Why Most Women Literally Can’t Afford A Relationship Right Now

Risks are too high, output is too low, and if you’re the breadwinner, you may not even have a real partner.

Couple on a date, woman paying for lunch mimagephotography | Shutterstock

I was talking to a friend of mine who is doing fairly well for herself. Cara* works as a nurse. (Yes, I have a nurse friend. It’s weird considering my background, I know.)

Cara is a nurse who makes a decent salary and can afford to rent an upscale apartment in her neighborhood. Every weekend, she goes to a fancy restaurant and treats herself to brunch with bottomless mimosas.

When she feels like it, she gets a new pair of leggings from the mall and treats herself to lipgloss from Morphe. She also hits yoga classes three times a week and has a purebred dog.


Overall, she’s got a nice life. Most people would find it to be enviable. At a casual glance, her life is complete. The only thing she seems to be lacking is a guy.

Eventually, I had to ask her why I never saw her dating anyone — male or female. She dropped a bombshell that made me think.


She shrugged, "I can’t afford to date or marry, financially speaking."

Wait, what?

Cara is by no means poor, and she is good with money. In fact, she’s one of the best people I know when it comes to budgeting.

And she looked at me again and said, "No, I can’t afford a man."

I asked if it was the price of going out on dates, but she shook her head no. She then added, "It’s not like most guys are willing to pay for a meal anyway, but no, it’s not the dates."

I asked if it was the dating services or the price of getting into clubs where she could flirt it up. She said no. She could easily afford that with a fair amount of budgeting.

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Cara then explained to me that she no longer felt like she could trust that men wanted her for her.

Remember when I said that Cara makes a nice salary? Yep. She’s a specialty nurse, which means that she makes good money. However, it wasn’t always like that. Like myself, she had a spate of poverty in her life that was eye-opening.

She explained, "For all the talk that men make about providing for a woman, I never had a man actually give me a place to stay when I was broke. I was often treated like an option, a side piece, or less than dirt. Since I started making money, men suddenly want a relationship."

I’ll be honest. I’ve been there, and it’s a very jarring experience. Like many other women who went from rags to riches, I learned that few things will make a man fall in love like needing a roof over his head or needing more cash in his wallet.


She asked me a very blunt, very real question.

"Where were these men when I needed them? How do I know they aren’t after my paycheck or my apartment? I simply don’t know, and unfortunately, I’m not willing to stick around and find out."

I honestly couldn’t argue with that logic. I had the exact same experience. Most guys didn't want to date me and accused me of being a golddigger no matter what I did for them. Once I got back on my feet, all of a sudden, a bunch of them wanted a wedding and paperwork.

I looked at the lot of them and could feel nothing but revulsion. It’s absolutely disgusting to see so many of the very same men who told me I wasn’t wife material suddenly behave so differently once I got a bigger paycheck.


It’s hard to see men in the same light after experiencing that kind of whiplash. I can’t blame women for deciding to hide their wealth or lie about living with their parents when they go out on dates.

I also can’t blame them for choosing not to commit after seeing that themselves.

Financially, women are more likely to risk poverty if they are divorced or widowed.

I mean, statistically, the odds are against women in the dating scene.

Contrary to popular belief, women generally do not get paid hefty money and live like queens after a divorce — look at the stats:

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1. Child support doesn’t do much — if you even get it

According to Marripedia, "Over 35 percent of custodial mothers receiving child support were impoverished 16–18 months following the divorce, while only 10.5 percent of all non-custodial fathers (those paying child support and those not) were impoverished.”


2. The chances of becoming impoverished skyrocket for women post-divorce

The same site notes that 44 percent of women who divorced from the 1960s to the 1980s fell into poverty shortly after a divorce. Even today, 27 percent of women who divorce late in life fall into poverty.

3. Women who get pregnant or act as stay-at-home moms end up losing tens of thousands in earnings

If their spouse abandons them, then they often struggle to return to the workforce. Many employers will turn them away or hire them at a much lower wage because of their "gap years" raising a family.

Men, on the other hand, rarely have this disadvantage — even when they were stay-at-home dads.

4. The majority of households now have a female breadwinner

So, no, men aren’t acting as providers. Most men who claim to be "traditional" are not willing or able to pony up enough money to support a family.


This means men often financially benefit more from a wife than women do a husband.

5. Even when women work outside the home, the vast majority of housework still falls on their shoulders

This remains true, even when women are breadwinners.

Why aren’t men pitching in more? Well, I guess we’ll never know. However, that just adds to the reasons why most women aren’t interested in dating. It’s too much work and not enough reward.

6. Women who outearn their partners are more likely to be cheated on and abused by them

Domestic violence risk goes up by 35 percent when a woman outearns her spouse. Cheating also triples. That’s toxic masculinity at work.


7. A single pregnancy can completely derail a woman’s career and cause lifelong medical bills

And since we can’t abort in half the states in the US, that also means those bills become unavoidable.

Sex has become too risky for many women to enjoy — even with birth control. After all, birth control can fail.

8. The most financially risky thing a woman can do is get into a relationship 

That's according to a 2017 report featured in The Guardian, and as someone who’s lost lots of money trying to attract a mate, I concur.

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I’m pretty sure that there will be a lot of cynical misogynists who will comment, "Welcome to being a man," from this list of statistics. Sadly, I don’t think they’ll ever understand what it’s like to have to worry if a date will kill them or end up abusing them.


However, they don’t need to understand what it’s like having to worry about being assaulted on a date. They just need to understand that men aren’t the only ones who are worried about going bankrupt in a divorce.

When you look at the numbers, it becomes very clear that dating is an absolutely massive risk to a woman’s wallet.

I looked at Cara with a lot of sympathy. It’s an ugly truth that many women like myself have learned the hard way.

Dating has become too much of a risk, often with little reward for women who actively pursue spouses.

If I was earning the amount of money I currently do, I don’t think I would have said yes to a date with my now-husband. Why? Because I wouldn’t have believed that he actually wanted to be with me and because one bad domestic violence case would have ended my career back in the day.


I’m actually grateful that I met him when I did. He’s kinda awesome and he’s my best friend. Also, he’s funny AF and makes incredible music. It’s wild thinking how differently things could have panned out if I was just a little richer. Yet, I digress.

As laws on women’s rights tighten up and the economy worsens, more and more women are hitting the pause button on the dating market.

We’re in a world where over half the population is living paycheck to paycheck. It only takes one major calamity to throw most families into freefall.


One bad partner is all it takes to land someone on the streets.

How do I know? It happened to me. Yes, that cute person at the bar could have a heart of gold, but are you really willing to risk being out on the streets?

For more and more of us, the answer is no.

Until the risk of poverty, abandonment, and hurt decreases, the number of people willing to date or marry will continue to shrink.

One of the smartest personal finance articles I ever read advised people to have an Emergency Fund. 

This is a secret fund with about 2.5 months’ expenses that your dates don’t know about. It’s meant to sit there in case you find yourself in a relationship where you need to leave.


But, who has 2.5 months’ worth of rent these days? Who has a spare $10,000 in an economy that has most of us working paycheck-to-paycheck? Unless you live at home with your parents, that’s going to be a lot of work to build up.

Moreover, laws are increasingly against women when it comes to reproductive rights. Supporting a child on your own is increasingly difficult.

With the stakes that high, it’s a miracle that any women think dating is worth it at all.

For ages, men have spoken out against the institution of marriage and dating. They often cited the exact same reasons I did in this article. I guess it only makes sense that women and transfolk started to see it the same way.


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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.