Love in the Time of Layoff: Recession Killed My Romance

by Laura Rich on April 30, 2009 in Lifestyle

hearts love 150Twenty-three years after they broke up, Lesa and Ken embarked on a new romance from different corners of the country. On a whim, Ken had entered his college sweetheart’s name into Google – and discovered Lesa was living in Portland, Oregon. He was living in Avon Park, Florida. Between the two of them, they had lived through divorce, spousal death, children and heart attack. Despite the distance, the sparks were still there.

As their relationship grew stronger over two years of visiting, talking, emailing and Skyping, they made plans to move in together – in December 2008, he was to pack up and join her in Oregon.

At the same time, the economic clouds were moving in. The job market was getting worse in a hurry. Meanwhile, Lesa’s ten years as a social worker for the state of Oregon gave her security and stability there (somewhat – Oregon’s unemployment rate is 12.5% and states are not exactly guaranteeing employment anymore), but then Ken, a mental health therapist, was offered a full-time position in Florida.

The recession has a funny way of making what’s already tough – a long-distance relationship – even tougher.

Neither of them was ready – or in any financial position – to ditch stable employment for a big move. They decided to put the plans on hold.

“My partner and I are both lucky to be employed,” Lesa wrote in an email. “Both Oregon and Florida have wickedly high unemployment rates. Neither one of us can easily find another job right now if we moved to be with the other.”

The recession has a funny way of making what’s already tough – a long-distance relationship – even tougher. According to the dating site TheFrisky, the economy’s great for realizing how much long-distance lovers are worth to you: “You might be happier breaking up with someone who you don’t want to spend money on.”

For one of the founders of Recessionwire, coast-to-coast distance tested the early days of a budding romance as the new beau was called back from New York to San Francisco, where his own startup needed his recession-proofing attention. “The recession killed my romance,” she thought. (But he moved back and all turned out well.)

For Ken and Lesa, they’ve got a new deal: “We both send out resumes to each other’s quadrants. He’s looking in Oregon and Washington, I’m looking in the Southeast. Whoever gets the first job offer, moves.”

How about Nebraska? The unemployment rate is a very healthy 4.9%, and, as Lesa says, “everyone needs therapists!”

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