To be honest, I don’t particularly think of myself as more successful than my boyfriend. And until recently, I didn’t think it could ever be a problem. In relationships, there’s a lot of push and pull, finding the right balance between your work life and your home life can be hard, and I’m pretty lucky that we’ve got that.
A few weeks ago, friends were talking and casually saying I was the more successful one in the relationship. Thinking it was fine to say because both of us do such different jobs, and because they didn’t see all the other paths my boyfriend was following. And it got me thinking and talking to my friends. I realized that a lot of people had ended relationships because they earned more money than their boyfriend, or because they couldn’t deal with dating a career driven woman. So it made me think, what needs to happen to balance a relationship? And what lessons have I learned from all this…
1. Stick with your own definition of success
I would say the number one thing is never to envy your other half. If they get a promotion do you feel a pang of jealousy that you haven’t got a promotion? That’s not normal. I measure my own success totally differently to how I think of my boyfriend, he’s trying to do real good in the world and working really hard to provide for us, while I have the luxury of following a career in exactly what I want to do. People around us started the conversation off, but we knew whatever they were saying was their definition of success, not ours.
If you feel like you’re more successful than your boyfriend (or vice versa) and it’s affecting your relationship, have a conversation about it. Ask them if they’ve ever thought about who is the more successful one in the relationship. Make sure there’s nothing but support and friendship at the foundation of your relationship, and no matter who is deemed the ‘more successful’ one, you’ll always have each other’s backs.
2. He needs to be your biggest cheerleader
You are well within your rights to be a successful woman, by the way. You can earn more than him, be more ambitious than he is and work way harder than him without apologizing. And he should be your biggest cheerleader along the way. It’s the twenty-first century, which means he can absolutely support you from the sidelines without feeling like his masculinity is threatened. So if you’re not getting that support from him to be your best self, you need to have a very honest and clear conversation.
Without turning this into a love letter, I’m lucky that my boyfriend does everything from cooking to washing clothes to supplement my working-all-hours routine. But there are other ways you can have each other’s backs, supporting them at work events, helping them with tasks that they bring home, it goes both ways of course! And remember that above your own personal opinions of who is more successful, you’re trying to build a successful relationship.
3. Don’t take it too seriously
At the end of the day, whether you are the more successful one in the relationship, or whether people just think you are, it doesn’t mean anything. It shouldn’t change who pays for meals, how you divide up birthday gifts, who gets the next round at the pub. It shouldn’t change your conversations, habits, or routines. If you have to stop talking about work because you fear it’ll make him jealous, you need to take a big ol’ time out and get to the bottom of the problem. A modern guy won’t be intimidated by you if you’re making more money than him because he knows it means you can get him a killer Christmas present and are getting exactly what you want in life.
As long as you’re both having fun and are happy, who cares who is the more successful one? You certainly shouldn’t. There should be no negativity when it comes to both of you and your career journeys because it’s unhealthy and unfair. As long as you can laugh about it, you know you’re not taking yourself or the relationship too seriously. That’s the best way to make sure you not only have a successful relationship but a successful life.
Model Ruxandra Porojnicu photographed by Career Girl Daily.
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