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Lea Lane Headshot

Sole Supporters Enduring this "Repression"

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Is it a recession? A depression? It's certainly a repression, especially if you're the sole household income. Repressed comfort. Repressed options. Repressed dreams for yourself and your loved ones.

As a long-time proponent of peace and solitude over unhappily ever-after, I gotta say that this economic crisis is hitting solos and solo parents especially hard -- like a smack in the face, followed by a punch in the gut.

Yes, a partner means another mouth to feed, and an increase in some costs, and all the rough spots that get exacerbated in a time of anxiety. And you may not both sing the same songs or like the same senators. You may not even like each other very much.

But divorce is expensive, and in this precarious time of unknown, the safety net that comes with someone by your side can be sorely missed: the second income. The second opinion. The hand to hold as you watch your 401K tank. The shoulder to lean on when your job gets downsized. The voice in the dark to reassure you when you've had another scary dream of becoming a bag lady; if, that is, you get some sleep.

As one who is doing without those supports, I'm not going to minimize them. And yes, I know, not all unions are supportive. Times like these lead to abuses and abusers, which remain unacceptable. But even for those who otherwise might be less than thrilled with their togetherness, that state is admittedly a bit less, well, alone.

We've come out of prosperous times, when shedding partners and staying solo were bright options for many who felt independent financially and emotionally after eras of dependence. But now, are all bets off? Does settling for a hum-drum life with someone who doesn't float your boat make more sense? Are we going retro? Will leaning on others be the best option until we get through the who-knows-how-distant recovery?

Damned if I know. But as a solo, I don't have much choice. Dating seems such a luxury right now, a frivolous exercise wherein the one who may have once been happy to wine and dine you may now have to mooch a meal at your place. And who's in a mood to flirt and wonder? I mean, there's enough anxiety and uncertainty without having your heart broken on top of everything else.

I admit to having spent some sleeplessness flashing back on perfectly fine men who would have been able to support me through this time, unless they were as stupid as I was with my investments. I have had a couple of fleeting regrets. I mean is crackling conversation and a cute tush all that important when you're worried about keeping your house?

These times are forcing all of us to confront our demons and our decision-making as well as our pocketbooks. Realities may be unraveling -- or not. And all we can hope is to come out the other side stronger and wiser. And solvent. Whether we're alone in this repression or not.