Men & Money: Facing The Pressure To Provide

Medically reviewed by Dr. April Brewer, DBH, LPC
Updated March 23, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Money and general finances are topics subject to social pressure. Understanding the effects of financial stress, a heavy workload, and the pressure to provide that can be associated with the current cultural understanding of manhood can be important in supporting men through this stressor. 

Some men may worry that they need to make more money to stand out in the dating game or that they must be able to afford lavish lifestyles before a woman would want to settle down with them. Read on to learn more about what this can look like, and how supportive strategies (such as online therapy) can help.

Are financial worries causing stress?

Men and money: How does financial stress affect physical and mental health?

According to the Financial Health Institute, financial stress can be defined as a condition or state that can stem from financial or economic events that may create worry or a sense of scarcity.

This isn’t limited to men and money – many women experience similar financial stress. However, some men may wonder if they need to be rich or have a job that grants them a position of power to find the best relationship. 

Uncontrolled financial stress can have a negative and harmful impact on nearly every area of one’s life. Research shows that stress, in general, can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The specific side effects of financial stress can be physical or mental.

Seeking preventative and acute care to address this stress (and all relevant effects) can be an important step in seeking a higher quality of life. 

Exploring the mental side effects of financial stress

Financial stress can lead to the formation of many mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders and depression

Anxiety can be characterized by intense feelings of stress or worry. It can also manifest in physical symptoms or irrational actions, like engaging in risk-seeking behaviors. You may also experience your heart and head racing, feel a tightness in your chest or have difficulty breathing.

Depression generally goes beyond feeling sad and can lead to harmful effects on your physical and mental health (as well as your lifestyle). You may find it hard to get out of bed or have difficulty sleeping. Depression can lead you to neglect hygiene, diet, and exercise. You may also have a sense of hopelessness and think your situation will never change.

Online therapy and other supportive strategies can help many to retain or heighten their quality of life.  


Physical symptoms of financial stress

There can be a variety of physical symptoms that can take place in the face of financial stress or instability. These symptoms might include:

  • Substance use

  • Heart disease

  • Weight loss

  • Diabetes

  • Muscle tension

  • Insomnia

  • High blood pressure

  • Gastrointestinal issues

You can work with your doctor to address a treatment plan that addresses symptoms while simultaneously reducing your stress overall. 

How can financial stress affect your relationships?

Although financial stress can cause a series of physical and mental symptoms, it can also affect your relationships. These include connections one may have with family, friends, partners, and coworkers.

Some of the most notable possible relationship effects can include:

  • Arguments: Financial stress can lead to more arguments with loved ones and partners. Due to the stress and pressure that you’re experiencing, you may find yourself more irritable, which might cause you to lash out at your partner. 

    • Hard and heavy talks of finance can lead you to feel more pressure, making it more challenging to be transparent and solve the issue. Financial stress and difficulties are considered by many to be one of the leading causes of divorce, possibly emphasizing just how divisive and trying money issues can be if left unaddressed.

  • Spending Less Time With Loved Ones: Worry and stress can make it difficult for many to make time for friends. Additionally, you may not feel as if you have enough supplemental income to go out to events and on dates. Not being able to go out can create a disconnect between you and your loved ones. However, many find freedom from this by embracing unconventional methods of connection, such as virtual game nights or routine phone and video calls. 

  • Pressure To Provide: The pressure to provide can feel immense. As a result, you might start to grow angry or resentful toward the people around you and your situation. You may also begin to withdraw from your family or resent your career. If you feel that you’re beginning to feel overcome by stress, online therapy and peer support can help. 

This can extend beyond the pressure to bring in more wealth and into the realms of paying off debt or achieving society’s current idea of success by increasing one’s net worth. 

Traditional masculine stereotypes can add to the pressure

This concept and identity of men being the sole breadwinner in relationships has become a traditional masculinity norm in society for many. In different ways. However, this stereotype can create expectations and burdens surrounding men, their sense of self and their values.

This identity may not be entirely wrong or bad. For example, it may lead some men to have a greater sense of purpose and confidence. However, the point of achieving financial stability and educating one’s self about wealth is not to be a better husband or be more “manly.” It’s something that applies to everyone. 

Despite these possible benefits, however, it can also be crucial to recognize the potential downsides and harmful side effects of these stereotypes.

Tips for managing financial stress

Here are some tips for handling financial stress in a healthy way:

  • Tracking Your Spending: By tracking your spending, you can see the bigger picture regarding your income and expenses. Tracking your expenses can show you exactly where your money is going and can allow you to start taking control and responsibility.

  • Creating A Budget: After tracking your spending, you can then create a budget. A budget can help you take complete control of your expenses and allow you to be more thoughtful with your money. There are many free apps and programs you can try out to see which format works best for you.

  • Identifying Financial Stressors: Being able to identify financial stressors can help you get to the root of the problem. These financial stressors could be bills, debts or other expenses. In the short term, identifying these stressors can be challenging, but it can pay off with more strategic financial decisions in the long term.

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Are financial worries causing stress?

How many women and men face financial stress? 

It’s not just men who worry about financial stress. According to current research, well over half (71%) of Americans report that financial stress is a significant factor in their lives. It’s not that people facing financial stress are “throwing money away” or “not trying hard enough.” 

Instead, it’s usually daily life, education, housing, and more. For example, did you know that the average cost to attend New York University is $84,540? That’s nearly $30,000 more than most Americans make in a year ($59,384). 

Likewise, parents may struggle to keep up with childcare costs, young adults might not be able to afford college tuition fees, and new families might not have enough money for housing near where they’d like to work. 

There’s no shame in facing money struggles, and there is help available to cope with the pressure to provide. 

Online counseling with BetterHelp

Financial struggles can take a toll on your mental health. If you’re not sure where to turn, online counseling could be an option. With BetterHelp, you can avoid many of the common barriers people face when seeking mental health support.

You generally won’t have to worry about running into someone you know in an office setting or driving long distances when you may already feel stressed and overwhelmed. Instead, you can relax from the comfort of your home and talk through your problems with a trained, compassionate counselor. 

The efficacy of online counseling 

Online therapy can assist individuals experiencing financial stress or shame. One study found that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) successfully improved symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders in people experiencing mental health and financial difficulties.

The intervention also reportedly “improved perceived financial well-being and reduced scores on the money and mental health scale.” Additionally, “the vast majority of participants rated each module positively”. 

This can suggest similar efficacy between both in-person and online therapy as modalities, respectively. 


Men can often feel alone as they work to provide for themselves and their loved ones. This can take a toll not only on their mental health but also on their physical well-being. If you find yourself in this type of situation, it can be important to seek support. An online therapist can meet with you discreetly to discuss your matters and help you develop a plan for handling your personal and financial matters with greater confidence. BetterHelp can connect you with an online therapist in your area of need.

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