Sunday, May 1, 2011

Relationships And Your Student Loan Debt

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Has your student loan debt affected your relationships (personal and professional)? Has it affected your own self-worth?

"Golly gee, Jane, you owe $100,000? Well, what do you say about $200,000? Do you still love me? Cuz, well . . . I sure owe a lot more than you."

Related Links

"Mass Suicide?," December 12, 2010

"Suicide," November 25, 2010 


Anonymous said...

umm, yes. I don't have one. Unless i wanted some farcical FWB "relationship", which i don't. Hard to have a relationship when you can't make any plans (i.e. dinner, even a road trip, gosh forbid an actual vacation that includes a flight and spending money) without saving for months and years and not telling the student loan police about it. There are days, sometimes frequently, where i feel less than human.

John in Boston said...

Took the words right out of my mouth, Anonymous 5/1 1054P.

John in Boston said...

Side note: the Capcha for me to post was "myedec" - just one letter away from irony!

Anonymous said...

although on the upside, i've gone out to eat so infrequently in the last 8 years that i usually regret it when i do, i can cook equivalently, and better, for cheaper, at home.

Alexandra said...

The first anonymous posting was me. I just want to add, that while all of that is true, and has been for over a decade, now that I'm 41, I'm feeling a bit more hopeful, or at least, I know what kind of relationships I can't and won't have. If it does happen, said person will have to be very understanding. My energy is limited, due to other health circumstances as well, and I've gone through the prolonged severe resentment about said circumstances already, now it's just a waste of energy. So do whatever you can to focus what extra energy you do have on things that make you happy, even for half an hour (i.e. I paint, but i can only buy supplies occasionally). Maybe it's age or just the fact that I've already hit bottom so many times, but right now whenever that despair pops in, i seem to be quicker at throwing it back out the door. I just don't ahve the energy. There's a great poem by Billy Collins called Consolation (about not going to Europe for the summer), which i think of whenever I get really sad about not being able to do something. And limit your time on Facebook, reading about other people's happy successful reasonably debt-free child-filled lives is my number one killer of a good mood. What else can I do?

Cryn Johannsen said...

Alexandra - thanks for your latest post. I am really glad to hear your are feeling more hopeful. I have my good days and bad days, but I will tell you, here is a tip. Not that you're asking for one, but I thought I'd share. I have decided that if I can't find a good, productive, challenging position in a year or year and a half, I am going to leave the country again, and maybe for good. There are plenty of places that would like to have a person like me, and I'm happy to go. I want to be a part of a community, and in a real way. I still believe in this blog and its importance. It is a place for me to discuss and examine the crisis. And even more importantly, it is a place for all of us to share our stories. The blog will remain healthy and alive, as long as I'm around. However, I refuse to languish in this country, so if I can make a better life elsewhere, so be it. I want more than anything to give back to the U.S., to contribute in a positive way, but if there aren't opportunities for me to do that, then I'm gone. I'd like to teach at the university level again, and I know of countries where I could do that. So, we'll see. It gives me hope. I realize that this comment is off topic, because I am lucky and in a wonderful, loving relationship, but it is about hope. Thanks, Alexandra for sharing.

gail said...

I am very lucky when it comes to my relationship. We were together before I had this debt and we refuse to let it tear us apart. We don't discuss it anymore because there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Of course we will never marry and we will never own anything jointly, but that's ok, at least our relationship is the one thing SM has no control over, because we won't let them. If it were not for his job I would be seriously looking for work out side of the US, after 5 years of searching it has become obvious the US has nothing to offer me. And Cryn, as long as you write it I will read it. As always I appreciate ALL you do!

Anonymous said...

Alexandra- don't forget that people put up an image on Facebook. You don't see the dull and pathetic reality of their lives, only the happy-looking stuff. I was once depressed to be single, until I got to know many more couples who stay together for foolish reasons and are miserable.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I feel that we live in a society that pits people against one another, in a desperate struggle for survival.

There is no room for Love and Devotion anymore.

The quiet desperation Thoreau speaks of leaves no room for the more tender sentiments, or at least for a sincere expression of them after the period of adolescence.

I think the Cosmetic Surgery Industry thrives not so much because people want to regain the appearance of lost youth, but rather because they want to re-gain the sincere feelings of unqualified Love that came along with teenage youth-before the adult world set in. (Puppy Love, in other words)

Love for another, and love for oneself.

And as for what kind of an alternative society would change all that? I dunno.

Anonymous said...


I'm fascinated with the idea of leaving the country for better opportunities elsewhere. Could you do a future post on some of the options you are considering? I'm curious what countries would provide indebted Americans with long-term visa and / or citizenship opportunity. Also, what kind of jobs are available?

Part of me has a sneaking suspicion that the available countries will be third-world and the available jobs will be low paying. I would be thrilled to discover otherwise. Of course, unencumbered by debt in a low cost-of-living country could still be a good place to be.

Liz said...

Honestly, the debt has never interfered with any relationships that were worth having.

My last boyfriend criticized my debt levels, but it just highlighted the problems with our fit. He came from a family that paid his bills and expected him to work someplace like Goldman. And he's made it clear that he ultimately hopes to marry a woman with a family that will also help with finances. I was never going to be his dream girl, even without the debt. And I didn't like his inability to picture anything other than what his family wanted for his life, anyway.

There were also a few thoughtless friends here or there, all of whom didn't have to pay their own way and so just couldn't picture self-sufficiency. Again, I find that frustrating to be around. It's important to me that people with comfortable lifestyles have empathy, and understand their own comparative luck. I don't want to be around people who say things like, "Well no one had to give ME a handout so I don't see why Medicare is even an option," when their parents pay their credit card bill every month.

Other than that, everyone else I know has a graduate degree and a similar level of debt. We all sort of tacitly acknowledge our mutual poverty, and it's not a big deal. Again, if you're someone who has to live your life with access to a large credit limit, we probably weren't going to be friends anyway.

Liz said...

PS - I would like to hear more about living and working outside the US. I'm hopeful this country can turn things around. But the Tea Party scares me. The standard of living is not comparable to most of Europe, or Canada, due to the lack of access to health care. And then throw in the complete lack of opportunity for a secure job (with BENEFITS), paired with projected cuts in infrastructure and social safety net spending, and then the whole predatory student loan terms paired with the wild tuition hikes in higher education... ugh. This is not a country I would pick for my children. It just isn't.

Cryn Johannsen said...

Alexandra - It took me some time to dig up this Salon article, but I thought you'd appreciate it.

"How Facebook can affirm a woman's singlehood" -

The analysis of women who use the images of their children for their profile pictures is quite interesting.

Anonymous said...

My debt has become an inescapable reality which has affected every single aspect of my life, including love. For someone 4 years into an otherwise good relationship, my debt is a huge stumbling block. There are very practical, realistic considerations when my SO thinks about the long term prospects with me and my 160k hole. It has stopped us from going on trips together at an age when we are free to travel, stopped us from enjoying our lives in the city to the fullest because I can't afford it, and has stopped me from saving up money that could be used for a wedding, or as a nest egg. My debt has given pause to the idea of moving forward when a mortgage, and even children, could be a devastating drain on our already stressed finances.
The emotional stress is another thing. He has watched me break down and sob inconsolably, felt helpless in the face of such huge numbers and long years, and there have of course been fights. He has loaned me money, which is never a good place to be in in a relationship, and we now have a clause that if we break up, I will have to pay him back.
It has also affected the way I think about relationships and my future. It's sadly not just about love and compatibility, but what the other person can offer me by way of a plan to deal with my debt. Rich parents? Rent free living? Pay me for citizenship or something? All of those are things I have considered before I have considered how I actually feel.
It's tragic, because if were not for the debt, I would probably already tried to move beyond where I am in my relationship, but I seem to be stuck in a holding pattern across the board.