Recession Breakups: Don’t Let It Happen To You

This recession blows; it not only left us with a lighter wallet, but also with a lot of severed relationships. Some relationships ended due to one party having to leave the country, while others ended due to the emotional and financial stress attributed to a distressed economy. Breaking up due to distance is something I can understand and relate to, but I really want to explore reasons why couples break up due to unemployment and financial concerns. I spoke to several people who broke up for those reasons to see what caused the breakup, and what these people would’ve done differently, if they could go back in time.

Names have been changed.



The couple has been having some minor issues, but which couple doesn’t have those? Anyhow, they still loved each other and were contemplating marriage. John was let go from his firm and has been struggling to find a new job; Linda was soon to be let-go so money was a sensitive issue. While John was unemployed, Linda wasn’t the most supportive girlfriend, and kept questioning why John still didn’t find a new job, etc. They would argue often, and of course, under those situations, harsh words were exchanged. After Linda got let-go, John found a new job, and almost immediately, dumped Linda, moved out of their shared apartment and never looked back.


  1. During this time, Linda put John under tremendous emotional stress, where John would question his own qualifications, and slowly but surely his confidence withered, making it even more difficult to get a job
  2. Linda was not considerate of the fact that it is not John’s fault, but that the economy was to blame
  3. Constant arguments over money, rent, etc.



Peter and Kate moved in together for about a year. The initial reason for moving in together was to save money on rent, as the economy was just beginning to show signs of a recession. Peter and Kate are both investment bankers, and were working for firms facing financial difficulty, Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers, so both parties were stressed, easily agitated, under a lot of pressure and definitely tight on the budget. Given the circles that Peter and Kate travel – going out and buying bottles at the hottest bars, eating at the most expensive restaurants, and going on the nicest vacations – keeping up was a challenge. Eventually Peter lost his job with Bear Sterns, while Kate kept her job with her new employer, Barclays. Peter was no longer able to afford the things he and Kate were both accustomed to. The tension between them grew, as Peter was no longer able to go to the same places Kate goes. Kate tried to be a supportive girlfriend but Peter didn’t want to be supported by his girlfriend, and so they began to drift apart.  Personally, if this couple saw themselves as one unit, then being temporarily supported by the other should not be perceived as “losing face.”


  1. Couples either grow together or grow apart – and in this case, given different financial lifestyles, the couple drifted apart. As Peter’s budget tightened, they no longer do the same things and eventually have less and less to talk about, and less and less in common
  2. The couple felt restricted in what they could say to each other, for fear of the other getting offended, so communication also suffered. When they did speak, the tension would sometimes cause them to say things they didn’t mean, or receive things negatively that weren’t intended to be negative


  1. Be more supportive. Do not nag. Understand that it’s not your partner’s fault for losing their job, but it’s the economy. They already feel bad and inferior for losing their job; the last thing they need is for someone to constantly remind them that they are unemployed and “useless”
  2. Give them time and space. If they want to be alone, give them time to themselves, but just reassure them that you will be there for them, assuming that is the case
  3. Communicate. Talk and decide as a couple: what you will cut back on, how you will help each other make it through this rough patch? By ALL means, DO NOT argue about money matters, as that is the source of all evil. Know that if you can make it through this, you can make it through a lot of things in life, together
  4. Encourage them to remain active and energetic, like exercising or volunteering, so they don’t feel useless
  5. The most important thing you have to assess is “do you want this person in your life”, if you do, then this crappy economy already took away your job and income, DON’T let it take away someone special, too – fight back!

Don’t let this economy get the best of you and all that you have worked for, and sometimes, a relationship is more work than work itself, so take care of it and don’t give up. Hang in there. A wise man once told me: you want to date someone through troubled times because you want to know how they will deal with it – because in life, there will inevitably be good and bad times. How someone deals with losing a job, copes with someone who lost a job, or keeps picking themselves up after they fall is indicative of how they will deal with any obstacle that may come their way. So if you guys can get through this tough time together, you will know that this is the person you can rely on for anything and everything.  Of course, if the person does not handle the problem in a way that is acceptable to you, i.e., they refuse to pick themself up, and resort to drinking instead, then you know it’s better to extricate yourself from the relationship.


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