What should I be doing instead of this?
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By Erma P. Sanders · May 3rd, 2001 · Diva
In any long-term dating relationship, there are going to be issues that test the strength of that relationship. Some you will have some control over -- like where you will dine out, how often to have sex and the like. There will also be tests that will just be dropped on you like a bomb -- such as the death of a loved one or an ex-lover coming back from the dead. Nowadays, it's likely that you or your lover might lose his job. I've read that loss of employment ranks right up there with death and divorce as a major life stressor. How you deal with job loss can break or strengthen a relationship.

There are many reasons why a job ends, and I've experienced them all. There's being fired for something you've done wrong, corporate downsizing when your position has been consolidated or eliminated and quitting. Dave McD was the best boyfriend ever when I didn't have a job, because he didn't patronize me by offering money like I was some withering flower who couldn't take care of herself. His concern was more discreet. He bought me groceries that he knew I couldn't afford, but he didn't make a big deal about it. He also keep my mind occupied with earth-shattering sex so I wouldn't wallow in self pity while seeking new employment.

I've been lucky to always have been the job loser in a relationship, if you can deem unemployment to be good luck. But I think I've had enough marginally employed or totally unemployed beaux to know how to handle the situation should my man ever lose his job.

If your lover ever loses his or her job, the No. 1 rule: Do not offer money either as a gift or a loan. You aren't a bank. A person who receives money is always beholden to the person giving it, even if it is paid back. Also it makes the person feel helpless and ashamed. No one is really prepared to lose a job, but he or she should have the resources either in savings or a parent or other source to borrow from during crisis time. It may go back to my greatest fear of being poor and living on the street, but I couldn't get serious about a man who couldn't bounce back quickly from this kind of setback. Again, using Dave as an example: He knew I wasn't exactly booming, but I was no danger of being put on the street.

Your lover might lose his job through no fault of his own, the dreaded downsizing. It's key to boost your lover's self esteem by assuring that the termination was not his or her fault and the powers that be are big fucking idiots for letting such a quality employee go. Offer to help tune up the resume or mention a company you know that has openings, but don't go too far. You want to make it clear that you have confidence your mate has what it takes to recover without too much interference.

Finally, don't offer your mate a job where you work. I'm not a strong supporter of the office romance to begin with. However a romance that starts in the office has a chance. The romance that ends up in the office is doomed. Keep your relationship leaning on the romance tip, and let your mate find employment elsewhere. And remember that until your mate is employed again, find less expensive forms of entertainment on your date. No movie or restaurant out there could match the fun Dave and I found with whipped cream, a blindfold and a whisk.

contact erma p. sanders: letters@citybeat.com



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