Do you remember hating a specific age? A year in your life filled with drama, discontent, or depression — a year nobody could pay you to relive.
For me, that age is undoubtedly 28. Wondering how old I am? I’m 28. Yep — the year I would never want to relive is happening at this very moment. My relationship ended, I went through intense bouts of depression, and I became unemployed. My career largely factors into my identity, as it brings me a sense of purpose and direction, so that’s been an especially difficult blow. I’ve been working since I was a 17-year-old. To end up in this circumstance was unsettling for many different reasons.
Aside from expected financial stress, I often feel self-conscious about my work status. I find myself feeling guilty about any spending outside of necessities, like keeping my gym membership or going out with friends. I think to myself, You’re unemployed! You need to spend every waking moment filling out applications! Who do you think you are, engaging in any fun or leisure? You don’t deserve it because you haven’t worked. You’re tired, what for?!
This internal dialogue makes it tough to navigate my day-to-day life. I feel an unhealthy pressure to endlessly push out applications until I land something. Don’t get me wrong — I’m working super hard to get another full-time job, while also freelancing and taking on odd jobs. However, there’s still a great deal of insecurity in all areas of my life. Being unemployed has left me financially and emotionally distressed. But it’s also made dating difficult.
At the beginning of the year, I dealt with a breakup and put a pause on dating for a while. Toward the end of summer, I decided to put myself back out there and began meeting people. Right after I met someone special, I lost my job. What a first impression.
On our date, I got embarrassed when the topic of work came up. How could I possibly step into a relationship with someone without a job? Would this person assume the worst of me? Would they think I was using them for their money? Would they worry that I’d become their financial burden?
To me, it felt like there was no way to move forward with a potential partner while simultaneously being unemployed, and these feelings leave me hesitant to continue dating. But do others feel the same way, or is it justifiable to date while unemployed?
Luckily, dating experts aren’t as condemning as I am. As career coach Daisy Swan wrote for eHarmony, a job transition can be scary, “but either way, life goes on and you don’t want your love life to stop just because you’re in ‘job transition’.”
Losing my job left me doubting myself as a person. Being fired is bad, and since I was fired, I must also be bad, too. But this intrusive thought is a lie. Circumstances at my previous employer led to this outcome, and it’s not a reflection of my value as a human being. Despite what that obnoxious little voice in your head tells you, losing a job doesn’t make you a bad person.
Everyone I know has been sympathetic, encouraging, and positive. This support soothes the pain of feeling worthless, but will my dates be as understanding? My self-deprecating side isn’t so sure, but as Swan points out, my period of unemployment may be a great time to meet someone. She states, “You will be back at work soon, so enjoy the time you have to date.” I have the time on my hands, so why not? Since I’m unemployed, I lack the fatigue and stress of work. On dates, I’m attentive and lively, which is how a date should be. I have broader availability for dates, too. I can take advantage of seeing a special someone more than I usually would when working a full-time job.
Of course, there are still folks with reservations about dating someone while in between jobs. Apparently, women are less accepting than men of unemployed status. According to a study from dating service, It’s Just Lunch, 46% of men would date an unemployed woman but only 21% of women would be open to dating an unemployed man.
Yes, this is a super-heteronormative statistic, but it resonates when reflecting back on a man I dated while I was unemployed. While he paid for our dates and emotionally supported me during my job search, it was still evident he was wary of my status. One evening, he asked if I would date him if he was unemployed. I thought it was a cruddy question to ask, but it was real. Honestly, before I became unemployed myself, my answer would have been “no.”
According to several polls, the majority of women feel this way, with a whopping 75% declaring they wouldn’t date an unemployed man. I used to be a part of that percentage, but now that I’m in the awkward and vulnerable side of being jobless, I realize that searching only for employed people takes a lot of wonderful people out of the dating pool. I’m now open-minded when it comes to dating someone who’s currently jobless, and I hope to date people who are open-minded in that respect, too. It sucks knowing people may not find me worthwhile to date because of my temporary status. And though I may statistically have better chances in the dating scene than a man, I am still insecure about putting myself out there. I enjoy dating, and despite feelings of inadequacy, I know unemployment shouldn’t stop me from enjoying myself with someone special.
Gradually, I’m learning to accept reality and starting to understand that I’m just as worthy of a date as any full-time employed person. I’ve also learned that being closed off to dating unemployed people leaves a lot of wonderful people out for the count. If anything, this experience has taught me to be a little more open-minded, and a little more comfortable with putting myself out there in the dating world while searching for work. When it comes to searching for a job and searching for a date, apparently, I don’t have to choose.
Rebecca is a true New York hustler! Styling, Babysitting and Public Relations Managing are some of the hats Rebecca Blanc wears, but Copywriter is undoubtedly her favorite. Having obtained a Bachelor’s of English at Florida Atlantic University, Rebecca has since contributed to many notable media platforms. A few of her passions are women, youth, wellness, and nail art!
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