What is the Financial and Emotional Cost of a Breakup?
Last summer, I thought I had met someone special. I thought we were going to last. I thought it would all be perfect.
I was wrong, and it cost me dearly. In all honesty, I had no idea what the actual cost of a breakup was, both emotionally and financially.
LOVE IS EXPENSIVE. EVEN MORE SO WHEN IT ENDS.
My last breakup cost me more than $8,000. For some, that may not sound like a lot, but for me – a traveling freelance writer – it hurt. Let me explain how quickly it happened.
We met in Paris. He was from Dublin, and I was visiting home. At the time, I was living in Guatemala, where I had bought myself a guesthouse.
As a freelance writer, all I needed was an Internet connection – I could work from anywhere.
It was summer in the city of eternal romance. We spent it together.
I said I would consider moving to Dublin if and when things got serious. And they got serious quickly – too quickly, in hindsight! Exchanging my house in Guatemala to live rent-free in Dublin seemed like a smart move at the time. I flew back to Guatemala in September to arrange a house swap from December until April.
A man accepted the swap, but in December – the day before I was to move in to the apartment in Dublin – my boyfriend and I broke up, and I flew back home to Guatemala.
I decided to honor the agreement, so my house, which usually yields $1,500 a month in rental income, was now occupied by the man who had agreed to the swap for four months.
That’s $6,000 in lost revenue right there, and I was left with an empty house in Europe, to boot.
In the summer of love, I had driven my BMW motorbike to Dublin, which included an 18-hour ferry ride. Once there, I got it checked, paid taxes, and bought insurance on my motorbike for a full year. The insurance won’t give you a refund for unused premiums.
The whole thing cost me around $500.
Around the same time, I had bought two sets of plane tickets and entrance to a big party in Paris. That would have been my awesome Christmas gift to my boyfriend. But in the end, all it did was leave me $500 poorer.
When I saw the situation was getting toxic, I booked the next available flight back home for $1,000, when they usually cost $500.
The grand total comes to $8,000 for the cost of a breakup.
This is before you even consider the money I spent buying things for the house that I will never use, the ton of winter clothes I bought to survive the cold and that I’ll never wear now, the higher cost of living in Europe when I could have lived somewhere cheaper, and the toll my guesthouse business would take having no customer feedback for four months as the house swap continued. Realistically, we’re probably looking at more than $10,000.
BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? I DON’T REALLY CARE. MY TIME, MY SANITY, AND MY WELLBEING ARE WORTH A MILLION TIMES MORE.
My previous breakup cost me five figures, as I ended up buying my ex out of the house we’d bought together. Otherwise, I would have had to pay him rent for his share, and would have never really felt at home.
How can you move on and have a new boyfriend over when your ex owns half your house? How do you stop being in touch when you have joint assets? I am a huge proponent of “buying peace of mind.”
As much as it stings to fork out the money, it helped me move on more quickly.
This is why you need an emergency fund – even if you are madly in love today, make sure you don’t stay in a relationship just because of money (or the lack thereof).
I have seen friends stuck with their partners months after a breakup because they can’t afford to get their own places. The cost of a breakup can be unexpected and overwhelming. I am very grateful for having the means to go wherever I want, and my other half can be sure that if I am around, it is only out of love.
If my approach seems cold, that is because when a breakup happens, I go into survival mode. Nothing counts but me. Once I am safe, with a roof over my head and no one to bug me, I mourn the relationship and let the feelings take over.
But if you stick around, you will suffer needlessly. Put yourself first – spend whatever you need to in order to get back on your feet, then mend your broken heart.