If you lived in the ’90s in the Middle East, you’d be no stranger to the infamous Mexican soap operas, which at the time, were a huge part of everyone’s lives. Every evening was spent watching the most predictable, but intriguing, whirlwind romances via the Mexican tele-novella. Needless to say, there was not a single female in the audience who wouldn’t fantasize about her charming, heroic character sweeping her off her feet.
And every year, a new soap opera would be televised, sure to capture the nation’s attention. “Kassandra”, “Juan Al Ghool”, ” Marimar”, “Maria Mercedes”,et al, the list is endless. There would be a constant supply of pop TV that would have the audience asking for more. For every soap opera, the characters, plot and script would be different, but there was one classic thread that refused to change; A handsome man, a beautiful woman — his obvious love interest, both from differing social class, enduring the endless obstacles of family and the societal prejudice, who scorned upon such a union. They would predictably have a fairy tale ending after suffering through all their travails. Needless to say, those of us who have been faithful audiences have been conditioned by the imagery we grew up with.
Marriage: A Social Class Equation
This led me to the following equation:
Man (upper-class) + Woman (working-class) + Same Culture = Happily Ever After.
According to the Mexican soap bubble, this equation works every time, contrary to what you see in real life. Or does it? Can such relationships really work in reality?
Since I was a little girl, my earliest opinions were formed by what I saw and learned in my own social environment. I believed that each individual eventually partners with someone from a social class relevant and equal to their own. My theory was that you need to be with someone of equal educational status, wealth, background and upbringing — someone who holds to a similar moral code and comparable family ideals, to ensure optimal communication and understanding.
This theory made complete sense to me. In my mind, the more similar people are, the more they tend to respect and understand each others ideology, faith, social etiquette and future plans. This could be anything from the way they plan their finances, domestic roles and responsibilities, to raising their children, their preferred lifestyle or eventual retirement plans. In my mind this was the ideal relationship. The soulmate kind who’s — a mirror reflection of you.
It wasn’t until a few months ago, following an analysis of my own past relationships and of others around me, that I began to rethink my perspective. Over the years, I’ve dated men from different as well as similar social background as mine. However, based on the fact that none of them worked out, I’ve come to the conclusion that in most relationships, social class is only important if you think it is. The more conscious you are of it, the more it will be a hindrance, if both of you are from dissimilar statuses. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the chemistry that you share, or don’t share, with the other person. Adaptability is directly proportional to the love that you hold. Colour, race, social class, economic status, I realized, were merely the social constructs we victimized ourselves with, to seemingly keep love out, rather than accept it with open arms
So, where did I go wrong with my theory? Not all relationships are like Dan Humphrey and Serena Van Der Woodsen’s in Gossip Girl — which defied all conventions of class and social economic status. Just as Darwin’s theory of Adaptation & Survival of the fittest, those relationships are more enduring because they can change and adapt.From my own experiences, it appeared a paradox, that two people from similar backgrounds could be so dissimilar and may have completely different views on life. Their past experience defining their present belief systems and expectations.
At the end of the day, Dan Humphrey from Brooklyn ended up marrying Serena Van Der Woodsen of the Upper East Side albeit their gazillion differences. True Love triumphed over everything else.
The Culture Factor
Let us look at this from a different angle- an additional cultural perspective:
Man (upper-class) + Woman (working-class) + Different Cultures = Challenging times
It is difficult enough to adapt to a different class, but an entirely different culture would be even more challenging.
Cracking the “Happily Ever After” Code:
So what should we exactly look for in our potential life partner? Whatever it is, when you marry into a different class, you are marrying into a whole new set of rules and etiquette, where one person will have more wealth and power than the other — which can be intimidating. And yet couples who are more different than similar, can have as fulfilling or even, happier marriages. What’s more crucial, is not so much the differences, as much as how couples collectively manage these areas of differences and incompatibility, to maintain an even emotional frequency. They should ultimately be prepared to not be blindsided by their dissimilarities at a later stage in their relationship and be ready to face any eventualities arising after the “honeymoon phase” is well and over.
Despite looking at my theory from various perspectives, I still place a lot of emphasis on similarities in social class and environment. I would still favour being with someone from similar background as mine, or higher, because I come from an affluent background with Art, literature, classical music, education and travel having a major place in my life.
So my final equation mantra for relationship bliss?
Financial Security + Similar cultural backgrounds + Grand Love = Happily Ever After.
They say that sometimes we need to step outside our comfort zone, clear all the clutter in our hearts and minds, to remind ourselves of who we are and where we want to be. To do that we need to venture into worlds outside our own to find ourselves. I am not sure if I’d be able to give all that up, even for love… Gossip Girl & endless twilight Mexican Tele-novellas notwithstanding.
An interesting Infographic on what women really look for in a relationship by www.parship.de