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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  1. 361

    I agree with Evan here as a female.

    It’s not the same as “discriminating” based on weight and in some cases age, because women discriminate on those things too. No matter how many platitudes we offer, attraction is important and in some cases weight can be a barrier for that, especially if it indicates a limitation on lifestyle. How many of you would like to date someone from “Heavy Lives” cast? (Please note that I am not talking about a slight paunch here.) As for age, it is reasonable for someone to consider the effect of that if they want kids.

    But when it comes to income, things are different. It is reasonable to expect your partner to be able to pull his/her own weight but expecting them to outearn you in case when you make six figures is both limiting and yes, hypocritical as well. Let’s be honest, most here who are critical of this post wouldn’t balk at a couple where the man earns 250000$ where he spends for his 50000$ earning girlfriend, and he would be judged as stingy if he questions being expected to pay for everything. Flip the genders around and the woman is a Mother Theresa for putting up with such a “slacker” or lazy man. If I am not wrong (correct me if I am) Evan spends for his wife who is a homemaker when they go out and doesn’t think of it as a charity because it’s a partnership. Dating and partnership isn’t about charity or martyrdom. Women and men are not so different in relationship issues,  people  aren’t so fond of being looked down upon when in partnership and treated as a generosity project. If you can’t see any value in your partnership apart from what he brings to the table  in terms of paycheck, leave him. You’re not doing either of you any favor by staying while condescending them.

  2. 362

    In my experience, the women ends up taking on the majority of the household and childcare responsibilities regardless of who earns more. So if I (the woman) am providing the financial support in addition to the cooking, cleaning, and child care, then what do I need you for? Best to hold out for someone who can at least contribute financially

  3. 363

    Hello. I am re-visiting this thread from years ago. I don’t know where to begin, and yes, this example is extreme. I have been giving guys who I make more than a chance at love.   I gave a guy (I’m 34, he just turned 32) a chance despite going through a divorce (no kids) and being strained financially (by legal fees).  Ok, no biggie. It’s a temporary set-back.   So, he said he was UC educated and employed, working from home, despite his spinal injury in a car accident the year prior. His wife filed for divorce a few months after. Fast forward 10 months from when I met D.   I am now 6 months pregnant because I insisted I get back on birth control, and he said don’t (dumb on me, I know).   To strain matters worse, I found out last month that he had been lying about his job (unemployed), and over Xmas, asked his mom about his education, to which he has none. So I am stuck with someone who has betrayed a well-to-do woman with NO earning potential (I at least felt comfortable  falling  back  on his supposed IT degree). He has no sense of finances and little  drive to improve himself with “chronic” pain. Ugh. Duped.  

    1. 363.1

      So sorry to hear that.   I had a problem like that years ago with a guy who moved in because his ex threw him out and he turned into the biggest sponge and abuser you could imagine.   This is why women want men who can earn, because something is very wrong with a man who has no drive to work.   This is an extreme case, and I think the original post was about men who work, but maybe earn a bit less than the woman.   This is a valid point though, there are a lot of male gold diggers, and I’m sure there will be replies about female gold diggers, but that doesn’t make it right for men to do this.   A lot of these men will also use pregnancy to trap a financial slave.   Just remember, you’ll have to support the child anyway, but you don’t have to support the father as well.   You could throw him out/break off with him.   It’s unlikely you’ll get support if he’s not working, but don’t give him money or a free place to stay just because you are having his child.

  4. 364

    There are a number of men who want women who earn near to what they earn. Some maybe it’s partly that women know that they are expected to earn near a man’s salary but not over. A man wants to treat a women but not have her rely on him or have her struggle to go out he wants to maintain his lifestyle and not have to pay out in a number of cases, so it’s sometimes about pressure from the man.

  5. 365

    Nowadays especially in major Metropolitan cities men actually do want women to earn more or as much as they do, particularly most all black men. I do however know several white men who want their wives to make more than them so they don’t have to work so hard. Now what I see and hear is that the tables have turned there has been a shift and many men actually require women to have degrees, and make as much as they do if not more. Many women now are being discounted because they are deemed not financially compatible in men’s eyes. I know men who refuse to date a woman with a very low credit score. The reality is that folks aren’t getting married to struggle. They will want to take trips together and go out to eat and plan dinner parties and buy stuff. That’s the only reason why you have more tax breaks when your married, typically your spending a lot more money if your married, as opposed to if your single cause the spending is doubled because there are 2 people spending not one. And you get even more tax breaks when you have children because your spending more money. I agree though that it doesn’t really matter. A person can be a millionaire and go bankrupt and lose every penny in less than a year if their not fiscally responsible. A person can also turn a 45K yearly salary into a million dollars. Many people, especially black people have done this for centuries. What you should be paying the most attention to is not how much a person makes, but how fiscally responsible they are and what they’re spending and saving habits are.

  6. 366

    Here is the rub – there are tons of ATTRACTIVE women graduating from law school, medical school, dental school, etc. The old adage of men just hunting for looks is now out the window. Men can truly have it all.

    Similarly, women can have it all. A fat wallet does not compensate for a fat waist. Guys who are lawyers, doctors, etc. are not out of shape and unattractive.

    I think both genders are recognizing the beauty of having attraction, dual earning power and overall shared responsibilities.

    We are not completely divorced from traditional gender roles, but make no mistake, the lines have been, and will continue to be, blurred …

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