My older sister Catherine warned me.
She had picked me up from the airport a week before Christmas in 2006. As the dusk gave way to dark and the Texas horizon rolled out before us, we rode in silence—until I confessed. I had come dangerously close to cheating on Nathan (some names have been changed), my boyfriend of four years, with a friend of mine. Everything was confusing save for one devastating confirmation: I wanted to break up with Nathan. Catherine heard me out, her face stony and unyielding like a sphinx, as I presented my side. Finally, she sighed. "All I have to say," she said, her eyes fixed on the highway, "is that if you're going to break up with him, you better have your exit plan in place. That means money."
As far as financially sound strategies for urban living goes, it doesn't get much smarter than falling in love. Make the commitment, move in together, save hundreds of dollars in rent (and therapy, if you're living in New York). All of this only works, of course, if you stay together. Some 11 million Americans who live with a partner outside of marriage are keen to this option and the advantages that come with it. But what happens when the love withers? True love may be priceless, but breakups have their cost as well.