Negotiating Different Income Levels

Dear Dr. Frankie,

I am a successful, driven, career-oriented woman at a Silicon Valley-based software company. I am in my early 30s and earn almost one million dollars a year. I am dating a wonderful woman who works in the non-profit sector. She attended Ivy League universities and has her PhD, she is extremely successful in her field. We’ve been dating for about six months and for the most part have a happy relationship. Lately we have had some issues because my income creates something of a power differential in the relationship. I have expensive taste. I enjoy traveling to exotic locations, buying nice things and eating at expensive restaurants. I am also happy to pay for my girlfriend. It bothers her that I pay for almost everything, but she just can’t afford the things I can afford. She contributes what she can, but I’m also not interested in living a more modest lifestyle. We both work extremely hard and I want to enjoy my life when I’m not at work. I tell her that if we were a heterosexual couple there wouldn’t be these issues. It’s becoming more and more of a problem, not less of one. Please help!

Richie Rich,

Dear Richie Rich,

It’s important to remember what is important in life, and that is human connection. It sounds like you and your girlfriend have a good thing going, so let’s figure out a way to navigate this situation. Empower your girlfriend by letting her treat you to meals at her favorite restaurants. It won’t be the Ritz Carlton, but remember what actually makes the meal special is that you are spending time together. The quality time together is what actually counts, the fancy food and drinks are a bonus. Be flexible and show your girlfriend you can enjoy a great Indian restaurant or Dim Sum as much as high tea at the Fairmont Hotel. I’m sure you also know that a high price tag and fabulous hipster reviews don’t necessarily mean the food is superior.

Think of activities that are affordable. There are no shortages of amazing activities in the San Francisco Bay area; a road trip to Napa Valley for wine tasting, a day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a dog walk at Stinson Beach?

Be open to new experiences. Scientific study after scientific study has shown that money and material things don’t equal happiness. Step out of your comfort zone and live in the moment and value what matters. You might be pleasantly surprised!

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