June 18, 2010

Dating in the Bread-Line

(Reposted from Ask Dan and Jennifer)

Newsflash, everybody: we are living in a rough economic time. No, seriously, we are. Previously coveted gadgets are now considered frivolous. Businesses are dropping faster than the nation’s morale. Millions of Americans have been laid off at least once over the last few years. Because of this, the idea of your significant other suddenly being rendered unemployed is not all that far-fetched. “Got it,” you think, “but how do I deal with it?”

First, how long have you been together? If it hasn’t been very long at all, stepping up to support him or her could set a bad precedent for the future of this relationship. However, if you are already living together and have committed a major portion of your lives to each other, this should be a no-brainer.

Second, how long will he or she be able to get by? Is there an emergency savings account that can be accessed? Do you have money you would be willing to loan? Did the employer give them a severance package? These situations may make the transition easier for the both of you. This is a time when couples must work together to find a solution.

If there is no backup plan, get one…fast. Now is not the not the time for your partner to host X-Box tournaments to all the unemployed people on the block. They should be sending out resumes left and right, stapling them to lampposts, if necessary (no, not really). You can help by writing up the resume if you are skilled with business writing. If you aren’t, offer to help by looking it over a couple times. Meanwhile, your partner should look into the possibility of getting a part-time job to sustain them until a full-time job comes along.

The best thing you can do for your partner is to be supportive. This is a very difficult time, one in which a person feels lowly and burdensome. Reassure them that they’ll find something. When they start to feel down on themselves, help with the online search or tweak their resume to fit each job. Having a support system will keep him or her motivated. Work with them on interview skills. Offer to introduce them to people in your network, people who could possibly help them secure a position. Try not to make money an issue during this time. It’s stressful for all, but making them feel worse about it will not help matters.

Finally, while you love and adore this person, keep a wary eye open. Don’t let them fall into the habit of depending on you, of letting you do all the work. You don’t want to constantly hassle them about job-hunting or networking. However, if you never see them making progress toward finding a job and the high score in PacMan keeps growing with each passing day, they may be taking advantage of you and your good nature.

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