So, Your Partner Chose a Low-Paying Career

Wendy Newman
4 min readMar 4, 2021

How to manage complaints around finances and life choices.

Photo by Cody Black on Unsplash

Ask Wendy: Dating, Sex & Relationship Advice for the Bold

Hey Wendy,

My girlfriend of two years graduated college in a humanities field with a master’s degree (history).

Every day for weeks now she’s really sad about the disappointing job opportunities in her future. She looked up the average salary for her field and it’s not what she expected. Apparently, she was told by her parents and teachers growing up that if you had a master’s degree in anything, you’d have a lucrative career.

I’m really struggling to be sympathetic. I’ve offered all the condolences about salary that I can offer, but she’s starting to take it out on me. I was a STEM major (chemical engineering) and she says that I’ll “never understand” how she feels and that I can at least have self-worth knowing society finds my career “valuable enough to live on.”

Not sure what to do. The sympathy I offer hasn’t worked and she keeps on repeating the same conversation. Any advice?

Chris V.

Hey Chris,

This makes no sense to me. Glass Door launched in 2008. We’ve been able to accurately predict salaries in under sixty seconds in pretty much every field for over twelve years.

I’m what you’d call a “builder.” I rarely take classes or read non-fiction for fun, entertainment, passion, or self-satisfaction. I learn things to build: build a business, build a book, build a knowledgebase around what I’m working on, etc. This is normal operating practice for us builder-types.

My niece just graduated with her teaching degree. She posted on social media how shocking and appalling teachers’ salaries are. I think we can all agree on this, but personally, I can’t reconcile why one would get a degree in something they’ll only be mad and frustrated about later.

Perhaps your partner and my niece feel that the profession they chose to pursue is noble and important enough to weather the crappy salaries and numerous other associated challenges. I do understand that.

Wendy Newman

Dating, Sex & Relationship Expert and Author of 121 First Dates (Simon & Schuster). Over 80,000 women trust Wendy’s advice, tools, & experience.