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AIBU?

Does unequal income matter in a relationship

39 replies

Flutterbybudget · 07/09/2022 09:00

Can a relationship work if there is a big disparity in income? Slightly hypothetical, because it’s not even “early days” 😂
I am a low wage earner, although I love my job, and support my family
Just been invited out for a drink by a customer, (nothing inappropriate in that) but he lives alone and is loaded. I’d like to go, he’s a lovely bloke, but I’m worried about how it would look. If we go to an expensive restaurant I probably wouldn’t even be able to split the bill. But I’d equally feel a cheap skate, if I only paid if we go somewhere cheap. So, it’s just got me thinking, can it ever work, (a one off is ok, but long term) if there’s a big disparity?

OP posts:
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Am I being unreasonable?

17 votes. Final results.

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You are being unreasonable
47%
You are NOT being unreasonable
53%
pitchforksandflamethrowers · 07/09/2022 09:07

It matters less what people earn but how they treat their partner.

If someone's loaded and insists you go to expensive restaurant regularly and go Dutch. They are a ass 🎩

If they don't mind going to a range of places and know you can't afford really expensive places then you are all good.

I'm a high earner my partner earns a lot less, I have never thought less of him in any regard to money. I would be mortified if I thought he had to keep up with me.

That said not everyone's the same with money. Give him a chance.

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alwaysmovingforwards · 07/09/2022 09:09

pitchforksandflamethrowers · 07/09/2022 09:07

It matters less what people earn but how they treat their partner.

If someone's loaded and insists you go to expensive restaurant regularly and go Dutch. They are a ass 🎩

If they don't mind going to a range of places and know you can't afford really expensive places then you are all good.

I'm a high earner my partner earns a lot less, I have never thought less of him in any regard to money. I would be mortified if I thought he had to keep up with me.

That said not everyone's the same with money. Give him a chance.

Yeah agree with this.

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dockspider · 07/09/2022 09:10

Very different because we were already a couple but DH and I have both had periods of being a high earner while the other was a student and earning nothing and it never caused any issues.

I agree that if this guy knows that you’re not a high earner and insists on going to expensive restaurants and splitting the bill then he’s a dick. Dates don’t have to cost much money! If I were you I’d be proactive and suggest the first date venue, somewhere that you could afford to split the bill, and go from there.

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Anunusualfamily · 07/09/2022 09:11

I have this with my partner. He does pay for most things whilst if we go for dinner or holidays and he just does it without question he does it because he wants to do it and wants us to do it together but I always get the coffees drinks in the pub etc. and we also do a lot of non money dates walks beach I’ll make a picnic etc it’s not been an issue so far

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DenholmElliot1 · 07/09/2022 09:12

It's OK for dating but I always think you should marry your financial equal.

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Lunar270 · 07/09/2022 09:14

Not to me. I earn a lot more than my OH but we pool our money and don't really track who spends on what, except for big purchases that require discussion.

But then neither of us waste money or go crazy.

I can imagine it's more difficult for those, where one partner spends loads on themselves or don't have a joint account. I know a man that gives his wife an allowance and she has to go cap in hand when she runs out 🙄

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PurpleDaisies · 07/09/2022 09:16

DenholmElliot1 · 07/09/2022 09:12

It's OK for dating but I always think you should marry your financial equal.

What’s the point in saying them then? If you fall in love with someone who is not your financial equal, are you supposed to break up with them? What happens if you marry and their job circumstances change?

I agree that it’s attitude that matters. At times I’ve been the higher earner. Now it’s dh. We share everything so it doesn’t matter.

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Midlifemusings · 07/09/2022 09:16

Yes, I think it matters. If not, one partner has to take care of another adult financially. I think it adds power issues and pressure and resentment on both sides, especially if you start dating when older.

I think equality is healthy and that both people have the means to financially support themselves and feel like equal contributing partners. Beyond that if one has more and wants to add to the joint lifestyle, then that is fine but there should be a shared base amount.

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Flutterbybudget · 07/09/2022 09:16

Just to be clear, he obviously knows my current financial situation as he knows where I work. He knows I have dependent children. He’s just suggested going for a drink, no mention of high end restaurants or anything. I’m not trying to suggest anything about HIM as an individual, and I’m probably definitely overthinking this at this stage, just got me wondering

OP posts:
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Sunnyqueen · 07/09/2022 09:17

Depends on the man. If he is a bit old school they are more than happy to pay the dates and later on be the provider.

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DenholmElliot1 · 07/09/2022 09:22

PurpleDaisies · 07/09/2022 09:16

What’s the point in saying them then? If you fall in love with someone who is not your financial equal, are you supposed to break up with them? What happens if you marry and their job circumstances change?

I agree that it’s attitude that matters. At times I’ve been the higher earner. Now it’s dh. We share everything so it doesn’t matter.

@PurpleDaisies

I don't understand what your first sentence means.

If you fall in love with someone who isn't your financial equal then of course you shouldn't break up with them. I wasn't suggesting that you should. Just don't marry them.

If you marry someone and their job circumstances change that so what? Lots of people's circumstances change over the course of a marriage. You just weather the storm. Thats exactly whats meant when we make marriage vows of "for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health"

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PurpleDaisies · 07/09/2022 09:25

DenholmElliot1 · 07/09/2022 09:22

@PurpleDaisies

I don't understand what your first sentence means.

If you fall in love with someone who isn't your financial equal then of course you shouldn't break up with them. I wasn't suggesting that you should. Just don't marry them.

If you marry someone and their job circumstances change that so what? Lots of people's circumstances change over the course of a marriage. You just weather the storm. Thats exactly whats meant when we make marriage vows of "for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health"

It should say “what’s the point in dating them?” Sorry that was an autocorrect.

So you’re saying a long term couple where one earns a lot more shouldn’t get married, ever. Is that right?

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PurpleDaisies · 07/09/2022 09:29

Just thinking of the couples I know, doctors and nurses, teacher and high powered lawyer, charity worker and software engineer…

Are you genuinely saying none of these people should have got married because there’s always been a large disparity in salaries?

Where should high paid bankers go to find their husband/wife if they need to find someone on a similar income?

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Vegay · 07/09/2022 10:02

OP, in your own words, you are overthinking this.

Go for the drink if you like him. If he suggests having a meal at an expensive restaurant, then just tell him that whilst you'd like to do that, the prices would make it impossible for you. If he wants to spend more time with you, then this shouldn't be an issue.

From personal experience, a significant difference in income absolutely does not have to be a negative, and certainly doesn't mean a relationship is doomed. Being honest from the start is what makes the relationship work.

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10HailMarys · 07/09/2022 10:09

When unequal incomes cause issues in a relationship, it is not actually the money that's the problem; it's the attitude of the people involved. Same with friendships. If you're both fine with the fact that he will probably need to pay for things most of the time (which I would be, if I were him) then it's really not a problem. But if he resents paying, or uses it against you, or insists on going to expensive restaurants but still expects to the split the bill, that's where it becomes a problem. So I think it's something you need to be fairly upfront about early on in the relationship, but if the wealthier partner doesn't mind paying and the less wealthy partner feels OK about it, it's all good.

I've been the less wealthy partner in a relationship before and it was never a problem at all. I haven't been the wealthy one in a romantic relationship but I do have a couple of friends who are very hard-up and I am absolutely delighted to be able to pay for them if we go for a meal or drinks or whatever. They're my friends. I can afford it. They can't. Therefore I pay. It wouldn't occur to me to resent that in a million years!

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10HailMarys · 07/09/2022 10:10

DenholmElliot1 · 07/09/2022 09:12

It's OK for dating but I always think you should marry your financial equal.

Are you posting direct from the early 1800s?

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MsPincher · 07/09/2022 10:13

PurpleDaisies · 07/09/2022 09:29

Just thinking of the couples I know, doctors and nurses, teacher and high powered lawyer, charity worker and software engineer…

Are you genuinely saying none of these people should have got married because there’s always been a large disparity in salaries?

Where should high paid bankers go to find their husband/wife if they need to find someone on a similar income?

Presumably their colleagues would have a similar income

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toastfiend · 07/09/2022 10:15

DH and I don't have a massive disparity in income any more, but we did when we first moved in together and married.

I think it depends if the higher earner resents it or not. DH and I have always been happy to pool resources. We have a joint account and it's all "our" money. We don't have separate spending money, if one of us needs something, we buy it. If it's over £150 we'll probably mention it to the other person first. I think it would be very difficult if one person in the relationship was selfish, if the higher earner resented being the higher earner, or if there was an insistence on everything being split 50/50 regardless of respective incomes.

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Yerroblemom1923 · 07/09/2022 10:18

@MsPincher so you can only marry colleagues on your pay level?! A pp mentioned doctors and nurses, teachers and solicitors etc as an example of unequal finances who obviously get together.

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PurpleDaisies · 07/09/2022 10:19

MsPincher · 07/09/2022 10:13

Presumably their colleagues would have a similar income

You didn’t engage with any of the rest of the post.

Doctors shouldn’t marry nurses?

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autienotnaughty · 07/09/2022 10:19

There is no right or wrong. My dh earns 5x what I do we pool money together . It's all ours.

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oldwhyno · 07/09/2022 10:19

finances matter in any relationship, and being equally wealthy/earning can have it's own issues to navigate.

Financially unequal relationships can definitely work. The difference will be a feature of your relationship, but many many couples make this work.

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IMustMakeAmends · 07/09/2022 10:21

When unequal incomes cause issues in a relationship, it is not actually the money that's the problem; it's the attitude of the people involved

This absolutely nails it.

I have a professional job but work part time so earn a LOT less than my DH. He works FT in a very well paid job. I've also had 3 lots of maternity leave earning nothing towards the end.

Depending on bonuses, DH can actually earn around 10x what I do. However, he totally respects my job, my earnings, and my contributions in other ways. I recognise his job is time consuming and stressful but also that it allows us a lifestyle we wouldn't have otherwise. He understands that me working part time and earning less as a result is part and parcel of us having a home and a family together. We're a team and we have it set up to work for us. It's not flawless but it works. .

Go for the drink. Don't overthink. 😊

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AhNowTed · 07/09/2022 10:23

Sunnyqueen · 07/09/2022 09:17

Depends on the man. If he is a bit old school they are more than happy to pay the dates and later on be the provider.

And you think it's ok to mooch off somebody like that?

OP it matters not. If he's a decent bloke he'll understand that pricey restaurants aren't on the cards unless it's something he's happy to fund on occasion.

Early days so a few drinks where you stand your round shouldn't be a problem.

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TedMullins · 07/09/2022 10:26

I used to think it didn’t matter but I think it can. As others have said though, attitude is the key rather than finances. I’m the higher earner in my relationship but we don’t live together and I absolutely won’t be joining finances or getting married (I’m against this in general, not just with this particular guy).

It kind of evens out for us as I earn more but have much higher outgoings. When we go out we usually split 50/50 unless one of us is treating the other for a birthday or something. I wouldn’t be OK with paying for everything all the time. The nature of his work means he isn’t stuck as a low earner, there are many things he could do to increase his earning, and quite honestly if he doesn’t at least try and do this I will find it offputting. I don’t mind being the higher earner but if we continue our relationship and eventually live together I expect him to do his bit financially. Similarly when I was the lower earner in a relationship when I was much younger I paid my share and preferred to keep finances separate rather than feeling like I was living off my partner.

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