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AIBU?

To date a guy who earns significantly less than me

124 replies

stickypeak · 02/02/2023 02:01

Just started dating a man and it turns out I earn 10 times what he earns.

Now, I should start by saying that in theory, this doesn't bother me AT ALL. I come from very working class stock. We grew up on a council estate. Both my brothers are still living there with their families. I was just lucky to be studious and got on a good path.

I've been divorced for a decade and all the men I've dated have earned less than me and it's never really been an issue.

However, this is the first time the gap has been this big.

Now, he still insists on paying for everything when we go out, which is so sweet. He's quite old fashioned and actually more generous in this sense than anyone I've ever dated.

With the exception of the salary, we have tons in common. We both have 3 kids around the same ages, both have similar long term dreams and interests and just get on brilliantly.

A couple of my friends have insisted it could never work though. The concern is how it could work logistically in the long term. I have a really nice lifestyle (all self-funded) and although I'm not into designer brands or fancy restaurants, do like to travel to nice places, or to be able to enjoy some of the things a higher salary allows, like being able to jump in a taxi home rather than taking public transport, that kind of thing.

I do think it's lovely that he insists on paying because he's old fashioned, but then I just feel guilty because whatever he's paying for (usually just drinks in the pub) is going to put much more of a financial strain on him than on me.

So unsure what to do. I couldn't care less how much a man earns. He's a hard worker and s great person and a great dad.

I do see that logistical issues may surface in future though and I'm not sure what to do about that.

OP posts:
IslandLife88 · 02/02/2023 02:17

So my DH earns less than me. A lot less, low 6 figures. It caused a bit of friction at times (on both our parts) but overall it's worked great. However, he is VERY ambitious and has done really well in his career. I respect his choice and his career and we are similar minded. However, we also got together in our late 20s and there are no children involved. It IS complicated. So beware. I think the ambition is more important than anything. Incomes do vary throughout your life but having similar values and respect for each other counts for a lot more than money.

NewNameFor2023 · 02/02/2023 02:39

Hmmmm… I dated someone who earned at least 50% less than me, no desire to do anything more to earn more.

He was lovely and it was nice whilst it lasted, but I quickly realised I would need to make either sacrifices and not do what I would like, or pay the lion’s share always- in terms of holidays, activities, dates etc. I wasn’t comfortable with either option and knew I would resent him for this.

How into him are you? Could you see yourself getting married and him having half if it didn’t work out?

mrscumberbatch11 · 02/02/2023 02:42

Well he sounds lovely and sounds like you really like him. The problem sounds purely logistical, so how much does he earn? Do you earn £100k and he earns £10k? How does he currently manage financially? Have he and the kids got a decent lifestyle? Does he have a home / assets?

@IslandLife88 so your husband earns low 6 figures, so at least £100k, but it's a lot less than you?

I see that situation being a lot less of a problem. £100k is a very respectable salary and obviously plenty for him to live on. I'm
Wondering if this is a very different scenario to OPs.

stickypeak · 02/02/2023 02:43

mrscumberbatch11 · 02/02/2023 02:42

Well he sounds lovely and sounds like you really like him. The problem sounds purely logistical, so how much does he earn? Do you earn £100k and he earns £10k? How does he currently manage financially? Have he and the kids got a decent lifestyle? Does he have a home / assets?

@IslandLife88 so your husband earns low 6 figures, so at least £100k, but it's a lot less than you?

I see that situation being a lot less of a problem. £100k is a very respectable salary and obviously plenty for him to live on. I'm
Wondering if this is a very different scenario to OPs.

Yes. Mine is much more like the first scenario you described.

OP posts:
stickypeak · 02/02/2023 02:47

mrscumberbatch11 · 02/02/2023 02:42

Well he sounds lovely and sounds like you really like him. The problem sounds purely logistical, so how much does he earn? Do you earn £100k and he earns £10k? How does he currently manage financially? Have he and the kids got a decent lifestyle? Does he have a home / assets?

@IslandLife88 so your husband earns low 6 figures, so at least £100k, but it's a lot less than you?

I see that situation being a lot less of a problem. £100k is a very respectable salary and obviously plenty for him to live on. I'm
Wondering if this is a very different scenario to OPs.

Clicked post too soon.

He does have assets. He has a nice home actually. He's owned it for a long time.

The kids are in their teens and seem pretty happy (I haven't met them but he tells me a lot about them).

I haven't asked too much about how he manages as I don't want to make him uncomfortable.

OP posts:
erehj · 02/02/2023 02:48

How old are the DC? Are you looking in the future to move in together, get married again? Would you be happy to merge finances? Would your lifestyle and your kids be impacted by bringing him and his kids up to your level?

If you don't merge finances but do live together, what would that look and feel like for him and his kids compared to yours?

These are the questions I'd be asking myself.

stickypeak · 02/02/2023 02:52

erehj · 02/02/2023 02:48

How old are the DC? Are you looking in the future to move in together, get married again? Would you be happy to merge finances? Would your lifestyle and your kids be impacted by bringing him and his kids up to your level?

If you don't merge finances but do live together, what would that look and feel like for him and his kids compared to yours?

These are the questions I'd be asking myself.

These are exactly the things I'm thinking about.

I would love to live with a partner again in future but I'd want to protect myself well from a legal perspective.

All the kids are in their teens, more or less.

I don't know how it would all work and it's a very long way off.

My friends were kind of horrified about it and said it could never work, while I don't think it's insurmountable.

OP posts:
mrscumberbatch11 · 02/02/2023 03:12

If he has a nice home and he's really earning so little, maybe there's more to it than meets the eye?

His earnings sound very low. So is he part time, or working a hobby job, or self employed?

Maybe he's independently wealthy? Or just somehow has some sort of nest egg that he lives off of whilst working very little?

Do the kids live with him? Or with their mum / college or something?

I'm not sure.

He sounds lovely, but I would have the same concerns. I'd mainly be concerned on how it would impact my children.

Scottishskifun · 02/02/2023 03:19

I earn triple what my husband does(we were about the same when we met).
It did cause friction at points until we spoke about it and we now pay a ratio for bills and I pay for holidays.
Like you I don't spend frivolously but enjoy holidays so for us this was the compromise. We take it in turns paying when we go out with the kids but if I known the bill is going to be more say we go to a restaurant rather then a cafe then I pay.

Just keep communication open but breezy. Say to him it's your turn etc when out. It did take my husband some adjustment time and fornus tonfindbthe right balance which felt fair to us both.

junebirthdaygirl · 02/02/2023 03:30

Is a lot of his money going on child maintenance and is this why he has little? Or do his dc live with him? He sounds generous and not trying to sponge off you which is a good sign. I don't think it would be an issue if it was the other way around.

stickypeak · 02/02/2023 03:38

mrscumberbatch11 · 02/02/2023 03:12

If he has a nice home and he's really earning so little, maybe there's more to it than meets the eye?

His earnings sound very low. So is he part time, or working a hobby job, or self employed?

Maybe he's independently wealthy? Or just somehow has some sort of nest egg that he lives off of whilst working very little?

Do the kids live with him? Or with their mum / college or something?

I'm not sure.

He sounds lovely, but I would have the same concerns. I'd mainly be concerned on how it would impact my children.

The kids with their mum, primarily.

He had a higher paid job (albeit not HIGH paid) that he had to quit because of an injury, so he's starting from scratch now in a new industry.

OP posts:
Appleblum · 02/02/2023 04:50

Well if you really go on seeing him and become partners, what's stopping you from paying for him from time to time? Men do it all the time.

As long as he pulls his weight this shouldn't be the deciding factor.

SavoirFlair · 02/02/2023 04:59

if you “do see that logistical issues may surface in future though” then why haven’t you found someone @stickypeak who earns similar to you?

I’m going to get flamed here for this, but most guys who are single (no kids) earning that amount of money have endless options. And most guys earning that kind of money who are parents and dating, also have options.

Perhaps this is as good as it gets. Perhaps he’s a really decent guy who just likes you for you.

Perhaps if you leave him for someone who is more on par with your earnings, you could meet someone with more potential resources, and yet less generous with them.

Somewhereoverthepacific · 02/02/2023 05:02

DH earns much less than me (not quite this bad, but I bring home about 5x what he does). When we met we were more balanced but realistically we knew this was likely to happen long term because of different jobs / me being more ambitious than him. It can work but DH has said it's hard for him at times - he never thought he would but he does feel a bit emasculated and that I must resent him for earning less. He acknowledges this is rediculous and all in his head.

I think in your case, the fact he wants to pay for everything is actually the biggest thing that could make this a problem. DH is NOT traditional at all (he does far more housework than I do for example) and he's not completely comfortable. I think it would be much harder for someone whose view is he needs to cover the woman. That said my mum and step dad also have a big income discrepancy and he is much more traditional. Money has been an issue, particularly in the first few years, but they've made it work.

On your side, you need to accept that you will end up subsiding him. You can't realistically have a future that involves you massively compromising on life style / ordering steak when he has pasta. The one thing I've struggled with is that if I were to leave DH he'd have to take a massive lifestyle drop, including potentially living in unsafe areas etc. That has made me feel trapped when we've gone through rough patches.

SavoirFlair · 02/02/2023 05:10

You can't realistically have a future that involves you massively compromising on life style / ordering steak when he has pasta.

Imagine this re-written by men to other men about a woman who earns significantly less..

Honestly the twisted logic on this site is fascinating.

Who can OP actually date?

Does it have to be someone with a salary above £20k? £30k? When can someone be financially acceptable to the £100k person?

This guy happily volunteers to pay. It’s not damaging his world - it sounds like he has his own house, he pays for his DCs, he feels comfortable enough to do this.

I feel sorry for the chap a bit because from the limited information in the OP, I can’t see exactly what he’s doing that is so wrong. He just should have had this fiscal slide rule run over him a lot earlier , because the poor chap (no pun intended) seems to be quite sweet.

Starseeking · 02/02/2023 05:16

erehj · 02/02/2023 02:48

How old are the DC? Are you looking in the future to move in together, get married again? Would you be happy to merge finances? Would your lifestyle and your kids be impacted by bringing him and his kids up to your level?

If you don't merge finances but do live together, what would that look and feel like for him and his kids compared to yours?

These are the questions I'd be asking myself.

These questions would be my thoughts too.

I earned double what my EXDP earned, and he was a higher rate taxpayer earning good money. When we first got together, he was proud that I had a high-flying job, by the end of the relationship he had become resentful of the fact I earned such a huge amount of money, and I felt unable to talk to him about any work-related issues, as he'd immediately revert to a position of "you need to suck it up because you earn so much".

Despite the fact that I'd only ever mentioned my earnings when we first moved in together (to say I'd pay 2/3 of the bills given the income disparity), he became emasculated over time just by the thought that I earned so much more than him.

I think what I'm really saying is that I think this sort of income disparity becomes an issue over time. The person earning the higher salary has to subsidise the lower earning person, and due to the patriarchy there are many many men who are uncomfortable with this scenario when the higher earning person is the lady in the relationship.

Like you, I'd like to have a nice relationship with a lovely man, but I'd be reluctant to go all in with a man who earned so much less than me when I have DC plus assets.

My ideal would be to meet someone of a similar earning level, but in terms of PAYE workers, I would be in the top 5% (as in anyone earning over £85k PAYE, I believe), so that would also be a challenge.

Enjoy the relationship for what it is for now OP, but from bitter experience, I do think the money thing will cause issues down the line.

silentpool · 02/02/2023 05:34

Date yes. Marry, no.

RedHelenB · 02/02/2023 05:37

He shouldnt be paying, you should be going halves. I think you sound selfish so it probably won't work out.

RettyPriddle · 02/02/2023 05:50

Don’t overthink it. Just enjoy it for what it is, now. Presumably, as you’ve both got kids already, you don’t need to rush into anything more permanent, like merging houses and finances. As long as he’s financially responsible and considerate, who cares if you earn more, at the moment. Also if he’s starting a new career, it might all change in the future; and owning his own home shows he is clearly sensible with financial planning.

SavoirFlair · 02/02/2023 05:51

I'd be reluctant to go all in with a man who earned so much less than me when I have DC plus assets.

Fair enough @Starseeking

My ideal would be to meet someone of a similar earning level

see this is my point from earlier. “my ideal would be…”

But you’re already fishing in a pool of people that are by your own admission, in the top 5% of earners.

That’s not a category you can filter on Bumble etc, so how does one quickly find them other than through luck, or work etc?

and once you find them, does your earning figures mean suddenly they wake up and immediately choose you because they’d be comfortable with someone who earns similar?

You have DC. They have options. Many men of this earning bracket are perfectly happy meeting someone who earns half or less, because they meet other more, um, immediate criteria.

I think it’s fine for higher earning women to be precious about finding parity with a partner…

…but I think it’s also worth being actually realistic - that men earning over 100k tend to have options.

autienotnaughty · 02/02/2023 06:02

It's nice that he pays and he sound lovely but think about long term. Your planning a holiday you want to go 5** star long haul for three weeks but his budget is 3 star Europe for a week. What do you do? Do you subsidise him? What if he says no do you get use to sub par holidays. IWhat if he says yes? Are you happy to subsidise him? Are you happy to pay more of household income if you move in together, it could work but more likely you will end up sacrificing in some way and will you resent that.

WinterFoxes · 02/02/2023 06:33

I would, in your position. Money shouldn't dictate everything. I'd far rather take the bus with a man I love than go home alone in a taxi. You might have to make some adjustments and compromises but that's true in any relationship. And he'll have to learn to let you treat him.

BelleMarionette · 02/02/2023 07:09

Is he receiving benefits? Does he have a realistic possibility of becoming better paid?

If you want to move in together, and he currently receives benefits, be aware that these would almost certainly stop if you move in together, which would create financial dependence on you.

Ponoka7 · 02/02/2023 07:16

Do you really think that a man insisting on paying "is sweet"? It's telling you that you and him aren't equal. Will that old fashioned view one day mean that you are in charge of the housework? Or that you shouldn't be working the hours you are? You are eventually going to be funding him for holidays etc, you've just got to decide if you are ok with that. That's the case for many couples. I'd explore his sexist attitudes (but what you call old fashioned) and then decide.

Cosycover · 02/02/2023 07:20

If this was a man posting the replies would be so different.

Money is just money. If you like him for him that's what matters here surely?

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