Help & advice
The real issue with social media's 'stay-at-home girlfriend' trend
4 min | 15 June 2023
I spend an embarrassing amount of time scrolling videos on social media, getting wrapped up in every new trend that develops. The video app I use boasts over 1 billion monthly active users who constantly interact with people, opinions and fads. However, after wading through the dancing, food tips, life hacks and shouty pop covers, I discover a new trend: The stay-at-home girlfriend.
Young women promoting domestic bliss is a relatively new content strand on the app. It shows women opting to stay home to look after the cooking, cleaning and, most importantly, their partner, the breadwinner.
The videos usually show a gorgeous 20-something-year-old waking up, making a healthy smoothie, cleaning the house and going about daily activities. The videos look relatively harmless and make life seem stress free and easy for millennial and Gen-Z girlfriends.
Despite the idyllic 1950s vibe of the videos, the comment sections are always a back-and-forth of conflicting opinions. The stay-at-home girlfriend theme has become the centre of debates about ‘feminism’ and what's really considered ‘work’. It goes without saying whether you're at home managing a household or a CEO, it's all still work. Just because you’re not heading into an office, it doesn’t mean you're any less valuable to the economy.
However, we shouldn't gloss over the problems that could arise when a young woman is generally financially dependent on a partner who has no legal ties to her. Being in such a position is potentially an issue if things go wrong, as you’ve given up all your financial independence. This message should be communicated to the video app's predominantly young audience.
What is financial abuse?
Women’s Aid, the collective of charities dedicated to eradicating domestic abuse against women and children, defines financial abuse as a form of coercive control, involving a 'perpetrator using or misusing money, which limits and controls their partner’s current and future actions and their freedom of choice. It can include using credit cards without permission, putting contractual obligations in their partner’s name, and gambling with family assets.'
Being a stay-at-home girlfriend with access to money isn't financial abuse, but if your partner manipulates you to give up your financial independence, that's when it can become problematic.
Giving up your financial independence can make you susceptible to financial abuse because you have limited means to take care of yourself. Surviving Economic Abuse reported that one in eight adults in the UK will experience economic abuse in their lifetime. They also found that 1.5 million women in the UK say their partner prevents them from working, or they work for their partner’s joint business without pay.
Economic or financial abuse is, unfortunately, prevalent, and the effects can be life destroying. Women's Aid reported that life after financial abuse can be brutal for women – the abuse impacts women's ability to work, hindering their long-term employment prospects and earnings. Just under half of the women who Women's Aid spoke to were in debt due to financial abuse, and over a quarter regularly lost sleep worrying about debt.
While not all stay-at-home girlfriends suffer from financial abuse, there are some early signs you can look out for that should raise a red flag, such as if your partner:
- never seems to have enough money
- denies you access to your joint accounts, or has your wages paid into their account
- makes you feel like you need to hide what you've bought so they don't see it
- exhibits secretive behaviour, like hiding their bank statements
- refuses to talk to you about money
- undermines your confidence in managing your own money
If someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, encourage them to:
- look at Surviving Economic Abuse's (Opens in new window) helpful resources
- find advice on writing off coercive debt, speak with a debt advisor at Money Advice Plus (Opens in new window) or call 0808 1963 699
- call Refuge’s 24-hour National Domestic Abuse helpline (Opens in new window) on 0808 2000 247
- find local support via the directory on the Women’s Aid website (Opens in new window)
If you're a Chase customer and you think you might be the victim of financial abuse, please contact us right away.