Paying more than your fair share

Lilli: Hi. The point with splitting bothers me enormously. I earn about twice what my boyfriend does and have been paying always about twice as he does on any activity, we do together. But it botheres me. I makes difficult for me to see him as a man. And especially bothers me, that it doesn’t bother him at all. 🙁 You know, it’s like man should pay on a first date. May be same kind of emotion.

Men, Women and Money have been hot topics of debate and discussion for a long, LONG time.

It’s just a general observation but it’s my rule that the man always pays for the first date, unless the woman asked – but in my case, I never ask guys out, so I never pay.

It’s archaic, it’s probably breaking all the rules, but as a woman, it’s nice to be treated once in a while even with an archaic formality even if it’s outdated.

But it’s just a switch to hear a woman say that she pays twice as much for everything, and feels resentment. I certainly felt that way when I paid for everything. But I’m not so sure that it’s gender-related. If a man paid for everything, he’d (as a human), eventually feel used and resentful as well.

The only thing that’s gender related may be that in society (in general), the societal norms regarding men and women are fairly clear (but changing):

Man = Protector of Family
Woman = Nurturer/Caregiver

I’m not saying it’s a good or a bad thing, I’m just making an observation that it’s how society has been brought up to feel and think for the past 50+ years (think 1950s housewife with a martini in her hand, and a vacuum cleaner in the other, trussed up in heels, sexy housewife lingerie under her crisply pressed dress, waiting for her husband to come home from work).

Now, a man can be a stay at home husband, or a manny (male nanny), and the woman can be the President of her company and bring home the bacon.

Based on those societal norms, the man doesn’t mind paying for the woman all the time because it’s more accepted and kind of one of those “I not only kill the bacon, I bring it home to take care of my woman” sort of deal, and it affirms his role as the Protector.

In the reverse, if the woman pays for the man most of the time, there’s confusion in their expected roles now.

Is she the Protector now? And does that make the man the Caregiver then?

Financially, there are clearly disparities between incomes, but it’s not necessarily true that the man always earns more than the woman. That IS the case most of the time (it certainly is in mine, he earns a third more than I do), but in expenses and life, we are equal. There ARE cases where the woman makes more, and some women just can’t handle that because their view of their man as the Protector is distorted and they feel uncomfortable.

Totally understandable.
It’s something that I’m sure couples and families struggle with on a regular basis, because we have these deep-seated notions of what a man does for a family/couple and what a woman does.

And because we have these ingrained notions, when the roles are reversed, our parts and our feelings are up in the air because now we don’t know how to act in this new role.

I’m sure you’ve all heard that argument before, but now the real discussion begins – how do we change or deal with the situation now?

But my solution is pretty simple:

Everyone pays half (50%) and their fair share.

If the guy can only pay $500 a month for rent, then the rent amount should be $1000, so that the woman can pay for the other $500.

If the cost of concert tickets is $170 a person and the woman can’t afford that, the guy can treat her and buy both tickets, but there shouldn’t be a weird mix up of payment where the woman pays $85 and the guy pays the remainder.

It’s either a treat/gift or it’s not.

I understand that then, there’ll be differences because the guy or the woman can’t always afford everything the other wants to do, especially given the disparity in their incomes. In that case, that’s an emotional balance that needs to be worked out to make it so that the woman doesn’t go alone or with a friends to a spa every weekend blowing $500, while the guy sits at home because he’s broke.

That’s a relationship issue that has to be worked out, but the only fair way to deal with equality in today’s world is to really make it equal.

Actually come to think of it, our unspoken rule between BF and I is that if it’s his friends we meet for coffee or dinner, he pays. If it’s my friends, I pay. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s something we’re following as an unspoken agreement between us. Of course, we do treat each other to coffee or something once in a while as well.

If the woman or the man decides to pay for the other as a treat or a gift, it should be done out of love and respect rather than with a feeling of obligatory resentment.

Which is why 50/50 to me, in everyday expenses is the way to go.

But treats, gifts, birthdays, first dates and other special events are exceptions to that rule. We all have to live SOME TIME 🙂

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.