Should I Only Date Men at My Income Level?

Ask Demetria: Just because a guy earns as much as you doesn't mean he's free of insecurities.

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(The Root) —

“Is it wrong to seek out guys who are at my level, career- and salarywise, and have the same goals? I have tried dating guys who weren’t, but their insecurities popped up, and it became frustrating telling them that those things don’t matter. I’m wondering if I should save myself the hassle!” –Z.C.  

No, it’s not wrong to desire a partner whose accomplishments, income and goals are similar to your own (or bigger). Some might even say that on the surface, at least, that’s an ideal partnership.

Although women outearn their husbands in almost one-fourth of U.S. households, according to the 2010 American Community Survey, researchers have found that marriage rates decline when a woman seems capable of outearning her husband. In a working paper, “Gender Identity and Relative Income Within Households” (pdf), the same researchers also found that a married woman who earns more than her husband increases the probability of unhappiness in her union and could increase the likelihood of divorce by 50 percent.

Still, I suggest that you be careful not to lump together all guys who are not at “your level” and assume that you’d have no chance at a healthy relationship. There is a type of guy who will make less than you and may be less educated than you, and he will be totally OK with that. He’ll be happy to support you and be proud of your accomplishments and may be motivated by your success.

In addition, men who are as professionally accomplished as you are not automatically better and more secure. A guy “at your level” might not have the same insecurities about not measuring up to your successes, but unfortunately, professional success doesn’t guarantee that a man won’t be insecure. There’s also the type of very accomplished guy who may feel threatened by your successes or salary or résumé, even if his are equal or better. He may began to treat you like a competitor, attempt to sabotage your success or begin to downplay your accomplishments.