Recessions = Breakups?

While enjoying a fine chat with another Certified User, 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?

Comments (19)

Oct 10, 2012

It depends on the family structure / individuals involved. Some families/couples spend more time together doing low cost activities (like going to a park) to save money. Others, especially new couples, end up feeling desperate and taking it out on each other or splitting due to uncertainty: marriage rates drop during recessions, and divorce rates go up a bit.

And yeah, people hook up, fight, break up, get back together, get married, whatever, and all that stuff all the time.

Oct 10, 2012
UFOinsider:

It depends on the family structure / individuals involved. Some families/couples spend more time together doing low cost activities (like going to a park) to save money. Others, especially new couples, end up feeling desperate and taking it out on each other or splitting due to uncertainty: marriage rates drop during recessions, and divorce rates go up a bit.

And yeah, people hook up, fight, break up, get back together, get married, whatever, and all that stuff all the time.

I wonder if higher-income couples who do a lot of expensive hobbies together have higher divorce rates when the money dries up? That would be an interesting observation...

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Oct 10, 2012
In The Flesh:
UFOinsider:

It depends on the family structure / individuals involved. Some families/couples spend more time together doing low cost activities (like going to a park) to save money. Others, especially new couples, end up feeling desperate and taking it out on each other or splitting due to uncertainty: marriage rates drop during recessions, and divorce rates go up a bit.

And yeah, people hook up, fight, break up, get back together, get married, whatever, and all that stuff all the time.

I wonder if higher-income couples who do a lot of expensive hobbies together have higher divorce rates when the money dries up? That would be an interesting observation...

There are data sets for divorce rates during recessions, and income is one of the subsets, but I don't feel like digging around for it.

Realistically, finances are just one pressure to deal with in life and many couples who split because of money had all sorts of other issues going on as well. Very rarely is it the case of "You make less than me so we're breaking up" kind of thinking. Confidence, stress, health....all these things are affected by income / employment levels, and this affects the relationship.

Personally, I want someone who wants me while I'm struggling so I don't have to deal with gold diggers later on. Girls that never talked to me as a bartender who now want to kick it, well, I laugh at them, right in their face. Same with women who look down their noses at me while I'm getting started in a new career: I definitely won't take them seriously later on. That may change, but I can't see it right now. Honestly, the best friends I've ever made were the people I got to know while I was unemployed years ago. They weren't trying to get anything out of me and were nice to me. For no reason. Just because. ...for that, they have my undying gratitude and there is little I won't do for them as time goes by.

Oct 11, 2012

I think thats highly likely especially when one of the persons is attracted to the other especially because of the lavish lifestyle. bankers are not always the most interesting people to be with, but you get some goodies if youre with them, is the logic of some ladies at least. they can provide for them.

Best Response
Oct 10, 2012

Interesting write-up and question ITF...

In my limited experience I have found that tough economic times reinforce healthy relationships because the hardship forces you to re evaluate your priorities, and makes your skin a little tougher. I think that surviving a bad economy with a "loved one" is easy because the hardships give you that much more to look forward to.

I have no problem sharing my story, briefly: I have been with my girlfriend for years, through ups and downs(mostly downs), had all of our parents lose their jobs, lost my job, she lost hers later (while I was living on the other side of the world for a year)... etc. Times were shitty. Attitudes were shitty. But the whole time, our relationship just grew stronger because we both wanted to make it work, with eachother, and because we knew better times were ahead. It's the light at the end of the tunnel.

I understand what you mean when you mention escapism and sponteneity, because I have felt both of those things. I have occasionally acted on them. But my real feeling is that turning towards those "exits" will only creat a void, and that sticking it out is simply the right thing to do: Let's say I get some cazy IBD offer next year, my "big break" if you will. Should I just cut my losses and jet for the models and bottles? Or should I keep her in my life and try to continue to make her's better? The answer to me is pretty clear. We stayed together while we were down and out, for years, and I would want to stay together once things pick up.

If there are problems in a relationship, I am sure that tough economic times will exacerbate them, but if the relationship is sound on it's own, I think those same obstacles will make the relationship stronger.

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

    • 2
Oct 10, 2012

^^ I have nothing to offer other than family experience, but I think that couples with expensive hobbies/tastes/habits ARE more likely to break up if the money goes away.. I have seen it happen a few times, and I do not think it is much of a coincidence. The money goes away and they wonder "What was ever there?"

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

    • 1
Oct 10, 2012
FeelingMean:

^^ I have nothing to offer other than family experience, but I think that couples with expensive hobbies/tastes/habits ARE more likely to break up if the money goes away.. I have seen it happen a few times, and I do not think it is much of a coincidence. The money goes away and they wonder "What was ever there?"

Very poetic.

Also, I love being a Neanderthal.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Oct 10, 2012

^^ lol congratulations.

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

Oct 10, 2012

Blubbers incoherently, while reaching for misplaced Kleenex box

No but I'll give you an SB...

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

Oct 10, 2012
In The Flesh:

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).

I don't know how some dudes say this. I've gotten my fair share of poon, but it's not that easy for guys (as it is for chicks) to have repeated one-night stands, especially if you're not in good condition (i.e. jobless, depressed, etc.). Grenades don't count.

Oct 10, 2012
Banker88:
In The Flesh:

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).

I don't know how some dudes say this. I've gotten my fair share of poon, but it's not that easy for guys (as it is for chicks) to have repeated one-night stands, especially if you're not in good condition (i.e. jobless, depressed, etc.). Grenades don't count.

I wouldn't underestimate the power of desperation, Banker88.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Oct 10, 2012

Extramarital affairs are positively correlated with the absolute value of the rate of change of economic activity. They are highest during booms and recessions.

During recessions, the tension at home and poor self-esteem that stem from a beleaguered professional and financial position lead married people to seek solace elsewhere, in the form of a lover that will give them a boost.

During boom times, egos are soaring, people can do no wrong, and an 'upgrade' is needed, justified, and deserved.

Oct 10, 2012

Economic depression = lower job prospects = lower opportunity costs to coupling = more coupling

Thoughts?

Oct 10, 2012
Relinquis:

Economic depression = lower job prospects = lower opportunity costs to coupling = more coupling

Thoughts?

Agree. I would also add larger incentive to pool resources and share costs during a recession = more coupling

(share rent, buy in bulk, one car instead of two, cook for two, etc.)

Oct 10, 2012

^^ Interesting... Do you think the opposite would be true? Would that equation be reversed if the economy were not in a depression?

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

Oct 10, 2012

Someone also brought up that costs could come down in a particularly bad recession, but I doubt that's the case.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Oct 10, 2012
In The Flesh:

While enjoying a fine chat with another Certified User...

was this on Myspace?

Oct 14, 2012
Comment

If you ain't gettin money dat mean you done somethin wrong.

" If you have built castles in the
air , your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be .
Now put the foundations under
them." - Henry David Thoreau