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Living Separately – Together January 21, 2010

Posted by jassnight in Dating, Divorce, Life, Relationship, Unemployment.
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2 comments

Nancy Partridge and her ex-husband, David Snyder, pose outside the home that they share in Westminster, Colo., on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008. The pair divorced in January after six years of marriage but when the house failed to sell and Partridge ran out of money to pay for an apartment and her half of the mortgage, she moved back in with Snyder in August. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

In a recent post by Big Little Wolf entitled Living Together – Separately, she points out how the economy has forced some couples to live in different cities in order to maintain jobs and careers. Unfortunately the economy has not only hurt healthy relationships but also relationships on the rocks. With today’s economic challenges, it is  not uncommon for separated or divorced couples to move back in with each other, thus living separately – together.

Economic Suicide for a Family

In normal situations, when couples move toward divorce there is a liquidation of shared assets including not only real estate but also investments. Typically, there are gains in such transactions but since the first quarter of 2007, single-family home values have fallen 20 percent or more in some areas. Many divorced couples who would normally sell are stuck with houses worth less than what they owe their lender. As for investments, any securities in stocks and bonds, including retirement accounts that are tied to the market, have seen significant losses. With the unemployment rate currently at 9.7% (December, 2009) it is likely that many of the separated/divorced are also struggling with job loss.

PDP’s – Purely Domestic Partners

Whether it is a recent loss of income or sinking real estate and investment values, more and more separated/divorced couples are making rational sense of their situation and finding solutions by splitting living space up in jointly owned residences as a way to maintain property investments or living standards for themselves and their children. This is especially true when children are college age. There is no contest when a child’s future is hindered by a separated couple’s selfish actions. In fact, much to the divorce lawyer’s dismay, many are even postponing divorce proceedings in an effort to conserve resources. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers states that 37 percent of attorneys polled reported fewer divorces in a bad economy. Regardless, couples that have left the relationship because of abuse, or infidelities do not make good candidates for PDP’s. More than likely most estranged couples that manage shared living space successfully have had amicable separations in the first place.

Successful PDP housing is dependent upon several factors.  There must be enough living space as well as an appropriate floor plan so that each person is comfortable with the ratio between private space (bedroom, bathroom, closet, etc..) and communal space. Negotiating specific understanding about space, behavior, childcare, assigned duties, socialization and dating must be done beforehand. A time limit or a situation benchmark is also important to stipulate for the termination of the joint housing agreement such as an acceptable purchase offer on the house, employment, or unmanageable living differences. If there are children, keep in mind how they feel about the situation. It is quite possible that this transitional time can be easier for children to process. However, if there is constant arguing and fighting, think twice before moving back in.

PDP Caveats

None-the-less, temporarily postponing one problem can easily create other problems. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of a joint living situation. Keep in mind that this type of agreement is not the social norm. Many couples will find themselves the target for ridicule and disapproval. Mainly an assumption fueled by the divorce lawyer syndicate, society expects horrible financial ruin and emotional strife to be associated with any separation and divorce regardless of the circumstances surrounding it. Dating can also be difficult. Moving on into another relationship while sharing space with a previous relationship can be unorthodox to say the least. PDP’s may find it challenging to find anyone willing to date someone in their situation let alone have a relationship with them. Plus, the opportunities to be intimate with a newfound interest is essentially impossible since it should be a fundamental understanding that neither partner will have overnight guests, especially if there are children in the house.

It is important to remain clear on the reasoning for a joint living arrangement and not be influenced by external dissention. Financial maintenance, preservation of assets, standard of living, child stability and comfort are all good reasons to weigh the benefits of such living arrangements.  If anything, to have a little power of decision in such restrictive economic times is enough to at least think of it as an option.

Resources:

Huffington Post – Couples Staying Together Because of Poor Economy

Recession and Divorce: Living With Your Ex to Make Ends Meet

The Great Divorce Recession of 2009

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The Toxic Lover January 10, 2010

Posted by jassnight in Change, Dating, Love, Relationship, Sex.
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8 comments

Have you ever had a partner who doesn’t play by the same rules he or she imposes on you?  How about a girlfriend who continuously holds you down in a continuous pit of depression and hurt? Maybe your companion was so possessive of you that you felt imprisoned within an emotional cage. These are all strong indicators of a toxic lover.

There are many abuses that can metastasize in a relationship. It is so hard to comprehend at times that we DO hurt the ones we love. Some abuses are overt, such as physical abuse. Others are not so apparent and can easily be masked by the blinding effects of love and passion.

Scenario #1

The relationship moved quickly in the beginning for Bob and Linda. It was like magic. Before Bob knew it, he was feeling a close bond with Linda and felt she was coming closer to him as well. When he tried to discuss these emotions, Linda would just say, “I feel that way too Bob, but I can’t make any promises right now.” Promises or not, Linda began to display possessive behavior. She insisted on knowing Bob’s whereabouts constantly. She would demand that he return her texts immediately even when he was in meetings or classes. If he evaded her questions or was indisposed, she would blow up at him and accuse him of infidelities that were completely irrational. Worst of all, when Bob wanted to go out with friends, even though he would invite Linda to go with him, she would relentlessly monitor the evening through calling, texting, or showing up unannounced. At first, Bob felt excited and loved. After all, a little jealousy is an alluring thing. But after a while, Bob found himself staying home instead of going out with friends for fear that Linda would get upset. He felt enclosed and restricted. Bob finally realized that Linda wanted a commitment from him without making any promises or commitments to him.

Scenario #2

Karen met Matthew in her accounting class. He was deep and mysterious in his thinking. To her, this was alluring to have a man so connected to his emotion. Their discussions centered around feelings and connection, passion and love, pain and suffering. In the beginning Karen believed that the relationship they were building was itself, deep and passionate. However, when Karen had good news to share, or just wanted to involve Matthew in positive discussions or do something fun with him, he would make her feel guilty about her happiness by dragging her back into the darkness of his life. She began to feel as if the only way they could connect was through his lens of emotions. She began to feel guilty about feeling happy, wanting to do something fun, or sharing good news with him.

Scenario #3

Patrick thought Crissy was beautiful. She was the woman of his dreams. After a few dates, he was quickly finding himself falling for her. She had no problem telling him everything about herself. It seemed so easy for her to share her life with him and he loved every minute of it. As the relationship grew, she began to include him in her life in various ways. He would help her prepare class notes and prepare meals to take to her nutrition class she was teaching. She would ask for his advice about finances, include him in helping her study for an upcoming exam or writing her papers. When she was upset, she would come to him for consolation and advice. At first, this all made Patrick feel needed and wanted by her. Unfortunately, when Patrick wanted Crissy’s help on something, or even to spend time with her, in most cases she was unavailable for him. He started to wonder how Crissy even knew who he was. All they would talk about was her life. All that they would do together, was her projects. He began to feel used.

I am sure if you look back on your past relationships (or even your present one) you will see yourself in one of these situations.  They are more common than you think. All of these scenarios first feel like true love, want, longing, and trust. However, they quickly become a pattern of inequality, emotional abuse and mistrust. Why does someone tolerate a toxic relationship then? Love is blind that is for sure. The overwhelming excitement of a new love can mask many of the early signs that you are getting involved with a toxic lover. The rationalization that you may be partly to blame makes you feel like you have to work on the relationship. The fear of being alone can keep you there. In general, change, whether it is good or bad, is always difficult. Internally we tend to rationalize because it is much easier than changing our behavior (see Cognitive Dissonance) but it is even more difficult when you are under the mental and physical influences of love and sexual desire. External wake-up calls can be useful in this case.

Have you or are you experiencing any of these external indicators?

  • Does your partner expect you to follow certain guidelines in the relationship that she/he does not place on themselves?
  • Do your friends or family tell you that they see problems in your relationship?
  • Are you hesitant to go out with friends or even on your own for fear of upsetting your partner?
  • Do you feel you have to consistently change your plans to satisfy the needs of your partner?
  • Are conversations with your partner consistently one-sided?
  • Are you pulling away from your friends and other activities that you enjoyed before your relationship?
  • Do you feel compelled to consistently satisfy the needs of your partner before your own?

In the end, it is about balance. If you are feeling more like a possession rather than a mutual partner, maybe it is time for a change.

The job hunt dating game December 28, 2009

Posted by jassnight in Dating, Job Search, Love, Relationship.
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1 comment so far

As of November 2009, the unemployment rate is 9.4%. Even with the announcement that the recession has ended, the nation continues to bleed an average of 188 thousand jobs a month.

These hardcore facts translate into extreme competition for those looking for employment. Recently the average amount of job interviews a job hunter went on before landing a job is 17. That is up from 9 interviews before the recession.

There will always be the financial horrors associated with being unemployed. The worries range from house payments to putting food on the table. That alone makes for a stressful job search. However, there is an additional characteristic that compounds job hunting even more – the emotional aspect.

Emotionally, job searching is much like dating. Think about how this all works.  You write letters of ‘interest’ to a prospective employer, much like posting your bio on an Internet dating service.  You then wait to see if there is interest. There isn’t much emotional energy expended at this stage but when you get that call asking you to interview, the anticipation rises. The interview is much like a date. You exchange information, maybe talk about some personal things, you exchange business cards and then say, “Goodbye, I hope to hear from you soon.”  Then the waiting begins – more anticipation, more anxiety. You wonder if she liked you enough to give you a callback for another interview. Maybe she didn’t like you as much as you liked her and thus you may not get a call.  Or, like the dreaded Dear John letter, you may even get the rejection e-mail, or a phone call wishing you luck on your job search, however, “We have hired someone more fitting to our needs at this time.”

If you have been unemployed for a long time, much like being single for a long time, it is hard to resist saying yes to any job. All you want to do is pimp yourself out to the first taker. There are so many things wrong with doing this, much like pimping yourself sexually. The very least being that you will end up with a job you are not interested in. The very most accepting a job you just are not qualified for (under qualified or over qualified.) This will only necessitate an early separation and a continued search. Much like the stigma of a divorced single dater, this doesn’t look very positive on your resume. Even worse, after being told you are over or under qualified for this position, it is, “Too bad you weren’t around 6 months ago, we had a position open that you would have been perfect for.” Just like dating, sometimes you fall in love with someone who is not ready for a relationship. Or worse yet, found someone just before you showed up on the scene. Bad Timing.

There is another related scenario as well. You may go to an interview for an appropriate position and see that you just could not live with the organization. It could be that the position is way too overwhelming. Maybe the people you meet vaguely remind you of the TV show, “The Office.” Possibly, what was discussed in the interview is nothing like the posted job description. Much like a first date that reveals personal inconsistencies from online discussions or dating site postings, you tuck tail out of there and hope you never hear from them again. Of course, just like a Dear John letter, it is ethical to call or send an e-mail withdrawing from the candidate pool. I have been in this situation twice. Both were a case of false advertisement. The job descriptions were not really what the actual job was. I wrote a polite e-mail thanking them for their time, however I just didn’t see, “us moving on with this relationship.”

Who knows? You may just get that call that asks you for another appointment. Yes! – another date!  The relationship moves on. There is more discussion. You get to know the organization a little better. They get to know you deeper. You hit it off. There is another round of “goodbyes’ and “we will be in touches” and then … more waiting. What happens next?  Another call? No call? “They must like me, they called back, right?” At this stage there is some jealousy involved. “Are they romancing other candidates?” “Who are they seeing today?” “Can’t they see I am the right person for them?” You may have a deeper connection to the organization at this time. “I thought they liked me. I really like them.” Then, like dating, there is the anticipation of the third call. We all know that in today’s dating world, the third date is the date when you will quite possibly sleep with him/her. This translates into a job offer in the job hunt dating game. The third call comes. There is another meeting set up. You think, “This is it!”  You wear clean underwear. You get a haircut. You wear your best suit. You may in fact hear those magical words, “We would like to offer you the position.”  However, you must always be aware that it may just be another phase in the job search dating game. Some organizations like to get to know you better before going to bed with you. In this case, more waiting, more anxiety, more emotions.

With today’s economic environment, it is a very difficult time to be playing the job search dating game. The emotional roller coaster of all of this is exactly the same as dating.  With several rejections, self-esteem suffers to the point that it impedes your performance on the next job interview. You may even start thinking about dropping out of the job search dating game all together. You become depressed. You wonder if you will ever be wanted or needed again. Keep in mind that it is not always about you. More than likely, you were more than qualified for the position. More than likely, the person who they chose over you was an internal candidate (costing them less than hiring externally) or someone they had intended to hire all along. It could also be a case of reevaluating the need of the position in respect to the cost. Many positions are closed without filling them. Also keep in mind that the pool of candidates for many positions has tripled in today’s market. The competition is stiff and you have to be creative in finding ways to stand out among the others. Like dating, you will never know what qualities they are looking for. Because of this, it is important to just be yourself and display the qualities that you feel are your best. The worst thing you could do is pretend to be the person you think they want. Remember you are looking for a long-term commitment here. Not a one night stand.

Like dating, you need to remain positive. Stay in the game. More than likely, like finding the perfect love, you will find that perfect position when you least expect it. It will be true love and when you love what you do, the money will follow.