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Non-Macho Guys Don't Mind When Women Out-Earn Them

Man and woman in professional clothing.
Men who don't worry much about masculinity don't mind when their wives or girlfriends out-earn them, according to research published in the journal Sex Roles. (Image credit: <a href="">Minerva Studio</a>, <a href="">Shutterstock</a>)

Macho guys coupled with high-earning women let the paycheck gap get to them, new research finds, resulting in more strained relationships.

Men who are less tied up in traditional masculinity, on the other hand, have better-quality relationships with wives or girlfriends who out-earn them.

The findings, reported online in the journal Sex Roles, focused on the changed gender roles of men and women over the last 40 years or so. It has become increasingly common for women to earn as much or more than their male partners. Sometimes, this causes conflict. For example, a 2010 study found that financially dependent men were more likely than higher earners to cheat on their female partners, though researchers couldn't pin down exactly why.

The new study asked 47 men in relationships with higher-earning women to fill out online surveys on their beliefs in masculinity, their relationship quality and the importance of the earnings gap between them and their partner.

They found that the more a man believed in traditional masculinity, such as the need for a man to control his emotions and to reject femininity, the more the income gap bothered him. These men were also more likely to say they had problems in their relationship. Non-macho guys, on the other hand, didn't care as much if their partners out-earned them. They were also more likely to say they had a good relationship with their wife or girlfriend.   

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Live Science Staff
Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.