I’m More Successful Than My Boyfriend & It Makes Our Relationship Really Awkward

This wasn’t an issue when we first met, but after I got a promotion at work, I started to feel some awkwardness from my boyfriend, who now makes significantly less money than me. What’s up with that?

  1. I feel this twang of resentment from him on a regular basis. Whenever the subject of money or jobs come up, I can tell that he feels a little weird about it even if he’s acting cool. I get that guys have this need to be the providers, but it’s just crazy how much it’s affecting him. We can’t even talk about money without him getting defensive about it.
  2. His ego is taking a beating, I can tell. The fact that I’m making significantly more money than him is definitely making him question his self-worth. Traditionally, it’s the guy who has all the answers and all the money. I know times have changed (thank God) and that it doesn’t really matter, but there’s such a huge gap between what we make that it’s kind of hard to ignore.
  3. People say it’s not a big deal but it is. The thing is, it’s not something you can kinda rationalize your way out of. It’s the kind of thing that’s ingrained in our DNA. We feel the need to take on certain roles in our relationships. Most guys have the innate need to be in charge, particularly financially, and when they can’t, they get a little sour.
  4. He’s constantly hiding it from his friends. Whenever we’re hanging out with a group of friends, he actually makes it seem like he’s the one spending the money. I’d obviously never dream of saying that I bought him an iPhone for his birthday or paid for our last vacation. I just can’t talk about it, especially in front of his friends—he’d be so embarrassed and he’d never forgive me.
  5. We’re avoiding moving in together because of it. I can’t help but think that my high earnings are the reason why he doesn’t want to move in together yet. We’ve been dating for about two years now, so I kind of feel like it’s time. I’m sure he’s waiting until he gets a better job or at least until we’re kinda even in terms of salary so that he can keep up when we’re living together… if we ever live together.
  6. We spend a lot of time just hanging out at home because he can’t afford to go out. We sometimes have to turn down invitations to dinners or events because he can’t afford it. If I offer to pay, he’ll usually say no and just suggest that we stay home and “spend quality time together.” I’m all for chilling at home, but I don’t want to spend the majority of my nights in just because he’s feeling insecure about my money situation.
  7. I can’t talk about the stuff I buy. Whenever I talk about my purchases, he gets weird. It doesn’t really matter what it is—a new coat, a pot roast, whatever—he always gets awkward when I bring it up. It’s almost like he feels bad that he can’t buy these things for me, or like I’m rubbing it in his face or something (which I’m not). He’s just looking for reasons to feel bad about himself and I shouldn’t have to hide my purchases to save his feelings.
  8. I’m afraid he’ll break up with me because of it. It’s actually a proven fact that men who earn less than their partners are 15% more likely to cheat than men who earn more. That’s crazy. I guess the resentment would start to get really deep and they’d just snap. I’m just waiting for the day when my boyfriend sits me down and breaks up with me because I’m “too rich.”
  9. It’s a total double standard. This goes without saying really. A woman who earns a lot of money can be seen as controlling and ungrateful in the eyes of men; they see her as competition. It’s why male CEOs are so reluctant to promote their female employees—it’ll mess up the social hierarchy.
  10. I’m making all the decisions. Since I have the money in this relationship, I have the power and that can be very defeating for a guy who wants to lead. I decided where and what we eat, what we do that day, where we go. I’m the one who pays most of the time, so I do what I want to do and I can tell he hates that.
Jennifer is a playwright, dancer, and theatre nerd living in the big city of Toronto, Canada. She studied Creative Writing at Concordia University and works as a lifestyle writer who focuses on Health, B2B, Tech, Psychology, Science, Food Trends and Millennial Life. She's also a coreographer, playwright, and lyricist, with choreography credits for McMaster University’s “Spring Awakening,” “Roxanne” for the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and “The Beaver Den” for The LOT, among others.

You can see more of her work on her Contently page and follow her on Instagram @jenniferenchin.