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Woman Asks If She Was Wrong To Not Help Her Boyfriend 'Save Face' At A Group Dinner He Couldn't Afford

Photo: Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB / Shutterstock
man embarrassed at dinner

Relationships where one partner makes substantially more money than the other can be difficult to navigate. Heck, even friendships like this can be sticky sometimes. 

But one woman on Reddit felt like her boyfriend was being a bit too sensitive about his smaller income, and it caused some real drama.

Her boyfriend was embarrassed she paid for him at a group dinner he couldn't afford. 

Relationships with a female breadwinner are becoming more common. A 2023 Pew Research study found that 16% of heterosexual relationships now have a female breadwinner, up from just 5% in the 1970s.

Still, 16% is a small proportion, and when a woman earns more, it's exceedingly common that it causes relationship troubles.

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Such was the case for a woman who posted on Reddit seeking advice after a blow-up with her boyfriend Ben. "Ben and I are from different income brackets," she wrote, and he struggled with wanting to treat his girlfriend with material things that were not within his means. 

She's assured him this wasn't a problem for her, "but it comes up periodically." Most recently it reared its head after a large group dinner with six of her similarly wealthy friends.

Her boyfriend said she 'emasculated' him by not letting him 'save face' by pretending he paid for dinner with her friends.

The drama arose when the couple went to dinner with a group of her friends, of which five were women and three were men, including Ben. When it was time to pay the bill, the other two men insisted on chivalrously paying for the group.

With his old-fashioned ways, this didn't sit well with her boyfriend. "Ben quietly said to me that he wasn’t really comfortable with the guys paying for his dinner so I said I’d chip in with the bill," she wrote. 



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He wasn't comfortable with that either, however. "Ben said thank you but [asked if he] could chip in and then I could pay him back afterward because he didn’t want them to know I was paying."

She found this "absurd," because there was no way he could afford a third of the bill anyway, and she felt like the whole thing arose because he was trying to compete with the other men at the table. So she told the table she'd pay for a third of the bill.

"He’s now mad at me saying I emasculated him and made him look bad in front of my friends," she wrote. And she insisted "he needs to get over himself," especially since her friends "couldn't care less."

woman worries she didn't help boyfriend save face at a dinner he couldn't affordPhoto: PeopleImages from Getty Images Signature / Canva Pro

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Heterosexual relationships where the woman makes more money are statistically more prone to drama, from infidelity to divorce. 

To people who have money, simply paying for people who aren't in the same income bracket seems like a perfectly normal gesture of kindness. But for people like Ben, it often feels embarrassing and shameful to have to essentially be bailed out by your richer friends and partners in order to have a social life.

People on Reddit weren't particularly sympathetic, however, given that his embarrassment was at least partly based on an outdated idea about gender roles, that men are "supposed to" pay for women. "He has a fragile ego," one person wrote, "and this will continue to cause problems in your relationship if he doesn't deal with it now."

The data says that Redditor is absolutely correct. A study at the University of Chicago found that relationships with a female breadwinner were 50% more likely to end in divorce, and studies have also shown that men who aren't breadwinners are much more likely to cheat.



Why? Many psychologists say it often comes down to old gender-based stereotypes and stigmas about how men are supposed to be "providers" for their partners and children. Pew's study found that nearly half of Americans think most men who aren't breadwinners would prefer to be.

Ultimately, this is yet another example of how patriarchy and gender standards hurt both sexes, not just women. But times are changing, and hopefully, men will become more accepting of female breadwinner relationships. Today's punishing economy is hard enough, after all, without worrying about old, outdated gender standards.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.