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Woman Demands Boyfriend Pay If He Wants Her To Dress And Act ‘Presentable’ At His Work Events

Jen Theodore/Unsplash

Conforming to the image expectations of a partner’s high-powered career can be a lot to ask. For one woman on Reddit, it felt like she was being asked to transform into a completely different person each time she accompanied her boyfriend to a work function. So, she asked him to pay her.

She wasn’t sure about how she’d handled things, so she went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by the name whatthehexko on the site, asked:

“AITA for telling my boyfriend that if he wants me to dress and present a certain way, he needs to pay for my clothes and hair and nails and time?”

OP explained:

“I’m a woman in a career feild which really doesn’t care about appearances.”

“My boyfriend is in a job where looks matter more, investment banking. He wears suits and has to present himself as more wealthy to look good at work.”

“My boyfriend wanted me to come to some work events, dinners or happy hours.”

“But he said that it was something we’d need to dress up for. I offered to wear some nice dresses I have and he said that it was more than that, his coworkers wives and girlfriends wore designer and had professionally done hair and nails. And that it really was just what was needed to succeed in his workplace so he considered it a professional expense.”

“I said that made sense for himself but I’m not responsible for his professional expenses”

“He agreed to pay for the clothes and salon appointments and I also asked him to compensate me for my time getting ‘presentable’ for those events. Additionally, if he wanted me to act a certain way during these events which was different than my usual behavior at a social event, it should be treated like work, I’d expect to be paid for my time.”

“He thought that was unfair, saying that it was weird to charge my boyfriend to attend an event with him. I said that if I’m not attending as myself, but instead presenting an image for business development purposes, that’s not socializing, that’s labor.”

“He agreed to that at the end, and we came up with a list of things I’d need to attend an event with him… Designer dress, designer heels, jewelry, hair done, nails done, makeup done, handbag… He picked out the dress heels and bag, and he asked me to find salons to have my hair, nails, and makeup done.”

“When I told him how much the cosmetics appointments and the time I spent on them cost he was upset it was $700. And adding that to the clothes he bought and the time we’d be at the event, it was coming to almost $2000.”

“We went and I played the part, it was uneventful. Nobody paid me much attention. Felt like a bit of a waste but whatevs.”

“But afterwards when I mentioned that I wanted to borrow his card to make an appointment to get the nails removed, since I needed them filed down by a professional before work, he got frustrated with me. Saying that I was milking him for money and I was only with him for money. I told him that I make the same as he does.”

“He got pissed and said that most girls know how to dress themselves and do their own makeup nice, and I got so frustrated I said sarcastically ‘go date most girls then, I’m sure ‘most girls’ would looove being treated like a human dressup doll!'”

“He got really mad about that and I feel frustrated too, like he expects me to do sh*t unpaid for his work! Like I would never ask him to do sh*t for my job, let alone do my job unpaid!”

“AITA for wanting to be paid if my labor was going towards my boyfriends career?”

People on Reddit were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And for them, what this question spoke to more than anything was OP and her boyfriend’s incompatibility.

“Me: what did I just read?”

“How old are these people? How shallow is the bf and his place of employment?”

“This is just bizarre. Everyone’s entitled to their own styles. Why is OP with someone who is ashamed of who she is?” –SoftsSecs

“Seconding this. Like why stay with someone who wants you to perform a different identity? What keeps you both together? Are you actually happy in this relationship? Why not date someone who is on the same career and social trajectory as yourself?” –Coconosong

“…I never say this, and it’s kind of a trope here, but sh*t, break up with him, OP. It’s never going to be enough, even if he managed to get some small amount of clarity, he’s just not worth YOU changing, especially if he wouldn’t.”

“NTA” –arrjay

“As I was reading OPs post I was literally wondering why they are even together. I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal and my ex wanted me in short skirts and high heels. Needless to say I didn’t appreciate having to be totally uncomfortable just to go to social events with him. I kinda wish I thought about getting paid for it though. Lol” –FollowingNo4648

“NTA, but I also can’t imagine seeing doing a favor for someone I love as THIS transactional (I also can’t imagine my SO asking me to act differently either though). I totally understand asking him to pay for professional hair and nails, especially if you consistently need to do this, but I paying you for the time? I wouldn’t pay my SO for the time to get a suit picked out, sized, and tailored- I’d absolutely pay for the suit though.”

“It does seem like he’s putting pressure on you to be different and this is kinda your way of pushing back. If you’re this uncomfortable doing him a favor (donating your time) and he is this uncomfortable with you being who you are, you probably shouldn’t be together.” –beingsydneycarton

“NTA. The only issue I see with your behavior is you aren’t just dumping the guy. He’s desperate to turn you into some Barbie-fied image of what he thinks his girlfriend should be to impress his bro-ey a**hole coworkers. He’s insecure and controlling and whiny, and you seem pretty bada** and like you can do a whole lot better.” –TemporaryBadger

After reading her fellow Redditors’ responses, OP came back to add more information.

“Edit because there are a lot of questions about why I thought it was justified to ask for compensation for my time…”

“The hair and makeup and nails and tailoring appointments took about 10 hours. I had to take a full day off work, and since I am a consultant who bills hourly I was losing a day’s wages to perform tasks my boyfriend wanted to benefit his career. If I ever asked my boyfriend to lose wages at his job to perform tasks for my job, I’d think it would be fair to pay him for his work too.”

“I’m always happy to attend social events and be polite, friendly, and talk to people and get to know them. For free. But this wasn’t what he was asking of me, he wanted me to act. To not speak of my actual hobbies or career and to give the impression that I am a stay at home partner.”

“To claim to ski… I have no idea how to ski! To only order ‘classy’ drinks and none of the drinks I actually drink. That doesn’t strike me as going to an event as a partner, that strikes me as going to an event as an actress or performer. Which is a whole job!”

“Edit 2”

“I also find it very strange how feminine labor is undervalued. He said that he needed me to do something for him to support his career because his bosses expect it of me.”

“If this was any other kinda work, it would be absurd to do it unpaid. Like if he said ‘Hey my boss needs a truck loaded, and everyone knows that’s what the girlfriends do… Can you come by and load the truck? Also you’ll need to bring your own forklift’ ABSURD!”

“If he asked me ‘Hey, my boss heard you’re an engineering consultant and wants you to evaluate this software architecture… And he expects it for free because that’s what girlfriends are for!’ That’s absurd! I’d be sending my rates.”

“So why is it acceptable to say ‘Hey, my workplace expects me to bring a woman to play a very specific role, you will need to do 10 hours of preparation tasks for free for the benefit of my career. And you should cover the cost of parts and labor?’ I wish that was considered equally absurd… But it’s almost like women’s work and hospitality is an undervalued form of labor??? Hmm.”

Hopefully OP and her boyfriend can find a way to work around this.

Written by Peter Karleby

Peter Karleby is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.