Growing up extremely middle class, I’ve dated rich and I’ve dated poor. The main differences I have noticed are exactly what you would expect, mostly views on money and how it should be spent. My rich girlfriend had no problem spending hundreds of dollars on stuff that she wanted and thought she “needed” to have, refused to by off-brand anything, and wanted to be taken on “adventures.” MY poor girlfriend was happy just having the pleasure of my company on her floor mattress in her dad’s apartment. Reddit asked it’s users who have dated outside their class to describe how it affected their relationship and we’ve compiled the best answers below.

He and I now have something we call “going to the pool”. It’s when both of us have the same memory, but through different socio economic eyes. This is also relevant when it comes to how we handle money and react to things. We realized this after both of us were sitting around remembering how much we loved going to the pool, and then had a good laugh about how different the circumstances of the event was. When he was a kid, going to the pool was a huge deal. He would save up to pay for him and his sisters. He walked them and had to watch them the entire time. To him, the pool was a rare thing and a responsibility, but it provided his sisters with a rare luxury, and it was always worth it to him. He loved the pool and considered doing it to be quite special. They didn’t do it every day. When I talk about going to the pool, I remember my community’s pool having water slides, and always grabbing change for snacks. I remember riding my bike there and it always being fresh and clean. I had a season pass and my mom would always give me cash for whatever I wanted when I went. I pretty much went every single day of the summer unless it was closed.Both of our experiences had joy in them, and neither of our experiences invalidate each other, but we both relate to the memory of going to the pool in a completely different way. That’s sort of how we treat everything. In many ways, I think it helps us a lot. We respect how the other grew up, and both of us have gained from seeing things “from the other side”.

My wife’s parents and grandparents are all college professors or staff, very much “city people”, if you will. I grew up driving tractors, hunting and generally living low low middle class, eating a lot of beans from a crockpot for multiple meals a week. Anyway, my rancher uncle who has had multiple heart bypass surgeries and bad back, etc (from a long, hard life) was crushed beneath a hydraulically-lifted flatbed this weekend. Our family is more of a “Well, it was what he loved doing and it was (relatively) quick.” and her family is freaking out and calling a bunch. I think growing up around cattle and coyotes dying, seeing the cycle of life and death and getting a lot of bloody hands (hunting, calving, hitting deer on back roads, etc) makes me seem callous to that side of the family. Something about living proudly and dying well seems to have been instilled in a lot of rural folk, which may be a reason a LOT of old ranchers choose suicide instead of retirement homes.

My boyfriend grew up under Jehovah’s Witness parents that forbade him from experiencing holidays. It’s been incredible watching him get to experience his first Christmas morning, carving pumpkins for Halloween, and all of the other shenanigans that the holidays bring now that he no longer lives with them or follows their beliefs. I’ve never seen a 22 year old squeal in delight at presents under the Christmas tree before. 

My perspective is weird. When I was a kid my family went through bankruptcy due to medical debt. We were homeless for a bit. Middle school was rough while my parents struggled to pull things together and my mom gave birth to my little sister. When I graduated high school my parents were doing well enough to pay for my private university education in cash. I’ve lived at both extremes of income, but not in the middle. My husband grew up with a dad in the military and a mom who was a teacher. They were pretty solidly middle class. It’s odd the different things that trip us up. I find that when I really want something I have to stop and take a breath and calm down when I realize that we can afford it. When I was a kid I owned two pairs of pants that I wore to school and washed by hand every other night. As an adult I tend to find excuses to wear dress pants or nice shirts. I also keep $20 and a large candy bar in my purse at almost all times. I just like the security of knowing that there’s something there if I need it. I’m never going to be hungry because I can’t afford to eat or trapped because I can’t afford a bus. I think my husband has a much healthier relationship with money than I do. He’s calmer about saving and uses it like a tool. I think he doesn’t always understand some of my hang-ups about it though. I find myself asking permission for things we can obviously afford. I’ll admit it’s difficult to understand when he meets my parents now and they’re heading off on their 4th or 5th overseas honeymoon or when my mom spent almost as much as my husband’s parents make in a year on our wedding because she didn’t like my idea of a small reception at the house or in the park. That’s not how I grew up, but it’s all my husband sees when he interacts with my family. It’s a lot of culture shock for both of us.

I grew up on food stamps and the free lunch program, my boyfriend’s parents are quite literally part of the “1%.” There are moments - gifts from his parents are always well thought out high quality essentials, while my family… does what they can. I got to stay home while they took him to Hawaii a few years ago. It’s embarrassing at family dinners sometimes when his mom makes amazing roasted vegetables and I prefer the canned version because it’s the only veggies I ever ate as a kid. He got to play instruments in school - I really wanted to be in band, but we couldn’t afford a trumpet. There are a lot of little things, too. I had to do a lot of rapid learning once I got to college because good spending habits, organization, productivity, etc. don’t just appear out of nowhere. There are also a handful of hobbies/activities that only happen with money (scuba, equestrianism, skiing, climbing, spelunking, watersports, even cycling). Hard to have experience with those as a kid unless your family has the money for it, and I personally do not deal well with the envy of opportunities I never had.

My mother was murdered when I was a year old. My father and step mother were given custody of me, they are hardcore bikers. I grew up learning learning how to sell drugs, fight, work on bikes, make moonshine, etc. my parents beat me, neglected me, pimped me out. My SO comes from upper middle class, went to private school, family celebrates birthdays, having a fridge half filled of food is “getting low” etc. We learn from each other. She now knows how to field dress a deer and change her oil on her car. I know how to balance a check book and manage my college debt. We never worry about money because I can make a twenty feed us for weeks and she knows when to remind me to spend money on myself. Really, we just teach each other and love each other for or differences.

My girlfriend is quite country where as I grew up in an affluent area in a quite wealthy background. Most of the time it’s just introducing her to stuff she’s never experienced before. Fine dining, really expensive wine etc. It’s mostly just new experiences for her and I think that’s a pretty awesome part of our relationship. I get to show her so many new things.

I had to teach him how to do his own laundry. I’ve been taking care of myself and my laundry since I was 8. He’s better now.