For Better Or Worse

Posted: July 5, 2007 in Homelessness, Relationships

Even under the best of circumstances, relationships take work and dedication. When you’re homeless, they take even more work and dedication.

My other half and I have been together somewhere between a day and a lifetime. While we have a pretty solid relationship, our relationship has been stretched to near breaking point – and all as a result of being homeless.  

When a couple first becomes homeless, they have a tendency to cling to one another a bit more tightly. Perhaps it’s because of having to face unfamiliar territory, but as the length of time they are homeless increases and they become a bit more familiar with the rigors of their situation, they begin to relax their grip on one another.

Nonetheless, the basic struggle of simply trying to survive places the relationship under stresses that neither one of them could have foreseen. These stresses, in turn, can create a chasm that is unbridgeable – and in time, the relationship ends.

In the time that I’ve been homeless I have seen a number of relationships fall apart. I think that it’s because each person handles being homeless differently.

Among the couples whose relationships have ended, I’ve noticed that one of them has adapted to the stresses of homelessness easier then the other. But, that isn’t necessarily a good thing because I’ve also noticed that the one who adapts the easiest to being homeless is also the one who gets caught up in the routine of being homeless. This in turn allows complacency to set in and subsequently only one of them is trying to find a way out of homelessness.

Another thing I’ve noticed about homeless couples whose relationships have ended is the "blame game." Each one of them blames the other for their current situation. She blames him for not being a better provider. He in turn blames her for not being a better support system. Or vice versa. In the end, the blame game becomes the cause for the demise of the relationship.

Because human beings generally don’t really like to be alone, a number of the couples whose relationships have ended find themselves in rebound relationships. But, these relationships have a lesser chance at success than the previous relationship. And, that often times, leads to another rebound relationship – and ultimately a vicious circle that further diminishes the persons self-esteem.

For the male, such a situation has no real effect on how others will perceive him, but for the woman, these "after" relationships can cause many to see her as being "cheap and easy." That in turn creates its own set of difficulties, because some of the homeless men will try to take advantage of a homeless woman who is thought to be an "easy lay."

No matter how things turn out for either one of them, finding a lasting relationship will be elusive.

Although my other half and I have gone through some pretty rough waters as a result of being homeless, thankfully our relationship is still intact. It’s taken a lot of work, some tears, and – at times – some venting of anger and frustrations. It’s taken a lot of faith in one another – especially during the times when hope was hard to come by.

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