Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Projecting My Biases and POV Upon Others

I always look forward to reading comments from readers since I believe that open, honest and civil discourse is the best way to learn from differing opinions and points of view. (And thank you all for being civil!) My last post about whether I would consider dating someone who is unemployed (or underemployed) got varied responses. One person thought I was being snobbish, although I didn’t intend to be. After all, I too expect to be unemployed in the near future. But re-reading my post, I guess it could come across that way.

Before I start on my mea culpa, I don’t regret at all how I dealt with the man at the bar. Quite frankly, I don’t know whether he’s unemployed - - it’s just my conjecture. (And, if you recall, I was oblivious until my friend suggested the possibility that he could be unemployed.) Perhaps maybe he’s uber-wealthy and was turned off by my questions about his occupation. Who knows? (And in this economic crisis, has an innocuous question like, “So, what do you do?” really become a Pandora’s Box?)

With respect to asking for his business card, I stress that I’m just not comfortable giving out private information to someone I’ve just met in a bar. (After all, I’ve seen too many news stories about women who get attacked by men they’ve met in bars.) As flawed as my thought process may be, I felt asking for a business card was a better alternative than to trade personal numbers. For whatever reason, he didn’t give me his business card and told me to, “Forget it.” I wasn’t about to jump out of my seat and give him my home number in response. C'est la vie.

With respect to why I’m reluctant to get involved with someone who is unemployed, I guess it’s because I project my own narrow biases and point of view upon others, which I realize is also flawed thinking. Regardless, I think it’s worthy to share where I’m coming from:

I was laid off from my first job out of law school some time in late-1998 or early-1999. My ex-boss (who was otherwise a scumbag jerk) spared my feelings and called it a “lay-off” although I knew I was actually getting fired. I was devastated, embarrassed and humiliated, but I smiled and thanked him and everyone in the office, before I packed my belongings in a cardboard box. I wasn’t about to let anyone see me break a sweat (or tear).

When I got home, I curled up in a ball and cried like a baby for days. I waited a couple of days before I told my boyfriend. I couldn’t even tell my parents or my sister for weeks. I was scared out of my wits. I was saddled with $100,000+ in student loans with virtually zero savings. I didn’t have a husband who supported me and I didn’t have rich parents to bail me out.

Eating out or buying wine or beer was unthinkable, since I lived on credit card cash advances and was only a breath away from being evicted. And, yes, I did go stir-crazy during this period since all of my energy was expended in trying to find a new job. (Hence, this is why I thought it was irresponsible for an unemployed person to go out for a drink. But I also see that not all unemployed people are in the same dire straits that I was in, and deserve to go out here and there.)

Although most people thought I was dealing with my unemployment well, I was an emotional wreck. I was able to maintain an upbeat fa├žade in short spurts, but my boyfriend took the brunt of my mood swings during the remainder of the time, which ultimately led to our break-up. I was in no emotional state during my unemployment to try to build any new relationships, platonic or otherwise. It is therefore unfathomable to me why an unemployed person, who could be very emotionally vulnerable, would try to forge a new relationship that is not career-related.

I realize that people are different, and some deal with unemployment much better than I did (or ever could). But I’m still leery and suspicious that someone who is unemployed would be in the right frame of mind to start a new personal relationship. After all, there are studies that show that the mental health of unemployed men are worse than that of unemployed women.

I don’t know for sure, but I doubt I’ll be seeking new personal relationships while I'm laid off. I don’t think I have the ability or capacity to be a good companion to anyone under those circumstances. Only time will tell.


Delaware Job Hunters said...

This article reminds me of this quote, "Seasonal unemployment was found to be a state which does not have much employment, for example, rural areas."

But there are career experts who conduct seminars giving concrete advice about the needed skills to compete in today's competitive job market.

Abigail said...


Having dated some unemployed guys, and being married to one right now, I can't say I fault you.

Tim is a wonderful man with severe health problems. He wants to work. He is upset about not working and it hurts his self-esteem.

That's not a way to start off a relationship. That's a lot of commitment.

Conversely, most of the guys I dated tended to get a little TOO comfortable not working. They got depressed and wouldn't go out or just were lazy. Could have been either/both.

Also not a good thing to have for a new relationship.

So frankly I can't say as I blame you for not wanting to date a guy who's unemployed. And that's coming from someone who has dated a few such gentlemen.

misskate said...

I read your blog and enjoy it. I'm also a 30-something and I am almost out of debt, but I still need to change some of the habits that got me there in the first place.
I just wanted to drop you a line and say I thought that this was an excellent post.

misskate said...

oh and I'm pretty sure you could delete that top comment as spam.

QL girl said...

I didn't see anything wrong with your conclusion as to his emotional state. I mean, if we take his reaction to mean anything (the "forget it")...he's still pretty touchy about it, if that is indeed the situation he's in.