Weekend stays in Airbnbs by the beach. Out. Nice dinner dates in the city. Deleted. A local woman grapples with her dating downgrades – asking whether it’s worth staying with a man with no financial prospects. 

There are loads of women out there who are the so-called, ‘bread-winners’. Refinery29 even wrote an article about the conflicts involved in carrying this responsibility as a person. Not woman, but person. 

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But what about a relationship where there is no breadwinner? My ex had a financial surplus close to payday. It was comfortable. Bread was won. But since we split, on my salary, it has been hard to justify luxuries. My financial menu is more set menu than buffet - slim-pickings in the options department. 

 After two years of being single, I had a nagging desire to invite someone, permanently, to my humble dining room table – so to speak. I extended the invite, matching with potential long-term dinner date companions on Tinder – and managed to catch a fish. Sadly, I forgot to add ‘Let’s go Dutch’ to my bio.

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He has no money. Or medical insurance. Or financial prospects. But he is a sensitive, quirky-cool guy and our sense of humour is 100% on par. He’s my person.  

A 2018 study by sociologists Elizabeth E. Bruch and M. E. J. Newman, titled ‘Aspirational pursuit of mates in online dating markets’ found that women are way less likely to date ‘out of their league’, i.e. mates they deem more attractive, educated, and/or financially successful. Whereas men tend to shoot for the stars, trying their luck – i.e. particularly when it comes to looks. 

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With this man, it’s his Tinder bio that sparked joy in me. I must be honest, reading ‘Business Owner’ below a handsome face, piqued interest.  But his business is micro, at best. He didn’t catfish me, but I do feel like a fish out of water.

I find myself making excuses for him. I work around our ‘situation’ to avoid shame or embarrassment. I suggest we do things that cost nothing with friends– we go to cheap bars where I ‘accidentally’ buy his round, and host dinner parties way more often than I used to - always at my expense. Is it worth paying for his poor management of finances? Quite literally. 

I think I would’ve deemed it so, had I been the breadwinner. But seeing that my current situation is more bread for dinner than a winner, winner chicken dinner; I’m negotiating outside my realm of control, here.

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Psychologist Dr Giada Del Fabbro says, “…men who depend on them (women) financially may be seen as exploiting women’s new power when they are seen as traditionally capable of doing this themselves. 

“So, even though a woman can make her own money, she wants to be able to enjoy this rather than having it spoilt by a man who is seen as having a long history of being able of doing this himself and therefore lazy when he does not do so.”

This strain is problematic. I don’t want my friends and family to perceive him as a layabout. But why do I feel guilty that I expect him to be better, earn more, to take charge and take me on a date? We haven’t been on one yet.   

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“Men who are poor at managing their money or who want to depend on their woman for financial support are betraying a long-held perception around masculinity and are thereby seen as defunct or dysfunctional in some way…,” adds Dr Giada Del Fabbro. 

I find myself dreaming up new ways to up and add to my income to graduate myself to ‘bread-winner’ status. To sustain us, essentially. To justify ‘keeping him’. 

Considering the cost, it might be a case of me emotionally blackmailing myself to buy into this kind of defunct masculinity. One where I still, inevitably find myself compromising my own needs and end up caged, as it holds its power over me still. 

If you were in a similar situation would you chose love or financial security? Share your thoughts with us here.

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