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

In The Future Women Will Rule the World

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.

Join our conversation (79 Comments).
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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.

    1. 37.1

      This is insane. No, as an adult you don’t get a trophy for participating. You have to do things the right way, otherwise it’s just a waste of time and resources. If my husband plopped down a pot of spaghetti as “dinner” i would be pissed too. There’s this thing called Internet where you can lookup recipes and watch videos if that’s something you’ve never done before (which, by the way, what kind of a grown up has never cooked before?).

  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.

    1. 47.1


      I have had my share of women that when it comes time to asking my profession, then the income level followed with my career ladder climbing goals, most of the time the women walk away.

      I’m in Sales, earn a good middle class income, have no desire to enter into a management role and take care of myself. Yet many of the women I have dated will inform me that they are looking for a man that is aggressive and wanting to climb that corporate ladder and earning more and more.

      Mind you these are women that are also middle income earners that are able to provide for themselves just as I provide for myself.

      I have also dated women that have earned less than I do. Even then, the women earnin less seem to think that I need to be more aggressive in my career. Why??

      So now for the last 6 years, I have not dated. Even when a woman asks me, I kindly saw that I am already in a commitment, which is true. I am committed to not wasting my time and have thankfully found more freedom from not looking for a female that can accept me as I am and not what they wold like me to be.

      I hear women throughout my career travels complain about out earning men, can’t find a good man, if he would just push himself harder he could really make something of himself. From a guy’s view, it’s a no win for men.

      1. 47.1.1

        Don- I feel repulsed by women who reject men because they earn less than the woman, even if he earns a decent amount and is financially responsible.

  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!!! 

    1. 48.1

      I hear ya Harriet!
      I’m currently with a man who had an earning power more than a physician and attorney combine but had lost everything through the crash of the stock exchange and divorce. He had nothing when I met him except greater wisdom from his life experience. I decided to embark on a relationship with him because he has gumption.  He is a very nice cool man with a backbone and grit. I let him stay in my guest house so he can save on rent and afford child support while he is looking for a better opportunity.  When I’m working he is home early fixing plumbing, electricity, cooking dinner. He is a hard worker. After 3 years of being in a career crossroad, a venture capitalist invested on him. Nothing has changed except his paycheck.  He still cooks, garden with me, fixes the house,  etc. It is not the money or the status. We need financial or emotional support whichever we can provide at any given situation. N.

  19. 49

    So far in the last 6 months I have internet dated a lawyer and three doctors. Two I had an intimate relationship and was of the belief all thought I was a great guy. I earned $115000 , they all earned $200,000 plus. Believing these woman were attracted to me for more than just my a little bit more than average looks . I can’t help coming to the conclusion my job is not good enough and I don’t earn enough . I’m a police officer. I really thought it wouldn’t make a difference. I better just stop batting above my average once I find out what my possible date does for a living.

    1. 49.1
      Karmic Equation

      I had a date with a police officer. I thought he was cute. Even though it was only one date and he was interested in more dates, I declined. Well, actually, I did a disappearing act. He didn’t do anything wrong per se, but maybe I thought one of his texts were too forward or something.
      But the real reason was that I decided after that date that I wouldn’t want to become emotionally involved with a cop, simply because I couldn’t handle the stress of knowing that he may not come home after a day on the job. I know that would affect me.
      I applaud the men and women who have serious relationships with cops and firefighters. I just couldn’t be one of them and still have a positive, happy outlook on life. I’d be too stressed and worried about my S.O.
      Perhaps that’s the reason why those women didn’t want a serious relationship with you. I don’t think it has anything to with money.

    2. 49.2

      @ chris #49
      “I have internet dated a lawyer and three doctors…I can’t help coming to the conclusion my job is not good enough and I don’t earn enough . I’m a police officer. I really thought it wouldn’t make a difference.”
      I agree with Karmic that the real reason these women don’t want a relationship with you isn’t really about money; my hunch says it’s status. These women have enough money of their own.
      Rightly or wrongly, professional women such as lawyers and doctors often only consider men of equivalent professional status for serious relationships, but will consider cute cops for hot flings.
      I say that because my sister, who is a lawyer, has blatantly admitted it.

      1. 49.2.1

        I am a professional woman (a teacher), and I consider myself on the same status as doctors or lawyers. My current BF is lower than me on the professional side with no education. But he is not a ‘fling.’ My ex was a lawyer so I thought everything would magically be OK (since, you know, our education was lined up). But in fact it was horrible.

  20. 50

    Do we look down on them no. They don’t want to date us. I’ve tried dated below my income and education level and it always ended poorly due to the man’s issues with it not mine. So I do not date men below my income now correct. But it is not because of my issues, instead its theirs.

  21. 51
    rick santos

    Great Article but the figures are a misleading because  they include SINGLE MOTHERS and I assume welfare mommas. The Single Mothers Household is nearly 65% of that 40%. The true total of wives outearning husbands is around the 14-15% range.


  22. 52

    I am with someone who is less educated and who hasn’t achieved as much as I have (maybe not money-wise but definitely profession-wise and in terms of education). It’s just a mind switch… it is pre-programmed in our brain to think about men as the providers. Women are taught from a young age  that men will solve all of their problems. The reality of it is that people must take care of themselves, and each other. I learned this the hard way when I left an emotionally abusive, prospective lawyer. Yes, I respected him immensely for what he was doing with law, but in the end the respect was not enough.

    I could not be with a guy who couldn’t at least try to support me if we had children and I decided to stay home with them.. this is something I’m discussing with my current partner of 4 months (4 months but we are old friends so we have had feelings for each other for a long time). He knows that he is not going to have the luxury of being the stay at home dad all the time.

    1. 52.1

      Why does our society on one hand say that women are equal to men and that a woman can have it all yet have these contradictions. Isn’t equality on every front the goal? Am I and other guys missing something?

      Why can’t a Dad be the stay at home parent? If the woman is earning more, doesn’t it make logical sense for her to keep working? If the man is earning more, doesn’t it make logical sense for him to keep working?

      It’s the 21st Century, not the 1950’s. The higher earner if there is enough income from one person regardless of their gender has the greater chance of continuing to support the household while the other parent stays at home for a period of time. Male or Female should never make a difference. That is if both incomes aren’t needed after factoring in child care expenses. Just seems like common sense for me. Take the outdated stereo typing out of the equation and simply look at it from a dollars and cents.



  23. 53

    Yea. I dont work and live with my parents. Its pretty cool

  24. 54

    In one sentence; it is amazing that when the topic turns to Income ALL the women show up.

  25. 55

    Well since many women nowadays are very selfish and greedy which many of them would definitely want a man that makes just as much money as they do or even much more money which is very sad how women have changed since years ago.  Obviously why many good men like us are still single since most women today really want the best and will never settle for less.

  26. 56
    A>B and B>A

    “Nearly 40 percent of U.S. working wives now out-earn their husbands,” and yet at the same time we’re told women only earn .78 cents for every dollar a man earns. How can both be true? Do women like to date men who earn more than them? If so, then what does that do to the amount of eligible men if women are making more money? 

    “What do we want? We don’t know. When do we want it? Now!”


  27. 57

    I think this is true, to an extent.

    All I know is the women who do look down on men who make less than them are too high maintenance & would rather marry a doctor or lawyer than an average joe.

    I guess being a engineer would be a disqualification to most of these women, even if you are filthy rich

    If she makes more than me, I’d avoid her

  28. 58

    In very RARE occasions, I have seen relationships work where women make more than men.

    However, majority of the time, these women are looking for someone who earns MORE.  So if they are making $100k+, they are really looking for someone who makes $200k+, if not more!

    The reality is these women are way TOO HIGH MAINTENANCE, & will suck up every man they are with dry!  If she makes more than you, I would avoid her!  Let the natural course of time & loneliness eat these women alive

  29. 59

    Well since most of the women today are very greedy, spoiled, and selfish which certainly speaks for itself unfortunately since most women want a man that is either very rich or makes just as much money or more than they make since it is only all about money for most of these women now.  It really amazes me how women can be so very selfish nowadays and God forbid if they ever went with a man that makes much less money which is not likely at all since the kind of women that we have out there now which makes most of them very pathetic anyway.  Most of these women will most likely grow old all alone anyway which will be the best thing for them since they’re so damn picky as well.

  30. 60

    As a man who earns 50k a year I laugh at women who earn 6 figures or close and think they need a millionaire. Well I make 50k with no debt, no loans and drive a 15 year old car and save an average of 25k per year and have been doing this for the past 4 and half years. At 29 it is fascinating to see insecure women throw there earning power all over the internet as if that is what holds a relationship. But I have also taking my time to analyze these women and here are my questions that may burst some bubbles

    1) It is impressive that you earn 6 figures or close but what is your life style and spending habit like?

    2) Reality check: What is your average debt rate in comparison to liquid cash, assets in your name and owned by you?

    Figures can be impressive but remember you don’t take that 100k home in full. What really matters is how you can flee from money sucking sources in the U S of A that will prevent you from saving enough.


    So dear 6 figure earning women, a man that is prudent with money has a better chance of ending up rich, than a man that earns 100k without proper financial literacy. Judge not the wallet from the figures in print but the cash in savings. Unfortunately I have never come across or dated a woman that was interested in knowing how much I saved every month. They seem to wanna hear how much I make. On the other hand as a smart man I am more interested in how much they owe not how much they make.

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