While enjoying a fine chat with another, an interesting topic for discussion came up. We were talking about watching friends and coworkers enter relationships, get married, and move away—including a whole bunch of them in the last couple of years alone.
“It’s funny, it’s like a recession brings people closer together!” went the observation.
And that got me to thinking…what if it actually does?
Now, I realize that at first glance, the evidence doesn’t seem to back up that assertion. Financial trouble is one of the most commonly cited reasons for divorce and breakups. It’s pretty hard when you want to treat your significant other to something nice once in a while, but are fretting that you could possibly lose your job next week. And if the other person is under the same circumstances, that can lead to a quick exit. And no one needs to remind anyone on here that weddings are expensive propositions (paging Mr. Braverman).
But bear with me to examine the other side of that argument, monkeys.
I honestly haven’t been observant enough over a long enough period of time to make a confident assumption (maybe some of the old soldiers can), but I’m thinking it goes like this:
Chronic high unemployment for an extended period of time fosters cynicism and despair in a lot of people. We find ourselves sacrificing and striving for little apparent gain, and it is tempting to give up. We can try turning to the comforts from our relationships to combat the drudgery, but other people will choose a path of escapism and spontaneity.
Now that can be good and bad—spending quality time with friends is the best way to blow off steam after a bad week, and a quiet, relaxing date with your girlfriend or boyfriend can be a perfect tonic after a stressful weekend at the office. When everything seems to be awful, at the very least you still have that.
But it can also lead to some destructive behavior, aka “the shotgun approach”—making life a never ending series of emotionally destructive one-night stands (some of you may know firsthand exactly what I mean). Or it can mean impulsively tying the knot with somebody you probably shouldn’t, because you aren’t thinking straight. Seeking out “creature comforts” is one of the ways we humans try to cope with loss—at soccer’s World Cup in South Africa, the bartenders and the prostitutes actively prepared for a huge spike in business from fans and players of the losing team.
Or maybe it’s a wash—people fight, fall in love, and break up all the time, regardless of whether the economy is booming or not. Any thoughts? Or is this a complete waste of time?