Dating someone who is different from you can have its perks and problems, but have you ever cared to think about where these differences come from? Sometimes the contrast between couples can be realized if we take a look at the social class from which each. The thing is that social classes are an arguably inherent part of a society and they present distinctions and similarities between individuals within the same population. A social class can be defined as a group of people who share the same socioeconomic status. If we take a closer look, we can see that the words social and economic comprise the word socioeconomic, lending both their definitions to its meaning with social meaning relating to a society and economic meaning relating to economics, or the economy. Simply put, a person’s socioeconomic status is directly related to social and economic factors. The social and economic factors that indicate and influence status, or class, include —but are not limited to— religion, buying habits, education level, monetary earnings, capital, and occupation.
If I didn’t lose you through the terminological breakdown, then we can start to dive into how all of the aforementioned mumbo jumbo connects to our world and the relationships that take place in it. In an effort to make things a little easier to grasp, I would like to bring up a few famous storylines that emphasize the differences and challenges love interests from different social classes faced. I’ll start with The Nanny, a sitcom that first aired in 1993 which focuses on a working class woman of Jewish descent from Flushing Queens, NY named Fran Fine who is hired to be the nanny of an affluent family. Her boss and love interest, Maxwell Sheffield— originally of British origin—has the tendency to clash with Fran throughout the series because of their differences in mannerisms, style of communication, and way of dressing. Fran noticeably has a different sense of boundaries in comparison to Mr. Sheffield, which turns out to be a perspective she picked up from her home life and community while growing up. Her limited understanding and control over her indoor voice is also one of her distinguishing qualities. On top of all this, Fran and the women of her socioeconomic group appear to be biassed towards, if not fixated on, marrying into wealth. Maxwell Sheffield, by contrast, was taught that differences— like the ones portrayed by Franand members of her socioeconomic group —indicate a lack of refinement. A lack of refinement often translates into a lack of class. More than any other supporting character in the show, C.C Babcock points out how Fran’s attributes and socioeconomic status are reasons why she shouldn’t be with Maxwell Sheffield. All in all, the show is meant to portray the differences and challenges that can be faced when a person gets involved with someone from a different social class.
Another story line that brings into perspective love, relationships, and social class is the well known tale of Pride & Prejudice. With the plot taking place in the rural regions of England in the year 1812, we follow a cast of characters from varying social classes. The main theme revolves around marrying for love and not money or social prestige (which was common place in that era); nonetheless, communal pressure to marry into wealth remains persistent as the story unfolds. At this point, you the reader are probably going over the fact that we currently live in the year 2022—a time during which marrying into wealth isn’t necessarily the focal point.
Distinctions between social classes are also harder to take notice of than they use to be within the western world..but that’s the thing. The thing is that it is all relative, especially if we look at things from a single angle. Despite the relativity of the whole socioeconomic situation of the world and the individuals in it, I’m here to say that social classes are real and the influences they have over relationships are real too.
In 2019, 33.98 million people in the U.S alone lived below the recognized poverty line. That number alone defines and defends the existence of not one but two social classes—the poor and the ones that aren’t considered to be such. In fact, these 33.98 million Americans are members of our communities—they are our classmates, our neighbors, our colleagues, the people we cross paths with at the supermarket. I think it’s okay for me, the writer of this blog post, to disclose that I am not poor at this time but, I lived below the poverty line with my family for many years. It gave me a good understanding of what being poor is like. When I looked up poor read “lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society,” I finally had the words to make sense of the frustrations I felt when trying to understand why some characteristics in my life were different from some of my friends’. When I started dating the differences I saw between my life and that of others was hard to ignore too. Dating is real nice when you can afford to go on dates in the environment. Dating can also expose you to people who don’t know any better. Mind you, I live in and grew up in Miami, Florida—a place where gentrification takes place heavily. If distinctions in social class can be seen anywhere in the western world, it’s here. You can see distinctions in people and you can see distinctions in regions of the city. Although I do not currently live below the poverty line, thank God, I still recognizethat there are socioeconomic experiences that will never be like the kind that I grew up with. On top of all that I mentioned, one thing I learned from my experience with social classes is that they can be left and joined like chat rooms—not with the exact same simplicity though. What I mean to say is that the social class you were born into does not have to be the only one you come to experience. The romantic relationships we have, the professional relationships we hold, the academic relationships we lead..they all come together to contribute to our socioeconomic status depending on how we engage with the world. While I have you here with me on this train of thought, I’ll say that I think my academic career and professional experiences have risen my socioeconomic status most in approximately the last 5 years. With that said, education must continue, work life should be rich in quality, and we should all be aware of each other as we push towards progress.
Featured Image by: Jonathan Borba