Could You Date Someone Unemployed?

State: Illinois
Age: 31
Comment: I am a woman who loves cooking, traveling, art, home decorating, sports (watching and playing), wine, and cultural and educational events.  I am a good friend, daughter, sister and volunteer with many different organizations.  I’m often told that I’m sexy; I have a model’s frame and my best asset is my smile. But more importantly, I am a good person and practice the ‘treat others the way I want to be treat’ mantra. I’ve had great relationships that just ran it’s course and don’t have any baggage. In fact, I have a friendly relationship with almost all of my exes.  Here’s the problem: I’m unemployed.  I’ve recently obtained my masters and have been job hunting for almost a year.  In my pursuit for a career, I’m also looking for a partner for a long-term relationship.  I am ashamed of the fact that I’m unemployed and I feel as if I’ve lost my identity; what do you do is the first question people ask after they’ve asked for your name.  I know that I have a lot to offer but since my unemployment, I’ve turned down many dates for fear that I may seem like a ‘loser.’ In the past, I was pursued by really successful men and now, I hide from them.  I’ve began dating men I wouldn’t ordinarily date, men who are younger and not as financially secured.  I’m not looking for someone to ‘take care of me’ and I don’t want to come across as such, due to my unemployment.  How do men feel about dating unemployed women?

My stepmother dropped out of high school to take care of her parents. It was something she always regretted. My father, right after they got married, encouraged her to go get her GED at 50something. She did and then headed back in to the work force in her fifties.  Then, at 70,  she expresses an interest in computers. My father told her to find a class that could teach her computer basics. Would she ever use those skills? Probably not. But he still encouraged her to take classes because he (like many people) value the pursuit of knowledge. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what you did, Deena.

Here’s the thing about that question, “So…what do you do?” I’d say that, for the most part, when men ask that question they’re merely trying to make conversation. While they’re definitely on high alert for women who are looking for someone to support them, they don’t all necessarily care if a woman is marginally employed or unemployed as long as she’s managing it well. Especially in a situation like yours where you took time off from your career to pursue your education. That’s not something someone does just to find a benefactor.

You invested in your professional career. That’s something that most people – male and female – greatly respect. Someone who does that possesses important and admirable qualities that make them a good employee as well as partner. When someone tells me that they’re pursuing higher education (or any level of education) I think they’re not afraid of hard work, they’re focused and they’re disciplined.  Those are all good things, things that you should make you feel proud. You’re bettering yourself. Don’t think men look down on that.

In today’s times, I think it’s far more common to encounter people in your position. Anybody who would look down on someone for being unemployed these days or consider it a mark on the person’s record is astonishingly out of touch. Being unemployed or having bad credit or not being terribly financially stable is commonplace now. No, they’re not great things. But they are realities of our current economic situation. Someone expecting to meet another person who is gainfully employed with a stable job, with a 700-800 credit score, and little debt is ignoring what’s going on out there now. Yes, there are some people who have been able to maintain all of that. But there are a lot of really good, hard working, honest people who weren’t so lucky. There’s a big difference between some leech who is living off parents or the government and eeking out a living and someone trying very hard ( and maybe failing at times) to make ends meet on their own. This is something that should be examined on a case by case basis. Broad generalizations are not wise.

You’re intentionally going for men that you consider “less than” because that’s how you see yourself. I’ve said this before…shame is a heavy anchor. You didn’t so anything wrong! You chose to continue your education so you could go on to have a lasting and successful career! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! The longer you allow those thoughts of shame or insecurity percolate in your head, the worse it’s going to be. You have to shut them out. You have to. There’s nothing worse than living like that. There really isn’t. The messages just play over and over in your head until you start to believe them. Turn them off. Now. Start doing things that make you feel good about yourself. Go volunteer. Be a mentor to a teenager. Work out. Do something to get you out of your head.You did nothing wrong.

It’s great that you’re self-aware. But you don’t want to become so aware of your perceived flaws that you end up becoming a walking raw nerve. Not only does that affect you mentally, but it has some pretty adverse physical affects as well.

The true upshot here? You’re giving guys a chance that you probably wouldn’t have before. While you might be going for some men men who aren’t all that available just because they’re riddled with shame, too, you’re probably getting to know them beyond what they do for a living. Another positive! Anything that encourages empathy is plus.

Next time someone asks you what you do for a living, all you say is, “I just finished my Masters and now I’m on the job hunt.”  If you’re not having luck in finding a job, take any job that gets you out of the house and around people. I’d also suggest volunteering or even interning in the interim. (Internships aren’t just for college students anymore.) At least it gives you a sense of purpose and exposes you potential job connections. Fill some of your time doing something that relates to your chosen career.  Create an action plan that details how you will get back on track professionally, socially and financially. Start a support group for others who are fresh out of school and unemployed.

When you start to see that there are so many people who are in the same situation as you, you won’t feel so out of place.

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38 Responses to “Could You Date Someone Unemployed?”

  1. uesider Says:

    I’ve dated unemployed women, I had no problem getting dates while unemployed. I think it is a little shortsighted to refuse to date someone unemployed, on the first few dates I have no illusion that I am going to support her or she is going to support me financially in ANY way. It’s a little foolish to reject someone for that reason, because unemployment is temporary.

    On the other hand, if you’re with someone for a year and they have no intention of finding a job (not the OP), or they have serious issues (depression, anger) related to the unemployment, then it might be time to end the relationship. Sometimes wonderful relationships can start during periods of unemployment- a partner who accepts us when we are not at our best situation in life is someone who might be worth keeping.

    • Andrew Says:

      PEP or Potential earning power; in the end you still have more of that than most people. You have a Master’s Degree. I can assure you that 99.99% of men would infinitely prefer to date you unemployed than a high school dropout with a decent paying job, given all other things equal. In fact most guys are pretty liberal about dating an unemployed woman.

      I have heard guys complain about not being able to connect with women when they were unemployed. My experience has been one, where when I was unemployed, women have hesitated but got past that once they got to know me. Once they figured out I had good PEP it was ok. In fact one even told me that.

      However, being unemployed does a number a one’s head. It can put us into a seriously depressed state. A lot of the outcomes we face in life are self-fulfilling. We often don’t get that thing we wish for because we tell ourselves we don’t deserve it and/or we approach it with the wrong beaten-down attitude.

      If unemployed, the current job market is really tough and requires serious networking. It’s unavoidable to note your attitude about dating and not wonder if some of the same negative manifestations have taken hold in your job search efforts. Maybe you should consider working some of those volunteer situations for possibilities that lead to work a little harder. Certainly get out there and network. Let everyone know you are looking for work and ready and willing to hit the ground running. Also look at situations where you can pick up some other skills along the way; that will keep you busy and leave you little time for feeling sorry for yourself. It may even be worth it to do a part time job at least, at a lower level than that concomitant to your academic credentials. Best of luck.

  2. Amy Says:

    I think the OP sounds a bit hypersensitive to this issue and it is controlling her dating behavior to a large degree. Perhaps she HERSELF previously would not have wanted to date someone unemployed and that is why she feels so ashamed. That might call for some self-examination re her own prejudices….

    In this day, being unemployed or underemployed is very common. The stigma is mostly gone, except for longterm unemployed or unwilling people, as said above. I think Moxie’s answer is great. But I would add that when people ask the question about what you do, add in a bit about what you ARE doing. For example, “I just finished my masters in XXX. I went to YYY. The job market is tough and I’m still looking for a spot in my field, but lately I’ve been really involved with ZZZ organization, and right now we’re working on AAA.” I think that shows what you ARE doing, and also gives the guy (or anybody, really) a springboard into conversation, while at the same time presenting you as active and involved in life.

    Head up! This is a brief period in your life.

  3. grace Says:

    Great response Moxie! Very comopassionate.

    I can REALLY relate to what the OP is saying. After many years in the work field, I decided to pursue an advanced degree. I graduated from law school during the worst part of the recession. It has not been an easy experience emotionally. Right now, I am making money working in a contract position that utilizes virtually none of my skills, but it pays the bills. Honestly, I think if I didn’t have a law degree, I wouldn’t have been hired! I struggle with feeling angry and resentful.

    I echo what Moxie is saying re: there are soooo many people in the same position. I was in a taxicab yesterday and learned that the driver had recently completed his Masters degree, but was having a hard time finding a good job. He and I laughed a bit at our common situations.

  4. Alan Says:

    You have asked a great question. I’ve got some experience. I’ve dated unemployed women. I evaluated them on their attitude, responsibility and how they are handling their downtime. Are they severely depressed? (Understandable but difficult to deal with in a new relationship) Are they physically active? Are they living within their reduced means and budgetting? Are they making an organzied effort to find something they are well suited for? And like you suggested, are they volunteering in some fashion or doing some community service that might keep them sharp.

    None of those relationships lasted more than a few months. I’m generous and happy to subsidize to some degree, but in these cases I could tell that these particular women were not going to be able to help themselves. They weren’t gold diggers. They were just drowning and could not give any emotional support to anyone but themselves. Perhaps they thought that sex was enough but for a mature relationship (what I was looking for at the time) there needed to be more.

    You sound like a prize not a loser. I particularly like the “do unto others” stuff. Don’t turn down dates. Go on them, be honest . And if you find something you like don’t be afraid to accept some generosity and in return give something (with little financial cost and you sound like you have some good qualities and can do so) back.

  5. nathan Says:

    Deena, I’m essentially currently in the same place you are. I’m in my mid-30s, well educated, actively volunteer in the community, have lots of interests and passions, don’t have major lingering baggage from previous relationships, etc. and yet am basically unemployed (I have small bit of money coming in from freelance work, but I’d emphasize small). Anyway, I have also felt that sting of shame at times, thinking things like “what do I have to offer them?” Which is ridiculous, but just shows how fixated I, you, and so many others are on the idea that gainful employment means “success” or “stability” anyway.

    While Amy above feels the stigma is mostly gone, I’d disagree. It’s not as strong as it used to be, but it’s definitely still there. What I find challenging is that unless someone has a decent sense of your various interests, your level of engagement in the world, and general ways of thinking about work – it’s really easy to be lumped in with some guy smoking pot and playing video games in his parent’s basement.

    This is why instead of focusing on the lack of job when on a date, I speak about my volunteering, the writing projects I have, and all the other things I’m doing in my life and/or am interested in. Which is really not too much different from how I was on dates when I did have a job.

    It’s sometimes helpful also to remember that a lot of folks who are working don’t like their jobs, or don’t feel passionate about their jobs, and probably wouldn’t have a lot to say about them on a date anyway. Work is just an easy entry point for strangers, which is why that “what do you do?” question is so common. But if you’re well-rounded enough, then you should have plenty of things to answer that question with, even if it’s not currently including gainful employment.

  6. Dennis Says:

    When you are unemployed it definitely takes a toll on your self esteem. It certainly did when it happened to me years ago. Being unemployed doesn’t change the person you are; its how you react to it that matters. You learn alot about yourself in times of adversity; I did. Keep on looking for work, eventually something will give. You can take your breathers but don’t give up. As for your social life, a guy who is really interested in YOU will understand your situation. Try to do things that maintain your self esteem. Thats my advice….good luck !

    • Bree Says:

      I agree with Moxie and Dennis….Not sure what race the OP but I’m gonna be honest.
      Some minorities particularly hispanic and latino men are looking for a woman to “carry” them financially and/or be equally yoked when it comes to finances.
      So you may want to tread carefully with black and hispanic men…not saying all of them are like this, but bottom line if you asked this question to an audience of predominately black and latino men and women the responses would be a little different.
      Whether right or wrong the reality is that many black and hispanic men still to this day aren’t making money on the scale as white and indian and asian counterparts. Look at stats for unemployment amongst the races and you will clearly see this.
      Again though keep in mind that it’s much more important to a black man to be with a woman who will be able to contribute to the household because many black men simply can’t afford to provide for a family all by themselves. If they are doing it they are working their fingers to the bone working 2 jobs and struggling just to pay the bills.
      I also say this to say that if your looking for marriage even though a man may date you and be in a relationship with you he could put off proposing to you because of you being unemployed. Again it may not be right but this is reality.
      At any rate stay positive and be resourceful and network as much as you can. I’m sure you will find something very soon.
      You may also want to consider relocating to another city and/or state where your degree could be more in demand.

  7. peter Says:

    Hey guys,

    I don’t understand how unemployment affects anything. I’m unemployed myself, for more than 1 year. Meanwhile I have many hobbies and such. I have a great credit score and I know this because I just leased another car and they ran my credit and it’s over 800. I have a masters degree and considerable savings. So just because I have no job means I’m not dateable? I can afford dates and going places w/o any issue whatsoever.

  8. peppermint Says:

    Now, when you’re looking for a job, is the BEST time to be dating.

    One, you have the time. Two, you can kill two birds — if someone isn’t a romantic prospect, you can still connect with them on a professional level (I found an incredible job once through someone I met on a date). Successful men are asking you out, hello!? Three, it’s a good way to practice your communication skills and learn about human psychology by meeting lots of different people.

    • Trouble Says:

      Super good point, Peppermint. I recruited a guy who wasn’t a dating fit to work for my company about 5 years ago. We didn’t get a love connection, but he got a good-paying employment opportunity.

  9. Saywhat! Says:

    wah wah. get a job. any job. that’s what shows true character then maybe you won’t feel like such a ‘looser’ Paleeezzzzz. The fact you are even able to persue a masters which a lot of peple can’t, should make you feel fortunate. The fact you would still work to make ends meets shows strength. I bet your one of those people after you get a high paying job you walk around like hot shit because you make all this money and could care less about the waiter at the restaurant who could possibly have potential to work for NASA. Do you sip Martini’s too? God I can’t stand pretentious people.

  10. Jamal Says:

    wow these comments are a bit over the top, I find your comment out of line Bree. I’m a Latino man and that is ridiculous. Maybe you had some bad dates, but to say that is borderline racist.

  11. Dimplz Says:

    This is a situation for many Americans today. I worked at my University while studying for my MA, but it would have been hard to find a faculty position at a college if I hadn’t done so. Many people with MA’s, PhD’s and law degrees are walking around jobless. A lot of jobs continue to be outsourced. I say you should date, but how can you even afford it? I think that will be the underlying question for your date.

  12. wishing u well Says:

    Cheer up, OP! Always remember that your current unemployment situation does not define you! I was one of the many persons who lost their job during the financial crash in 2007 that sparked off the recession that we are in now. I’ve been working since I was 14, worked through college, and have been a productive part of the workforce ever since. Unemployment was a shock and somewhat of a blow to my ego. So believe me, I understand the shock of it all.

    I did date during that time frame, and I never found it to be a problem – and contrary to Bree’s comment earlier – I dated white, black, hispanic, and Indian men. All were very sympathetic, supportive, and understanding – and they took the time to access who I was as a person. One even said to me, “I don’t even know why you’re stressed, as it’s clear that you’re bright and will be back on your feet in no time.” One person did get a little shaky and stopped seeing me, but the others did not – and all were considerably established in their path to stability. Just be yourself, and the light of who you are will shine through. Life is tough enough as it is without being your own worst critic. Congratulations on finishing your Master’s degree, and I wish you well!

  13. Mr Mahann Says:

    it depends on the circumstance.

    Is it ’cause she’s taking a break? Down on luck? Can she support herself?

    If its ’cause she’s lazy, then no.

    I lived with an unemployed woman once; she was semi-retired. She’d been a VP of Coach, Club Monaco, etc, having worked her way up thru the ranks in the fashion biz, had worked w/ most of the big fashion guys. We spent weekends in Shelter Island, partying with her fashion biz buds; some of the best parties to which I’ve been. But, that’s probably not in the theme of the question.

    On the other hand, the mother of my daughter is at the other end of the spectrum. This worked out well; she is now far away, and daughter and I are doing wonderfully.

    Some guys like having someone dependent on them; perhaps that type of person would find value in someone who doesn’t care to support themselves. I grew up with independent, strong women, and that’s reflected in the type of women I respect.

  14. Val Says:

    i wonder if ii is different if genders were switched. Or more succently, a question for women…. Would you date an unemployed man.

    • Kurt Says:

      Good point. I suspect that most men would consider seriously dating an unemployed woman. I wonder how many women would seriously consider dating an unemployed man? I bet that far more women would date the unemployed man than if the situation were reversed.

      • Kurt Says:

        Oops – I had that backwards – far more men would date the unemployed woman, than the other way around

        • Andrew Says:

          If you have good potential earning power, college degrees, professional, etc, then women will date you if you are unemployed. And by the way, college educated guys aren’t necessarily looking to date an unemployed high school dropout welfare mom too, so it goes both ways.

          I will give you that because of history and testosterone, men might be more willng to go on a date with an unemployed woman with poor prospects. Sometimes when they do that, it’s because they see her as an easy mark for a jump off or because they are desperate. Or sometimes, it’s the protector instinct that kicks in, motivating them to do that.

          • peter Says:

            I wouldn’t date any woman who didn’t have at least a bachelors degree. I don’t care if they are unemployed or not. But if you date a woman with an associates or no degree that’s a sign they are lazy and unmotivated.

            • Kurt Says:

              Just because a woman only has an associate’s degree does not necessarily mean that she is lazy or unmotivated. It could simply mean that she came from a poor family that couldn’t afford to pay for any of her college. There are plenty of hard-working intelligent women who work hard at their jobs and don’t spend their free time at bars or partying.

              An ex-girlfriend of mine was a legal secretary and only had an associate’s degree. However, she was making decent money and good at what she did. She eventually did get her bachelor’s degree in her late-30s while taking night school. She was anything but lazy.

              If you are going to assume that anyone without a bachelor’s degree is lazy, why not take this a step further and make the assumption that someone with a bachelor’s degree in a relatively “easy” or less-demanding discipline, such as communications, is also lazy?

              • peter Says:

                How about I shouldn’t date anyone w/o a masters degree since have a masters. I should assume bachelors degrees are lazy too! Thanks for the idea Kurt. And your ex gf is a loser btw, if she was fired from her legal sec job what are her options in life?? Work as a cashier? Great backup plan. The unemployment rate is far higher w/o a degree, this is 2011 not 1981…if you are going to the workforce you better be prepared and your ex is obviously not interested in being prepped for work. She’s prepped for getting some lame ass high school type job while Mr Right steps in and gives her all she needs. Total lazy bozo!

                • dimplz Says:

                  Spoken like a truly privileged American.

                • Kurt Says:

                  Are you a troll? Why don’t you regale us all with your genius? In what discipline is your master’s degree and from which university was it obtained so that we can judge you? Surely you are aware that the mere fact that you have a master’s degree means nothing if it is in a practically worthless discipline for which there is no job market.

                  By the way, your post shows that you know nothing about the legal job market, especially with respect to secretaries. A good experienced legal secretary is hard to find and one that has proven herself through years of good work is valued much more highly than a new graduate. Believe me, for what she was doing, 15 years of experience as a legal secretary is far for relevant to her employment than would be a master’s degree in any field. Obviously if she wanted to change careers, a master’s degree might help, but that wasn’t the case with her.

                  • peter Says:

                    Kurt I may have a little respect for your comments if you spoke perfect grammar, but you obviously failed English. I have an MBA in finance from NYU and my undergraduate degree is from Colgate. Tell you what Kurt, if I need an opinion from an unemployed jock like you I’ll let you know.

                    • Kurt Says:

                      You went to an expensive liberal arts college for undergrad – no wonder you have such a chip on your shoulder. It is just a shame that hardly anyone outside of the east coast has even heard of Colgate!

                      I have a law degree from a top-14 law school. I also had a full ride (it was a merit scholarship) to my undergraduate institution and didn’t need money from my parents to attend that school.

                      Why do you assume that I am an unemployed jock? I have never been unemployed in my life other than when I was attending school full-time. I get the feeling that you are a shrimpy little man with a Napoleon Complex!

            • dimplz Says:

              Jobs that don’t require a college degree, from Google :
              1· Air traffic controller
              Annual income: $102,030
              2· Storage and distribution manager
              Annual income: $66,600
              3· Transportation manager
              Annual income: $66,600
              4· Police and detectives supervisor
              Annual income: $64,430
              5.Non-retail sales manager
              Annual income: $59,300
              6· Forest fire fighting and prevention supervisor
              Annual income: $58,920
              7· Municipal fire fighting and prevention supervisor
              Annual income: $58,902
              8· Real estate broker
              Annual income: $58,720
              9· Elevator installers and repairer
              Annual income: $58,710
              10· Sales representative
              Annual income: $58,580
              11· Dental hygienist
              Annual income: $58,350
              12· Radiation therapist
              Annual income: $57,700
              13· Nuclear medicine technologist
              Annual income: $56,450
              14· Child support, missing persons and unemployment insurance fraud investigator
              Annual income: $53,900
              15·Criminal investigators and special agent
              Annual income: $53,990
              16· Immigration and Customs inspector
              Annual income: $53,990
              17· Police detective
              Annual Income: $53,990
              18· Police identification and records officer
              Annual income: $53,990
              19· Commercial pilot
              Annual income: $53,870

              Many business owners do not have a college degree and are very successful and intelligent. I thought people went to college to broaden their horizons, but it seems that all you got out of it was an inflated sense of self. Maybe that’s why you think men should lie instead of stating they are unemployed, because you place your worth on material success.

      • grace Says:

        50% of the women I know are financially supporting their men.

  15. Mark Says:

    If not having a degree means you are lazy, then about 3/4 of Americans are lazy. Globally, that number would be even larger. Blood diamond miners work harder in one day than most “professionals” work in a week.

    A 4.2 unemployment rate is huge for college graduates, considering they constitute about 25% of the adult Americans. That is huge in aggregate numbers. The college grad VS high school grad unemployment statistics are skewed as a result.

    Now on the topic of dating the unemployed: Men are far more likely to date an unemployed woman. Women will generally date an unemployed man if he has a nice future earning potential.

    When I was unemployed, I could not find a date to save my life. Suddenly – after I graduated and became employed – I had dating requests on an almost weekly basis.

    I do not date as a result of my findings. It is very clear what women want. Even women who are capable of supporting themselves – and a family – will still desire to marry up.

    I await your thumbs down assault.

    • Jamal Says:

      Where do u get ur data? So 75% of the population according to u has no college degree, get real your mistaken. And your other stats are incorrect as well. I keep noticing that people on this site use numbers that are generally made up and have no clue what they are talking about. 4.2% wrong …….

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