Gendered norms can cause considerable problems in relationships. The outdated expectation that men earn more and pay for dates can wreak havoc on relationships where the woman outearns her partner.
Many men can’t let go of the expectation that they pay, even if they can’t afford it.
One man’s complex feelings over dating someone who earns more caused an argument after his girlfriend refused to protect his ego at dinner.
She Has More Money
The Original Poster (OP), the girlfriend in the tale, explained that their families come from different income brackets, and she’s pretty well off due to an inheritance.
He’s expressed his concerns, saying he feels a little weird about the financial disparity and mentioning that he’d love to treat her well, but he can’t do that at the level she’s used to.
She’s, in turn, said the money stuff doesn’t matter to her.
They Go Out With Her Friends
The couple went out to dinner with her friends at a rather expensive restaurant. She knew it was out of his price range but told him she’d cover it.
The group consisted of five women and three men, including the couple.
Offering To Pay
The trouble began when the two other men decided they wanted to cover the check. OP’s boyfriend felt uncomfortable having two guys he didn’t know to pay his way, so he asked OP if he could pay but have her reimburse him later.
OP had no problem splitting the tab but scoffed at the idea of reimbursing her boyfriend if he covered it.
He Didn’t Want the Other Guys To Know She Was Paying
The boyfriend’s ego was the crux of the issue. He couldn’t handle these two guys paying for him, but he also couldn’t take them knowing he couldn’t afford the bill.
He wanted to pay to act like the big man to these other men, but since he couldn’t actually afford the bill, he wanted his girlfriend to pay him back later. This way, he gets to show off in front of the guys, but he doesn’t have to eat the cost of the bill.
OP refused to engage with these dramatics. She thinks it’s absurd to put on such a show for her friends and that his request overcomplicated everything.
She offered to pay a third of the bill to cover herself and her boyfriend.
“No one batted an eyelid, but Ben was sulking,” she reported.
He’s Still Mad
She came to Reddit seeking advice because he’s still mad about the situation. “[He’s] saying I emasculated him and made him look bad in front of my friends,” she said.
However, she thinks he’s being dramatic and doesn’t see why she must make such strides to soothe his ego.
Why Would He Take Credit for Her Paying?
Redditors were baffled by the entire exchange. How would it be any less emasculating for him to take credit for her payment?
“He is a “gentleman at heart,” which apparently means appearing like a gent to everyone except his girlfriend. He’s not a gentleman, he’s a con artist,” said one user.
It’s Toxic Masculinity
Many pointed out that his behavior reeks of toxic masculinity, which isn’t a good look for a long-term relationship.
“You do know his insecurities will damage the relationship you have with him, right?” asked one user, adding, “There’s some toxic masculinity peeking through here, and that is never a good look.”
Others agreed it was toxic masculinity but wanted to give the boyfriend some grace. It’s not his fault he was raised in a society that only values men for their money.
“I view the boyfriend as the victim of the toxic masculinity,” said one. “He shouldn’t care about this, but he does because male culture constantly says that it is his responsibility and he is a failure as a man if he can’t do this.”
Moving Forward in the Relationship
Users agreed OP wasn’t wrong but think the boyfriend needs to do some hard work examining his insecurities for the relationship to work.
They also cautioned OP to have some empathy for her boyfriend. The social cues dictated that the men should grab the bill, and he responded to that cue. It’s tough to navigate the dynamics of new friend groups, especially those in different tax brackets than you’re used to.
Both parties need to work on themselves. She needs to have a better understanding of his perspective and communicate better about expectations when they go out with her friends, and he has to overcome his insecurities related to toxic masculinity.
They have a clear path forward to navigate this challenging dynamic. As long as both are willing to do their part, the relationship can work.