Q: I grew up poor but worked my way through college and was able to get into a very prestigious law school. Recently I started working with a man, "Jack," who went to that same law school. We hit it off immediately and started dating.
Things have been absolutely wonderful ó until I met his extended family at a wedding, that is. His family is old-money rich. His mother has always been nice to me ó his father is dead ó but his aunts, uncles and cousins made it obvious they did not approve of me and made many sly digs about me and my background.
I knew the best way to get through it was to ignore the insults and appear unruffled. Now his mom has invited me to an event that means being around those snobs for an entire long weekend. Jack is asking me to give his family another chance and pointing out that we will be staying with his mom, who is really looking forward to it.
What should I do?
Back Into the Lionís Den?
A: If anyone has standing to disapprove, itís the person who rose up from nothing on her own merits over people whose biggest whoop-de-doo accomplishment was being born.
I donít encourage going into any situation with this attitude; itís just a different form of snobbery. However, there are benefits to indulging it on a onetime basis. For one, it can help you see "lionís den" is wildly inaccurate; itís more like a toddlerís playpen. Mature, thoughtful, decent adults recognize the intellectual underpinnings of snobbery donít withstand even the shallowest scrutiny.
I also think itís really important to discard this disapproving attitude as soon as it serves its reframing purpose, because if you indulge the thought of them all as a bunch of overprivileged placeholders, then you risk stereotyping them exactly as you feel stereotyped.
And I think going with Jack would be a useful step toward seeing whether "absolutely wonderful" really does apply to him.