He’s Happy for Me, But…

So this week, I got the job! I am now a student manager for one of the dining facilities on JMU’s lovely campus. I got the call on Thursday informing me that I received the position, and I was totally stoked. I was getting a raise of 3 dollars! Floating on a cloud, I called mom and dad to let them both know, as well as my close friends who I had previously told about the interview. Everyone congratulated me…

…then I told my boyfriend. He graduated from JMU in 2012, and he is one of the unlucky ones who haven’t been able to find a job in their field yet. He has been working at the dining facility that he worked at while he was an undergrad student, except now he is a shop supervisor. He makes about 9.50 an hour, and he’s definitely getting frustrated because he can’t find something better. He also congratulated me, but he also said something along the lines of, “I’m not listening to you, even though you’re the SM now. You’re not my boss.” He said it in a joking way, but it illuminated something very clearly for me: men like to feel like they can provide in a relationship. If the female is making more money than them, then they feel like they aren’t doing their job.

Our hourly pay difference isn't THIS drastic...but you get the picture.
Our hourly pay difference isn’t THIS drastic…but you get the picture.

It’s kind of funny, cause I had just read an article that Jezebel posted about this exact phenomenon – how men need to feel like they are making the most money and be the more successful one in a heterosexual relationship. I didn’t really think that the breadwinner mentality was still that prevalent…but I guess it’s prevalent enough to affect my boyfriend as well. I know he is happy for me and glad that I can be more economically secure on my own, but that immediate reaction from him was pretty tell-tale concerning the kind of society we are still living in – a patriarchal one.

One thought on “He’s Happy for Me, But…

  1. I was thinking about this kind of situation recently and I think it’s really interesting that men feel intimidated or out of touch when a woman earns more than they do. Along the same lines I’ve also heard many guys feel lost or disheartened when the girl is funnier, smarter, etc. than they are. I understand conflicting feelings of trying to be happy for someone who’s more successful than you are when you’re working in the same field, but nothing good comes from the false pressure to “wear the pants” in a relationship. It only breeds disappointment or frustration when those internalized expectations aren’t fulfilled.


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