You don’t have to be a rocket scientist…

Published: February 4, 2011 | Last Updated: February 20, 2011 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading


Hi Irene,

I have a bachelor’s degree in English. Even with my college degree, I haven’t been able to find any high paying jobs so I have been working as a secretary for the past seven years. The people in my current social circle (secretaries) tend to be low-to-middle income people, many of whom only have high school diplomas. I’m attracted to a wide variety of people as long as our personalities connect and we have a good time together. How important do you think a similar educational background is in choosing friends or is it irrelevant?


My boyfriend is a successful business owner with a MBA. All of his friends have successful careers, such as doctors, lawyers, and other business owners, etc. I am anxious that he will judge me by my friendships with non-college-educated people and that he won’t have anything in common with my friends or enjoy hanging out with us. Am I wrong to assume this? Or is it common for couples to have friends from different educational backgrounds?


I feel that I am limiting myself from hanging out with people and making new friends because I am afraid they won’t be "good enough" for my boyfriend unless they went to college and it will reflect poorly upon me in his eyes for not having more successful friends.




Dear Nell,

I’m sorry you’ve had difficulty finding a job in your area of study. In this economy, many people find themselves in similar situations, happy to be employed in jobs very different than those they envisioned or previously held.


Once people are out of school and begin working, their friendships become more heterogeneous. In the workplace, people are likely to encounter colleagues of many different backgrounds—educationally, geographically, culturally, and even of differing ages. Many of these individuals wind up being close friends.


As you point out the most important aspect of a friendship is that personalities connect and that you have a good time together. We all know plenty of people whom—on paper—we should have a great deal in common with and like. But we don’t in fact like them at all when we meet them. A college degree, post-graduate degree, or certain income level doesn’t necessarily make a good person or a good friend.


Talk to your boyfriend about your concerns. He may have no issue with the backgrounds of your work friends. Having said that, he is certain to like some of your friends more than others based upon their personalities.


If your boyfriend is overly judgmental and makes you feel uncomfortable about your friendships, this may suggest a problem. Choosing relationships solely, or primarily, on the basis of education, income and the like is a very slippery slope. It’s a short jump from did she go to college to which college? How much does she make? What kind of car does she drive and how big is her house/apartment? It sounds like you aren’t this type of person. Are you comfortable with someone close to you using such standards to judge you, your friends, or other people?


Hope this helps you sort things out.

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  1. Cynthia says:

    Hi Irene,

    Thank you for your wise advice for this post. I was going to suggest a couple of things, but your advice is SO much better than mine would have been! All I can say is that I feel success is being the very best you can be no matter what the vocation or level of education–and that amazing, wonderful people come from all walks of life. Sometimes we can find kindred souls and lifetime friendships in the least likely people and places! All the best to Nell who seems like a very thoughtful person.

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