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1 of 15 African American man with his head down.

I don’t necessarily think it should be like this—I’m not saying it’s right—but if we can just call it what it is, then here we go: a man’s career affects his overall happiness and sense of worth more than a woman’s career affects either of those things for her. I have female friends who haven’t quite made it yet, and I have male friends who haven’t quite made it yet. Hey—I haven’t quite made it yet. My female friends manage to remain pretty upbeat and, well, happy. My male friends are clearly more plagued by the fact that things haven’t quite yet taken off for them. I can see that their work, and the things they want to do/feel they need to do consume their thoughts most of the time. It’s harder for them to relax and be present when they don’t feel they’ve yet arrived. Maybe it’s part of that antiquated but strong subconscious belief that they need to be providers for others. Whatever it is, I know that dating someone who hasn’t quite yet made his mark on the world comes with interesting side effects. Here are things your not-yet-successful partner probably worries about.

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How will I be a father?

The top concern is how will I provide for children? A man may not worry about this in a new relationship, but when things get serious, and you live together, he will start to think about being a provider for you and your hypothetical children. Then he’ll feel like he’s failing even more people.

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What if my partner loses her job?

Men can’t help but feel like it’s their responsibility to provide for their partner. So, even though you don’t think it’s on your partner to pay for your life, he probably does think that, should you lose your job, he should be able to support you. But, as of now, he can barely support himself so that’s a stressful (self-imposed) thought.

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Her parents probably wish she’d leave me

Your partner can’t help but worry about what your parents think. He knows they want you to find someone who can take just as good of care of you as they did. And even if they like him as a person, he knows it can be hard for them to watch their daughter be with someone who isn’t yet successful.

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She might fantasize about more successful guys

Your guy knows you’re loyal and devoted but…any man who is in a financial pinch will begin to wonder if his partner fantasizes about other—i.e. successful—men. And he wouldn’t even judge you for doing so.


She won’t want to get married until I make it

If you are at that phase of getting engaged or at least talking about getting engaged, just know that most men will not get married until they feel settled in their careers and financially stable. A lot of this comes from the fact that they don’t think you would want a husband who hadn’t made it.


People might think I’m incompetent

Even though you know your partner is brilliant, sharp, and highly-skilled, he probably still wonders if you (and everyone) just thinks the reason he hasn’t made it is that he’s incompetent.

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I can’t take her on a proper date night

Of course, your partner wants to treat you to nice date nights! He hates that you have to look up online coupons before ordering delivery from a place that is already budget-friendly.

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I hate that I’m making her worry about money

No man wants to cause his partner to worry about money. But if your partner hasn’t yet made it, he probably worries that he makes you worry about how you two will buy a home/raise kids etc.


I’m falling behind my friends

There is a slight sense of competitiveness among male friends when it comes to career. It can be hard for a man when all of his buddies can afford to go on the group trip to Hawaii and he can’t.

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Group checks stress me out

When you tell your partner that you two have been invited to your friend’s birthday dinner—that will contain around 18 people—at a restaurant, you nearly cause him a panic attack. He can’t get stuck in a situation where they split the bill equal ways and he winds up paying $70 when he only owed $30.

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Maybe for some people, it never works out

Anybody, regardless of gender, has those fearful thoughts of maybe it’ll just never work for me maybe I’m one of those people who just flounder forever.

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Her friends probably think she should leave me

He probably thinks that your friends are in your ear, convincing you to move onto greener (literally in the dollar bill department) pastures.


She’ll be the one who needs a prenup

Your man probably laughs at himself sometimes and thinks that you should request a prenup because he’s not sure he’ll ever make much money, and should you get divorced, he wouldn’t want to clean you out.


I’m not a real man

A man’s identity is strongly tied to his career. Women—our identities are tied more to our relationships, from friendships, to motherhood, to being a wife. When a man hasn’t quite made it, he can feel like he isn’t a “real man.”

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Will we always be a couple who struggles?

Your partner doesn’t want to be one of those couples who always live paycheck to paycheck, and can’t buy a plane ticket without checking your bank balance. He doesn’t want to be a couple who has to pinch pennies forever.

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