The recent surge of women in the professional ranks has affected more than the income gap between the two sexes.

Premeditated by the initial lack of income balance, the closing chasm continues to shape a new generation of relationships formed around new rules.

One of the more ballyhooed consequences of women increasing earning power is the shift it forces on intimate relationships. If financial security is something more women are doing for themselves these days, does this change what they expect from their counterparts?

As many black women grind their way through the corporate labyrinth, they are confronted with another when stepping out the office. Enter the story of the ambitious woman who comes across the not-as-ambitious man with a heart of gold. He digs her. She digs him, yet can’t shake that nagging feeling of not only their income disparity, but their differing aspirations.

He is unnerved by their income disparity and his insecurities start to show. Before long their bond is splintered, then severed. She moves on to date more ambitious types, but realizes those types are harder to rein in. He moves on, never quite quelling his financial insecurity. He improves his situation, but becomes reliant on it to prove his value.

The cycle goes on and on. The two characters in this scenario are both searching for acceptance, love, a hug, what have you, but perceived differences in status derails many relationships before they start and shuts down many while in flight. Their love turns “political:” Classism enters into the fray.

Classism: prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social or economic class.

Many women base a man’s suitability on their socioeconomic status, while many men choose the woman with the beautiful exterior over beautiful interior. In either case, increasing in status seems indistinguishable from gaining love.

It’s an extension of nature. We are drawn to groups most likely to affirm our own deeply-held values. A hard-working entrepreneur wouldn’t be a prudent match for a slothful part-timer just like a person working the cash register at McDonald’s isn’t apt to date the VP of Marketing at General Mills.

As the current economic climate continues to bend the relationship arc, new identities are being forged. A common folly we tend to make is assuming a zero-sum game in gender dynamics. A gain to one doesn’t have to be a loss to the other. If anything, the evolving landscape indicates a jettisoning of outdated principles such as:

a) a man’s masculinity being determined by his fiscal pursuits
b) a woman’s inferiority because of her lack of fiscal pursuits
c) a man and woman being unable to co-exist as a power couple

Financial stability is essential for any human family; it’s the equivalent of bears and lions staying stocked on nourishment. For a relationship to thrive in this world, basic financial needs must be met. As that relationship grows in quality and quantity (children arrive on the scene), more needs must be met.

This involves healthy planning and alignment of financial intelligence, thus why classism in this context isn’t necessarily a death knell. Choosing an individual with like-minded ideals about socioeconomic status is essential.

“Power” couples exist primarily for this reason. By power couple, I’m simply referring to two individuals uniting with what they have in a desire to create something greater. Like many, I had an up close example of my first power couple. My grandparents were both educated, but more importantly, were in lock step with each other about the legacy they wanted to leave on the world. I imagine somewhere in that combination of power and love is something that all thriving couples possess.


  • The Moon in the Sky

    My comment was sarcasm in response to ‘Plan Ahead’s’ comment. I don’t know why it ended up separately.

  • au napptural

    I’m trying not to engage the troll, but I can’t help it. Let me counter that. If you make $100,000k as a man (which I doubt), you are getting something out of providing for a housewife and two kids. The housewife, by her value title, is doing the heavy lifting. If I as a woman make $100,000k, why the hell would I hook up with someone who has less? Even if he wanted to become a “house-husband” I’m still stuck with the heavy lifting. He can’t have the kids- I have to. He can’t breastfeed and if I’m going to pump so he can give them bottles, I might as well just feed them myself. So, I’d be paying for some man to lay up in my house and I’d still be splitting the work. Further, if I were to become a housewife (at least during pregnancy and afterwards) and he made less, I’d be lowering my standard of living. All for what? To say I did it, I got married and had kids?

    Personally, I’m balanced. I’d like a partner who brings as much or more than I do to the table. But in this day in age, I don’t see why a woman would stoop to pick up a man who isn’t equal. Back in those old days the bitter men on Clutch love to talk about, men made most of the money. Black women worked too, but they both needed to put their meager incomes together to have a shot at nuclear family life. Nowadays, educated black women don’t have to. I’m not talking bout Shakwan and those in the hood. I mean women who can and do support themselves. I’m asking an honest and snark-free question. What is the advantage of marriage to someone who has less than you? For men, it can be someone to raise the children, an attractive trophy you bought, etc. But for women? We aren’t socialize to “buy” men, the men can’t have children, and if we see someone fine and broke, we can have him for the night and be done. Why complicate your life by marrying him?

    I think since the old standards have changed (men make the money, women keep house and have the kids) then the thinking must change as well. Most men today would pitch a fit if a woman said she wasn’t going to work any more and didn’t have any children. If men expect us to work like it’s 2013, they better act like it. None of this “I need half on the bills stuff” then expect submission at home. Esp. not to someone who doesn’t even equal your earning power. What are you submitting to, a penis?

  • Kostas

    Brilliantly said.

    I’ve said to my husband more than once, “I didn’t marry you for your money, but I’m bloody well glad you have it!”.

  • Kostas

    I disagree.

    Many women (myself included) would easily date a 20-something man with tangible potential over a 30-something “baller” (and quite frankly, no one should aspire to date/marry “ballers” if you are using this term how I think you are – ugh).

    I married young. My now-husband had potential/drive/ambition. You could see it in his approach to life. And it was one of the many reasons I chose to hitch my wagon to his.

    “Ballers” come and go (usually because they are too concerned with “balling”), but potential/drive/ambition is rarely quenched, no matter the ups and downs. And that’s what every woman should seek.

  • Ads

    And that’s not to single out this writer; I’ve been meaning to ask about this for a while, but today I didn’t go in to work ;)

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