Do you think it is bad to date outside your "social class?"

I recieved a book for Christmas - either as a joke or perhaps well-meaning - on how to snag my soul-mate. I recieved many many books for Christmas and so I’m just now getting around to cracking this one.

The following advice really offended me, and yet I can see some of the practical sides of it:

Never date outside your social class. It is a recipe for disaster. The business man who dates a career waitress, or the lawyer who dates a handyman: Your new significant other will feel left out, will not feel as if he fits in. He (actually the book alternates he and she throughout the book, but I find it annoying and will spare you) will start to resent your friends and then start to resent you. It will end badly. Stick to men and women from the same group.

They go on to say that the Dr. hanging out with blue collar people will at best be politely tolerant and at worst be openly condescending. They acknowledge that sometimes these things work, but say that it is rare.

I found this to be so very wrong. It actually made me angry (at least angry enough to post here.)

And yet…my female lawyer friend is married to a man who worked at a grocery store. He has privately told me that he feels left out in our groups. He said “All the stuff you guys talk about sounds neat, but I have no clue what it means, I’m just lost.” (This made me sad because I have spent a lot of time talking to him about all kinds of stuff, not just my work.)

And so, I suppose I see their point. But it just feels so wrong.

What say the dopers: Good advice or just plain elitism? (or both?)

It depends. My husband and I are from different social classes, mine wealthy, his pretty much white trash (his words). But aside from different experiences, we seem to approach the world in the same ways and have so much in common personality-wise that it hasn’t mattered.

But if someone were a champagne drinking museum goer, it might be hard to find something in common with a beer-swigging NASCAR fan. There’s nothing wrong with either, but long-term relationships do require that the participants either enjoy the same things or can respect their differences.

I don’t know…I don’t really feel comfortable with people from my social class, either as I grew up with (white trash) or currently (yuppie white collar). 'Course, it could be that I’m just not comfortable with anyone, but my preference would be to date some semi-hippie chick who likes to read (a lot) but isn’t necessarially all that formally educated. That’s probably more a reflection on my own uncertainty about career, future aspirations, whatever, and Org, do I get tired of every potential date in my social class insisting on “a guy who knows where he’s going in life”, blah blah blah. Gimme a break; this is a coffee date, not a SAP/SAR background interview.

There’s quite a bit to be said for common or complementary intrests, of course, and I’d have a hard time dating a girl who didn’t read, or obsessively watched television, or like to party and stone, but what her income/family status/station in life is doesn’t really range high on my list of considerations. But then, I may one day soon end up working at a bar (again), so to me, social class is kind of a fluid concept.


Meh, If I held out for a woman who makes the same kind of money I do; I’d be one lonely Mother F’er!

Not that there aren’t tons of women out there who do make my kind of money, but those women in generall I’v found want a man who make better money than she does.

At the risk of sounding biased.

I think it’s more like:

If you’re a woman don’t date guys who make less than you.

IF you’re a guy date women who make less or the same as you but not more.

And we’re strickly speaking as a rule of thumb here.

I know there are many instances where this is not the case.

Why should a woman not date a man who makes less than she does? I’ve dated men who make less than me and the money was only an issue one time when there was a huge disparity in our incomes (he was a student so he had none at the time). It only became an issue because he couldn’t do the things I did unless I paid for everything and he couldn’t deal with that.

For example, one time I wanted him to come with me to visit some of my family in the mid west. He couldn’t afford a plane ticket and there was no way we were going to drive the 1000+ miles for a short stay. So I bought plane tickets for us both. It was only after we came back from the trip that I found out my travel arrangements caused him to miss a Saturday appointment that was a huge deal. When I asked him why he hadn’t told me about the conflict when I was discussing travel times with him, he answered that he felt bad about asking me to come back on Friday since that would involve higher plane fares and he already felt bad about me having to pay for everything. So I ended up feeling like a jerk for making him miss his appointment, and he felt bad about making me feel bad plus missing the appointment.

That’s just one example of many similar things. However, that was just with one guy who seemed to have a big guilt thing about me paying for stuff. It really didn’t bother me, but it did bother him. I don’t think all guys are bothered by that.

As for dating someone outside my social class, it doesn’t bother me so long as we have similar interests and values. I’ve dated guys that were probably below my social class (at least if you measure that by income and career) as well as those that were likely well above my social class. As long as we have similar interests, it hasn’t been an issue (other than that one time where it wasn’t a matter of social class so much as money and the personalities involved).

So, MaddyStrut, sugamama, how you doin’? :wink:

Seriously, that would kind of bug me, too, if I were the lad. It’s not a chauvanistic thing; I just don’t like “being in debt” to someone else, even if they don’t consider it a debt. I like to pay my own way, right or rough, and I’d have a hard time accepting money from someone else. I don’t have any problem “going Dutch” or paying round robin with a woman, though. Fair is fair.


Oh believe me, I’m no sugarmama! (I’d need a much bigger salary–wonder if I can bring that up with the boss?) It’s just that I had a salary, he didn’t, and sometimes things that were important to me came up and the only way we could realistically do them was for me to pay.

Does that really bother guys? Huh. Good to know. Does it make a difference that most of the things I’d pay for were things that were important to me and not to him as much? I mean, I couldn’t expect someone to go into debt to visit my crazy family!

As a rule of thumb, the better your communication skills, the more you can get away with disparate backgrounds.

If you can’t stand to talk about yourself, your needs, your desires, your discomforts, your insecurities, expectations, your disappointments, your motivations–if you don’t like to explain yourself–then you’d best find someone with a very similar background to your own, because it maximizes the chances that you won’t have to explain yourself.

The better you both are at talking things out–and you need to be really candid at how good you both are about this-the most you can handle the fact that if you do come from/reside in different social classes you will have different needs, different desires, different discomforts, different insecurities, different expectations, different disappointments, and different motivations.

Well, if your goal is to search through many members of the opposite sex as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to find one who is a suitable mate, this is probably good advice. There’s probably a higher proportion of suitable mates in one’s own social class than in other social classes, so it makes sense to restrict yourself to that pool if you want to be really efficient. You should also date exclusively within your own race, ethnicity, geographic origin, and political party.

To me, though, approaching love like this just seems creepy.

Or you could just save time and date your sister, who’ll share (statistically) about half your genes, and will therefore be most similar to you. :eek:

Not to mention pretty boring. What would you talk about?


I’ve dated above and below my social class and you basically need an open mind to be successful. I’m more than happy to hit the museums or pool halls for a good time. In fact, I need both. If you don’t, stick to what you know.

I think jsgoddess was on to something. It’s respect. Do you like and/or respect the person and their differences enough to keep on having a relationship. Various movies have been made about marriages outside of class or culture, mostly for laughs, but the kernel of truth is that it doesn’t matter if one is accepting and respectful of the other. [ I dunno about class, but I married into a different ethnic culture, and it sure works for me ]

Possible hijack coming. Maybe. Social class. It seems that in the US that simply means money. Money -buys- social class. I’m no big traveler, but I get a sense that perhaps other countries (for good or for ill ) want a little something more than just money to designate social class. So, to say that one is or isn’t dating within one’s social class…means what, to whom ?

I’m from a white, upper-middle class family living in the comfortable suburbs of conservative, white, Christian Cincinnati.

My ex and most recent guy are from the ghettos of LA.

I have been turned off by the amount of money a guy had. If a guy made all the money himself, that’s one thing, but most of the guys in my age range are still in school and the ones that are rich tend to be because of their parents.

I don’t date most guys who are in my social class because while I can be good friends with people born into wealth, most of them are incredibly clueless about how the real world works and it can drive me batty at times.

[possible hijack continued] I think the idea that “class = money” in the US is a myth. Your social class has much more to do with a vaguely defined set of tastes, priorities, and a sense of what groups of people you’re most at home with than it does with income or material assets. There’s something to be said for the idea of cultural capital; it goes a long way in describing the class system in the US.[/possible hijack continued]

I don’t think it’s about class, money or education, so much as intelligence and a similar worldview.

I wouldn’t mind being with someone who earned less than me if they were cool with being supported by me.
I wouldn’t mind being with somone who never went to college if they were intelligent and well read.
I wouldn’t mind being with someone from a different culture if we could find some common ground in our relationship.

But no, I wouldn’t be with someone to whom I had to explain simple concepts.
Or someone who resented me earning more than them
Or someone whose beliefs are at odds with my entire worldview
Or someone who made no attempt to understand where I’m coming from.

Intelligence and and a personality that fits well with yours should be what you’re looking for, not their class background. It may be easier to find someone with a similar outlook if they’re from a similar background, but does that mean you should exclude the people with different backgrounds, just because they’re different?

One of the most succesful couples I know is an Irish, middle-class, former Catholic priest and his Masai (yes, the nomadic herdspeople from Kenya) wife. They have 6 children, and in the 10 years they’ve been friends with my parents I have never heard them have even the smallest disagreement.

Buying into the hijack here, but I think that a big problem in the US is that while class simply means money on the surface, there are a lot of cultural undercurrents to be found underneath (like Scribble said). In some other cultures, class issues are right there out in the open, so at least you know where you stand, and in some ways, this open model might create less anxiety. That said, I’m fascinated by social class issues in the US, and I could mull over this all day. But to answer the OP …

I think a lot of it has to do with managing expectations. What does each person in the relationship expect their lives together to look like? I don’t think it’s a deal breaker, but then again, I think it helps if both people realize the potential challenges that can arise around class. Think the about the in-laws here. I don’t like the advice as it’s presented in the OP’s book, but I wouldn’t say the issue is meaningless, either.

Thinking back to my dating days, “dating up” made me pretty much crawl out of my skin with discomfort. I’m not proud of that, but it’s true. Thinking back to one relationship in particular, I dated a great guy, but being around his friends and family made me a nervous wreck. And I’m sure they were perfectly fine people, too. It’s hard to describe what it was, but spending any length of time with them made me feel like I was trapped somewhere with people with whom I had nothing in common.

I was raised solidly middle class, by parents who had fought tooth and nail to get up from the very bottom of working class, my mom in particular having come from more of a “barely working” background. Mr. Del’s family is solidly working class, and I feel so comfortable with them*. I think it’s a source of confusion to my parents, though, because they assumed their kids would continue the rising class trajectory. Class, it’s a weird thing.

*Of course, I primarily feel comfortable with them because they’re very kind and loving people, but putting personalities aside, if that’s possible when thinking about one’s in-laws, I mean I feel comfortable sharing an environment with them.

Yup–it’s interesting how many of the responses in this thread treat the two like they’re nearly synonyms…

Have you read Fussel’s “Class: A Guide Through the American Status System”? If not, and you’re interested in class in the US, it’s a must-read. And it’s only $9, too!

Does she speak English? :slight_smile:

Many of you voiced opinions that I liked, but Irishgirl said a lot of what I wanted to say.

I figured out why the book made me so angry. The first woman I fell in love with was from a different economic class, if not different social class. I remember once being at a dinner with her friends from out of town and her friend’s boyfriend commenting condescendingly that my sunglasses were not designer. (As you can see, I still don’t care about such things 'cause I can’t even tell you which designer sunglasses I should be mentioning.) He was snide to me all night and damn near got his ass kicked. At the time I had not attended college, as he had, but I was more well-read and far more intelligent than he could ever hope to be. Ah well, past is past, eh?

That’s not just about social class. The guy obviously had some issues which he decided to work out on you. If he’d been “beneath” you in class, he’d have lambasted you for not having tats and piercings, or being a stick-up-ass yup-pup, or something else. And sunglasses, of all things? Give me a frickin’ break. How lame is that? Can’t he at least make fun of your haircut or something? :rolleyes:

Wanting to remain within your homogonized little social group is one thing; not really good or bad, just very limiting. But deliberately baiting a guest or friend of a friend is just damn rude, and I don’t think that’s acceptible in any social class.