Most of the effects of being out of work are expected. You know that you are not going to be able to do most of the things you did before. That means less dinners out, less spending on luxury goods and recreational goods. You probably won’t be able to take a vacation of any kind since you are out of work. There are a number of things that you know are going to change about your life when you experience a lay-off.
The one aspect of you new life that you probably would not have predicted is the fact that you might lose some of your friends. The old saying that you know who your friends are when you experience a tragedy is true in this case too. A short period of being out of work, probably will not affect your friendships too much, but a long period will change the landscape of your friendships.
Some of your friends and family will come together and help you out. They will understand that you cannot participate in some of the things you did prior to your job loss. They will be there for birthdays and parties that you host or attend. During a time like we are in now, Christmas, they will know that you cannot afford to give them presents, even when you have done so for years and years.
Some of your friends however will fall off the face of the earth. They won’t know how to act around you, they won’t know what to talk to you about and they won’t want to be placed into an awkward position. There is a serious level of discomfort for people who are working to be hanging out with people who are not working.
It seems illogical that losing your job might result in your losing some friends. But it is the truth. It has happened to me during my period of layoff and I have spoken to many people who say the same thing. There is an unspoken tension in the room and no one wants to discuss it. It places an invisible wall between you.
People who have never experienced a period of being out of work for any length of time will argue in their heads that this wouldn’t happen to them. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. There is definitely a real psychological effect that happens between friends, when one is laid off. Some go more towards you and a closer relationship, others go the opposite direction.
My advice for everyone on this situation is to just deal with it as it happens. One way that might stave off this type of situation by talking about being out of work. If you are unwilling to talk about it, then obviously there is something that you are holding back. If you are speaking about it, which is part of a good job search strategy anyway, then the air is cleared a little more. Meaning you might be able to limit the damage to your friendships that was done during your lay-off.
Friends are meant to be forever, so try not to let any go by the wayside, no matter the reason.