- Dating someone wealthier than you can be more difficult than you might think.
- According to a relationship expert, significant income disparity can cause strain in the relationship.
- The best way to handle potential conflict is through self-reflection, communication, and letting your partner know you value them for more than their money.
Most people know that new relationships are a time of discovery. Because of this, you’ve been probably been prepared for what to do if you find out your new partner isn’t quite right for you. But what if you find out that the person you’re dating is wealthier than you? Like, several tax brackets wealthier than you?
At first, it may seem alluring and exciting – most likely due to the fact that the idea of having a significantly wealthier partner has been mythologized in various forms of media. But in practice, it can be more difficult than you might think.
INSIDER talked with Susan Winter, a relationship expert in NYC, to find out the best way to deal.
Income disparity in a relationship isn’t necessarily a problem, but what money symbolises can be
“Traditionally speaking, money equals power,” Winter told INSIDER. “And the one with the power is the one who controls the relationship.”
According to Winter, this (perhaps unsurprisingly) can cause a strain in relationships involving people who identify as women and people who identify as men, particularly if the woman is the one with more money.
“Centuries of programming have insisted that for a man to ‘be the man,’ he must hold the power,” Winter told INSIDER. “No matter how evolved a modern man may be, his perspective has been tainted by the sociological programming of archaic gender rules. Even the most progressive relationship can find income disparity kicks up issues of independence and self-worth.”
That said, it isn’t an insurmountable issue. And, as is the case with most relationship problems, the best way to deal with it is through self-reflection and communication. Winter recommends that you try and evaluate how you feel about the income disparity in the relationship – like if it makes you uncomfortable and, if so, what exactly makes you feel that way – and see how your partner responds.
It’s not the end of the world if they feel differently from you on certain things, but it’s important that they make you feel heard.
If you feel insecure about making less money than your partner, it is important to understand that money isn’t the only practical contribution to a relationship.
“Begin with the basic question of ‘who does what?’ If your partner makes all the money, how can you contribute in a way that feels important and valued?” Winter told INSIDER.
This doesn’t mean you need to bear the brunt of emotional labour in the relationship – that’s up to both of you no matter who makes the most money – but you can make sure they know you appreciate them for more than their money by expressing your affection for them regularly or planning your own inexpensive dates to treat them with.
You should also take care to assert your own independence in the relationship, both financially and otherwise
It’s one thing to knowingly enter into a sugar baby arrangement, which many people do with plenty of agency, but quite another to find yourself to find yourself feeling like the “kept” person in the relationship without knowing how or when it started.
“What may seem like a lot of fun at first is actually disempowering. Being the recipient of gifts and a convenient lifestyle often backfires,” Winter told INSIDER. “What looks like a good deal at the beginning actually trains the recipient to become weak.”
Having financial agency is important, so an easy way to counteract this is taking an interest in your own financial situation and making sure you have some form of financial independence and safety net.
Basically? In our society, it’s probably foolish to think that money will ever not matter. Still, at the end of the day, money shouldn’t be an end-all, be-all issue in your relationship if it wasn’t what initially drew you to your partner. If you care about your partner, and they care about you, dating them should be just as easy as any other relationship. (Which is to say, not actually that easy at all. But you can deal with that later.) Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
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