For Julia, a 27-year-old photo editor in New York, a growing sexual attraction to her close friend Michael threatened her relationship with Jordan, her boyfriend of six years, with whom she has been sharing anapartment. As she grappled with her decision to choose between sex and comfort, one thing was clear: Financially, breaking up wasn't an option. "I really couldn't afford to live alone even if I wanted to," she says. In the end, staying with Jordan was the obvious choice. "We have the best time together," she says. "He's artistic, smart, funny. And he's also stable. He has seen me at my worst, when I'm moody and crying. I just don't know if Michael would be able to handle that."
Although Julia insists that her decision to stay with Jordan was made independent of the money issue, one can't help but wonder if she would have stayed had she the means to leave. Put simply, financing for a breakup is crucial to recovering from it. That's why my sister Catherine, a 34-year-old human resources consultant who lives in Texas had no qualms about accepting $5,000 from her boyfriend Sam, when he ended their relationship eight years ago. "We were practically married," she says, of their four years together. "As far as Texas is concerned, I was like his common-law wife, entitled to his assets. A lot of [his giving her the money] had to do with the fact that he was a great guy and that he wanted to take care of me, but there was also the fear that I could go after him in that way."
Scoring seed money for a breakup was not likely in my case. Even so, there was no urgent reason to justify leaving. My doing so would require a significant breach of confidence—a situation that would make it difficult to stay. So I cheated on Nathan. And then promptly broke up with him.
Of course it was painful, as most breakups tend to be. But that was nothing compared to the next six months, in which we continued to live together until we were both able to secure our own apartments.