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If Your Partner Makes More Money Than You, You Should Let Them Pay For Dinner

I'm going to say something wildly controversial in the thick of these politically correct times:  If your partner happens to make loads and loads more money than you do, it's actually OK to let them pay for things sometimes.

In fact, let me toss another gem at you: It's actually OK to let them pay for things most of the time.

You don't need to waste your precious time feeling guilty when they insist on picking up the check if they're in a way better financial place than you are right now.

You don't need to recklessly overdraw your bank account because you feel you MUST split the bill right down the middle because that's what an empowered, modern woman is supposed to do.

On the contrary, I think a key part of being an empowered, modern person, male or female is understanding that we have so much more to give to a relationship than just the money we make.

We have so much more to give to a relationship than just the money we make.

The current paying-for-dinner debate goes like this: Traditionally speaking, the man pays — partly because of "chivalry," and partly because still, in 2016, women only make 80 cents for every $1.00 a man makes.

However, the gender gap is slowly but surely beginning to narrow, and feminism has empowered women to be more independent and fend for themselves without the help of a man.

So suddenly, there are a slew of valid reasons as to why many are people are advocating to split the bill in a relationship rather than just let the dude pay.

(BTW, just because I'm a lesbian and exclusively date women doesn't mean I haven't been affected by this heteronormative culture and gender roles in general. I still feel guilty and like a bad feminist when my significant other picks up the check at dinner.)

But this argument asks a deeper question, a question more complex than a woman feeling like she must split the bill with her boyfriend to prove her autonomy.

Why do we feel so guilty about being occasionally treated to dinner, but don't acknowledge the moments when we dropped everything and came to our partner's rescue when they so badly needed our emotional support? Why do we so greatly value one over the other?

There are so many ways to be a good, loving partner, and there are so many ways to actively contribute to the health of your relationship. Paying for dinner is just one of many.

There are so many ways to actively contribute to the health of your relationship.

I've been in relationships with women in which I was the surefire breadwinner.

For a (short) while, I had a really high-paying job in the beauty industry. My partner was working her ass off as bartender while finishing up her degree.

We were both doing back-breaking work, regularly putting in over 12 hour days, and we were both incredibly motivated and ambitious about the future. And while I was lucky enough to be appropriately compensated for my long days, she wasn't quite there yet.

I'm a generous person, and I want to share what I have with the person I love. I wanted to treat her to nice dinners and holidays because I had the financial means to do it.

And there was no way I was going to pressure her to split the bills with me because I knew that would only stress her out, and that stress would inevitably put a strain on our relationship.

"I want to be able to buy you things!" she would yell, frustration creeping its way across her visibly stressed-out face.

What she didn't realize was, I loved to share everything I had with her. And she contributed to our partnership in so many important ways that weren't financial, but in ways that were life-changing and thoughtful.

For example, she was a major support system for me when I was in a really sad, broken place. She listened to me with an intensity and a focus that no one in my life ever had, and it was through her incredible love and attention that I overcame some really dire times.

She also did thoughtful things for me, daily. She stuck notes in my bag when she knew it was going to be a rough day. She helped me figure out what it was that I really wanted to with my life, and she empowered me to go for it.

In short, she was amazing. And there was no reason for her to ever feel guilty about letting me pay for things. She picked up where I left off, and that's what a relationship is all about.

In my next relationship, my circumstance was completely different. I had switched careers, and I didn't make nearly as much money as the woman I was seeing.

And I felt racked with guilt about letting her pay for anything. I felt like I owed her something if she was to pay for a night out on the town.

In fact, sometimes I would sneak my credit card to the waitress and pick up the check before she even ever had a chance to place her card in the little leather bill holder.

There were times that I completely overdrew my bank account and had to come up with white lies as to why I couldn't see her that week. It was because I was too ashamed to admit to her that I was struggling with money. And I had to much pride to let her pay.

I was ashamed that I couldn't keep up. I felt like a loser because even though I was working incredibly hard, I wasn't making a ton of money in my new career.

Then I realized that's what this whole guilt thing surrounding money is really about: shame and ego.

This whole guilt thing surrounding money is really about shame and ego.

We're made to feel like money defines us. Like our bank accounts are the direct measure of our success and who we are as people. So, our self-worth becomes completely dependent on the number in our paychecks.

If we can't split the bill, then we're worthless.

I've done so much hiding about my real financial status because I was certain that if I didn't pick up the check at least half of the time, I would be dumped. I'd be left for a girl who was on more equal playing field as my partner.

I felt it made me greedy to accept being treated. It didn't matter that I was a loving partner who would do (and does) anything for the person I'm with.

I felt money was the only thing I had to give because it's tangible. I neglected to notice the intangible things I gave, the stuff that can't be taken away when the stock market crashes. 

And the worst part is, we're not even supposed to have these discussions. We're all so weird about money, myself included.

It's like this big secret lingering beneath the surface of every date, but we're not allowed to ever acknowledge that it's there.

But aren't relationships, gay or straight, supposed to be an equal partnership? Isn't that what feminism is about — equality? And if one person is far more privileged financially, why is it so terrible to let them pay, regardless of their gender?

Besides, money is so fleeting. Your partner might be wealthier than you right now, in this very moment, but that's not to say you're not on the way toward something really big.

The bottom line is, you shouldn't be entirely dependent on your partner for anything, emotional and financial. But if you're wealthy in one of those areas, isn't it a beautiful thing to share some of that wealth with other?

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