Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Sam: Classy Love

Now we’ve had a bit of a rant about class and sex before, but what about class and love?

It turns out that despite all the talk about class mobility and ever increasing opportunities men and women are marrying much more within their social class than ever before. With huge amount of cheap high quality clothing and a more informal style to dressing you’d think that it would be harder to pick people’s class. Certainly your top hat and tails would have made it very clear in the past. But according to Dalton Conley, a sociologist at NYU we are just as deft as ever at passing style judgements that precisely pick a potential mate's class. Ed Byrne was having a good old rant about class the other day and summed up how sensitive we are to class perfectly: ‘How come a jumper over your shoulders shouts Sloan, while the same jumper around the waist means Chav?’. 

Apparently we are attracted to partners with the same class as us because they will have the same interests, share our opinions and validate our own choices. We all knew Pretty Women is a load of schmatlz, just deep down I certainly would like to think love wasn’t really at all about someone’s social status and background.

Turning the mirror back on my self, my fiancée is pretty much the same class as me – and uncomfortably, when I look back at my past relationships they are all embarrassingly of a similar class. Any posh totty or down in the mines working class on the way was something that passed by pretty quickly. I hate it when sociologists are uncomfortably correct.

So how does class fit into your love life?


Anonymous said...

My boyfriend is from a very rough seaside town, I'm from a very wealthy middle class town in hertfordshire, two very different places... but throughout my life my family have always struggled for money, so we do have that in common.

Interestingly though, my father's family background is very much upper class, whereas my mothers is essentially working class.

Tara said...

My ex came from a very different (read: lower) class background - although I didn't use to think of it as an issue at all, in hindsight it did result in us disagreeing on certain things (values, habits) that were perhaps intrinsically linked to our backgrounds.

In the end it actually did matter (read: screwed the relationship up). That, and the vast income disparity between us.

Anonymous said...

I've had a few unpleasant experiences with men who want to climb the social ladder. Without fail they've been from working class backgrounds and have been ashamed of it. They made a fair bit of money, clawing their way upwards financially, and wrapped themselves with the trappings of the middle-upper class. Next step: obtain a worthy wife. Problem: they're still working class guys inside and no amount of money was going to change a hard-knocks childhood centred on poverty and discrimination.

I have a university education, am an artist, and have friends who are tagged as "the elite" by many. The social climber guys decide to date me because this would make them feel better about themselves. It wasn't good for any of us, different social values and understanding of the world being the biggest problems.

I'll stick with my own league in future. It was all too horrible for words.

Anna said...

We'd all like to think that it doesn't really matter, that true love can overcome all obstacles... well tell that to Romeo and Juliet!

My significant other and I are from the same class, I suppose, but I think the main thing is that we were both raised by very Christian families. Shared values and beliefs are very important to a relationship.

Rebecca said...

My husband is working class, very middle working class, I guess. I'm lower-to-middle middle class (I'm using Kate Fox's definitions, from her book Watching the English) but my accent is very working class. His occupation is very middle class. His family do consider him a class traitor. We live in a tiny, working class house. So I suppose we met somewhere in the middle, probably lower-middle class now. It's interesting, though.

Anonymous said...

i'm from a lower middle class background although a very bohemian one, and despite being state educated i always seem to end up with private school boys, initially this is good because it means i don't have to limit conversational topics and can rant about walter benjamin [or other academic heavyweight] safe in the knowledge they know who he is and what he did....however other issues such as the value we place on things such as money, accomodation and holidays etc. always seem to cause un-solvable problems. i've now decided i'm looking for a private school scholarship kid, the knowledge without the emphasis on personal wealth-wish me luck!

Ys said...

My boyfriend, and previous ones, have all been working class. I'm middle-class. Hmm, I seem to have a type.

Anonymous said...


" I'll stick with my own league in future. "

With that kind of attitude dear heart, they're welcome to you.

I've dated girls across the whole social strata - I can categorically state that the success or failure of the relationship has never come down to class.

So much for 21st century Britain being a meritocracy.

[bows, scrapes & genuflects on way out of tradesman's entrance]

Anonymous said...

I'm rough as arseholes and so is my husband.

Paula Yates' Wine Lodge said...

With a 'tude like that, Saffron won't get much action round her tradesmans' entrance or anywhere else...

Carlie said...

I know I'm a little late to be weighing in on this discussion but I'm going to have a go anyway.

I'm an American that comes from a lower-middle class background but my fiance is an upper class Brit.

He's always insisted that it has never bothered him but I still feel a twinge of embarrassment about it (probably increased by the fact that I'm American and we aren't very highly regarded in Europe these days). Before I met his parents, I was very afraid they would think I was not worthy of their son but they are perfectly lovely and accepting in fact.

We do disagree on some values and the way we handle/view money is quite different (his idea of being poor is frequenting 3 star restaurants instead of 4 where i have struggled to afford ramen in the past) but it has never been a major issue. We've been together for 3 years now and I plan to be with him for the rest of my life so I guess my point is it can work. As long as you're open minded and in it for love and not secretly trying to climb the social ladder.