I’m Financially Dependent On My Partner And It Sucks

I like to consider myself a strong and independent woman—don’t we all? I’ve worked ever since I was 16, I paid my way through college and graduate school, I bought every car I’ve ever owned. And all those lovely expenses like rent, groceries, phone and hospital bills? I was all over it—that is until I entered into a wonderful relationship and became financially dependent. Talk about a disaster.

  1. I’ve always connected my worth to my financial independence. When I was growing up, the values that were instilled in me were very simple: work hard and then work harder. From an early age, I learned to see myself through the lense of self-sufficiency and strong work ethic. Not living this way was to fail and to let people down. Now, as a grown woman, it’s very strange to be financially dependent on someone else, especially when I never wanted to be dependent on even my own dad.
  2. I’m a capitalist at heart. I’m being sort of tongue-in-cheek with this because I actually think there’s a lot wrong with capitalism and consumerism. Nonetheless, I do love a good dose of ownership and being able to stamp “mine” onto anything I’ve purchased. Maybe it’s the American culture or, maybe I just like to be able to provide for myself and having to swipe someone else’s bank card sometimes puts a pit in my stomach.
  3. My concept of identity is tightly intertwined with money. Being poor has never been appealing to me. Who am I kidding? It’s never been appealing to anyone. It’s not that I’ve ever dreamed of being wealthy—having enough to enjoy simple pleasures was always enough for me. That way, I didn’t have to stick my hand out and get help from other people. That seemed lazy, irresponsible and irritating to me. Now, I see that maybe I’ve been super prideful and arrogant when it comes to money.
  4. Receiving isn’t my strong point.  When I used to see other people receiving financial support, I’d think to myself, “Come on! I work hard, so should you!” What I never realized is that these people who received financial help actually needed it. (Duh!) I used to think that it must be so easy to sit back and let other people pay your way but, to be honest, it’s really difficult. It means swallowing (or force feeding yourself) a lot of pride. It means learning to see yourself as worthy and valuable even if you don’t make a crazy amount of money.
  5. I feel ashamed to make less than a man. Lots of us think that we’re not making enough money and that our paychecks don’t really reflect all the hard work we pour into each and every work week. I’m no different. I believe I work hard but at this point in my life, my income doesn’t reflect that. Even though I have no financial worries, I still face lots of shame.
  6. I’m afraid I’ll end up in a stereotypical sexist relationship. Am I letting my feminist sisters down because I’m now dependent on a man’s income? Am I selling out to an outdated, patriarchal setup by allowing my guy to be the main bread winner in our relationship? Sometimes it feels that way, but then it’s important for me to remember that nothing good ever comes from being anti-man just because you’re pro-woman.
  7. Not earning as much money makes me feel like I have less say in the relationship. With money comes power, and since my boyfriend earns most of the money, I feel like I need to acquiesce to his preferences since, let’s face it, he’s got more money. But the truth is, he never, ever sees our relationships this way so neither should I. Still, I do struggle with this. Wouldn’t you?
  8. Shopping sprees with my own money are so much more fun. I love being gifted pretty things—or practical things, for that matter. Still, there’s something truly satisfying about saving up and treating yourself to something special. I’m not talking about instant gratification here. I’m referring to months of saving and then truly experiencing the payoff. When something special is just given to me, I appreciate it but it does feel less valuable because I haven’t invested in it myself.
  9. I feel that I need to overcompensate for my lack of financial prowess. Because I’m not making the big bucks in this relationship (at least for the time being), I feel like I always have to make up for it in other ways. I have to be beautiful all the time. I have to dress well. I have to cook perfect dinners every single night. I have to socially affable. The list goes on and on. If I’m not good at making money, I feel like I have to be good at lots of other things. And if I fail at these things? The shame hole just gets deeper and darker.
  10. They say money isn’t everything but it kind of is. That might make me sound like an extremely empty and shallow millennial but the truth is, money’s not a bad thing and you kind of need it. Exchanging money is what helps you feel like you’re taking an active part in creating your life the way you envision it. I’m lucky to live without any financial needs, and I wouldn’t trade in this relationship for more money. But this arrangement has taught me about my own money issues, and maybe more importantly, it’s taught me about my own struggles with self-worth.
Audrey Bea uses her life-changing but difficult experiences with anorexia and depression as the catalyst and inspiration for her work. As a writer and illustrator, Audrey creates empowering content to help women love who they are, and overcome the widespread illness of fear.