Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “Should I Wait Until My Life is More Together to Date?”

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I am a 34-year-old woman who still lives at home with her parents. I have a degree and a master’s from a good university. Because I have a hidden disability that makes it hard for me to find work, and because I still live at home with my parents at age 34, I have a problem dating. I would really love to find that special someone to spend the rest of my life with and have children with, but I doubt anyone would want to date someone my age who is still living at home and working very sporadically (people I know give me work here and there as my disability means I can’t make it through interviews). At the moment, I am trying to set up my own business because of the problems I have finding work. The only thing is that my business is a work-in-progress. Should I wait till everything is set up to date? If I date before it’s set up, what should I say on my dating profile? If it doesn’t work out, I feel that I should probably just give up on finding love. Any thoughts? — A Work in Progress

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52 comments… add one
  • avatar

    artsygirl December 9, 2016, 10:20 am

    Hi LW – In this era of crippling student debt and job insecurity, you are hardly alone as a recently graduated student still living at home. Due to your disability, it sounds like the chances of you being able to secure long term and stable employment is far from guaranteed so I would suggest putting yourself out there. While it might be difficult due to your circumstances, I thinking being upfront about your situation would help explain why you are unable to keep a job and rely on the support of your parents.

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    • avatar

      artsygirl December 9, 2016, 11:01 am

      P.S. Best of luck on the business!

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  • avatar

    for_cutie December 9, 2016, 10:27 am

    LW, you should definitely put yourself out there. Dating, finding friendship, and meeting new people can all energize you and make you feel more confident. These positive emotions should definitely help you as you work to launch a business as well. I imagine working alone and living at home can be a bit lonely and isolating. Getting out there to meet people should be a great ego boost and hopefully you will find a romantic partner too!

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  • avatar

    Kate December 9, 2016, 10:43 am

    I think if you feel like dating, you should. I hate to say this but, in my experience, guys were not impressed with my accomplishments when I was online dating at 36… they did not give a shit that I owned a home and had a good career. In fact, I think a lot of us make the mistake of putting stuff like that in our profile, and it doesn’t help at all, in fact it gets you rude messages from misogynistic pigs. Guys aren’t looking for a female version of themselves, they’re looking for someone cute (that’s subjective) and fun, who makes them feel good.

    I wouldn’t necessarily say “live with parents, have disability” in your profile, but be forthcoming about your situation as it comes up in conversation on dates, I guess, without going into too much detail too soon.

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    • avatar

      Fyodor December 9, 2016, 11:54 am

      I was debating weighing in on this, but this is an important point. Women tend to project their own preferences onto men (talking about how well traveled they are, fancy cultural things they’ve done professional accomplishments) when these things tend to matter less to men or might even be net negatives for men.*

      That being said I’d still advise a man in your situation to date. Some people won’t be interested, but that’s baseball. If you were a five foot five guy probably 80-90 percent of women wouldn’t be interested in you and I’d still tell you to date.

      *I’m sure that there’s some sort of corresponding version of men doing this but it’s less obvious to me for obvious reasons.

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      • avatar

        Fyodor December 9, 2016, 12:45 pm

        I accidentally included my email address in the “name” field. Could I get the comment deleted or email address clipped so I don’t get picked up by spam crawlers?
        Thanks

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy December 9, 2016, 1:01 pm

        Done.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover December 9, 2016, 1:07 pm

      I agree with Kate, having “accomplishments” can certainly be a detriment for women in the dating world. Personally I got a lot more interest when I hid my salary range. But here’s the good thing about it: if a man is turned off by my accomplishments, then he’s not the man for me. So it’s actually a positive thing for him to reject me based on my profile, because he’s not someone I would have wanted anyway.

      Now look at how that might apply to you. Do you want to attract guys who are not ok with someone who lives with their parents? Who are not ok with someone with a disability? No, of course not. You want someone who will want you as you are. Of course you don’t need to baldly state it all on your profile, but as others have said, explain your situation as it comes up. If he hightails it out of there, well, he obviously was never going to be a fit anyway.

      And I think there are plenty of guys who like women who only work part-time or who have their own business, because that makes it easier when you have kids. So it’s not even necessarily a negative, not for the right guy. Don’t sell yourself short.

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      • avatar

        Fyodor December 9, 2016, 1:56 pm

        I think that there’s a difference between having accomplishments and listing them. What you choose to emphasize signals to other people what you consider to be personally valuable .

        If you discuss in your 300 word narrative that you have a graduate degree and that you own your own home, you are signalling that you consider these to be important things to you in assessing a person. But you might turn off someone who is interested who has a bachelor’s degree or rents or someone who thinks that you have a different value system because you are too concerned with professional accomplishments.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover December 9, 2016, 2:42 pm

        I suppose so. But you said yourself that men don’t necessarily care about these kinds of accomplishments in women. And for some men, they are most definitely a turn-off. My best friend’s BIL specifically looked for a woman with an education but no good job prospects, so that he could have a wife who stays home with the kids but who was smart enough for him. He’s not the only guy like that out there. And then of course there are men who can’t handle it at all when women are more accomplished than them.

        There are plenty of guys who are fine with women who have accomplishments, and also guys who specifically want that. But there are very few guys who will refuse to date a woman without, if she meets their other requirements. So on the whole, if you want to cast a wide net, it’s not necessary to list them at all.

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    • avatar

      Kate December 9, 2016, 2:37 pm

      Yeah, I mean, I met my husband online and, sure, he appreciates my financial stability now, but what attracted him to my profile was my pics and probably that I sounded normal and fun in what I wrote, if he skimmed it. Oh, and that I lived just a few miles away, because he had a tight radius. He could not have cared less if I lived in an apartment with roommates or whatever. Living with parents might have given him pause if I wrote it, but it’s the kind of thing you can discuss once you meet, and it’s like, yeah, I’m saving money to start a business, etc, and it is unlikely to be a deal breaker.

      And yeah, when I had things in there like “own my home,” I got some nasty messages from assholes. That stuff needed to go and was deleted.

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      • avatar

        MissDre December 9, 2016, 3:44 pm

        I can’t believe somebody would send you a nasty message because you own a home. I’ve received nasty messages because I put up a sexy pic and guys call me a hoe or whatever… but because you own a house??? WTF is there to even say about that?

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      • avatar

        Kate December 9, 2016, 3:51 pm

        People are crazy!

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      • avatar

        Fyodor December 9, 2016, 4:00 pm

        “And yeah, when I had things in there like “own my home,” I got some nasty messages from assholes. ”

        This was a frequent problem for people who online dated in the 1920s USSR. Everyone was very into collective ownership and private homeowners would branded as bourgeoisie traitors and/or sent penis pictures.

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      • avatar

        Kate December 9, 2016, 5:39 pm

        Fyodor, my buddy at work is from Romania and his family owned property and a brick factory that was taken from them by the communists in the 40s… they’ve got a lawsuit going now, and in a few months he may get his “blood money.” He wants an Omega watch.

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  • avatar

    Essie December 9, 2016, 11:30 am

    And I would add, don’t look at dating as some specialized activity that only exists outside of your daily life, that you decide whether to do or not -like “I think I’ll start looking for an apartment in March.”

    I’ve never done online dating, or singles meet ups, or anything like that. All the relationships I’ve had, I’ve met the guy just through living my life. I’ve met guys at work. Through friends and coworkers. In classes. Getting work done on my home. They became friends, and then it became more.

    So I would say, go ahead, try online dating if you want to. But, also be out in the world, as much as you can. Volunteer. Take a class in something you’re interested in. Join a club. Go to meet ups, on things that interest you.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros December 9, 2016, 11:31 am

    If everyone waited until their life was “together” to date, then no one would date. I agree with Kate that while you shouldn’t list all this info on your profile or in your first messages, it’s something to be upfront about if/when it comes up. I think that for a lot of people, knowing you have a “reason” to be at home make a difference. (Not trying to insult people who live with their parents for other reasons, but acknowledging that people do make assumptions about it.)

    Yes, there might be people who are turned off by this, but that’s the case for a whole variety of qualities or situations. No one can get a guarantee that everyone will be OK with every aspect of their personality or life. And the fact that you can’t get that guarantee is not a reason to give up dating altogether. When you ask whether you should give up dating if “that doesn’t work out,” I’m not really sure what you’re referring to. This particular dating profile? I don’t know if you know many people who online date, but it’s not likely for ANYONE that doing a stint on an online dating site is going to immediately result in a relationship or lots of interest or whatever. As is true for everyone, choosing to date is very much a process that you can’t control, and I don’t think that not having success during maybe the two months you use a dating site is a reason to give it up forever.

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    • avatar

      csp December 9, 2016, 12:30 pm

      Yes, Life is messy and the older you get, the more you understand that. Don’t worry about it. Honestly, in your mid 30s, everyone you date will have something. People will be divorced, widowed, had painful breakups, have kids and ailing parents. If you can show compassion for someone, then you can find that in someone else.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar December 9, 2016, 11:32 am

    If we all waited for all our ducks to be in a row before doing anything,none of us would do anything. We are all works in progress. Start dating.

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  • avatar

    Bryana December 9, 2016, 11:46 am

    I agree with what everyone else has been saying – put yourself out there. I was in a sort of similar situation: newly graduated, living at home, planning to start my own business. But I was working as a waitress to make ends meet in the meantime. I put myself out there and tried online dating and managed to meet my now husband, who was also living with his parents (and working). While dating, I opened my business. It started slow, but now I’m able to make a living off of it. My husband has been so loving and supportive throughout. My point is that you don’t need to be at the “perfect” point in your life. The right person will be the right person, even if you’re a work in progress (which I still am). Good luck!

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  • avatar

    Elin December 9, 2016, 12:42 pm

    I suppose I could be ignorant but I’m not sure how you’re unable to sit through an interview, yet somehow would be able to go out on a date?

    My advice regardless, would be to focus less on what you CAN’T do, and more on what you CAN. What can you bring to a relationship? What makes you likable, datable, what would make someone want to settle down and have kids with you? If you don’t have answers to those questions you’re probably not in a good place to date (and that’s unrelated to your health situation btw; anyone who can’t answer those questions needs to take time to learn who they are before trying to settle down).

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    • avatar

      Ron December 9, 2016, 4:38 pm

      Elin —
      As Kate’s and some others’ examples show, what we think are the most significant things we have to offer may be of zilch significance to potential dates, even to desirable potential dates.

      I also was confused how LW can’t make it through an interview but feels she can operate a business and date. Then again, she gives no information about what her particular problem is. Isn’t that supposed to be the benefit of a site like this — you can lay out the actual question and real background to diverse people who will never know who you are in real life? Deficient crap information in question leads invariably to crap answer, which also invariably leads to angry LW upset that the responders didn’t just instinctively know exactly what they meant and assumed untrue things about them.

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    • avatar

      Fyodor December 9, 2016, 4:56 pm

      1. I don’t think that she needs to be ready for marriage to date. There’s no reason that she can’t get go see a movie with some dude or even have a long term relationship even if she’s not financially self supporting.

      2. Men are less likely to have a “bring to the relationship” approach and more likely to be looking for someone nice and pleasant and attractive.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark December 11, 2016, 10:47 am

    God, is EVERYBODY really THIS pollyanna and fucking naive?!
    .
    So, but if somebody is so fucking fragile that they can’t even survive a routine job interview — good luck handling the stress of running a business — much less the rejection that comes with dating.
    .
    In a word, LW, should you wait?
    .
    YES. HELL, YES.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover December 11, 2016, 11:02 am

      I think it’s more a physical issue, she did say she has a disability. My guess is something like Crohn’s disease. And you could easily run a business with that, if your business was for example an etsy store, or something else that’s online and not real-time.

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      • avatar

        Ron December 11, 2016, 11:32 am

        The last two responses epitomize the problem with asking for advice about a problem, but not being willing to say what the problem is. Chrohn’s versus anxiety disorder. Makes a huge difference, doesn’t it. I worked with multiple people suffering from Chrohn’s. They could all make it through an interview. These two potential explanations of what the ‘hidden disability’ is are linked by the fact that stress is awful for someone with either condition.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros December 11, 2016, 3:45 pm

        I was thinking the same thing. She didn’t say interviews were too stressful. She just said she couldn’t get through them. She actually does complete work, which I assume is related to the fact that while you are working, you typically have more flexibility in regard to accommodations and taking breaks. A business is even more flexible.

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    • avatar

      Kate December 11, 2016, 5:15 pm

      She should wait until, what, she no longer has a disability? People with disabilities shouldn’t date? If she feels like it and thinks she could get through a date, then she should go on dates.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark December 12, 2016, 12:18 pm

        If their disability is mental illness that they clearly DON’T have under control? YES…
        .
        All this speculations its Crohn’s disease is bizarre. I’ve work with an oddly high number of people who battle that. NEWSFLASH: They ALL were hired — GASP! — after interviews.
        .
        My guess is the LW battles anxiety which is why I am skeptical about her handling dating — which is not exactly anxiety free. PS — if you can’t handle the trauma of a job interview? Um, yeah, sorry. But having kids for you is out.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom December 12, 2016, 10:12 am

      I think she should date if she wants too but I also don’t know how she can get through a date if she can’t get through a job interview.

      I was thinking of something like Asperger’s or Tourette’s or OCD. I don’t think it matters what the disability is I think that if you can’t get through a job interview you will have trouble getting through the date.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros December 12, 2016, 2:38 pm

        Dates are similar in that you typically have to sit for a length of time and talk, but I’ve never had a date where I felt it was as formal or stressful as an interview. Sitting and having a drink and chatting is a lot easier than interviewing for a job.

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie December 12, 2016, 11:10 am

      You know typically I’d say “oh, you can never be 100% together so go for it” but I’m in total agreement with you BGM. Whatever is going on – the person doesn’t have it under control and it sounds like the LW would be transferring dependency from the parents to a spouse. At 34 this person has had roughly 7 – 10 years to get their shit together.

      That’s a long time to be working sporadically and not take the bull by the horns and try to set up something more established.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover December 12, 2016, 11:35 am

        But sometimes a disability means you can never be fully independent. Maybe she’ll always have to be partially dependent on someone. There are plenty of people who are dependent on their spouses, either fully or partially. If she meets a guy who’s fine with that then what’s the problem? Especially if she’s able to handle housework and childcare with her disability. Tons of families split the work that way.

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      • avatar

        Ron December 12, 2016, 12:03 pm

        I remain unsure why the LW is so convinced she can’t make it through a job interview. Is she simply afraid of trying and not being hired, or has she actually gone on some job interviews and had disability-related problems? That makes a big difference.

        Also, how long has she been working to estabish her own business and what progress has she made?

        Is she just hiding out in her parents’ basement, because that is her comfort zone or is she seriously making the most of her life, despite her disability?

        A lot of missing information and some things which don’t seem to quite hang together.

        If her problem is anxiety, there is therapy and medications which can help. If her problem is Crohn’s, there also is medication which can help. I have no idea what her ‘hidden disability’ is, but am concerned that she says not a word about actively doing anything to manage her disability.

        She is likely a decade removed from getting her Master’s degree. That is a long time to basically be sitting in place.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark December 12, 2016, 12:10 pm

        Again — I don’t get how somebody who can’t weather the stress of a jon interview could possibly handle the stress of seriously dating. I mean — C’mon! A job interview is a piece of cake!
        .

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom December 12, 2016, 12:24 pm

        @BGM I think they’re very similar except dating is an extended interview where you see if you are good fit. I’m with you in that if she can’t handle the interview she can’t handle the date.

        I also think that if she could handle dating she’d already be doing it.

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      • avatar

        Vathena December 12, 2016, 12:37 pm

        I’ve also been thinking about this. And forget dating – she wants kids! Few things are more stressful, physically and mentally, than childbearing and parenting. It would be great to have more information in this case – if you can’t sit for a job interview, the process of dating/partnership/marriage/pregnancy/parenting is probably going to be pretty tough. I hope LW is receiving some form of treatment or therapy for her disability.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover December 12, 2016, 12:38 pm

        I find dating to be a lot less stressful than job interviews, personally. Mainly because if I’m interviewing for a job it’s because I really want it, whereas if I’m going on a date I’m still trying to figure out if it’s someone I want or not. The stakes are way lower for me. I never really stressed about dating at all.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover December 12, 2016, 12:40 pm

        Also I’ve just never heard anyone refer to anxiety as a disability, so that’s not where my mind went. Rin’s right, without knowing more it’s hard to say what the right approach is. But she doesn’t say she can’t handle dating, so without any further info I have to assume that she has a better idea of what she can/can’t handle than we do.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover December 12, 2016, 12:41 pm

        *Ron’s

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  • avatar

    Kate December 12, 2016, 12:41 pm

    I’m withyou, RRRR, that a date is a frickin breeze compared to a job interview. I used to spend like an hour on a first date having a drink or two, then I’d F off out of there. A job interview could be half a day and you have to be completely on point. No thanks.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover December 12, 2016, 12:42 pm

      Yup, exactly. With a job interview I’m “on”. With a date, I just act like myself. Much easier.

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    • avatar

      Kate December 12, 2016, 12:55 pm

      The last time I interviewed was a complete dis-ass-ter. I had a round of phone interviews first in which I thought I was interviewing for like a relationship sales position, but they thought they were interviewing for someone to actually build and lead a sales team. It was terrible. Then they interviewed me in person for a client service position. I had to get there the night before, the Ubers were messed up and I ended up being LATE (never been late in my life), and I would have had a panic attack if I cared more. I didn’t get an offer and it was like two complete days of stress.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover December 12, 2016, 1:16 pm

      I was interviewing for an engineering job and the interviewer (youngish guy) stopped the interview halfway through, left the room without telling me why, came back with two buddies, and then they proceeded to ask me questions way outside my experience (new grad) and laugh at me when I couldn’t answer. Yeah. Job interviews can be really shit. Even an awful date doesn’t come anywhere close to that.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros December 12, 2016, 2:37 pm

      Yeah, and you also can’t excuse yourself as freely if needed without disrupting the flow of the interview or looking weird.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark December 12, 2016, 1:28 pm

    Yeah. And yet — somehow — you two survived and continued to go on more interviews… Meanwhile, this LW sits in her mommy’s basement for decade…

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover December 12, 2016, 1:37 pm

      Well I don’t have any kind of condition that makes it more difficult, so it’s not really an accurate comparison, is it?

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark December 12, 2016, 1:43 pm

    My patience with intreated “anxiety” is at its end. And I’d bet a MILLION DOLLARS the invisible disability is untreated anxiety…

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    • avatar

      Kate December 12, 2016, 2:07 pm

      But everyone with untreated anxiety just smokes weed, don’t they? Or swallow Mexican Xanax.

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    • avatar

      Ron December 12, 2016, 2:09 pm

      I think we are both thinking anxiety because of the timing and the shear nebulousness of what LW does, other than remain in her parents’ house over the past decade. This seems like ‘failure to launch’. Whatever ‘hidden disability’ LW had did not prevent her from getting a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from a good university. Then as soon as it is time to enter the real world: boom! — inability to cope. LOTS of people experience a difficult transition from university to real life. LW has a huge problem. Is it caused by the ‘hidden disability’ or is the ‘hidden disability’ an excuse not to cope with real life?

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark December 12, 2016, 2:16 pm

        EX -ACT-LY!!!

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  • avatar

    LW January 1, 2017, 8:23 am

    Hi I am the person who the post is about I have a few learning disabilities, along with anxiety and depression. I have only ever had temp work as the interviews are easier to get through. I’ve not had a permanent part/full time job since graduating, despite going to numerous interviews. However I recently joined an agency (so no interviews) and am looking at setting up my own business and/or finding an organisation that hires individuals with disabilities. I have spent years volunteering (so hardly sitting at home) to get into something, however unfortunately two of the places I volunteered at had funding cuts! One of the places I volunteered at gave me an interview which unfortunately I didn’t get through. It does n’t help that I occasionally didn’t manage to stay in some of the temp positons due to the anxiety. I wonder about dating as a lot of men out there seem to want independent women. And yes it is hugely stressful for me to go out on dates and a lot of the time I don’t get a second one as I struggle to make a good impression due to my anxiety.

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