It wasn’t long before he learnt about crypto and moved all of his gains (AKA the money he had reaped from investing) into it. In total, he threw $40,000 at various online coins in May 2020.
This isn’t the thrilling real-life rags to riches story behind an upcoming film. Jackalyn, 24, is one of many women who has seen the transformation of her boyfriend – “a fairly frugal” guy, she says, who wouldn’t “splurge on going out or clothes'' – into a completely different person; obsessed by cryptocurrency, Reddit crypto forums and splurging huge amounts of cash on coins.
Jackalyn, is a speech language pathologist from Illinois, and is part of an emerging community – the long-suffering partners of crypto bros. She asked not to share her last name due to the sensitive details in her story.
For anyone who isn’t already well-versed in $ASS, Ethereum or CumRocket, a cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. The most famous, and the oldest of these, is Bitcoin.
Over the past year, increasing numbers of everyday people have made the jump to invest, thanks to Reddit forums and amateur trading platforms such as Robinhood and Trading 212.
An estimate by TripleA, a company that allows online and offline businesses to accept cryptocurrency payments by converting it to local currencies, said that as of 2021, there are over 300 million crypto users worldwide. Of these users, it predicted 79 percent were male and 58 percent were under 34.
With young men a large proportion of crypto investors, some partners are now forced to listen to their non-stop rambling about crypto.
“[Crypto] became all he would talk or think about,” Jackalyn says. The pair had originally met via Tinder during college in 2018 and went on their first date on Halloween. “We spent pretty much every day and night together for the spring 2019 semester.”
The pandemic hit and after a positive stint of them living together, they both moved to their parents’ house and became long distance. She started sensing more significant changes in him than just obsessing over crypto. “He downloaded multiple apps for investing and gambling and was borrowing from people to keep buying cryptocurrency.”
It wasn’t long before crypto became “destructive” to the relationship, as she and his family became increasingly worried.
“I did not trust him financially or emotionally,” she says. After a year of holding onto the relationship through calls and sporadic in–person meets, she ended things. “It wasn’t just down to crypto, but the person it made him become.”
Like Jackalyn, my boyfriend evolved into a crypto bro. Thankfully, nothing disastrous happened. Over the past year, I have seen him in the early hours of the morning glued to his phone on multiple occasions, refreshing the pages of the latest cryptocurrency to be posted by a B-list rapper.
The most sinister thing was him unironically saying: “I’m going to make my money work for me”. Then there were the phrases I couldn’t comprehend: “HODL” (hold on for dear life), ‘“going to the moon” (when the price of a coin is soaring) and how people were rekt (when a crypto investor is ruined because of losses during a particularly bad crash).
Adlinda, 25 from Bali says her boyfriend talks about crypto as if it’s a “new religion”. Her partner got into cryptocurrency in 2014, initially buying Bitcoin to buy drugs off the dark web. (VICE have withheld Adlinda’s last name to avoid identifying him.)
“When the pandemic started, that was when I started to notice that he had this weird obsession with cryptocurrency, but maybe it’s because we started living together so I started to pick up more detail about his interests,” she said.
Adlinda began noticing how he would watch countless YouTube videos on cryptocurrency on top of the UFC reviews, surfing reports and Joe Rogan and Jake Paul ones he usually did. He often did this on her account so her algorithm swerved from knitting videos to investing tips.
He also tried to convince her to invest her own savings into cryptocurrency, which she did, but then sold it and used the profits to buy herself drinks. “He was not happy with it and we had a few arguments,” she says.
“To be honest, I felt secretly pleased when the prices crashed and everyone I know [who has] been hoarding cryptos for the past weeks freaked the fuck out – maybe I’m just petty.”
Some have even seen their partners’ love of crypto become a career. Grace, 20, has watched her boyfriend trade cryptocurrency for six years and has no idea how he first got into it or how much he invests. She asked not to share her surname for privacy reasons.
“He wakes up and the first thing he thinks about is the prices and he will be up until 4AM trading,” the Virginia-based licensed cosmetologist says. The issue is he’s totally unable to detach from the market, which takes them both on a “rollercoaster” of emotions.
Liz Bandhari, 30, from Greater Manchester has come round to the changes in her relationship (namely: her partner on his laptop 24/7), and found that they lessened as he became more confident about crypto.
She even appreciates the successes he’s had: “Whenever he opened the app and I saw the balance, I’d just keep saying ‘you could buy me a Chanel bag with that’ – he could buy me plenty of Chanels if he wanted!”
It’s unsurprising so many young people, especially men, are choosing to invest in cryptocurrency. With an unstable job market made worse by the pandemic, it’s clear investing in cryptocurrency feels more reliable than earning a good salary through traditional means.
With stories of billionaires born overnight thanks to the GameStop rush or 18-year-olds buying their first lambos from crypto profits, financial elevation now seems attainable for anyone who wants it and can be bullish enough to go for it.
But many don’t even realise the impact on their relationships.
Neil Wilkie, a relationship expert and psychotherapist, says that “partners need to be aligned on what they want from the future and the way in which they are going to achieve that financially”. Without this, a partner can become fearful and resentful, creating a division which is irreconcilable, he explains.
For women watching their partners dive headfirst into cryptocurrency, it may feel as if they’re watching the person they knew suddenly change. Perhaps it’s temporary, maybe it’s not. Much like the coins themselves, it’s a volatile situation.