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We have class differences

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  October 15, 2010 08:13 AM

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Blane? That's not a name. It's a major appliance.

I'm sure you can guess the song of the day.


Q: Hi Meredith,

You know how, if life was a John Hughes movie, everybody wants to be Samantha Baker leaning over her birthday cake to kiss Jake Ryan? Well, somehow I'm a female version of Blane in Pretty in Pink.

Let me back up. For a little more than a year, I have been dating "Andie." Although he doesn’t work at a record store or hang out with Duckie, he grew up several socioeconomic classes below the way I grew up. The opportunities that I took for granted -- regular family vacations; a stay-at-home mom available for every soccer game, carpool or band concert; full tuition at a private college -- were things he could only dream of. He comes from a very kind, loving family, but they just didn't have the resources my family had.

We have hit a point in our relationship in which he doesn’t want to proceed unless he knows its "going somewhere," by which he means that while he doesn't need to get married tomorrow, but he wants to know that I'll marry him someday. (That we're at this point already seems very early to me, but regardless, he brought it up.)

I don't care at all about his family's wealth, or lack thereof. But, what is an issue for me is the way our different backgrounds manifest themselves in our dreams for our hypothetical children. Both of us want to provide our children with, at the bare minimum, the opportunities we had. But Andie could be comfortably middle-class and still provide better for his children than his parents did, whereas that would be a step down for me. He works at a non-profit and has no interest in attaining the kind of corporate, high-profile, high-pressure job that funded the lifestyle I grew up in.

Let me assure you, I am not a gold digger or a trophy wife-in-training. I have every expectation that my own salary will contribute hugely to my family's resources, and I'm in the middle of applications to graduate school to ensure this happens. But I do want the option to stay at home for a few years while my babies are babies, and this isn't a possibility if I'm the primary breadwinner.

The flip side is that he loves me, very much. He is kind and smart and curious and, occasionally, very funny. I know how this story would end in the movies ("…happily ever after."), but in real life, how do I choose between a great guy who loves me and the life I've spent 25 years envisioning for myself?

– Blane McDonnagh, New York, New York

A: This is tough for me because I never understood why Andie stayed with Blane. I always thought she should have dropped him for Duckie. I mean, the guy rode his bike past her house, bonded with her down-and-out father, and wooed her by lip-synching "Try a Little Tenderness." Meanwhile, Blane makes Andie go to that awful party with Steff and then ditches her on prom. How do you forgive that?

Now I'm getting upset. Sorry.

BM, if you suspect that you'll resent having a partner who doesn't prioritize a certain standard of living, you're probably right. He's not going to change his values and you're not going to change yours. Unless you can say, "I want to be with him no matter what because I'm sold on this guy and we can compromise," you shouldn't force it.

And for the record, your priorities don't make you shallow or a gold digger. You're just self-aware about what you need to be happy.

But know this: not every guy who shares your vision of the future will be as kind as your Andie. You might find that some of those other guys are Steffs -- that they have great jobs but wear horrible white blazers and have bad attitudes. You just have to decide whether you're willing to risk losing the good with the bad.

In real life, by the way, there's no way Andie and Blane would have wound up together. They would have broken up when Blane went to college. I'm sure of it.

I'm glad you’re acknowledging your real-life priorities. Only you know how big of a deal this is to you. But know that if you stay with Andie, he's going to be Andie forever. Don't assume you can turn him into an Andie with a Steff salary. It just won't happen.

Readers? Any hope for this couple? Class issues aside, does she sound psyched enough about Andie to marry him? Oh -- and if you're extra bored today, this is a fantastic story about Jake Ryan written by my favorite Washington Post staffer. Very interesting. Now try a little tenderness.

– Meredith

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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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