Home > Editorial, The Industry Cosign > Could You Date Someone Poorer Than You?

Could You Date Someone Poorer Than You?


By Anslem Samuel

broke man walking sign

Dear NWSO,

I’ve been dating someone for about a year. He was really everything I was looking for in a significant other. He’s responsible, kind, open-minded, hard-working, creative, thoughtful… I could go on. Career wise he’s a mechanic, and I’m a college grad still finding my way in the recession. This has never been a problem for me because I’m happy with the person he is and have never thought less of him for not going to college.

Everything was going great—no fights no problems. I would describe it as a great relationship. But recently I felt like I got a slapped in the face when he broke up with me. He said that he’s at the point in his life where he’s going to be. Basically, because he grew up less fortunate than me he has accomplished as much as he can and wanted to know if I could be happy with what he has. I did everything to reassure him that I was.

In addition to this problem he’s saying that he wants to live together, get married and have a baby, etc. and I just can’t give him these things now and probably don’t want these things because of where I’m at with my life. In the end he broke up with me. Then, he called me two days later and said he didn’t want me out his life only to break up with me again two days later. I don’t know what he’s fighting with but the last time he broke up with me he said he can’t see or talk to me because that causes confusion for him and he needs time.

I’m miserable because this is someone I really can see myself with and that I love. The thing to do seems to move along but, like I said, I’m miserable and honestly I don’t want to be with anyone else. Feel like I’m being punished. What should I do?

I forgot to add that I come from a really successful family in the city we’re from and to add insult to injury I think he’s worried about what my family will think of him. Because he was asking if my mother knows about him and what will my family think of him if he buys me a small ring. And how will I be able to deal with his out of control family because he claims they’re all a mess. Bottom line I don’t care! I care about him enough that it doesn’t phase me.

Dear Ms. Independent,

What it sounds like is you’re dealing with a frail male ego. Not sure how long y’all were dating before the ish hit the fan, but it seems like he’s intimidated by your education and stature and his (in)ability to be a “man” (at least in his mind) and provider. Not sure why now and not before but that’s what it sounds like to me.

broke black man with empty pockets

Was there something that happened recently where he felt embarrassed that you can thing of? Like, you paying a bill, buying something expensive, meeting one of your friends that acted “bougie,” etc.? Just any small thing that could have emasculated him somehow? Not that any of that would matter or you should coddle any real man, but I’m wondering what led to this “revelation” of him not being good enough for you.

Clearly he is fighting some sort of internal debate as he broke up with you and then got back with you only to break up again. With all that emotional turmoil I say you have two real options.

1) Give him a little space to let him sort stuff out on his own and be there as a friend if he needs that.

2) Have (another) heart to heart with him and let him know that what he does or doesn’t have is not the defining signs of who he is, especially in your eyes.

You’ve been with him for this long and loved every minute of it and him, so no job, degree on the wall or amount of money in the bank will change that. You love people for who they are not what they do or have done. As long as you’re not walking around throwing your degree or your family’s status in his face he should have no worries about that.

Speaking of your family, I don’t know them but at the end of the day while families do merge when marriage comes in to play, at the end of the day the marriage is about the two people that lie next to each other every night not mommy and daddy who live across town and visit every once in a while. This sounds like a scene out of Jumping the Broom where he’s embarrassed of his family and trying to impress yours. I can understand that to a certain degree but does that mean he loves his family any less? I doubt it, and if his family is that embarrassing y’all can deal with how your parents blend LATER. For now the focus should be on how y’all work because if that ain’t straight there won’t be any need for parents getting along anyway because there’ll be no relationship left.

You say you don’t care about his job or background, so you just need for him to believe it. If he can’t get over his own ego you really have to see if that personality trait is something you can live with forever. I have faith that y’all can make it work but only if he can just man up and stop being scared. All that matters is what exists between you and him what y’all do for a living and family views are secondary when it comes to your relationship.

Good luck.

Do you think that men have too much pressure to be providers? If so, is it a valid reason to break up with someone because you don’t feel like a “man?” Are there many women that could be with a man that made less than them or was less educated? How much of a factor would your parent’s standards be in who you brought home? Have you ever been embarrassed introducing your family to someone? Do you agree that this guy has a bruised ego? What advice would you give this woman? If she doesn’t want to have kids yet do you think the relationship is worth salvaging?

Speak your piece…


The lovely Verneda White over at Human Intonation are holding their third co-ed discussion on HIV prevention this week. If you remember, yours truly sat on the panel for the last one and I’ll definitely be in attendance for the latest, dubbed “Protection is the NEW Black: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell…Testing the Truth About Sex.” In addition to insight from the panelists—Chris Kazi Rolle of Together Apart, HIV/AIDS activist Carmen Mendoza, Streetz from Single Black Male and spiritual leader Shawna Marie—about the impact of what we don’t discuss with or partners there will also be free HIV testing on site, as well as a wine reception afterwards. So come through and let your voice be heard and you might even get a chance to meet NWSO (I don’t get out much).

When: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Where: The Loft of Kwane Spinks, 34 Cliff Street, (btwn Fulton St. and John St.), New York, NY 10038
Time: Doors @ 6:30, event starts @ 7

Click here for the evite info.

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  1. Destiny Brown
    June 28, 2011 at 3:45 AM

    A man has to be a man. Mechanics make as much or more than some people with 4 year degrees. A man must be trustworthy,not afraid to show his true feelings, and above all not let his family tell him what he is. Then on the other hand the woman has to be and feel the same way. It all boils down to trust and being your own person. Know what you want and don’t let anyone tell you anything different. Seems like the woman is letting her family dictate who she should marry. If I am correct, this union is doomed because there are too many people in it and when you try to please others, you usually wind up the one that isn’t being pleased.

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