Relationships are complicated enough, but having a drastically different upbringing than your partner can have real impact on how you relate to each other.
Here, people from drastically different socioeconmic situations than their partner reveal how it affects their relationship.
1/30. My girlfriend lived in a small farming community whereas I grew up in an affluent area with 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.
2/30. It’s affected our perception on schooling and extracurricular activities for our kids. I went to private school for most of my schooling and was able to participate in dance, instruments, etc. His family struggled financially so it wasn’t as easy and he didn’t have those options.
His initial reaction is, “they’ll be fine without those experiences” which is true, but there is value in having them.
3/30. Dated a girl for two years. My dad makes about $200K a year, while her folks combined made maybe $40k a year. I never thought of it as a big deal, but it popped out of nowhere sometimes. I remember we had a big fight one night, and she got mad and brought it up, and I just remember her blaming our fights on our “stupid money.”
Looking back, my dad doesn’t seem likes he makes great money, but the difference between what she grew up with and what I grew up with can feel like thousands of miles. I wish I was a little more aware of the subtle ways I might have been obnoxious about it.
4/30. It was really hard at first actually. My partner grew up in a very affluent family, and my family was literally on food stamps for a bit when I was young.
Sometimes, she really just doesn’t understand my anxiety surrounding money, and why I’m constantly saving every scrap possible. She keeps telling me that I will enjoy life more if I let go a bit more, but all I can think of is ending up back on food stamps again…
5/30. I grew up solidly middle-class. She grew up fairly poor.
Main thing? She’s 10x better with money than I am. I am so bad with money it’s embarrassing. Trying to learn from her, but she said it’s basically because she’s so terrified of having nothing that she just can’t spend money on stuff she doesn’t need like nine out of ten times.
On the flip-side, she really wants to have nice things because she didn’t have them growing up, whereas I’m fine with junker cars, function over fashion, etc.
6/30. Me-upper middle class.
Her-From a small farm town. She had a lot of stuff I never saw like live animals. She had a pet fox. and all these cool homemade items. I introduced her to big city life and I took her to Broadway, she took me to her county fair. It’s nice.
7/30. My boyfriend grew up in a poor town 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. He constantly has a big smile on his face every time we look at holiday decorations and when he tells me about all of the gift ideas he has this year. It’s amazing watching somebody experience something for the first time when it seemed like everyday life to me as a kid.
8/30. I grew up lower-middle class, rising to solidly upper-middle class by time I was 18 or so, but the big bump happened when I was 15 and my mom went from $60k a year to $110k a year, so I am a pretty middle-class kid.
My wife has always been upper-middle class, but once she was 12-13, her parents broke half a million a year, and now make around $750k a year combined. Easily 1%ers, they’ve got over 3 million dollars stashed away for retirement despite paying for college for three kids who all went to private schools out of state.
As a whole, I’d say the fact that her parents are loaded has been a huge positive. She has no student loan debt, but helps me pay mine, and has since we were engaged. Her mom and dad love me, they have taken me on family vacations for years now. I proposed to her in Belize, visited Italy and England, California this year, Ireland next year, Germany the year after… It’s pretty cool.
Of course, they’re all Republicans, and I, on the other hand, am practically a socialist, so we don’t talk politics much, hah.
9/30. I grew up very poor and my girl friend was a wealthy farm girl. It honestly doesn’t affect our relationship too heavily. In part because she knows her family has worked hard to get to where they are, and if I mention it, she’ll tell me that there was a time before her father was self employed where they struggled. However I find this hard to really believe as the very first christmas I spent with her family, her grandmother gave me a card with 100, more money than I have ever received in one year from all of my own relatives put together. Makes it hard to accept they truly struggled as much as mine did.
10/30. I’m raised by immigrants in America… my significant other was raised by a well-off family.
Yeah… a lot of things are different between us, but because of this, things can be pretty exciting and fun. We both live in America, so he’s the one that has to adjust to differences. The top thing is — my family never went out to eat (except for the occasional McDonald’s, KFC, Old Country Buffet), but his family went out to eat probably one or twice a week at nicer restaurants, so I’m still amazed when he will order a drink, several appetizers, an entree, dessert, and even after meal tea. Another thing — every night my mom would come home and cook traditional meals (even now my parents refuse to eat out though they’ve made it to middle-class). His mother doesn’t cook.
11/30. I grew up in an upper middle class family and I once dated a guy that came from a poor Florida family. One thing I noticed was that he tried to save EVERYTHING. He had underwear that was full of holes but would still not throw them out, even after I bought him a bunch more. Also, he knew very little about life outside of his home state, was never up on current world affairs, and was ignorant to soooo much basic knowledge. He also only knew of and ate the most basic foods, like burgers, fries, noodles, etc. I tried introducing him to different foods, sushi, even but he’d refuse. The relationship ended up lasting less than 6 month.
Edit: Let me clear somethings up. When I was dating the guy he was no longer “poor”, he was doing well for himself. Because of his upbringing he chose to be willfully ignorant and never even try new things, that was my issue. No, I didn’t break up with him because he was poor, I broke up with him because he tried to live with me for free despite having TWO jobs.
12/30. I grew up rich. Not private school rich, but once a month, my mom would casually have between 200-500 dollars she would decide to delegate to us going on shopping sprees and stuff. I never had to worry about anything. My parents didn’t live a lavish lifestyle and saved well.
My boyfriend grew up really poor down south. He used to have to constantly pawn his TVs and Amps and mom’s jewelry to keep paying the bills, learned to fix cars so they wouldn’t be stranded when the car broke down, and lived among what is apparently an INSANE roach infestation most of their lives.
The main difference between us is our memories of childhood. I have much more positive memories but we’re both happy that our experiences made us the people we are today.
13/30. My SO come from slightly different classes. But I’ve never felt like there was a large economic gap. I’m a farm girl, he’s a bit of a city boy. We were both raised to not spend money extravagantly or on things we don’t need.
That being said. The biggest shock I had visiting his family was that everyone owns a tuxedo. My times visiting his family we were going to a wedding. After 6, all the men wear a tux. Never in my life had I been to a wedding where the guests wear tuxedos. It happened so often I kind of thought they just put on a tux every Saturday night!
14/30. We turned 17 together a week ago. Two days apart. I was ecstatic that I had my first 5 driving lessons paid for me as my present from my parents.
Two days later and she wakes up to a 5000 car on the drive. Meanwhile in the same week I’m lending my mum 200 until payday so we have enough money for shopping and don’t have to borrow off my grandparents for the 5th week running.
She’s eternally grateful for everything she gets and not spoilt at all. But she grew up as the only child in a well off family. Had holidays to Hong Kong and India.
I grew up with two brothers and had holidays in a caravan in Great Yarmouth.
It’s the little things too. They won’t think twice about going out for a meal in the middle of the week just for the hell of it and paying a bill in excess of 100. We only go out on birthdays and have to be wary of how much we spend.
I don’t judge her at all and her family are hard working and lovely. It’s just hard not to be a little bit jealous sometimes.
15/30. 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 essentially neglected me. 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.
16/30. I’m the one from the poorer background and I never feel secure when it comes to money. Holidays and new clothes etc are hard for me to buy without feeling intensely guilty even if I have the money. For me there’s just anxiety around everything, spending too much on food especially. Boyfriend never gets this!
17/30. My perspective is weird. When I was a kid my family went through bankruptcy due to medical debt after my siblings all died. 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, and my little sister’s private high school was more expensive.
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.
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. He doesn’t always understand some of my hangups about it though. I find myself asking permission for things we can obviously afford. He doesn’t understand it because he only knows my parents as really well off.
18/30. This difference between my ex and I wasn’t very big–I’m pretty solidly middle class while he was pretty solidly upper middle class. Even with that, though, there were some pretty stark differences.
Going to his house for dinner was the biggest treat: fresh vegetables and organic meat for dinner every night, soups, desserts. My family usually had frozen pizza, mac and cheese, cereal, sandwiches, canned vegetables, fruits were usually apples/oranges/bananas. If he wanted specific food for snacks/lunches, he got it. My dad refused to take me grocery shopping because I would ask for too much.
19/30. I’m upper middle class and Black.
The biggest thing I realize around Black friends who were not raised in the same economic class as me is that they don’t feel entitled to the world. I’ve always felt like I could do anything I wanted, question anyone, get in the face of authority, demand to know why, go after exactly what I want without feeling like I shouldn’t, etc. I am extremely resourceful and actively seek knowledge.
I noticed many of them just… accept their lot in life and stay there. From HS on I noticed this. They are conditioned to think they are less than, I see it in their actions and how they address problems. To challenge the status quo is unthinkable.
I have a freedom of mind that they never got growing up. When I started to realize this I got depressed about it and isolated even more, but now I am more understanding and try and gently help where I can and try not to seem like a snob about it, which is really easy to do.
Another thing that was strange for me with dating girls that were lower economically growing up is eating out at nice restaurants. They just NEVER do it and I really took this privilege for granted.
20/30. My husband grew up with anything he wanted, my parents worked in fast food. I find that as adults, I’m much more appreciative of things whereas he’s always got something to complain about. He also doesn’t tip because “if they need the money so bad, they should get a better job”. That drives me nuts, but rather than fight him on it, I’ll usually slip our server a tip on the way out.
I feel like I should mention that he’s not saying this maliciously, he just doesn’t understand why anyone would want a job where you have to depend on the kindness of strangers. He doesn’t tip to spite the restaurant that isn’t paying enough.
21/30. I’m in a really weird situation with my one. We didn’t really grow up in different backgrounds but when I grew up, me and my brother never wanted for anything. We got nice things but my parents were not “rich.” They just made money and we just lived our life how we wanted to. My parents were never in debt but never had huge savings either etc.
Now my partner never wanted for anything either but her parents were more savvy with their money and didn’t just do everything they wanted to and “saved for a rainy day”, they’ve now got a lot of money and getting old with nothing to spend it on, although they do spoil my kids all the time.
This has caused awkward moments in mine and my partners life though as sometimes I want to “Live our lives and spoil ourselves” without putting us in debt whereas my partner wants to “save for the rainy days” and we don’t really do anything with what we’ve got. The other side actually involves our parents now, in that, her’s spoil my kids and mine can’t spoil them as much, but still do.
22/30. Had an ex who grew up in a council house; youngest kid of about 11. I was the eldest of two and went to a private school (Which was mostly paid for by scrimping and sacrificing rather than being particularly wealthy, but to have enough money coming in that scrimping to that level was remotely viable was completely foreign to her).
I’m sure we’d love to hear the romantic story of “making it work despite different backgrounds”, but real life isn’t like that. A regular cause of arguments was her choosing to interpret every word out of my mouth as some sort of insult to her, her family and her upbringing.
23/30. I had a very poor boyfriend who had a heart of gold. When I invited him to events like parties or basketball games, he always refused to go. I don’t know why but I think he felt ashamed because he couldn’t give me material things back. As time when by he put his time and energy into achieving a better life and has become very successful in the music industry. Now he’s the one taking me out. Looking back, I wish he hadn’t made such a big deal about stuff like that and we had enjoyed more time together. We still look back on those memories fondly though.
24/30. I was born in an upper middle class family, but when I turned like 6 or 7, my dad made it big in the oil industry.
Growing up I never really realized that my friends weren’t in our financial bracket. Back then I could never understand “why” my friends couldn’t go to the movies every week, or only wanted to eat at cheap fast food places, etc. I always just assumed they liked those places better.
I think I was 15 when I asked my friends to go jet skiing with me in Miami and buy $400 tickets to watch a Miami Heat game with me and my best friend took me to the side and explained that none of them could afford the jet ski rentals, much less the tickets to the game.
At that point I just felt terrible about the way I had acted before, but my friend said that everyone knew I wasn’t acting snobbish or anything, I just didn’t know.
25/30. In short this DIDN’T effect me at all. I come from a dirt-poor family. My parents were very hard working, but their jobs were very low paying. I have 7 siblings and money was tough. Had an alcoholic father as a kid. My mother hated my father, so me, my mother and siblings stuck together. I had to get jobs since I was 14 and give 80% of the money to fuel my dad’s alcoholism. It helped shaped me into who I am today. I am currently studying medicine and hoping to become a cardiologist specialist/consultant.
Contrast that to my girlfriend. She grew up with loving parents and was privately educated. She had a great childhood. Her parents are multi-millionaires. She has everything she needs but she is still so humble, as are her parents. You wouldn’t expect them to be multi-millionaires when meeting them (unless you turned up to their mansion).
26/30. I came from Appalachia, quite literally a coal miner’s daughter raised in a holler. He came from opulent wealth of the northeast. I cried when his mom bought me a top of the line vitamix blender for Mother’s Day, but the guilt I feel at being able to have nice things now is overwhelming, honestly.
27/30. My mom had servants in her house and my dad lived in a poor family. Both my mom and dad were the youngest of six children; my mom was spoiled as a kid, my dad had to do all the dirty work, cooking and cleaning for the house. What I see now is my mom makes my sisters and I do a lot of house work all the time, and usually my dad willingly joins us and loves working around the house. They are usually good about showing us that everything in life is earned, not given but I’m their own ways. My dad talks about his life growing up and my mom talks about her dad and how he made all his money from nothing.
28/30. I grew up on food stamps and the free lunch program, my boyfriend’s parents are quite literally part of the “1%.” Gifts from his parents are always well thought out high quality essentials, while my family… does what they can.
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.
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.
There are also a handful of hobbies/activities that only happen with money (scuba, equestrianism, skiing, climbing, spelunking, water sports, 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.
29/30. 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.
30/30. I grew up poor (I’m doing very well now though), and my girlfriend grew up wealthy. Honestly, the only differences are minor etiquette things, for example, I never learned proper dinner adequate, and will revert back to them if I’m not conscious about it. Ironically, in the relationship, she’s the frugal one and I spend freely.