Recently in my Twitter travels, I’ve seen debates about whether men should pay for all expenses in their relationships with women—even with women they’re just casually dating. The opinions fall on extremes: one side is vocal about men needing to pay for any and everything. They believe it’s the least men could do since…you know…the patriarchy. This includes paying for food, nails, clothes, gas, rent, colonoscopies, life insurance policies, etc. The other side is adamant that “good” women should do it all on their own, and stand tall in their independence. “He’s my man, not my father” they say. “I don’t ask anybody for anything” they say. There seems to be a lack of nuance in this conversation, and it concerns me because quite honestly, relationships are never so cut and dry.
It’s silly to view a man as the Ultimate Provider ™ and it’s just as silly for women to not expect support from the men they’re dating. Relationships that operate on such a constricted dichotomy tend to create extreme power imbalances—which usually lead to one or both parties feeling profoundly unsatisfied.
There are days when it feels like my student loan debt is waiting in my kitchen with boxing gloves on, ready to put me in a choke hold. It’s during moments like this that I daydream about having a sugar daddy—a man with a fat wallet, generous with his money, ready to give me the world on a silver platter. For centuries, men were positioned as the providers in a relationship. So it’s easy to understand why even millennial women still expect this from the men they date. If the man you’re with is perfectly happy and willing to provide everything you want, there is no issue.The problem comes when women begin to let the financial aspect of a relationship overwhelm everything else.
It’s concerning to me that many women cynically view relationships as a monetary come-up instead of as a genuine bond between two people. Many women set themselves up for disappointment by confusing money and gifts for love and stability. These things are not interchangeable, and no matter how many eye-shadow palettes he lets you buy at Sephora, we all know it takes more than a nude shimmer on your lid to feel wholly and deeply loved.
That brings me to the women on the opposite side of this debate—the ones who deride other women for wanting to be pampered. The ones who pride themselves on being fully independent and never asking a man for anything—except to be loved. I used to be guilty of this mindset. Secretly, I used to feel like if I yelled from the mountain tops about how low-maintenance I was, it would somehow make me more “worthy” of being cared for. But in actuality, all I did was deny myself the right to be fully human. Everyone has needs and desires, and sometimes those desires include a 60 pack of Peter Thomas Roth gold under-eye gel patches. My concern for some women is that they don’t believe in asking for help, even in their most intimate relationships. It’s okay to ask for (and expect) occasional financial backing from your partner. There is a huge difference between dependency and support, and we all need the latter to survive in this world.
Chances are this Twitter feud will die down soon, but even when it does, I want people to remember one thing: feeling loved and supported in a relationship should surpass any preconceived notions you might have about money. It’s smart to always have your own bag secured, because fully depending on anyone else makes my Capricorn skin tingle. But if you’ve already got your own, and want his too? Go for it, sis. Buy all the eye-shadow palettes your heart desires, and then some.
By Kelly West