Should a Successful Woman Date a Man Who Earns Less?

This week’s question comes from a woman who says, “I’ve worked very hard to get to my current financial level (I make six figures), yet it seems that I only attract men who make less money than me. Is there any future in a financially imbalanced relationship?”

It’s so interesting how the tables have turned in our perceived financial / gender roles. A man would never ask this question because traditionally men are perceived as the providers.

So the first thing you want to ask yourself is, would you be comfortable in the role of being the provider? Or at least contributing more financially?

Secondly, would your partner be comfortable with this arrangement too? Traditionally, men have felt “out-manned” by a woman who makes more than him – but only if he’s a more traditional male.

And here’s a subtle distinction: as the more financially successful partner, do you really have to “out-man” him?

I have seen successful women know how to appreciate and acknowledge their partner for being who he is and find ways to allow him to feel good as a man – while still contributing more financially by planning surprises and special gifts that she could afford, but perhaps he couldn’t.

I believe it’s really a matter of respect rather than money. Do you respect your man for who he is, his choices for work and lifestyle?

And if he provides you with emotional safety, loyalty, genuine caring, sincerity, support, and love, is he not being a provider?

It’s time for us to break down the old misconceptions of what makes a man or woman appealing. Must it always be his earning power and her beauty? Or can it be her success and his kind-heartedness? Or something in between?

Ultimately, what makes you happy in a relationship is something you decide for yourself. If you have great compatibility together, can respect and cherish one another, want a similar lifestyle, and share similar dreams for your life
together, then it’s a matter of fine-tuning your relationship skills.

It’s always great to talk about ANY relationship imbalances – financial or otherwise – in a kind and caring way together. And probably not on the first few dates.

At some point the issue will come up as to who can contribute financially to the relationship more. Don’t make a big deal out of it, but you can say something like, “Hey, I make more so I should contribute more. And if things change, we’ll change the arrangement.”

I’ve known couples who decide that the one who makes more contributes 2/3 towards whatever they want to pitch in on together, and the one who makes less contributes 1/3. This can make the person who makes less feel like they are still able to contribute and keep their self-esteem about it.

And if you’re NOT comfortable being the one who contributes more, and would really prefer that your man at least pay equally if not more, then you have your answer – perhaps financial equality is a very important trait for you.

To see if that is really true, as opposed to being a part of some Shadow defense mechanism, sit in meditation and ask yourself why you feel the need to have a partner who is more financially prosperous and listen quietly for what comes up for you.

You can also ask yourself why you tend to attract the ones who cannot contribute more to you financially, and listen for what comes up for you around that.

In general, women look for emotional safety and security from a partner, and men look for admiration, respect, appreciation, and acknowledgment from a partner. If you can give these to each other, money does not need to be a barrier to a good relationship.

What thoughts came up for you around this? Share in the comments below or on my Facebook page here.

And if you’d like more personal coaching around this topic, book a free 30-minute consultation with me here to see if one-on-one coaching with me can be a solution for you.

2 thoughts on “Should a Successful Woman Date a Man Who Earns Less?”

  1. //It’s time for us to break down the old misconceptions of what makes a man or woman appealing.//
    It’s certainly old, but i don’t think it’s just a misconception. I feel that it’s so ingrained in our DNA, in our survival mechanism, that it would take centuries to change that, if at all possible. Earning or not, Women are still the only ones producing babies and for some time are totally dependent on external support. Will they feel emotionally safe in their relationship if that support does not come from their partner?
    High-earning women often attract takers and users. If it were my “problem” (high income that is), I would probably not flash the income, and would not disclose figures until the commitment stage.
    In majority cases, a woman supporting her man financially (that is the same as providing 50% or more) would start feeling like a mother to him and lose sexual attraction. Unless a woman runs predominantly on masculine energy – both at work/business and at home (i.e. comfortable being the main provider, making big decisions, taking initiative and risks most of the time, etc. ) and her man – on feminine (emotionally supportive, responsive, etc.), but that has to be maintained and not flip-flopped at a whim (those dynamics are greatly explained by Dr Pat Allen in “Getting to I do”).
    The original question seems a bit superficial – it’s not about figures per se (e.g. the guy may make 3 times more, but spend most of it on alimony to 3 ex-wives and child support, or his expensive hobbies, or is just plain stingy, and eventually would not contribute even equally to the current relationship). It’s about fair and valuable contribution. And fair does not mean equal. So, I do agree that is requires some deep reflection for each individual. What it means and how it makes us feel – bringing in more money – and what we’d want from the man to make it worth it. And yeah, prenups are also a good thing to do to make sure you won’t be losing your income after losing the emotional support the guy is providing in the relationship. And could be a test on his intentions right away.
    Apologies for the lengthy comment. It’s a very serious, sensitive and important subject.

    1. Thank you, Natalie, for your thoughtful comments – you bring up many ideas I’d love to address, but for the sake of brevity can’t go into at length here. The bottom line is that each woman is individual. I have coached women who felt safer providing for themselves and their babies rather than relying on a partner’s financial support. I have met high-earning women who do not attract takers and users. I’ve also coached women who don’t flaunt their income, but with where they live and what experiences they’ve had, people can tell. A prenup is a luxury you can negotiate if you are already making more than your future spouse, but what of the woman who marries when she is earning less and then starts earning more than her mate later in the marriage? As a relationship coach, my main emphasis is on how to improve your relationship skills and take care of both yourself AND the relationship or future relationship through personal development. I am grateful you brought up each of these scenarios, as they are very real, and can all be dealt with gracefully if we learn the right skills. Ultimately, if there is genuine love and compatibility, and the relationship is not based fundamentally on Shadow defense mechanisms, all else can be worked out.

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