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Another variant of Family Versus Career, only before the kids show up. Essentially, when a woman--and yes, it's almost Always Female--must choose between her own career and landing a man--and generally, she will choose the man. This often comes with the expectation that she would be a stay-at-home mom should the couple have children; but even if they don't, she might still be expected to be a happy housewife, cooking the bacon that her husband brings home. Some more Unfortunate Implication might be made that a successful woman with a strong career can intimidate potential lovers, and women have long been taught the need to be non-threatening. And even if she keeps her job, she might still be held responsible for all the cooking, cleaning, and other wifely tasks - after all, manly men just aren't good at that stuff.

An infamous Double Standard, since men are rarely put in this position. The extent to which this is Truth in Television varies by culture. In Asia, many women leave their jobs upon marriage, though in the west, women are often expected to keep working to bring money into the household. Even so there's often an attitude that her job is less important; if someone has to cut their hours to part-time or refuse a promotion, it's frequently assumed that it should be the wife. This can lead to a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy where employers are less likely to hire and promote women because they're assumed to be less likely to stick with the position, which leads to women being more likely to quit their jobs because they're making less money than their husbands are...

Examples of Career Versus Man include:

Anime and Manga

  • Played with in the final episodes of Hana no Ko Lunlun. The heroine Lunlun was entrusted with the mission of finding the Flower of Seven Colors so the heir to the Flower Star throne can have his Awesome Moment of Crowning. When she finishes her mission it turns out that the Mysterious Protector who helped her more than once, Serge Flora, was said heir, and in their travels they have fallen in love with each other. Thing is, now that Serge is about to become the King, he wants Lunlun to be his Queen... but if she wants to marry her boyfriend, she'll have to abandon Earth and leave her normal life as well as her beloved grandparents. What happens in the end? Lunlun rejects Serge proposal despite her love for him. And then, the trope is Double Subverted, perhaps even gender-flipped: Serge decides to cut a deal with his family: his younger brother will become the King, and he will go to Earth with Lunlun. They accept, Serge's brother gets the Awesome Moment of Crowning, and Lunlun and Serge live a happy life on Earth.
  • Subverted in Project ARMS. In the Where Are They Now epilogue, Kei is working for the Blue Men and has long been dating Hayato. Both are happy to keep things slow.

Comic Books

  • This was in Katma Tui's origin: she had to choose between a man she wanted to marry and the Green Lantern Corps--she chose the latter. Brought back and gender-flipped 20 years later when Hal Jordan has to choose between the Corp and his girlfriend; Katma gets to complain when Hal makes the opposite choice she did.


  • Kate and Leopold
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • Subverted in His Girl Friday; part of the reason Cary Grant's ex-husband chases after his ex-wife is to keep her in her career as a journalist.
  • Zigzagged in The Princess and the Frog. Tiana is driven to achieve her goal of starting her own restaurant, but then learns a lesson on the importance of family and love, eventually realizing her love for Naveen. At the same time though, Naveen tries to put himself out of the picture so she can have her restaurant. At the end of the film, we see that Tiana is able to start her restaurant and she and Naveen are Happily Married. There is also a gender-flipped version with Tiana's father, who also strove to start his own restaurant. He didn't succeed, but did live a happy life as a devoted House Husband.


  • Subverted in Down With Love. In the end, she gets the guy and they write a book together.
    • Played With in that the entire thing was her own Xanatos Gambit and her only real goal was to get the guy.
  • In Twilight, it's mentioned that Bella has ambitions of going to college and becoming a teacher. While she never flat-out abandons this goal, after her marriage to Edward, she really shows no inclination to continue on with that plan.

Live Action Television

  • Done in How I Met Your Mother with Ted's Season 1 girlfriend Victoria, though in this case the choice arises because her dream job happens to be on the other side of the Atlantic from Ted.
    • Robin is often in this situation.
      • Notable that Robin has no serious regrets about this until later in the series, and even after acknowledging those regrets she isn't about to stop furthering her career for a husband.
  • At the beginning of the Star Trek the Original Series episode "Who Mourns For Adonais," McCoy implies that this is common for Starfleet women:

 McCoy: One day she'll find the right man and off she'll go, out of the service.

    • This seems to be specific to Carolyn Palamas herself - though as a rule neither male nor female Starfleet officers seem able to combine ship duty with family. The implication might be that the men tend to reconcile the conflict by pursuing their careers at the expense of family, while women in Starfleet more often choose to pursue relationships (and family) and leave the service more commonly.
  • Gossip Girl features a gender-flipped version. Starting with Jack Bass telling Chuck he should choose business over Blair, continuing with an evil, ghost-version of Bart mocking Chuck for choosing love and thereby being soft, finishing with Chuck choosing business over love. By selling his girlfriend for a hotel.
  • Rachel Berry of Glee fame zigzags in and out of this plot at various points throughout the series - or claims to. However, given that the man in question is Finn Hudson and the career in question is currently non-existent but an at least somewhat plausible future possibility, it's hard to view it as anything more than an Informed Conflict and sop to convention.
    • When the writers aren't being dumb, they actually portray this conflict very well and at least with this relationship portray the realities of high school dating (esp. when one partner is more ambitious than the other - the other may eventually become a hanger-on). The rest of the time, it's Finn and Rachel being...Finn and Rachel.
  • Happens literally in Parks and Recreation. Leslie's relationship with Ben is against the rules. Not to mention that since Leslie is running for city council, being with Ben (who is technically her boss) would cause a huge scandal. She actually chooses to try and have both, but ends up in trouble until Ben chooses her over his own career and resigns, taking all the blame for any wrong-doing.
  • It's implied that something like this happened to Annie in Being Human, when she tells about how she decided to move away from home to live with her boyfriend, Owen. We later find out that she was very unhappy because of this, partially because of homesickness and partially because he was abusive. Later on, Annie takes a part-time job which she balances with dating someone but it doesn't work out, mainly because she's dead.
  • Subverted with Kaylee and Zoe in Firefly. Zoe is Happily Married to the ship's pilot, Wash, and both balance their jobs and marriage quite well for the most part. Kaylee, meanwhile, sees no reason why she can't continue her work as a mechanic while pursuing a relationship with Simon and at the end of The Movie, the two hook up with her keeping to her job.
  • In the alternate future of the season 1 episode of Charmed, "Morality Bites", Prue demonstrates this trope. Whilst she chose Career this decision comes with strong, negative overtones.

Newspaper Comics

Real Life

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