Nathan and I met in Boston and were friends for a year before we started dating. Midway through the inaugural "we" phase, I got an employment offer to move to New York at the same time he got laid off. Starting a new life together in the big city made sense. We had both always wanted to move there separately, but the prohibitive costs of doing so made it nearly impossible on our own (we both worked in publishing at the time, earning modest salaries). By year three of living with Nathan, we arrived at the ultimate renter's score: a one-bedroom apartment in a hot neighborhood in Brooklyn, with all utilities included and its own dedicated washer and dryer. I had just turned 30, and for the first time in my life, I had $4,000 stashed away in a personal savings account. To everyone who knew us, we were a happy, healthy couple. The problem was we had stopped having sex. I had told myself that was a small trade-off for financial and emotional security. Nathan was a generous, kind, and trustworthy companion. Leaving him and the life we had built together seemed impractical, irresponsible, even selfish. Turns out, I'm not alone.
A comfort-rich lifestyle at the expense of a sex-poor relationship is something that has kept Susan from leaving her husband of seven years. The 34-year-old writer and editor who lives in Boston says the alternative is bleak since her husband generates the majority of their household income. "For me, that would mean living in a hovel with roommates," she says. "Who wants to do that? I already went to college." She describes her situation as "living with her best friend," the future of which she knows has an endpoint. "The truth is, I'm happy in the day-to-day, but we're probably not going to end up together."