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You Asked: Will Our Differences Break Us Up?

Dear Sugar,

I've been in a relationship for about a year. I met my boyfriend while I was doing an internship at the company he is currently working for. He has been great to me so far — he's patient, loving, and sweet, however I am feeling rather insecure and bugged about his education. I have a higher education level than he does, thus I am earning more than him. My mom has not been taking this piece of news very well as she feels I deserve more. It's gotten to the point where I try not to include him in my social group other than my close friends because they are all college graduates and he's not.

He's been taking classes again, but it will take approximately three years to complete his study. Three years to me is a significant amount of time. Both of us have talked about our future goal of getting married, but I don't want to waste his time or mine, so do you think I should stand by him and wait for him to graduate college, or should I just move on? — Smart Alec Alex

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Smart Alec Alex,

It sounds like your boyfriend is a really good guy who treats you well, so something tells me there's something more than his lack of education that's bothering you. If this is more about money, you might want to consider Steve Jobs or Kanye West before assuming that just because he didn't graduate college, he won't be successful. It sounds like he's going back to school to appease you, so if you're not sure if he's worth waiting for, I'd absolutely let him go so you can both move on.

Being embarrassed by your significant other is a huge red flag. You say that you've talked about getting married, but when you're with someone that you love enough marry, I would hope that you'd accept him for who he is, college educated or not. Trust your gut on this one, Alex, because I'm hearing that you're settling and that's no way to have a relationship. Good luck to you.


Join The Conversation
beautyk beautyk 8 years
I totally understand what you are being through. I wanted to post a question but I found yours. Hope somebody will comment. I'm in the beginning of a relashionship that I guess is hardly working, because both of us are AFRAID, and too shy, and wait for each other to make a step further. I'm a Phd student, and he is a worker. I talked to my mom about him, and I can tell you she was desperate. I understand because I spent my life wondering why she married my father when he could have been a lot better with someone who could accept his financial situation better than her. She is scared I would be miserable financially with him. I 'm afraid I might lose him, if only I could forget my fears...we flirt a lot, but we are both sacared, or maybe he feels my fears.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
He does deserve better. Who gives a stuff if this poor lad doesn't have a college degree? He's a decent loving guy and he should be admired for doing something with himself instead of sitting on his butt all day and bludging off welfare.
Nina_79 Nina_79 8 years
Leave him. He deserves better.
Janine22 Janine22 8 years
Wow, you sound really intellectually snobby! You should support your partner in their interests and accomplishments, not look down on them or see them differently because they don't have as much education as you! As for the money issue, well you have only been together for a year, and you don't live together, I don't really understand why this would be such a big deal. Also, he will eventually have the capacity to earn decent money. If you choose men based mainly on their education level or income, then perhaps he is not the right man for you.
lilCROAT03 lilCROAT03 8 years
dude you can get a degree in like 3 months on the internet these days. why are you huffing your degree like if defines your life? sad. and he deserves someone who won't belittle him, rather encourage him.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
You sound bored in your relationship. I didn't see anywhere in that post anything about you loving this guy. Why are you even with him if a degree or lack thereof is all you seem to quiver about.
ajennilynrushhh ajennilynrushhh 8 years
Wow, you sound like my boyfriend because he kept bugging me about degrees because I decided to go to a vocational school. I told him to leave me if that's what he cares about is a degree, but he got over it. Just as long as I go to school. So either get over it or leave your boyfriend.
austerity austerity 8 years
I find it interesting how some of you say that it's shallow to want someone with a college degree, and then try to prove your point by saying: 'Take my boyfriend for example, he doesn't have a college degree, but he makes more money than I do.' Isn't it then just as shallow to measure your boyfriend's success or your compatibility with him by how much MONEY he makes? Isn't that just as insignificant in determining what kind of a person he is as the possession of a degree?
bransugar79 bransugar79 8 years
I guess I'm not the only one who thinks this is a YOU problem not a HIM problem. College in America is starting to be a joke. I know so many unqualified people with degrees it's laughable. The idea that you met this man while he was WORKING for the company you were an intern for should tell you something. I think he deserves to be treated better. If he is a good man you're lucky. I know a lot of women who would trade in their loser with luxuries for your guy any day. Start to think about what your placing your value in. A human being's worth is not measured by how impressive their resume is but what the condition of their heart is. You should check yours
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 8 years
Of course it would be easier if everything was picture-perfect and predictable, but sometimes you need to be grateful for what you do have in your life, and it sounds like you have a lot.
novo32 novo32 8 years
I am in a similar situation ,where i am a college graduate and my boyfriend barely finished highschool. It does bother me sometimes, but honestly he is smarter than several people that I have met that have masters degrees. A college education is not everything. Sure a diploma is a nice thing to have but my boyfriend doesnt have one and is actually making more money than I am currently because he is hardworking and responsible. I say if you love him and he is a good guy; stick it out, especially since he does want to further his education. Besides its not the diploma that makes a good person, its that persons determination and character.
CoMMember13630786602261 CoMMember13630786602261 8 years sound incredibly shallow. If you seriously think this then HE deserves better. It doesnt sound like you really love this guy, so I say you should let HIM move on. He sounds like a great guy and Im sure he can find a woman who wouldnt be so judgemental. No one deserves to spend their life with someone who will constantly be looking down on them.
beautiful-disaster beautiful-disaster 8 years
im in a similar situation. Im still in school, but because i am also 6 years younger than my boyfriend. he has ALWAYS been studying, but at 25 decided he needed to make another change because he hadnt found what he really wants to be doing for the rest of his life. while i applaud him for not giving up, for continuing to find what he wants (all the while working as to not be a burden to his family) my mother is worried im with someone "beneath me" because he will be 29/30 years old when done with university. on that note.. im embarassed of my fmaily to be around him because of their behaviour and how unbelievably bad it makes them look. you fall into that category. you should be ashamed by how you feel. if you really love him and "plan to marry him" as you said.. a degree shouldnt be so important as long as he shows that he is capable of maintaining himself in a steady job, is good to you and is someone you enjoy spending time with. hes not sitting on your couch all day wallowing in self pity. he actually doing something which is more than many MANY people can say.
FourLeafJewel83 FourLeafJewel83 8 years
I have a BA and am working towards my Master's. My boyfriend just started towards his BA. I'm not embarrassed, I'm proud of him. Things didn't work out when they were 'supposed' to but he's at least making the effort now. And let me tell you, it's a hell of a lot harder for him now than it would have been then, and he's still making it work. I agree with everyone. Get over it, or get out of the relationship. If something this shallow is going to mess with you, what's going to happen if he gets laid off or something?
gemsera gemsera 8 years
I totally agree with everyone else. Neither of us have a degree, but I earn more. Its not an issue, as the real issue is that we LOVE each other just the way we are. Shallow as h*ll :(
designerel designerel 8 years
You are placing way too much emphasis on a degree. Why does it matter? It sounds like he's got a good career at a company that *you* got an internship with. If the company was good enough for you to want an internship with them, it must be a good company right? And he works for them! On top of it, he IS working toward his degree. What more do you want? If you are going to let this eat at you, you will just have to let him go. Personally I think it is silly to let what others think matter so much to you, but you are not being fair to him if you are secretly looking down on him for not having a degree. This really hits home for me because my bf doesn't have a degree either. And unlike your bf, he has no plans to go back to school. He explained to me that the time he did spend in college was probably the most miserable time of his life. I just want him to be happy, so I support his decision. Am I worried that he might not be as successful as someone who has a college degree? Sure, yeah. Of course an employer will pick someone with a degree over someone without. (Unless, of course, the person without the degree has a ton of experience). But I know he will be just fine, because he is great at what he does.
CYL CYL 8 years
I would understand if his lack of education causes him to not be able to communicate with you or relate with you. But really if all it is, is his lack of a piece of paper...its a piece of paper. There are a lot of intelligent people who didn't go to University. Or is the problem you are embrassed by him and worried what other people think. Because if you love him, he treats you well, is a decent person to your family and friends it shouldn't matter what other people think..and most people won't care about his lack of a degree. My boyfriend went to technical college and trained to be a Helicopter Engineer and I went to University and got a degree or two. He makes more than me, is super smart and can take apart an entire plane or helicopter apart and put it back together again...same goes for any other electric device/car. But of course if I decided to chat with him about the poltical situation and history of India, Pakistan and Bangeldash he is going to look stupid and draw a blank. Same goes for me when he starts going on and telling me how he had to rejig the entire navigation system of an airplane. What I am trying to get at is we are all 'smart' about different things...and you don't need a piece of paper to prove you are intelligent. try looking at it that way.
tina_marie tina_marie 8 years
I say if you can't live with what he doesn't have - then break up with him. But know, that just because some man out there had a degree, that won't make him prince charming. A lot of the time they are arrogant pr*#ks. My husband only finished high school and I have two master's degrees and a professional certification - we are very happy. I married the man - not the suit. In the beginning it really bothered him more than me that he didn't have an education. He felt like he wasn't good enough for me. And funny thing is; now he makes more money than I do!
bluestar bluestar 8 years
Ditto to everyone else!
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
Urgh, what? I got a level higher than my boyfriend in my undergraduate degree and he's the one earning big money as an analyst for an energy company and I'm working low level care jobs as I study some more!! Urgh, just urgh. Your boyfriend deserves somebody who can appreciate his talents as opposed to some numbers on a bit of paper. Seriously.
girlnone girlnone 8 years
I think the previous posters may have been a bit harsh, but I definitely agree that the problem is you, not your man's lack of education. Formal education, especially in the US, doesn't mean that you're more intelligent or more skilled. Most of the time, it just means that you're further in debt. Why is a degree so important to you? Is it because you're truly worried whether your man will make enough money to support himself, or are you more focused on how your social circle will judge you for dating someone who didn't go to college?
lilCROAT03 lilCROAT03 8 years
i have a masters degree and guess fiancee was kicked out of highschool. the most ambitious people in the world aren't 'john from accounting'. in fact, the stingiest most boring people are all the degree jockeys who have ZERO creativity and care ZERO about people in their lives and more about their money and the illusion of 'status'.
austerity austerity 8 years
I guess I can understand that you want to date a guy who is as educated as you are (most of us would), but I think his demeanor, behavior, morals and overall personality will reflect his true level of education more than his degree. If you feel your minds match when you are together and feel like you're talking to a 'smart' person that you will never get tired of talking to, I think that's the intuition you should use to decide whether he's educated enough for you. Not whether or not he went to college. I know many people who never went to college but are very very smart in a 'real-world' sense, I have also met shallow people who happen to hold PhD's and have very narrow definitions of intelligence. Even if you do desperately want him to get a degree, he's working toward it, isn't he? I think three years is not a long time at all to wait for someone you care about, especially someone who is as sweet as you describe and who's willing to swallow his ego and do this for you. Most of all, if you feel that you're going to feel 'too good' for this guy for a long time to come, do both of yourselves a favor and let him find someone who is completely comfortable with him. If you don't, you'll keep resenting him for his 'dumbness' and he'll resent you for your attitude.
mnp mnp 8 years
I can see that for a man to have a college education is a preference for you. That is ok. But to be ashamed of him and not bringing him into your social group is real low. You are suppose to love him for who he is and who he will grow to be. He obviously has something going for him that is why you picked him out and made him your bf. Anyways, if you can't see past that maybe it's time to let him go.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
i agree, this is so shallow i am very well educated, as well, and i would never date a guy based on his education level in fact, every guy i've dated has had less education than me...and i haven't cared one long as they have aspirations and a stable job, and obviously treat me right, they're okay in my books get over yourself
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