A man and a woman's hands grasping at a $100 bill, symbolizing a couple splitting bills and expenses
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The Science of Splitting Bills With a Partner, According to Eight Black Men

We can’t all have a Gabrielle Union, right?

Masculinity is a hot-button subject. People tend to be really attached to their constructs of what behaviors make a man a man. That criteria differs from person to person, but societal norms insist on men being protectors and providers. It's a thinking that has been passed down for centuries, but in 2023, how much “providing” are we talking about?

Should a #realman pay for every single thing while his partner spends only on herself? And if there are kids in the picture, how does that factor into the calculus? Sure, women are paid on average 83.7% of what men make, but in these bleak economic times, is it more equitable for partners to divy up the bills evenly?

Related: A Man Should Never Feel Ashamed to Go Dutch on a Date

Well, according to Gabrielle Union, her household operates by splitting expenses right down the middle like the half-court line. Despite the actress and her husband, Dwyane Wade, being worth an estimated $40 million and $170 million, respectively, the power couple reportedly goes half on their bills. As celebrities are often treated like avatars for the personal beliefs of the everyman and everywoman, the recent revelation has sparked heated debate on social media and been the topic of conversation for more than a week.

Beyond the discussions around traditional gender roles and the politics of blended-family dynamics, we’re talking about two famous individuals with ample cash to spend however they see fit. Still, the division of household funds is something people with far fewer zeros in their bank accounts than Gabby and D-Wade deal with on the daily. With that in mind, we tapped in with eight brothers to get a real-world POV on splitting finances with a partner and if she should really act like a lady but think like a man when it comes to these bills.

Traditional Values

“Man, this is a touchy subject. My wife isn’t working currently, so I pay everything. But she’s responsible for taking care of the house and the kids, which is better for them in the long run. I had [asked] a coworker how he did it; he and his wife broke down the bills by percentage. If he made $100K and she made $50K, then he paid two-thirds of the bills and she paid one-third. In my opinion, that’s the best way to do it.”Doug*; 54; Queens, NY; married

“In today’s society, where people who make six figures are still living check to check, it’s essential to split the bills—especially if we’re sharing the same residence.”

What's in Our Own Best Interests

“In today’s society, where people who make six figures are still living check-to-check, it’s essential to split the bills. Especially if we’re sharing the same residence—we should be sharing the cost of living expenses for the home. We’re a partnership, we should be doing what it takes to make sure we both win. Sometimes that means I shoulder more of the weight while she cleans up her credit, and vice versa. The goal is not to survive but to thrive. Knowing your partner can cover you if the s**t hits the fans is a stress reliever. I was taught that it’s a man’s job to provide, but now that I’m older I know providing isn’t the only thing I'm good for. Finances change and what you can provide goes right along with it.” —Pope; 46; Bronx, NY; in a relationship

Related: Men, Do Not Court These 5 Women If Your Life Is in Shambles

Life's a Trip

“When I was with my partner, we split the major bills down the middle, which helped us to grow into homeownership and overcome fiscal challenges. The rationale was that despite our respective incomes, we were responsible for paying our bills. When it came to dates and trips, the former would be covered by me, and the latter would be dependent on what was going on at the time. Now, as a single person, I believe splitting bills should be done only if we're on vacation together.” —Jason*; 40; Los Angeles, CA; divorced

“I don’t have a problem paying the entire bill in a committed relationship, but women just have to understand that a man has other responsibilities and debt.”

You Gotta Pay to Play

“Yes, I split bills on dates or in a committed relationship but ONLY if the woman offered to split the bill when the check came. As a man, society says I pay the bill, so that’s what I do. Splitting the bill should be reserved for single people who are in the market to date. Why? Because both of us are trying to go on dates. You may end up going out two to four times a month trying to find the person of your dreams. That isn’t cheap! As a single man, I can easily end up paying $600 to $1,200 a month while a woman can go on way more dates and pay absolutely nothing. I don’t have a problem paying the entire bill in a committed relationship, but women just have to understand that a man has other responsibilities and debt.” —Jarrell*; 49; Brooklyn, NY; single/dating

Related: Don't Ego Trip If Your Partner Makes Significantly More Money Than You

Welcome to Splitsville, USA

“Relationships are partnerships in the truest sense of the word. In deciding to walk through life hand-in-hand, you and that person essentially become a team. It’s the two of you against the world. With that said, when it comes to bills, everything should be split down the middle. And I'm not talking about personal bills like student loans or credit cards, but the ones that affect the household as a whole, such as WiFi, cell phone, electricity, food, etc. To ensure our financial goals are on track, we keep a budget in mind to avoid overspending on things that would throw a monkey wrench in those plans.” —Ralph; 33; Brooklyn, NY; married

"As a society, we've come a long way and don't need to subscribe to ‘traditional’ or patriarchal ways of looking at the man as the sole provider."

Taking Everything Into Account

“Today's relationship dynamics and financial situations can really vary; some people work from home, some participate in the gig economy, and there are more freelancers today than ever. As a society, we've come a long way and don't need to subscribe to ‘traditional’ or patriarchal ways of looking at the man as the sole provider. Women are more empowered than ever and things are more expensive than ever, so we have to be flexible. My lady and I live together and split the bills but not 50/50. I’ve owned properties for years—including the one we live in now—so I initially asked her to chip in a blanket $600 for household bills. Over the years, that’s increased as she’s grown in her career. It’s still a situation where she can save and we can travel and enjoy life without stressing about money.” —Derrick*; 42; New York, NY; in a relationship

Related: Should You Be Worried That the Economy Is Melting Down Again?

A Provider Mentality

“I don't expect to go 50/50, especially if I'm making more money than my partner. As a man, I still feel like I should be providing for my family the best way that I can. However, based on the current high cost of living in the city, I'm open to splitting bills, just not 50/50. My wife and I are closer to 60/40. We contribute as much as we can based on income so that neither one of us has to feel like we're struggling to pay the bills.” —Andrew; 32; Brooklyn, NY; married

“Our finances are split in a sense of who's paying what bills but tallies are rarely even and aren't meant to be.”

Money Matters

“Does there need to be an understanding about money matters in a relationship? Yes, but I don't think it should be dogmatic. Situations change, incomes change, and family goals change as well. My wife is a business owner, and her income comes in waves. Strategically, we have to plan around that fact. We rebudget each month around bills and disposable income spending. From there, we decide who will cover what bills. Our finances are split in a sense of who's paying what bills, but tallies are rarely even and aren't meant to be. Sometimes it's based on income, other times it's based on what money is available. It’s all about the big picture.” —Victor*; 45; Philadelphia, PA; married

*Name changed at subject's request.