My Blue Collar Blues: What’s Wrong With Dating “Down”?
My girlfriends are organizing an intervention. Oh wait, they’re calling it an inter “friend” tion. But this is not Sex in the City 2 and we are not in Abu Dhabi.
The problem as they see it is that I, a double degreed, Ivy League educated woman, have been on a solid run dating blue collar guys. There was the man who worked for the city's transit authority (he really could drive a train). A construction guy (with an impressive toolkit). Oh and a Fed Ex guy (who really delivered the big package) --he was super hot!! (Sexual references are more for metaphorical writing fun and do not necessarily reflect actual events.)
And it wasn't intentional. I do love my suit and tie guys too—although they tend to love themselves more. But that's another blog. I don't see anything wrong with my latest choices. They say I'm "dating down" and wasting my time with people who could never be real partners and that I’m too old for that (Ouch!). It may appear from the outside, based on education and background, that these men and I are from two different worlds and couldn’t possibly have much in common, but that’s not the case.
To the contrary, I have found each of these men engaging, creative and fun in ways not reflected by their day job.
The girlfriends say I'm subconsciously doing this on purpose--dating men with no long-term potential and they want it to stop. They say I need to find a man "on my level." Whatever that really means.
Why do we think people of different classes, education levels and personal backgrounds can't find true love with each other? Or true like? Has anyone seen “The Titanic”? ..Okay scrap the ending.
I found this expert analysis and it spoke to me: “When a woman is secure in her own identity, it’s practically irrelevant who is wearing the white or the blue collar. She can withstand snide comments and negative value judgments from friends and family, as well as her own fleeting discomfiture when her partner prefers a Big Mac to a Kobe Burger. For many 40-plus women who have done the be-with-a-guy-with-money thing and found it wanting, a successful relationship no longer hinges on finding an outwardly successful man.”
Amen to that.
And I mean, do men get the same flack? Let's face it everyone from Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, and Tiger Woods, has married up but dated down. Sometimes, wayyy down. And while most of their "dating" happened while married--which is NOT cool, I do think men are allowed, even expected to pursue women who are less intelligent or from a different class. Think Pretty Woman.
Has there ever been a female version of Pretty Woman?
Meanwhile, it’s more socially acceptable for women to date down in terms of attractiveness (think Beauty and the Beast) but not class or income. We’ve all see the couple, where the woman is a tall, hot bombshell and she’s fawning over a slightly balding, pudgy guy and you’re thinking—how did HE pull HER? Women go for emotional support or the personal qualities we love.
Some experts say women who date down in the looks department are actually happier. “It’s possible that a man who is less attractive than his partner feels so grateful to be with her that he works harder to maintain the relationship, amping up the amount of emotional support and kindness he provides,” says Benjamin R. Karney, Ph.D., a professor of social psychology at UCLA. “Yet a man who is better looking than his partner knows he has lots of other options besides his mate, so he’s less committed to providing the emotional support long term relationships need to thrive.”
There’s also some thinking that less attractive men are more giving sexually. That’s the kind of information they should tattoo on their bald spots.
Either way, I don’t think I should stop dating any man because of his education or tax bracket. What about you? Have you ever technically dated “down” in education, income or looks? How did it turn out for you?