Love Is a Luxury Not Everyone Can Afford


It’s a well-documented fact that love don’t cost a thing; however, the environment necessary for love to take root in one’s heart and flourish is really expensive — both in terms of time and money. Love is like an elusive street cat that wanders haphazardly into your home but will refuse to linger if you don’t feed it organic grapes and rub its belly four hours a day.

Sarah Corse, an associate professor of sociology at U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences, has authored a paper titled “Intimate Inequalities: Love and Work in a Post-Industrial Landscape” on the subject. According to Corse:

“Working-class people with insecure work and few resources, little stability, and no ability to plan for a foreseeable future become concerned with their own survival and often become unable to imagine being able to provide materially and emotionally for others. Insecure work changes peoples’ non-work lives.”

The study surveyed over 300 working- and middle-class men and women across the U.S. and found that the decline of stable, unionized full-time jobs with health insurance and pensions has rendered working-class Americans far less likely to get married, stay married, and have children than those with college degrees. Increasingly, marriage is becoming the province of the wealthy.

Obviously, marriage isn’t an institution merely meant to preserve and honor the concept of “love” — it serves a specific social and economic purpose. But Corse’s findings have implications for all forms of committed relationships: those with stable incomes are more free to make emotional and material commitments simply because they have the time and money to do so. They’re able to invest in reinforcing their emotional bonds through date nights, couples therapy, gift-giving, throwing pyschosexual masked balls, buying each other billboards of each other’s faces (I’m running out of affluent people mating rituals, so I’m just listing Gossip Girl plot points now). When your economic future is precarious, trying to form a stable relationship is far from a priority; in some cases, it’s a near impossibility.

According to Corse and Jennifer Silva, her co-researcher, “Our interviewees without college degrees expressed feelings of distrust and even fear about intimate relationships, and had difficulty imagining being able to provide for others.” It’s fairly devastating to think that our economy is so fucked that even daydreaming about “true love” can seem untenable without a college degree.

“Love and work don’t always work for working class in America, study shows” [Eurekalert]
Image via Honchar Roman/Shutterstock.

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