What’s My Social Status? Should I Date up or Down?

Someone on Quora had asked me:

“I see many references to one’s social status, such as “date up” and “marry up,” etc. So, what’s my social status? I’m 33, white, single, healthy, I have a degree in CS and make $110K/yr. What’s the social status of this woman: 28, Chinese, single, healthy, worthless degree, $70K/yr. If we date, who’ll be dating up and who’ll be dating down?”

This is how I responded:

I’m 28, or 29 in less than a month, I’m Asian, single, healthy, I don’t have a degree and currently attend school at, wait for it… A community college.  I make $33k a year.  It seems that I’m about 1/4th your value and a little under half the value of your associate.  Actually, since I don’t have anything really going on for me, maybe I’m just worthless, wouldn’t you say?

So if either of you were to date me, then you would be dating down.

I don’t think this social scale that you’re going by really dictates the meaning of life or a relationship or anything of that nature.

To me, it sounds like more of a social status type of thing, which ends up leading to a superficial marriage made with superficial goals, where no one is being real, and everything just falls apart, because the true values such as love, trust, compassion, empathy, etc. are not the focus of attention.  Instead, it is just education and money.  It sounds pretty American to me.

I know, because I’ve been there before.  Out buying bottles at the club, finding the biggest loft I could find, spending time with models, buying designer clothing, driving luxury cars, and trying to just keep up with the Jones’.  Then one day, it was all gone.

So, I had this “social status” that you speak of, where I was at the upper echelon of my peers.  I was the desired and attractive one that people wanted.  I had everything I could want.  Then, all of the sudden, it was gone.

What are you going to do when that guy you dated up, or married up, has to file bankruptcy because the stock market crashed and he put his investment portfolio into AIG and lost his millions?

What are you going to do when you marry that big mortgage broker who was earning $400,000 a month, but can’t close a deal now because Bear Stearns went down in a fire sale and lending guidelines changed?  What are you going to do when the repo man comes for the Lamborghini Gallardo he has parked outside your home you shared.

Oh, knowing people who think like you, strictly on a social scale, the answer to that would be quite simple.  The divorce papers will be issued and you’ll be running as fast as you can.

Now, here’s where the real problem lies.

What if the same thing happens to you?

It seems that superficial person who thinks they’re marrying up will realize that you’re not a breadwinner anymore, and leave you for the Chinese girl who is earning less money at a much more stable job.

That’s how life works.  Things change.  People do as well.  So, I hope you can reconsider your values and figure out what you really want out of life, because from what it looks like, this is just a game to you.

Originally posted on Quora.

Leonard Kim is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.


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