Twelve 20-somethings chronicle their lives for WBUR. Learn more.
For me, the economic downturn has mostly affected my romantic relationships.
In 2008, I moved to Baltimore with my boyfriend to start our lives. We both got good jobs in the arts and things were going really well. We were making friends, saving money, and living normal lives. A few months later, I was laid off. My boyfriend’s hours were cut and cut until he too was finally laid off.
I was unable to get unemployment because I hadn’t worked at my job long enough. My boyfriend, however, did receive assistance and we were able to scrape by while I found jobs waitressing and stuffing envelopes.
I began to resent him because he had the luxury of staying home and looking for a job he actually wanted, while I was taking anything I could get just to pay rent. I would come home from a long day at work and be jealous that he had been freelancing from home or playing video games all day.
It didn’t seem fair to me that he had only worked a few months longer than I had, and the government found him more worthy of it’s assistance.
After about a year, we moved to a smaller place to save money, but this turned out to be a terrible idea.
During the massive storm that President Obama deemed “Snowpocalypse”, our ceiling collapsed from the weight of the snow. Our landlord was off on a ski vacation and didn’t pick up the phone for three days. To make a long story short, we stopped paying rent until it was fixed, she sued us, we ran out of money defending ourselves and had to move back home.
This stress, on top of the secret resentment that I felt about our differences in working situations, eventually led to us going our separate ways.
I sometimes wonder if we had both been gainfully employed, would we have been able to better deal with the challenging situations that arose in Baltimore? Would we still have argued and bickered about tiny purchases or felt guilty about going out for a beer once a week?
If these underlying economic stresses weren’t there, would we still be together?
I know that every generation graduates from college poor and in debt and that everyone has to suffer a little bit in the beginning. However, I think that trying time and again to get a job you know you’re qualified for is incredibly frustrating and demoralizing. This kind of frustration and self-doubt can be a serious burden on a relationship.
Stability has become a much more important factor in whether I date someone than I ever thought it would.