Love in the Time of Layoff

man-torso-eating-sugar-150Up until recently, if anyone had bothered to ask about my sex drive (which they never did), I would have said it was normal. I enjoyed sex as much as the next woman. But like many urban professionals, I was often too busy thinking about, say, the implications of some new regulation to give much thought to the sexual impulses that spiraled through my brain each day like dust motes.

Now that I have traded in my dry-cleaned, button-down, inoffensively colored work shirts for a set of neon green pajamas, the dust is gathering attention.

If I’m any example, unemployed girls do it better–or at least they want to do it more. Layoff has sent my libido to frenzied new heights…

hearts-love-150Okay all you lovers out there, so what do you know about dating, living and loving in the recession? Budgets for lavish dates and gifts have shrunk; long-term plans for established relationships have been somewhat downsized; and we’re all perhaps a little more deliberate in our dating than we were in the boom times. Things have changed–not least in the way you appreciate your mate. Below, some of the new realities that have emerged in these tough times:

You don’t need to spend a lot to get a lot. In a guest post, “Funky Brown Chick” Twanna A. Hines wrote about getting laid without laying out too much for it. Try renting porn flicks, buy sex toys, and try mixing it up by getting out of town on the cheap.

There are countless options for romantic dates on a budget…

couple-smiling-sunshineDon’t let the state of the declining economy reduce the richness of pleasure in your sex life.

I wouldn’t go out with a guy who refused to spend resources — time, energy, effort or money — on our date. It’s not about the ka-ching. It’s about value. I deserve a life filled with excitement, happiness and sexual richness regardless of mine or my lover’s bank account balance. In case you want the same, I enlisted a few friends and fellow writers of the sexy stuff to provide tips that pump up the heat without pushing out a lot of cash.

Eat, Drink, and Be Sexy

“Human beings are social creatures by nature,” says sex and relationship educator Reid Mihalko. “Building intimacy and fostering feelings of connectedness, especially during tough economic times, can be a cheap and powerful way to make your relationship recession proof!” You could cook at home, but that might feel routine and uninspired. Instead of upscale feasts at overpriced establishments, opt for cozy but sophisticated family-run eateries…

woman-grimacing-lips-150In case you hadn’t heard, the economy is in worse shape than Artie Lange. So it shouldn’t come as a total shock if your boyfriend, husband, or dude-you’re-kinda-seeing-but-don’t-know-what-to-call-him gets a pink memo.

Ease the pain by avoiding the following NSFAGWOOW (Not Safe For A Guy Who’s Out Of Work) phrases. That way you won’t make things worse for a guy who’s already had a horrible week ego-wise.

10. “Oh my god! What are we gonna do?”
For starters, let’s not freak out. Right now your guy needs support, not another fire to put out, and losing your cool is only going to make things worse…

broken-heart-150Getting laid off by your boss is one thing, but downsized in your relationship? Often, that’s harder.

Jessica did not see it coming. According to the celebrity press, Ms. Simpson and Tony Romo had locked it down. He had won over her finicky dad and the rest of her posse. They ignored the hounding press and developed their own happy hideaway. But July 9, Romo called it quits, leaving Jessica “sad, mad, and confused.”

Getting dumped always sucks, no matter what else is going on in your life, or in the world. And recessions are no barrier against divorce and separation. Just ask Jon and Kate, or Amy Winehouse (well, not the best example), or Timothy Hutton, who is splitting with his wife of nine years…

businessman in apronNote: Deborah Siegel was due to submit her post today, but her growing responsibilities in a rapidly developing venture have precluded her doing so. In other words— the twins are really kicking her ass. Despite being deep into the second trimester, her “morning sickness” hasn’t let up, and she is currently sitting up in bed with a cold compress on her fevered brow. She has thereby ceded the reins of “Love in the Time of Layoff” to me. You, dear reader know me as her house-husband, Her Man Godfrey, her Sancho Panza, her sometimes Bartleby. And now I’m honestly maybe a little too giddy with power. I am Marco.

Yes, I do exist… even as I eliminate the last traces of my existence in our little one-bedroom apartment.

I spent the afternoon yesterday dismantling my desk and bookcase and moving them out of our bedroom: we are staging our apartment yet again. It’s been on the market for months, and with a looming move to bigger digs in Park Slope we’ve redoubled our efforts to get it sold. New broker, new price, new priorities: we needed to let in more light and air, make the place roomier. It became obvious that my office away from work, my study and refuge from a crazy world, my anchor, was doomed. Into the boxes with my design books, my graphic novels and old Tarzan pulps. Reality beckoned…

marriage-love-money-relationships-200They say you’re never supposed to talk about money, but in the recession, it’s kind of hard not to. Despite a growing savings rate, there has been massive income loss and a dramatic devaluing or even obliteration of assets. For a lot of us, money is forefront and ever-present on our minds.

But should you bring it up in relationships? Absolutely, say CPAs, therapists, love coaches and relationship experts. In marriages, money has always been the number one cause of tension, regardless of whether we’re rolling in it or dining on Ramen noodles…

Heart of Pennies 150Carol M. knew she had a good thing in her boyfrirend, Eric. But earlier this year, when she lost her job as a schoolteacherand faced default on her subprime loan, it showed her just how caring and committed he was.

“We recently talked about being in a relationship, and one of the benefits of being in a relationship is you have someone on your side no matter what,” she says. “We sit down and we talk about things. Last week we talked about having to file for bankruptcy.”

Talking about money with a significant other can be a painful, awkward situation—especially when you’re in a dating phase. You’d think it would be easier in good times, but some are saying that the downturn has made it easier to both talk about finances and to learn about a significant other’s situation. Money is top of mind for many of us and a common topic of conversation. If someone is furloughed, laid off or had a salary slashed, their relationship to money becomes more apparent…

romance-date-dinner-man-woman-150First dates at Le Cirque and second dates in St. Barth’s are out (for me, and maybe you, they were never in, but you get the point). Everyone’s feeling pressure on their wallets, and so for a lot of folks, that means pressure on the dating budget. What are the dating experts advocating in the downturn?

Mainly: Be cheap and be wary. Be very wary.

We don’t really agree with the sentiment of “being cheap” – no one should blow their wad on a few casual dates, of course, but a relationship is an investment and “being cheap” might not be a great way to start. But who are we to say?

Here’s how the pros see it:

* Curb your dating. According to dating expert David Wygant, there are some compulsive daters out there…

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…