A few weeks ago, I wrote a Good Men Project essay called “Could I Fall in Love with the Bus Driver?” It was about the intersection of gender and class, and how I was rethinking my own assumptions about what kind of “qualifications” I had for a partner. My friend Kate (who has guest posted here before), wrote a response. Turns out, these are not hypothetical questions for her:
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I started dating Rick in the middle of my senior year in college. He was an under-employed real estate agent, stuck in the rut of the recession. He also happened to be 17 years older than me, and was divorced with a child. But he was so good-looking. And he made me laugh. I fully expected it not to go anywhere. I had plans, you see, and getting into a relationship was not in them.
You know what they say about plans, “the best laid…” Fast forward to graduation, six months later, and Rick and I were still together. He and his child met my parents that summer, and we ended up spending the holidays that year together. Soon after that, we were talking about the future, and my dreams (and my five, ten, and 20 year plans). Rick and I talked about the possibility of me moving, going to grad school, joining the Peace Corps or something else that would possibly separate us.
Rick doesn’t have a college degree, and values my education highly. He’s told me that no matter what, he stands by my decisions and I shouldn’t let him hold me back from anything. If I want to move to pursue my goals, the most likely scenario would be him coming with. This absolute support of me made me realize some things about what I wanted and needed in a partner.
As the good, middle class, well educated young woman I am, I always assumed that I would marry a middle class well educated young man, somebody my “equal” in terms of economic status and educational level. However, that type of young man, the type I dated in college, was more than willing to leave me to found their own start-up or join the Navy. I needed a partner who was instead ready to back me up, and follow me, instead of vice-versa.
It is really hard reversing gender roles. It is especially hard reversing gender roles with a 17 year age gap and a college degree difference. There were a few people who implied Rick wasn’t “good enough” for me, or “smart enough” or whatever you might imagine “enough” because of his circumstances. But those people who judge our relationship aren’t the people in it. They don’t see the back end, the unconditional support that I have from him, or even just the way he makes me giggle over the smallest things. The differences between us don’t damage our relationship, but make it stronger.
What I imagined in life was nowhere close to what I have ended up getting. Rick proposed to me a year ago, and we’re getting married sometime in the next year. So I guess I did kind of fall for the “bus driver.” The result? A wonderful, strong, fulfilling relationship with the man I am going to spend the rest of my life with. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
Related Post: Kate’s guest post about Cosmo, kink, and sexual honesty.
Related Post: Kate’s guest post about people telling her she’s too skinny.