspring.  Thus, it’s the working mothers that are conforming to the eons of nature, not the stay-at-home mothers.  Not that I’m saying that conformity to nature is necessarily always good.
     
    Read some T. Berry Brazelton, if you will. Though he’s among the more conservative of childrearing experts, even he acknowledges in all his books how historically, and in all societies, women work all the while that they’re raising newborns and infants.

  3. 303
    Nissa

    OK, since there are 313 comments here, maybe I missed something.
    I prefer a man pick up the check for any date. This is because I want the man to show me he wants to impress me and win me over. However, I am counting on the man to choose dates he knows he can afford. I am just as thrilled by a date in the park with a bottle of wine and some bread as I am going to dinner at the Yacht club. I just want to know the man is making an effort. I also don’t mind going on a date where I bring something appropriate – food, entertainment, etc. In fact, the dates I like best are ones that are practically free – walks on the beach, feeding ducks at the park, biking down the river path.
    Having a man that does not let his finances determine his life is a big plus for me. Knowing that a man overcomes his difficulty with creativity is a huge attraction. I would take an attentive man of moderate income over a wealthy man any day. Even if he had a very low income, I’d at least take the time to know him and consider that in terms of what else he has to offer.

  4. 304
    LLL

    I make just over $200,000.  I am also a single mom of 4 kids with 100% physical custody and inconsistent financial support from their father.  I am able to pay for everything my children and I need, and from time to time, the things we want (after taxes and childcare expenses in an expensive city even that salary doesn’t stretch very far).  I made more than my ex husband for all 11 years of our marriage, except during the time I was in school.  I make more than every man I date now.  I have no problem dating someone that makes less money, but I still expect my partner to be a man … open doors, hold my hand, take out the trash, and hold me when I’m feeling vulnerable.  I do worry about making a long term relationship decision with someone with significantly less income potential, but I have more pressing concerns.  For example, can he and will he step into a “instant family”, can he and will he do what he needs to do to lead the family in ways that aren’t financial?  In life, income is not guaranteed, so the most important consideration to me is always, does this man have the character and capacity to be faithful in every way during the darkest moments.  I was married once before and while I’m not jaded, I know that there is no such thing as a fairy tale, that real relationships require fortitude and commitment and it is these things (and not money) that are the defining characteristics of any man with whom I would consider making a life long commitment.  

  5. 305
    Z

    Wow,
    Women are really adamant that the problem is with men who wont take a chance on them despite all the evidence against (The woman who was upset she got inconsistent support from her ex despite making $200K was especially hilarious).  Women love to blame men no matter what.

  6. 306
    Avis

    As a high-earning woman who was married to a much lower earning man and has recently discovered that the spousal support laws where she lives (originally created to protect women who had taken 20 years out of the workforce to raise children from facing a life of poverty after separation/divorce) now apply equally to men who have had full careers and have pensions sufficient for them to live on, I would say:  Look before you leap. 

  7. 307
    Henriette

    I asked a male friend to weigh in on this subject and this was his response:  ” It was women who began doing for themselves the things that men are geared towards doing.  You may think that most men view providing and working for a wife and family as a burden to be relieved of, but in reality, its the thing most of us are willing to devote our lives to.  Provision and protection are what we are designed to do psychologically as a majority.  You (women as a whole) don’t need men any more.  And so, you (as a group) don’t have them. Boys aren’t being raised to be men ever increasingly, and so, ever increasingly, you don’t have men.”
     
    If this is true, I find it rather discouraging.

  8. 308
    marymary

    Henriette
    i’ve heard that from a male friend too. depressing if it’s true.

  9. 309
    josavant

    Henriette and marymary, I don’t think it’s true that boys aren’t being raised to be men anymore. Instead, what a man is supposed to be is changing in women’s minds. I don’t know if you’ve been reading on the other pages of Evan’s blog, but one commenter Frimmel got a lot of anger directed at him because he said something about manly men not doing cooking and other household chores.  What I don’t think they accounted for is that Frimmel might be older, and what he says is really right for men in the older generation. Looking at my dad and the men in his generation – they really did have this attitude that if they did cooking or cleaning in the house, they were somehow less manly. Maybe even the women of that generation looked at the men in that way.
     
    Not so the women in our generation. A manly man can still provide and protect, but not in the old traditional way of being the breadwinner. Now we see men as manly if they provide in other ways such as cooking and cleaning – heck I even dated a guy who knew how to sew and bake, and thought he was grand. It’s different strokes for different folks now. The one who prefers to cook should be the one who does regardless of gender. Same with all of the other jobs that come with coupledom, like earning a wage, sewing, baking, cleaning, etc.

  10. 310
    judy

    Evan 107
    4) He still has to be the one to choose to move in, get engaged, and so on.
    Am I missing something here? He chooses? What about me???? Don’t I get a say in this? What I’m understanding here (and maybe I’m wrong which is why I’m asking) is that, he has to propose this.  Isn’t this something a normal couple would discuss together?????
    Very honest answer from me.  Yes, I would love the man to earn more money than me and to spend it on both of us.
    I have a very good income and a comfortable lifestyle.
    It’s a deep feeling of security (even if it’s complete rubbish) that HE has the more money.  Besides, men often express pride that their women can stay at home because he has the highest salary.  (And yes, I do know that many women have higher salaries because I do have a high salary myself – lucky old me – but it sure doesn’t buy you love!!!!)

  11. 311
    janie london

    Any guy that lets a woman pay for a date is not a man.
    Women GIVE. BIRTH. to the entire human race; the least a man can do is buy a woman dinner, bloody cheap skates.

  12. 312
    SparklingEmerald

    Luckily, although I am financially secure, I am no high earner, so almost any guy I date will earn more than me. Even a man who is retired probably has a retirement income greater than mine. I’m not really looking for a man to be my meal ticket, but I do like a man to share what he has with me. Mostly his time tho’, because after establishing ourselves as a couple, I see less formal “dates” and more relating. I would rather spend a “cheap” weekend, spending all or most of our time together just doing “life stuff”, not “date stuff”, then to be going out on 1-2 pricey dates a week, with no feeling of connectivity in between the dates.

  13. 313
    SparklingEmerald

    I’m just think I’m lucky in that my income/success/career is “just right”.  I make enough to be financially independent (well with a room mate, but I could probably squeek by without one)  But I don’t make a huge salary, so  most men are going to earn at least as much or more than me.  So no feeling “emasculated” over my big deal “career”.  My career is low level clerical.  I don’t boss people around, I don’t sit in smoke filled room smoking cigars and making big important decisions, so there is no “work hat” that I have to take off at the end of the day.
     

  14. 314
    Maria Grist

    I read this blog regularly, I’m from the UK and I’m often surprised by some of the materialistic expectations woman have regarding their choice of men. I’m finding hard to believe someone actually said:
    “Any guy that lets a woman pay for a date is not a man. Women GIVE. BIRTH. to the entire human race; the least a man can do is buy a woman dinner, bloody cheap skates.”
    Seriously? What has giving birth got to do with picking up the tab?
    I’m not sure it’s as simple as switch it over, who ever earns more pays the way. Society still has expectations that we are influenced by, whether we like it or not.
    However, personally I don’t expect the man to pay for everything, that’s ridiculous, it’s also not fair, why should they? It’s 2014 not 1950. When I date I don’t expect the man to pay and if they do I pay the next time. I know a lot of men get fed up being expected to pay for everything.
    It’s easy if you are wealthy to splash your money about and impress with fancy restaurants etc, it doesn’t take an awful lot of effort when you are loaded. So don’t get blinded by your Princess status. No one wants to date someone who is financially irresponsible or mean with what they have, but I don’t see why this old fashioned idea of men having to pay for everything is persisting. In modern society it’s not necessary, we can pay our way right? Why can’t it be reciprocal? Equal?
    I know that’s hard when one of you earns more. I dated a wealthy man, I earned 30k he earned at least 150k and his family were wealthy, he went to private school etc. He didn’t care that I earned less, but I felt poor. I’m not poor, not really, in the grand scheme of things, people are far worse off, but it did open my eyes to how the relativity of wealth can make you feel bad about yourself even though I knew it was ridiculous and I shouldn’t feel bad I did, I was shocked by that.
    I suppose in the end I tried to redress the balance by taking him to interesting events that he had never heard of or experienced, they might not cost a lot but I knew he’d love them. I used my imagination to redress the balance. So if I was a man I’d do the same, thoughtful dates don’t have to cost a fortune, and if the woman can’t handle that then well I say ditch her! I ditched him in the end because despite being very charming, wealthy and with all the status you could ever want, he had a foul temper and behaved like a petulant child.
    My current boyfriend is 44, I’m 42, he’s divorced, has four children that are grown up, I have none. He rents a room in a friends flat as his divorce left him with debt, which he’s paying off as well as supporting his youngest daughter through university. It’s tough for him, but he has enough money to enjoy going out, have weekends away and one day the debt will be gone and maybe, if we’re still going strong we’ll build something together. The reason I chose him was because he is kind, caring, he makes me feel safe, he treats me like gold (to borrow Evan’s phrasing!), he can’t wait to see me, he tells me how wonderful I am I always feel appreciated. He puts my pleasure first so the sex is the best I’ve ever had. When we go out we split the bill, I far prefer that, it doesn’t mean I won’t take him out for a posh dinner as a treat or that he won’t take me out for a treat but generally we just split it. I don’t think any less of him, to me its fair, equal and it’s what we can both afford. I wouldn’t swap him for the rich guy, not ever. 
     

  15. 315
    Kim

    Women should not only be concerned with what the man makes, but what he has saved for his retirement.  As a women who is nearing retirement, I don’t think it is fair to get involved with someone who has done very little to prepare for his retirement.  The woman in this case would be splitting what she has saved for her retirement in half.  Each person needs to be able to bring an equal amount to the table.  Men should also be thinking about this when they meet a woman who has done nothing to prepare for her retirement.  It is just not fair.  This may sound terribly materialistic, but it is just survival of the fittest.  When you marry someone who has less and makes less, you are in essence lowering your ability to provide for yourself in the long run. 

    1. 315.1
      Barbara

      I totally agreed with you, Kim. I budgeted and planned my retirement for supporting myself, not someone else too – not even a little. But it’s so hard to find that equal situation.

      One thing; I certainly would not remarry without a prenup. I’ve worked too hard to get here and can’t afford to lose 1/2 my retirement savings  if things don’t work out. 

  16. 316
    mona

    hey guys, I am married to a man that makes half of my salary, at first he was making more that what I am making, but then, I went up and up, we change the state to porsue my career getting more more and more interesting, he left his job, and had a rough time finding one here…we had a baby…and I am just tired of taking care of the whole package…I feel reponsable for him, but he did make some bad choices for his career too,,,and he s paying the price…I dnt feel attracted by him anymore…its really hard…he s a very good guy..loving father to our baby…and he s there for me 24/7…but..i have been raised by a protective father..who did everything to create a stability in our house…my husband sees the question more like, ther s no difference between us…but…hell no! not for me! I don’t see him as masculine as he should,,,i need a protective man,,that can tell me, stop working because you look tired and our baby needs more at home…I want a man that can give e that choice,,,not one that I have to pay his bills…I am just saying…for all the women who thinks they can live with it…its just a big fat lie…it doesn’t matter how feminist you are…you always look for someone who protects you and your family….I am not the man! I  shouldn’t! I even don’t feel attracted to him physically..sexually…its tough…believe me…its tough,,,why I am still inn? because of our baby! because he s agood guy, and I really loved him ! maybe I still do love him,,but the whole situation is just bad bad…

  17. 317
    Vanessa

    Hm js sharing my thoughts n experience here. My bf earns lesser than I do. Im hardly bothered by how much he earns as long as he loves what he is doing and is able to provide for his own lifestyle. He loves gadgets and a game collector. Apart from that we are quite compatible coz we prefer homemade food. Would say our lifestyles and spending value are quite similar. We appreciate gifts given to each other. Although I earn more I give handmade gifts to him because I guess I js don’t know what to buy for him lol. If we do get married he will still be the main provider and I’ll be the back up provider and pamper the rest of d money at a spa and make ups hehe. As long as both are determined to make things work and not affected by inconfidence. Different girls have different perspective of men I suppose. My bf is also my childhood friend so we r now 26. I js want him to be proud of his achievements and work so far and never compare himself to me. My achievements are mine his are his. We are proud of each other, yes. Children need to be with happy parents. So I guess at the end it’s js a small matter if both are compatible in terms of lifestyle and happy enough to create a life together. If it causes big differences then it’s better to stay out.

    1. 317.1
      Vanessa

      Oh I earn 3 times more than him. If this information would help to gv a clearer picture of us.

  18. 318
    Susan

    This only pertains to a very small subset of the population.  Few people-male or female-earn $200k.  I think commonly the reason women need men to earn more than they do is because many women are still occupying low wage jobs such as cashiers, waitresses and health care aids, which were always traditional women’s jobs.  Obviously someone has to do these jobs and society would be a mess if no one did.  It doesn’t mean these jobs are valueless. However, if the man made less than a woman earning a very low wage, it’s highly likely the couple would be struggling and facing the possibility of homelessness or going without basic necessities.  In this economy, even some people with more skills and education are having to settle for these kinds of jobs because better paid work simply isn’t availble in their area.  If a woman did earn $200k, maybe the reason she would want a man to earn more is she wouldn’t want to be his get-rich-quick scheme, knowing if the tables were turned it’s unlikely a man would do the same for her.

  19. 319
    John

    I work as a care assistant and I am male. I earn very little but work full time I am currently taking qualifications and applying for other positions in the local area. I live with my parents due to mainly wamting to maintain my current lifestyle untill I find a better job. 

    I am generous loving and kind. I went through a major patch of depression after a relationship breakdown because regardless of it sll I loved my ex partner with my soul and heart.

     I am 30 years old but look 22 maybe 24 well groomed and I work out . 6-2 in height definition in my as and shoulders I also have a v stomach. My face is I would say decent for a man if not good and I am referred to as hansome, good looking, my ex although she broke my heart and being honest it was my inexperience with women and later my insecurity of other men that mainly led to our breaking up anyhow she said I had good genetics an odd comment. Oh big willy as well 8-5 in length pretty no veins etc skin. 

    So now I can provide pics if needed but I will say this. From that description would I stand a chance with higher paid women?  My exearnt more never bothered me that much tho at one point it did make me a little insecure.  I learnt my lesson tho and I have major respect for strong supportive women. May I add I bring my own strength and wisdom to a relationship as well. 

    I can support myself and being in a relationship with me would not effect your lifestyle and would even on my income probably improve it. Its better to have 2 than 1 so am I to be discarded.  My ex was 7 years my senior and I can tell you now I would take another woman at that age gap in a heart beat. If I fancy you thats it sorted never got this young young girl thing I like women. 

  20. 320
    Cooper

    I am in a situation right now with a man who makes me very happy but does not make a lot of money.  I enjoy our time together but there are moments when I see that I am not okay with out earning him.  I may be too traditional for this situation.  He doesn’t have to make what I make, but I want him to at least be able to take care of us if needed.  Just thinking ahead as he is talking marriage.

  21. 321
    Malcolm

      ♬♪♫ “I’ll buy you a diamond ring my friend if it makes you feel alright
    I’ll get you anything my friend if it makes you feel alright
    Cos I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love . . .” ♬♪♫

  22. 322
    KayC

    Evan,

    This is something I think about often, as I am in the category you describe. Being in my early 20s, the dating game has been very interesting. Most women I know who work a job similar to mine do not consider a man’s salary when dating…at first. My past relationships have always been with a guy who has a career that pays far less than mine, and I have enjoyed these relationships and loved the guys. There is an internal struggle that goes on while dating–I do worry about intimidating the guy or suggesting a date that’s out of the price range he’s thinking of–which is not a big deal in the long run. The hardest part of dating someone who makes far less money is (for many of us…I’m not daring to assume that all women feel the same way) the internal desire to be feminine. This arises often when I think about my future with a family–a.k.a. will I be able to be a mother? Will this man be able to support me if I want to cut my hours or pick up a new job that keeps me closer to home? That all comes back around to finding the right guy. It has NEVER been about the exact dollar amount he makes–I just want a guy who has goals and is driven to succeed in his career or something he loves.

    What attracts women is confidence and drive, and I believe society has convinced women that men who have low-paying jobs are less confident and have less drive (even though this is a stereotype). 

    You make very interesting points about all this and I do agree with your perspectives. The day that men and women stop trying to fill these traditional roles will make relationships so much easier, but it’s something that is present on both sides. I believe it is shallow for women to look for a specific salary out of a man–yes–but it is reasonable for her to want one who wants to make her feel secure both emotionally and financially. There is a natural instinct for a man to love to be with a woman that he feels he can provide for, and (in my experience) there is discomfort in the relationship on his part that he can’t pick up and go on the vacations I want to go on or fancy restaurants I’d like to try (even if we split the costs of all dates). I really wish it wasn’t like that! That said, I refuse to look for a man based on his salary. Being with someone who makes you happy is the most important thing.

  23. 323
    Rob

    But why do women need to drive all the luxury car brands. I have a BA degree in communications and drive a heap.  I get no credit for my higher education while I’m being surrounded by all the luxury car brands that look like they were just bought. I do live in a have and have-not area. Most women are taken around here. Me: I’m still single after many years.  But most women want tall guys. So, that’s another problem!

  24. 324
    Barbara

    Hi,

    I am financially more secure than my bf even though he earns more than me. Because he has had a few bad financial hits (largely due to ex-wife’s crazy spending),  he’s focussed on clearing debt and saving for retirement (we’re both over 50). The result? He’s cheap and makes no apologies for it. When we go out we ALWAYS split the bill (except when I pay 100%). When we drive anywhere, we take my car, and I pay for the gas (I even pump it). And whenever we shop for groceries together, he never makes a move for his wallet. Can I pay? Sure! Do I feel like a princess when I do? No way. I know it’s old-fashioned, but I want that princess feeling sometimes. It feels like ‘buddies’ when we split the dinner bill. Not bad, but not good either. 

    1. 324.1
      Karmic Equation

      I think you need to separate the financial arrangements from the princess feeling. Putting them together is going to (and already has) made you unhappy.

      The last three men I’ve dated all made significantly less than me. I like to eat out. So it makes sense that I pay if we’re eating out. Often I treat and say so before we go out. If HE wants to eat out, I ask “So are you going to treat?” “Well, no.” “We’re going dutch then?” “Yeah.” “Ok.” — If I make more than a guy, having him pay his own way is good enough. He doesn’t need to take care of me financially.

      OTOH, if I have groceries in the car, I have no problems expecting him to make the multiple trips from the car back to the house, while I just go from the car to the house just once :) I also don’t lift a finger when he puts the groceries away, too. He does more of the “manual” labor (which I detest) and I just “throw money” at what I don’t want to do (e.g., cook). 

      With the current guy I’m dating, I’ll treat him to sushi. And other nights he cooks for me, because that’s what he can afford to do and is happy to do. I just have to say thank you with a cheshire smile.

      Treating you “like a princess”  shouldn’t mean reaching for his wallet, if he makes less than you. 

      However, with your guy, you SHOULDN’T have to subsidize his prior poor choices. Your paying for stuff he’s NOT going dutch on which he should (definitely groceries, utilities; gas maybe, but he should at least pump it if you’re paying). — Then in essence, YOU’re helping him pay for his ex-wife. Do you REALLY want to be doing that? If no, reset the boundaries ASAP. If yes, then you can’t complain, just suck it up and let it go.

      It’s one thing to treat a guy who’s making less than you. It’s another to subsidize his other “priorities”, imo. 

  25. 325
    NavS

    Definitely going to sound like hater here, but this is classic double standard.  Its really simple, society has built up a set of standards for men and women. In the old days gender roles were that men are the breadwinners, and women are the homemakers.  As much as the feminists would like to say that women are still not equal is totally wrong.  Women have more power, more wealth, and more independent then ever.  Society as a whole has a soft spot for women, they give birth, are nurturing and caring, and smarter then men.  Men are considered as a lower class, bumbling idiots, perverts, we have no emotions and a whole lot of negative connotations with being a man.  So as for equality women have it great (more often then not, in western society)! They have much more choices then ever.  So when it comes to holding out for a man that makes more then them?  It just doesn’t add up. This is a double standard.  As a man, i would not go around looking at what my future wife or girlfriend makes, so why should you?  The only thing that should matter is his personality, and his lifestyle choices at the end of the day, not financial dependancy.

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