Does Social Class Matter in Relationships?

Common interests draw people together.
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The old adage "birds of a feather flock together" is based on the phenomenon that people with similar interests and values are attracted. Your social class can influence both your interests and your values, which makes a difference in your relationships. Although social status is not the only influence on relationships, it does matter, and should be recognized so you can deal with it successfully.

1 How Social Class Defines Individuals

Social class, as it is referred to in the media and by sociologists, refers to your economic status, or the economic status of your parents. Individuals within a particular social class generally share common experiences, such as a similar level of education and type of work. Although there is great variability within a social class, people who grow up in a particular environment are likely to share the interests and values of their parents or the community in which they were raised.

2 The Attraction of Common Interests

Whether it is sports, art, outdoor activities, video games or any other interest, enjoying the same things brings people together. Activities that are basically free for everyone, such as watching sports on television, is not affected by social class. But social class can affect your interests. With sports as an example, social class affects your ability to attend professional games or engage in particular sports, such as snow skiing or golfing. While common interests is not the only aspect of a relationship, your interests do have an impact on how you interact with a friend or partner.

3 The Cement of Common Values

Values are shaped by many influences, such as your family, culture and life experiences. People with similar values often share common political and religious views. These views determine the way you think people should be treated and the kinds of activities you enjoy. Although people from the same social class often share values, people from different social classes can have common values, providing a relationship with a strong basis.

4 Social Class Potential for Power Plays

Power is powerful in a relationship. Between partners, friends or individuals in a group, power affects the way you interact. Factors such as personality or education can give one person an edge over another, leading to the stronger personality or more highly educated person having more power in the relationship. But of all the factors influencing power in a relationship, social class is a major player. Money matters because money means opportunity. If you are in a relationship with a person from a different social class, be honest with yourself about how you feel about the social status difference, and have heart-to-heart discussions about this difference and its potential impact on how you relate to each other.

For Judy Kilpatrick, gardening is the best mental health therapy of all. Combining her interests in both of these fields, Kilpatrick is a professional flower grower and a practicing, licensed mental health therapist. A graduate of East Carolina University, Kilpatrick writes for national and regional publications.