I'm a liberal atheist, biomedical scientist, marijuana advocate, 9/11 researcher, and Occupy Wall Street protestor.
A middle class man might be able to understand me. The thing about me growing up in poverty, since I was always in the advanced academic classes, I was always around people who were richer than me. They weren't all rich, but their lifestyle was so far different than mine that I could never imagine myself in their place. I could never imagine myself living in a house with a backyard. Going to Disneyland? Unthinkable. Buying new clothes for school? Not happening. Allowances and music players and piano lessons and two parents? Nope. When I got to spend the night at sleepovers, it was an eye opener, but I could never have sleepovers at my place, except with the apartment kids, and none of them were my friends because we weren't in the same classes. I was an outlier everywhere I went, and very few people could understand my point of view.
My life has been similar to a black person growing up in a white neighborhood. Black people know what white society is like, but the reverse isn't true. I knew what it was like to be middle class, but they didn't know what it was like to be poor. Maybe it would have been different if I had been black, but I wasn't. The outside world saw a dynamic, good looking, well spoken person and wondered why I was wearing rags. My socioeconomic status always made me stand out like a sore thumb, and it got worse the longer I stayed in school. As I rose up through college and grad school, my peers were ever richer in comparison, and they understood me less and less. My poverty has always reflected badly upon me, when I was doing the admirable thing and trying to climb out of it. The poor people listened to the way that I spoke and assumed with antipathy that I was a part of a higher class.
I don't think that a middle class lifestyle is too much to expect out of life, but then a disaster happened. I married a man who (as it turned out) thought he was doing me a favor by marrying me so that I could have a roof over my head. Never mind that somehow I had always had a roof over my head before. He thought that I would be grateful to him because he paid the rent, and that I didn't deserve or require such things and gentle and kind treatment and genuine interest in what was going on in my life and attention to my goals. The best man at my wedding told me that I didn't get a fancy wedding because I didn't have a father. I replied, "That's not the ONLY thing I didn't get because I didn't have a father." Apparently, my ex-husband thought I didn't need the love of a man, that I should exchange regular sex with him for a place to stay. He made me feel like a cheap whore. He made me feel like I was still standing in the free lunch line.
I tell you all this, even though complaining about your exes is a bad idea, because I don't want you to inadvertently say or do things that might make me feel like I'm in the free lunch line again. Yeah, you're richer than me, but that doesn't mean that your feelings are more important than mine. I've been a good person in life, and darn it, I've tried. I'm not broke, but I don't have an income. To most of the world that means I get nothing out of life. I hope you don't view a possible relationship with me as being primarily good for me, that I am a charity case, because I'm not. I'm an exemplary human being, and if you don't feel lucky because I'm with you, then you won't love me for who I am. I'm the strongest and nicest person I've ever known, and I say that with humility. I started out in life wanting to be a missionary, but I could never bring myself to believe in a god, so I didn't do that. But I am a missionary of sorts. I'm working hard at important things to make the world a better place. To love me is to love this about me. To make me happy is to allow me to continue my work. I don't want to be married so I can sit back and do nothing. I want to be married because I'm a lover and I want to share love, but I can't be married if it means giving up everything else important to me.