Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Make a Lot More Money Than My Boyfriend. Should I Break Up With Him?”

Hi Wendy, you answered my question almost 10 years ago. Your advice, along with the insight of your readers, was so helpful! (The question and response are linked below.) I’m now reaching out with a different question, and I would appreciate your feedback very much. I have been a fan of your blog for many years. Thank you!

“When Should I Tell Guys I Was Raped as a Virgin?”

Updates: “Rape Survivor”

Dear Wendy,

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for six months and it’s going great – he is kind, smart, funny, creative, attractive, and good to me. We are on the same page about wanting to find “the one,” having kids, and our religion, and we share a thirst for life, travel, and new experiences. I feel a lot of potential for a future together.

My one concern is our financial compatibility. I have a high-paying job in software sales for which I earn roughly $260k per year. I went to a state school that was nearly free and then jumped straight into the workforce. Now at age 31, my net worth is over $500k. I have not shared any financial details with my boyfriend, though he knows I am well-off based on my lifestyle, which is modest but more lux than his.

My boyfriend took the academic and free-spirit route, attending a prestigious private university for undergrad, teaching abroad for a few years, and then getting a Master’s degree from an Ivy League university. For the last two years, he has been working at the same small company in a low-level position, making $60k per year, with no raises or promotions, while paying off student loans. I’ve made a few subtle comments encouraging him to explore other opportunities, but he seems to be happy where he is and has even implied that he thinks he makes a good salary.

I don’t expect my future husband to match me in salary, but it’s hard to imagine being with someone who doesn’t make at least $100k to pull his weight financially in supporting a family. I don’t seek an extravagant lifestyle; I want a 3-4 bedroom house with a patio and rooftop (~$600k in our city), I would like to work part-time once I have kids (or maybe even take one to two years off work), and I want to send my kids to a Jewish private school.

All of the above are well within reach on my salary and/or savings alone – it’s not an issue of having enough money. But I’m concerned about the following, given such a large discrepancy between our finances:

1. How my significantly larger earnings could impact the dynamic of the relationship. I don’t want to emasculate my boyfriend, and I also don’t want to “wear the pants.” I know that marriages in which the woman is the breadwinner are statistically less likely to last.

2. I fear that in the future I will have to “do it all” – make the money, put dinner on the table, and be super-mom (my first priority), which could build resentment.

Because I feel confident in my boyfriend’s ability to land a higher-paying job and advance professionally (despite his apparent lack of urgency to do so), I remain optimistic. However, as his girlfriend, I do not feel enthusiastic about giving him career advice, and I certainly don’t want to make him feel bad. He is anything but lazy in his hobbies and personal interests, but that ambition doesn’t seem to cross over into his career. Breaking up with someone over money just feels wrong (and unfair without a discussion first) and it’s simply not what I want.

Is this a situation that can be rectified with the right approach, or do I need to choose between accepting life as the super-breadwinner or breaking up due to financial incompatibility? Is my concern valid, or is it shallow for me to think this way? Your perspective would be greatly appreciated. — Not Interested in Being a Super Breadwinner

Yes, of course, a concern about being mismatched is always valid in a relationship if there are signs you aren’t in alignment. However, in your case, it sounds like this may be less an issue of financial incompatibility and more about figuring out whether you have compatible values (and goals for the future). Arguably, you value the kind of security and comfort that lots of expendable income provides. Your goals for the future include children, private school for said children, reducing your work load to part-time hours, and a romantic/ co-parenting partnership in which the labor is evenly distributed. Your boyfriend may share these goals! I don’t think his current career choice suggests he doesn’t though I can appreciate that his values may differ from yours.

Clearly, your boyfriend values education, hobbies, and personal interests. Maybe relationships are also of great value to him. And perhaps of less value is devoting his energy to advancing professionally for the sake of advancing professionally and earning more money. And at this point in his life, he might not have the motivation to advance professionally beyond simply the sake of doing so. He’s an unmarried, child-free man who is likely perfectly satisfied with how his 60k salary finances his life. He doesn’t have a spouse and a mortgage for a 4-bedroom house and private school tuition for a couple kids to worry about, BUT maybe if he did or if he thought those things were close on the horizon, he’d be more inclined to seek a higher-paying job. You and he both know that, due to his degrees from prestigious universities, doors would more easily open for him to that kind of job than for people who didn’t get the kind of education he did. It’s why those degrees are so expensive to acquire. And it’s probably one reason why you feel confident in his ability to earn more money. You just aren’t confident whether he has any ambition to do so, and you’re worried that if he doesn’t have that ambition, he won’t be a good long-term match for you.

To find out whether your boyfriend is a good long-term match for you, shift your focus from whether he has the ambition and desire to seek higher-paying jobs to learning whether he shares your goals and values. You know he shares a desire in finding a life partner – or, as you say, “the one,” and that he would like to have kids. But beyond that, what kind of life does he envision sharing with his partner and these kids? Does he also want to send them to a private Jewish school? (And to that end, how much does religion factor into your lives? Are you on the same page in that regard?) Does he want to stay in the city in which you both currently live? What does he imagine family life looking like? What kinds of family vacations does he envision? What kind of house (and where)? And, maybe most important, what are his thoughts about division of labor (all kinds of labor, including emotional labor)?

Obviously, the kinds of questions you need answered are ones to be asked not all at once in an overwhelming conversation six months into a relationship, but over the course of, hopefully, many more months. You’re still in the getting-to-know-each-other stage, and this is when these kinds of questions should start coming up more and more. It would be really premature to break up with your boyfriend at this point because you make so much more money than he does if you are sincere in seeking a good long-term match. There’s so much to being a good match beyond financial earnings. Such as: Is your boyfriend a feminist? Are YOU? If so – and I hope you are! – you should appreciate the choices and options you have. You’ve managed to create a life for yourself in which you could theoretically cut your hours in half and still make more money than many full-time workers. You could even be married to someone who makes less working full-time than you do part-time and afford the kind of lifestyle you want. But then the questions would remain: Is your partner going to contribute to the household in the way you want? Are you going to feel you are doing more at home because he is working outside the home more? Are you going to resent contributing more both financially AND in home management and childcare? Honestly, I think these are more pressing concerns than whether your boyfriend will resent you for making more money if there hasn’t thus far been any sign that he resents you now for seemingly making more money. And in terms of your boyfriend feeling emasculated, that’s a pretty sexist assumption if, again, you’ve seen zero signs of your boyfriend feeling emasculated by your success. And if you HAVE seen signs of that, this would be a good time to cut your losses and move on already.

All of this – the idea of your being a “super breadwinner,” the concern over financial incompatibility and mismatched values and goals – all of it is being considered under the umbrella of a pandemic which has covered the entirety of your whole six-month relationship. I know you want all the answers right now and you don’t want to continue pursuing a relationship that may not have a long-term future, but two things: When it’s wrong, you often know right away, but when it’s right, it can take a couple years to confirm that; and, living through a pandemic isn’t normal. Nothing is really normal right now. You and your boyfriend are really lucky to be gainfully employed and making solid incomes (yes, even the 60k salary). Maybe part of your boyfriend’s seeming reluctance to chance a better-paying job is, in part, because managing life in a pandemic feels ambitious enough. Or, he feels safe and secure in the job he has. Or, the job he has allows for plenty of time and energy to pursue things that bring him joy at a time when he especially feels the need to prioritize joy however and whenever he can find it. Or, maybe I’m projecting! But, it’s possible, right? At any rate, as you discuss some of the aforementioned themes and questions with your boyfriend, the context of our current situation needs to be considered, if not explicitly addressed.

My tl;dr advice: If your concern about your boyfriend’s salary and career ambition is the only/main issue in your relationship, it would be premature to move on. Spend some time discussing long-term goals with your boyfriend and what kind of joint income would be necessary to finance said goals. Check your own sexism. Instead of questioning how emasculated your boyfriend would feel by having a wife who earns a lot more, think about how YOU would feel having a husband who earns so much less. Are you sure it’s your boyfriend’s resentment you’re really worried about? How has your own socialization affected your vision of what a family should look like – what a marriage should look like – and how might that vision affect your pursuit of happiness? As you learn more about your boyfriend, it might be time for you to unlearn some of your own conceptions.

***************Follow along on Facebook,  and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

38 comments… add one
  • avatar

    LisforLeslie September 14, 2020, 9:12 am

    I’ve said this before – but compatibility around ambition is a big one. If you don’t have similar goals and drive, that can drive a wedge. And it can be about roles/expectations too – there are women who want the husband to be the primary breadwinner and stay at home – meaning his ambitions need to be career directed or they have to agree on lifestyle. There are men that want the woman to stay at home – meaning her ambitions need to be home-directed, not career directed. And there are folks like the OP who see career success in terms of salary and power (not that those are bad things) but the boyfriend may see career success in terms of personal fulfillment, work life balance and other motivations.

    Time for talking – deep, open talking about what each of you sees in your future as it relates to career, family, money management, and lifestyle.

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    MaterialsGirl September 14, 2020, 9:37 am

    A comment on the mismatch in earnings: when it’s the right partnership, you champion whatever each partner is bringing into the relationship. And just because one is earning more than another at one point in time, doesn’t mean that will be the case forever. Lots can happen. When you see the salaries you both bring in as contributing to “the family,” I think it gives a more equal perspective. Life isn’t 50/50, it’s giving your 100% (which can vary.. sometimes your 100% is only 30%). Wendy points this out as your values. It’s so true.

    And it’s only 6 months in. You’re not going to get to this perspective overnight, but I think it’s something you should strive for as you hopefully deepen your relationship with this person

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      Kali September 14, 2020, 11:16 am

      So true! Starting out, my partner was unemployed or underemployed for years. I made great money. It didn’t matter. Then he got a good job that led to a fabulous job. Then I got cancer and had to leave my job. He supports us both and it’s all good. We talk about finances, responsibilities, expectations, last will and testaments, and more. You never know what life has in store for you but talking openly and honestly with your partner makes it so much easier to navigate.

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        MaterialsGirl September 14, 2020, 2:37 pm

        AND, i should say that she should reevaluate her desire to be supermom. What/who is this supermom that she speaks? newsflash: she doesn’t exist. at least not in the “omg how can this woman get the work of 10 people done in half the time” aspect. Being a GOOD parent is not how much you produce (glitter encrusted art projects/fancy sandwiches etc), it’s just showing up and being consistent and loving.

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    Kate September 14, 2020, 10:08 am

    I would add to Wendy’s advice that it sounds like you’re doing a lot of outlining of what you want your future to be like, and the higher powers don’t really like when you do that. You’re 31. You have decades of career ahead of you, and things can change a lot, especially as you get into your 40s.

    Software sales is not a super secure field. The people I know who do that have to hop around a lot. They do well, but they often have to scramble to find a new position because they’re not going to make their unrealistic number. Or they get let go. And just in general, a lot is going to change over the next 10-20 years. You could be very surprised.

    I would advise you to be more open to what life has in store for you that might not look exactly like what you think. It’s fine to have goals, but when you come from a position of pride and really focus on what YOU think you want, it tends to not go so well. You get knocked down because you didn’t listen to what the actual plan is for you. And what you think you’re looking for in a guy… maybe isn’t it. Maybe what you really need isn’t what you think.

    Anyway!

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      anonymousse September 14, 2020, 10:41 am

      This is a really important point.

      I think you’re getting WAYYYY ahead of yourself if you’re evaluating his likely future financial contributions based on his current job and net worth and finding fault with him. You don’t seem to know what he envisions for his future in regards to his career or home life. And a lot of people’s dreams are literally up in smoke right now. Planning for an unknown future is full of stress for many based on the current state of the world. I would not be discouraged or judgmental if he’s not ready to tell you his life plans yet. You’ve been dating for only six months. Take it easy.
      Life has a really funny way of taking your very strict plans and totally fucking them up. You can make plans, but try to build in some flexibility. You don’t want to end up flattened by an unexpected lay off, firing, medical issue, etc. Life is crazy, chaotic and change happens whether you want it to or not. Being able to roll with the punches is important. Finding a good partner should not be solely based on their finances, IMO. I mean, it’s important but honesty, trustworthiness, compassion for others, etc can be just as crucial.

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      • avatar

        Kate September 14, 2020, 11:10 am

        Also, you can end up with something a lot *better* than what you had in mind if you remain open. If you stay fixated on your picture of what life should look like, that can’t happen.

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        ktfran September 14, 2020, 11:17 am

        Not to mention, it’s all a moot point until she actually talks to her boyfriend about how he envisions his life playing out. Like, she’s automatically assuming she’s going to be making all of the money doing the emotional labor and all of the housework. She’s giving her boyfriend zero credit.

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      • avatar

        golfer.gal September 14, 2020, 4:14 pm

        Ktfran, agreed.

        This letter is very materialistic and entitled. I’m waffling with how harsh to be because, I mean, it’s your life and if you’re up front and find someone whose cool with busting ass alone to finance your real housewives dream then, go for it? Just be honest. And i do think at 6 months in you need to start having these conversations. Because if he’s completely against being the sole breadwinner and realistically needing to change his entire professional course to make you happy, you both need to know that now. Like, soon soon. I’m the majority breadwinner by a substantial amount. We’re currently considering a kid and there’s a very real chance my husband will be the one to stay home. When we first met I made half of what he did. Life throws you so many curveballs. Health, fertility, beauty, living without pain, mental health, family, salaries, stability, friendships ….none of these things are guaranteed and even the ones you get in life don’t last forever. Choose your partner very carefully. Choose based on a lot more than how much money he makes or whether he’s willing to buy you the exact countertops you want. Also, make good financial decisions now. Save, invest, build a 6 or 7 figure nest with the salary you’ve got. Have the down-payment ready for that home. Have interest generating that may enable you to go part time when your kids are young. Have your own resources so you never find yourself trapped. Your boyfriend may be a lot more amenable if he knows you’re doing the heavy lifting financially now to prepare for your future together by saving and investing, and taking some of the burden off of him when you ask him to shoulder those responsibilities alone in the future.

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    Bittergaymark September 14, 2020, 10:11 am

    Really, LW? 25 MILLION people are unemployed right now through no fault of their own with zero prospects and yet — somehow — you feel that NOW is the time to write in and whine with worry about whether or not you and your otherwise perfect boyfriend can be happy with a combined annual income of 300K?

    Seriously, LW? Seriously?

    Fuck off.

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    • avatar

      Clover September 14, 2020, 10:46 am

      WBGMS

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  • avatar

    Rebecca September 14, 2020, 10:58 am

    Wealth comes and goes. Find the person that you enjoy so much for themselves that you would spend your life penniless with them.

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      Kate B. September 14, 2020, 1:23 pm

      THIS. What if some catastrophe happened and you lost your salary? Would you still be happy living with him and off his lower salary if necessary? Money does open up a lot of doors, but there’s more to life, in my experience.

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      • avatar

        Rebecca September 14, 2020, 3:24 pm

        Ooh! An even better thought experiment is: if you suddenly found you and your partner penniless tomorrow, could you work through it together, supporting each other, and sharing the same ethics and values about having not very much and little or no way to get more?

        Because that there is a test–what do you do *together* when things are hard. Not you against your partner, but you and your partner against the world.

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    Miel September 14, 2020, 11:20 am

    Earlier in the pandemic, I completed this online class on “The Science of Well-Being” from Yale, where they cover the different scientific studies that have looked at what makes/doesn’t make us happy in life.

    Turns out, money makes us happy up to about 70k/year in income (adjust that a bit depending on where you live). Lower than 70k and the financial insecurity might actually affect your happiness levels, but starting at 70k, increases in money won’t really change how happy and fulfilled you are on the long term. People who make 140k aren’t twice as happy as people who make 70k, on average.

    Things that scientifically increase our happiness on the long-term: Finding fulfillments in your life, using your strengths on a regular if not daily basis, maintaining meaningful relationships (spouse, family, friends), remembering to savor the present moment and feeling grateful for the special things we have, privileging special experiences (trips, activities, get togethers) over things (new cars, bigger house, latest gadgets) when financially possible.

    So in your situation LW, I would wonder: If this boyfriend were to become a life-partner, would I be able to have a meaningful life, use my strengths, find joy in the many relationships I have, and engage in the special experiences I want to have, such as traveling?

    Studies don’t seem to support the idea that people who live in $500k houses are happier than people who live in $600k houses. However, an unhappy marriage would definitely make both home miserable.

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  • avatar

    FYI September 14, 2020, 12:29 pm

    He took “the academic and free-spirit route…”

    LOLOLOLOLOLLLL for miles. Uh, academia is HARD.

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    Moneypenny September 14, 2020, 12:39 pm

    I can see what this LW is getting at, but I think she’s making a lot of assumptions right now. She’s assuming she’ll make her current salary for the indefinite future. She’s assuming her bf has little ambition to do more in his career than what he’s doing now.
    It’s entirely possible that he is burned out from the academic route that he took. Maybe he wants to live a balanced life with both a job that he doesn’t have to bring home with him and has time for hobbies and other enriching activities. In a couple of years, maybe he’ll buckle down and push for more in his career. Who knows? LW is looking at him through the lens of where he is NOW and assuming that it will always be this way.
    As Wendy says, only time and discussions of his goals and your goals will tell how this will go.

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    • avatar

      Helen September 14, 2020, 1:33 pm

      Everyone’s made excellent points. Just throwing it out there, would the two of you consider him staying home while the kids are young? Makes more sense than you temporarily dropping out of a career that pays that much more than his.
      None of us know what life is going to look like in 5 years. You need to figure out your values align and if he’s a team player. Having conversations is crucial, but so is observing his actions. You’re right to worry about all the responsibilities falling on you. But don’t let it become a self fulfilling prophecy.

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      • avatar

        Kate B. September 14, 2020, 6:34 pm

        This is also an excellent point. I have friends who did this because she made more than he did, so it made sense that he give up his job and stay home with the kids. It worked well for them.

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  • avatar

    ron September 14, 2020, 1:12 pm

    LW —
    Given how VERY important your future husband’s income seems to you, you are WAY overdue for a serious discussion of finances and details of the life the two of you envision together. I say this so strongly, because you have basically declared that your bf is unacceptable, because of his income. You think he can earn a lot more. You think you can push and change him to become the high earner you seek. You simply can’t expect to change people. You generally have to accept them 95% as they are. The work a person does, the amount they earn, the sort of job which makes them happy and their personal best sense of work/home/life balance are way more than 5% of a person. Those are huge things to try to change.

    It sounds like you are leading him on and being far less than sufficiently open and honest with him. In your mind, there is a big deal-breaker present in your relationship, and you have failed to explicitly mention this to him. That isn’t fair. Yes, it may be early, by normal standards, for a detailed financlal life plan discussion, but you put huge emphasis on income. At a minimum you want to switch to part-time work when you have kids, and as you write it, your real preference seems to be to not work for two years (and it tends to become more, with more than one child). That means, whether you’ve crystalized the thought or not, you are expecting your husband to be the primary breadwinner for at least several years. What sort of lifestyle does his income need to purchase?

    You talk about sending children to a Jewish school. Is your bf in agreement? I ask this, because I was friends with the children of two quite prosperous and one truly rich Jewish family, and the parents chose to send none of their children to religious school, even though two of these families were quite religious (as in father was president of their temple and two of the girls grew up to marry rabbis). There was a local Jewish school, these parents simply wanted to have their children interact with all sorts of children in public schools.

    It really sounds like you don’t want or plan to be the primary bread winner. You

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  • avatar

    Hazel September 14, 2020, 2:06 pm

    one thing to consider is- it sounds like you are thinking of having kids. It’s pretty hard for two high fliers prioritising earnings to have lots of time left over for family- how would you feel about him maybe taking over a lot of the childcare etc – it doesn’t mean you won’t be a supermom, just that someone else is picking up more of the slack in that department, which might fit more with his way of being. It sounds like you both have lots of opportunities to decide how you want to play this, as he earns pretty okay money and you earn rather a lot. You don’t have to be exactly the same in every way to contribute equally.

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  • avatar

    Sea Witch September 14, 2020, 2:20 pm

    Three things come to mind:
    1 – $60K isn’t *that* low a salary. It might not be near what the LW gets (few people earn that much), but it’s not exactly poverty level either.

    2 – Your situations could change in the future without warning. I’ve earned more than my partner most of the time in my working life, but other times I was laid off and had trouble finding work for almost a year and he was more the breadwinner. Life can surprise you.

    3 – You don’t have to be supermom and put food on the table if you don’t want to. How does he feel about being a stay at home dad? How do you feel about hiring a nanny? You’re certainly in the hiring-a-nanny wage bracket.

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    • avatar

      Copa September 14, 2020, 4:34 pm

      Yeah, I think it’s cringe-y that LW clearly thinks $60K is a terrible salary. SO many people don’t make that! And judging by the price point of the 4 bedroom house with patio and rooftop that LW wants, it doesn’t sound like they’re in a major city where that salary wouldn’t go as far. I don’t think it’s inherently wrong to care about finances in a relationship — I did, though to a far lesser extent than LW — but I never put a number on what was acceptable to me like LW is doing with her $100K salary standard. This reads less like LW wants a true partnership, which will not always be 50/50, and more like LW wants her relationship to align more with traditional roles.

      I also find it kind of odd that they haven’t discussed finances in detail, yet LW knows his salary but he doesn’t know hers. How? Why? Is LW guessing his salary? I have a friend who cares very much about salary, only wants to be with someone who makes well into the six figures, and once dumped a graphic designer she otherwise liked after a few dates because she simply assumed he was a lower earner. She’s ruling a lot of great guys this way, IMO.

      Anyway, otherwise generally agree with others that LW is prematurely filling in the blanks and making a lot of assumptions here. And yes, they do have a lot of talking about their future vision and goals to do.

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      • avatar

        ron September 14, 2020, 5:12 pm

        It sounds like she lives in a costly urban area and wants to live an upper middle class life. $60K not a lot under those circumstances. She’d like to take off work for a couple years, so that would be a big dipping into savings.

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        Copa September 14, 2020, 6:39 pm

        I don’t think it sounds like they’re in a costly urban area at all if $600K can buy them a four bedroom house with a yard and rooftop. I’m in a big city that I consider pretty affordable — certainly more affordable than NYC, DC, SF, etc. — and nice two-bedrooms in easily go for half a million.

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        ktfran September 14, 2020, 7:04 pm

        Agree with @copa. A nice, updated single family home in our area is easily $850k and that was a couple of years ago. You’d have to go to the suburbs for a $600k four-bedroom, yard, decks, bathrooms, etc. If we’re talking the newish construction single family homes that are up to code for a rooftop deck, that’s easily a million plus.

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        Kate September 14, 2020, 7:05 pm

        A house with 4 bedrooms, a patio, and a roof deck would cost millions in Cambridge MA (a costly urban area). $600k might get you a 1-bedroom condo with no real frills.

        I think an area where you can get that much house for $600k in the city has a lower/moderate cost of living.

        If she’s making this much money and wants to take a couple years to work PT (not at all easy to pull off, sadly, especially in sales), she should put aside a couple years worth of living expenses starting now. Or hold out for a rich guy, idk what to tell her.

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        Copa September 14, 2020, 8:38 pm

        Yeah, I assumed it was a moderate or lower COL area — meaning $60K as a salary for an educated man, presumably also in his early 30s, isn’t really that low. When I was dating, I was more educated than and out-earned a lot of the men I went out with and that was never an issue for me. I never looked down on any of them or felt like they couldn’t give me the future I wanted like LW.

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        TheLadyE September 14, 2020, 11:00 pm

        I live in a(n arguably) much more affordable southern city in NC, and $600k would get you a very nice house with a yard in the suburbs, close-ish to downtown. It would NOT get you a large house downtown, as far as I know. We are also a tech hub and I work in software sales.

        I dunno, but this letter rubbed me the wrong way too. First of all, $60k is very respectable for this area. LW, you also say your boyfriend has great hobbies, passions, and interests. Don’t you want someone more well-rounded than some tech bro who only cares about making money?

        *shrug* I guess it is all about priorities. I would want someone more interesting than that.

        Then again, I’ve also out-earned all of my boyfriends, including my current one (though we are equally matched as far as education) and it’s never bothered me. Money isn’t everything. In fact, the only man I ever dated who paid for everything/outearned me considerably made me feel like I “owed” him something for the dinners he paid for, which I did NOT like. Ugh.

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      anonykins September 15, 2020, 8:56 am

      For real. I’m 30 and make a tad over $60k in higher ed administration. I’m PROUD of my salary. In my field I could make a lot more working for a bank, but I don’t want to entirely sell my soul to capitalism. This letter writer can fuck all the way off.

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  • avatar

    brise September 14, 2020, 2:26 pm

    Wow, the materialism of this LW! Appalling! Do you really assess your boyfriend potential on the basis of his income? His wallet? He is educated, hard-working, happy with his life. What do you want more? A roof top? Ok. Then break up with him and see what is on the market! I can’t follow you, it does sound so shallow.
    If you have wealth, then why is it such a problem? Use it for your couple. Take a year or two off if you have kids, buy your dream house. Don’t harass your boyfriend to make more money. I my opinion, he will tend naturally to evolve towards a more substantial income once it makes sense for him, that is once he does have a family. So far, he doesn’t and lives according to his more immaterial values. Good for him.
    Frankly, if I read your post as your boyfriend, I would just run away.

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    Lovelygirl September 14, 2020, 3:47 pm

    I understand you are questioning finances early on and I did it too. I make 3x what my husband makes, and I married him anyways. Actually when we met I made 4x what he made….now he makes a little more. Money is nice but a quality person you are compatible with as a companion and life partner is so much more important. My husband makes me laugh everyday. He is a chef by trade and makes me the best food I could ever eat all the time. He loves me unconditionally. He puts up with me and I’m a very difficult person. I don’t think there’s a better match for me. So what if his salary is much less? He is stable on his own, able to support himself, and wants to do more financially but that’s a slow process in his field. That’s enough for me because the happiness I have with him is priceless. Enjoy the relationship you have and if it brings you the happiness you desire then start thinking of the future. Sometimes the things you want when you are single (monetary driven) aren’t really important when you meet the right person. I wish you the best and I really hope you are able to find what you are looking for. Keep an open mind! It makes all the difference!

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    Ellie September 14, 2020, 8:08 pm

    When I met my husband, he was a free-spirit academic as you say 🙂 (aka struggling graduate student) making less money than your husband does. By the time we got married he had just finished his degree and gotten a job at 5X his original tiny salary, which sounded like a lot to me at the time but was also moving from small town student life to big city professional life, and honestly didn’t take long to feel not as impressive. I actually do remember pushing him to make more money at some point, not because we needed it, but out of competitive tendencies and comparing salaries with friends in our field. Over the years, he has reached to nearly 50X his original salary of when I met him 13 years ago. I learned that things can change a lot over time, including your perspective on the value of a dollar. I’ve also observed that our happiness as a couple and as individuals has definitely not correlated completely positively with income increases.

    After some of his more recent salary gains, I got pretty disappointed as a feminist that I would probably never “catch up” to his salary level. I’m younger and have made more money for my age than he has every year, so that was how I “justified” the difference in present day salaries in my head. Given how well he’s done, I’d have to be very lucky to match his salary going forward, even though we are in the same industry and I arguably have better academic credentials. At first I was weirdly deeply depressed that he got so many raises, because it made me feel like we’d never have the balance of equal partnership that I’d always wanted. Then, I volunteered more, traveled more to developing countries, and realized my privelege more and how nice it is to not only have love but also money. That context of thinking about others puts things in perspective for me. Maybe it would help for you too, even on the other side of this equation. You really are extremely fortunate in the grand scheme of things.

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    Cee September 14, 2020, 11:15 pm

    Dear LW:

    Why not divvy up the finances by percentage? For example, you can each put one third of your net salary into your joint account, and use it to pay your bills.

    When the kids come along, if you take a year or two off from work while he’s working 9 – 5, you can play with the kids during the day, and once he arrives home, he can keep them occupied with fun and games til their bedtime. Or if you prefer, you can hire a nanny using the funds in your joint account.

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    katmich15 September 15, 2020, 1:13 pm

    Breaking up over an incompatibility in anything that matters to you is valid but could still be a mistake. You may not ever find another person as great as your boyfriend, but everyone has their own priorities. With that said, what bothers me about your letter is the judgemental tone toward your boyfriend. Not everyone wants a high stress job, or even a lot of responsibility, some people just want to go to work somewhere where they feel comfortable and get their excitement in their personal life. I don’t know anything about your field, but usually very high paying jobs involve a lot of stress, long hours, and lack of job security. Not everyone thinks the money is worth all of that. You have every right to want a partner who makes more money than your boyfriend does, but don’t knock his values as if they aren’t as good as yours, he sounds like he is enjoying his life.

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    katmich15 September 15, 2020, 1:15 pm

    Also, where I live a 60k salary is just fine.

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    Fyodor September 16, 2020, 8:34 am

    I’m going to echo what Mark said above. If there was ever a time to value a loving and good person you can trust and rethink the importance of living a particular kind of one percent lifestyle, you’d think this would be it.

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    Phoebe September 17, 2020, 8:37 am

    Maybe it’s just piling on, but while there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, calling a 3-4 bedroom urban house with patio and rooftop modest is just not accurate. And the little digs at the boyfriend… I wonder about the LW’s background. I suspect she grew up in an affluent suburb and has a picture in her head of what her perfect future looks like, and it includes a large diamond ring she can show all of her friends, a luxury car, and being supported by her spouse. I’m guessing, of course. And if she wants it, nothing wrong with knowing it. But the superior attitude is coming through and she may not realize it.

    I thought Wendy said it all really well.

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