Your Turn: “How Can I Date While Unemployed?”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I’m a 41-year-old unemployed, divorced mom of a 4-year-old. I have a question that probably lots of people can relate to. I haven’t been dating much nor, for that matter, have I wanted to. I’ve been busy with my daughter and at one time work. In 2010 I had two jobs and lost both — one because I didn’t have reliable child care to get my daughter to school and the second because the job relocated. So I haven’t worked in a year. I have been supermom and have had zero luck looking for a job in the meantime. I’d like to start dating again, but I’m wondering whether I should, considering my current job status. If I were to meet someone, how should I mention my unemployment status? I’m not a bum; I’m trying to take care of a child and get myself together after my breakup. I am motivated and have a great work ethic. So how should I proceed? — Unemployed Mom


  1. hm, applying nothing but pure logic and no judgement: if I were unemployed, and especially if I had a small human being dependent on me I wouldn’t be spending money on eating out, recreation, etc. – things I spend money on while dating!

    1. So she should just stock up and lock herself in the house?? God forbid a single mom goes out and enjoys herself..

      1. Way to use “single mom” – yeah sorry that does mean something… it means you have to be a tad more unselfish. I didn’t even go out to eat when I had to pay for my *dog’s* surgery….

        I don’t know the specifics of her financial situation, but I’d say it doesn’t take that much self-control to focus on getting a job first, and dating later.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        Too busy to pipe in lately 🙁 Good one to come back to though.
        I agree, Neatist. Sounds harsh, but so is reality, parenting and bills. Sometimes you ARE too busy to have fun. That’s life.

      3. While I agree with you I also think that it’s important to let yourself have a life too. My mother was a single mom and while we were her priority she still had a life, and I’m glad she did. I think that making sure you are taken care of is just as important as making sure your child is taken care of. I’m not saying you should forego feeding your kid in order to do it, but I think it is possible to balance your budget and time in a way that you are able to spend some money on yourself. Even if it’s a $5 coffee date.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        Oh I agree with you. Its certainly important to “take a breather.” I guess I was looking at the dating in a traditional sense–dinner, movie, etc. Those are expensive. I assume if one is unemployed and trying to provide for another mouth to feed, they are in serious financial straits, which I guess is not always the case.

        I see how my comment seemed somewhat harsh, but honestly the last thing on my mind if I were in her position would be dating.

      5. And I actually think that in a situation like this it is very reasonable to look for a distraction and a way to relax for at least a couple of hours in a company of another reasonable adult.

      6. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, that’s what I mean by “take a breather.”

      7. Will.i.am says:

        Priorties come first, fun second. I’d be more impressed by a woman who is hustling to get her priorities straight and has less money, than a woman who disregards them and blows all her money on shopping and trinkets.

        How are you going to pay the electric bill with new stilleto pumps?

      8. lets_be_honest says:

        As someone in that position once, I can tell you that yes, most men (decent ones, at least) are very impressed by “hustling.”

      9. ele4phant says:

        With ten years plus dating experience under my belt, I was unaware that new stilettos (or a new wardrobe) were required to date. How did I bumble my way into a relationship?!

        If she wanted to blow all her time and money on dating, that would obviously be a problem. However, you don’t need to do those things to meet people.

        She can sign up for a free dating website, start chatting with people, and if there’s a spark, meet someone for something short and simple like coffee. Dating and making a genuine connection with someone often does take time and effort, but that doesn’t have to mean spending exorbitant amounts of money or neglecting her parenting duties.

      10. Exactly.. The fact that she is even asking this question makes me think that she knows perfectly well what her priorities are and is feeling guilty about wanting to do something for herself at a difficult time.

      11. Gross! What a sexist and stupid assumption! FIRST of all, we have no idea what her financial situation is, and we don’t even know if she is the SOLE caretaker of her daughter. SECOND, how does wanting to date equate to disregarding priorities and blowing money on “shopping, trinkets, and stilettos”??

      12. Uh, no one said anything about buying new pumps? Dating doesn’t have to be expensive dinners and movies. You can go to a park and walk around, or invite the person over for dinner at your home. And I seriously doubt that she never spends money on anything fun ever, so why not just pool some of that money and use on a date?

      13. Will.i.am says:

        I think my comment was taking out of context. I was just stating that someone who is struggling to make ends meet with a child, I will take more seriously then a woman who blows her money. I wasn’t trying to imply that this is what the letter writer was doing. I should have been more clear.

      14. You know what helps to focus on your child and be a better parent? Getting a coffee break every once in a while. There is nothing selfish about wanting to be happy and to have support and company of a person you enjoy. Happy moms generally are better moms. And I don’t see anywhere in the letter that she intends to go out every night and blow all her money on drinking and partying.

      15. …and she never said anything about going on cheap dates either. No one knows what her intended budget is for dating because she never mentioned it, you assume one thing, I assume another. Both assumptions.

      16. The only question she asks is if she should start dating while she is unemployed. I guess your suggestion is for her to never leave her house until she finds a job and/or her kid turns 18.

      17. haha wow, nope never said that.

      18. BriarRose says:

        If I didn’t get a break from the grind of work/child/housework every so often, I’d probably be curled in a ball in the corner, sobbing uncontrollably. Being a single, working mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I honestly wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Exhausted all the time, barely any time for yourself, no partner to bounce parenting thoughts or ideas off of or get encouragement from, constantly worried about money or if you’re screwing up your child. So I am a huge supporter of the LW getting a chance to get out every so often. Any mother needs time to herself, working or not, single or not. Especially if the LW does not have adult interaction at work, she really could benefit from meeting other people, whether to date or just befriend. Of course in the LW’s case I will refer to my cheap/free suggestions in my comment below.

      19. Speaking from a male perspective, I have to disagee with those who say UM should stay home with the kid.

        Believe it or not, there are still guys who will pay for everything on a date except babysitting. For that, find a friend who wants to help you out, or date only on the nights dad has the kid(s) if that option is available. In fact, that’s a good way to keep kids from being confused by any new relationships, especially if they don’t develop into anything.

        Also, at the risk of sounding mercenary, dating can put you on the path to a much better life. My best friend finally booted her deadbeat husband and got a divorce in her early 40s, but still struggled for years. There was no question finding a guy with some money would solve about 99% of her problems, and she eventually did. That wouldn’t have happened if she decided to become a hermit.

        As far as other worthwhile “luxuries”, a gym membership (and the discipline to make use of it) is a very good investment as well. From a male perspective, a good body (not Angelina Jolie, just not fat and out of shape) on a woman in her 40s bumps her up at least two points on the appearance scale.

        Veering slightly off topic, did I mention don’t get any tattoos? For most upper middle class or higher men, tattoos are an automatic blackball if you’re looking for something long term. They’ll sleep with you, but don’t expect anything beyond that. Readers in your 20s, consider your probabilty of winding up 40 and divorced before you get a tattoo. Yes, even a tiny one on your ankle or one that isn’t visible when you’re fully clothed.

        Unemployed Mom needs to start dating again.

    2. YouGoGirl says:

      I am a graduate student who is going through financial difficulties because my anticipated reimbursement to travel to a professional conference has been delayed. When I told a relative that I was $50 short to pay bills, I got a lecture about how it was my fault for taking fancy trips. A friend got a similar lecture from her sisters and parents, who scolded her for having a holiday party when she was having financial issues. Like the reader who is scolding the LW for wanting to date, these relatives expect me and my friend to do penance for our financial difficulties by living a niggardly existence in which we stay home and never go anywhere or do anything fun.

      I do not mean that the LW should not be frugal and watch her money carefully. She already knows this. Other readers have made good suggestions about doing free and inexpensive things on dates. I wish her good luck as she tries to date while watching her budget and caring for her daughter. She has been through a lot.

      1. ele4phant says:


      2. ele4phant says:

        oops, that was supposed to go

        “niggardly”? Is that the only appropriate word that could have been chosen?

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Could’ve fallen out of my chair reading that. I actually thought maybe this is another word that I am not aware of because of the “a”…
        You are a graduate student using terms like that? WTH?

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        Interesting, I used wikipedia (great source, lol)
        Apparently “the two words are etymologically unrelated.”

      5. And the problem with the word “niggardly” is… ?

      6. ele4phant says:

        It depends on individuals and the sensitivity of one to political correctness (which granted, perhaps we get are too sensitive), but the work can be seen as inflammatory: people have lost their job over its usage:


        If YouGoGirl wants to use it, that’s her choice, but there shouldn’t be surprise that it’ll raise some eyebrows, especially when there are more neutral words like meager, miserly, ect, ect.

      7. iseeshiny says:

        It is also unsafe to use the word “knickers” in the US in reference to underwear. As in, “Man, I have to wash my dirty knickers. They’re in a pile in the corner of my bedroom and starting to smell.” That will get you some looks at the office party, let me tell you.

      8. I actually have never heard this word or what i thought was this word (didn’t realize it had different etymological origins than the racial slur) used this way, and I’m going to guess that a large part of the country hasn’t since it does so closely resemble the racial slur that it doesn’t seem to be used much.

      9. ele4phant says:

        “I actually have never heard this word”

        Yeah, I think the fact that most people don’t know the origin of the word, it will associate with the racial slur. And anyone who has any sort of cultural awareness is going to realize that choosing to use niggardly will immediately make that connection for most people.

        So, if someone wants to use it and defend it because of its origins, well okay, but you can’t claim to be surprised when you get a backlash.

      10. I think context helps a lot…yea…if someone is sitting in a room and only picks out “niggardly” when overhearing a conversation then that would be bad for who said it…but reading it on this site in context I was able to assume it’s meaning without having heard it before.

      11. How about someone wanting to use it because it’s a legitimate word that has nothing to do with the racial slur? Maybe instead of jumping on her for using a “bad” word, you should educate yourself more on the English language. The commenters on this site usually seem pretty darn pleased with themselves and consider themselves incredibly smart and quite frequently come off as know-it-alls. Exactly the type of community where one would assume they could use less common words and people would know the meaning. I guess this community isn’t as intellectual and well-read as the members would like to believe.

      12. ele4phant says:

        Fair point. Still language, and words we use, are given meaning by people. They mean take on a meaning beyond their original meaning – meanings don’t remain static. And in a society where this word has generally fallen into disuse and is very similar to another taboo word, there will be a certain reaction.

        So if someone wants to use it, and defend it, okay cool. But there should be no suprise when it causes a fervour.

        Just sayin’…

      13. But she used it in writing on a site where most of the users talk about their college educations, jobs, and seemingly try very hard to come off as intellectual. A place where one could easily assume that most of the readers would see the difference in spelling and respond more with intellectual curiosity than contempt if they didn’t know the meaning. She didn’t go to an Olive Garden in the projects and say “don’t be niggardly with those breadsticks.”

      14. And I’m in a ridiculously pissy mood today and am not above being argumentative with strangers. 🙂

      15. Listen, if you have such a problem with the community here, then leave. In a matter of a few minutes you called me bitchy and the community as a whole “know-it-alls.” You may be in a “pissy mood today” and “not above being argumentative with strangers” but in the last few hours, I have cleaned up cat barf, baby barf and grown-up barf, so I win and I say you’re out.

      16. caitie_didn't says:

        Oh no, barf is the worst!

      17. Totally. Drew, baby and cats all sick. I’m fighting it, but holding it together so far.

      18. Trixy Minx says:

        @ Wendy
        I hope they get better soon.

      19. They are, thank you! It was a fast and furious bug.

      20. *hug* I know how you feel. I remember when my 3rd son got a stomach bug when he was 7 weeks old, and then every male in the house picked it up at the same time, and we had only one bathroom, and off-white carpet and a brand-new couch.

      21. I don’t know how you do it with four sons. Seriously, I am in total awe.

      22. If you want to nitpick “niggardly”, then you will have to quibble over “picnic” as well. Maybe even the word “nitpick” itself.

        Of course, we could all put on our big kid pants and realize that none of us is racist, slave-owning individuals and move on with life.

      23. I vote for the latter. MOA!

      24. demoiselle says:

        Actually, I think that it is likely there are many people who get into very hyper-literary communities (or grew up in them) who would NEVER assume that people would mistake “niggardly” (a perfectly respectable word, in itself) with the horrible racial slur. Naive of them/us, I suppose. But I never realized anyone would mix those two up until a politician got into trouble for using the word a few years ago and this same discussion happened. I assumed that most people would know the word “niggardly,” at least as part of their passive vocabulary.

      25. fallonthecity says:

        Thanks for that link. I knew the meaning of the word but didn’t know its origins until now.

      26. caitie_didn't says:

        Aside from your bizarre word choice with the word “niggardly”, I do agree with you. I think it’s silly that we expect people who are experiencing financial difficulties to be shut ins who aren’t allowed to have any fun at all ever, as punishment for their troubles. The fact of the matter is, that given the economy and job availability out there, a LOT of people don’t have as big of a financial cushion as they’d like. It is not the LW’s fault that she is unemployed right now- should she deprive herself of adult interaction and the occasional coffee if she can afford it? I’m not advocating taking out a loan for a beach vacation, but everybody deserves a treat every once and a while. AND, there are plenty of ways to keep casual dates cheap or free (seriously, who wants to sit through a full meal with someone they’ve never met in person before?), although it might be more tricky in a serious relationship.

        The LW also makes no real mention of her financial status. Because she’s a single mom and unemployed at the moment, it’s easy to assume she’s flat broke, but maybe that’s not the case. Maybe there is an inheritance, alimony or something else giving her enough cushion that she’s not in dire straights.

      27. lets_be_honest says:

        “silly that we expect people who are experiencing financial difficulties to be shut ins who aren’t allowed to have any fun at all ever, as punishment for their troubles”

        If you can’t afford something, whether its coffee or a night on the town, then you shouldn’t be doing it. Period. I probably sound like a grumpy old lady, and I’m sure I’m venting about my own sister right now, but people are not entitled to anything, including wasting money on fun if they can’t afford to waste. Its not punishment, its life and responsibility. I don’t get where that changed and people think they deserve things just because. It drives me up a wall. If you’re broke and want to have fun, find a way to have free fun.

      28. I think in cases like this, people should worry about their own money instead of counting other people’s cash. If she chooses to spend 5 bucks on coffee instead of sitting at home and being depressed, then it is her right.

      29. lets_be_honest says:

        Sure its her right to do whatever she wants with her money. And I think this woman has a pretty good head on her shoulders from what I can see from her letter and the fact that she’s being overly cautious in taking this next step even by writing in.
        My point was more general than directed to her.

      30. ele4phant says:

        “If you can’t afford something, whether its coffee or a night on the town, then you shouldn’t be doing it.”

        Generally, I agree. We have to live within our means, and if our means don’t allow for extras like coffee or eating out, then we don’t get them.

        However, I think many people on this thread are conflating “fun” and “dating” with “spending money”. While they are often correlated, they don’t have to be.

        Its unreasonable to say that people who are in a tough financial situations have to hang their heads and mope around until things improve. There are so many wonderful ways to have fun, or date, without spending a time. Many communities have free events like free concerts or shows. You can meet up and go on walks in the park. Just because she may not be flush with cash means she never gets to have fun or try to meet someone special. It just means she needs to be creative about doing it within a reasonable or limited budget.

      31. lets_be_honest says:

        I agree 100%. Unfortunately, if she lives anywhere near where I do, that free-fun will cost at least $12-$15 an hour for a sitter. Hopefully she’s got a family member or friend who will do it for free every here and there.

      32. ele4phant says:

        Oh man, I forgot about the whole child care deal (can you tell I don’t have kids yet?). I hope she has someone who can watch her daughter on occasion; regardless of dating if she’s not working and she has no one to watch the daughter once in a while she would never get a moment to herself. I’m sure even the most dedicated mother would go crazy if she never got a breather.

        As a side note – babysitters get $12-15 an hour now!? Why did I ever stop babysitting? Its been a few years since I babysat, but I’m pretty sure I never made more than six an hour.

      33. It’s $15 an hour here in Brooklyn. Oh man, do I wish we had family who lived closer…

      34. Wendy,

        Do you have any single, or married w/o kids? I’m currently the former, love kids and have been around a lot of them. I will offer to watch my friends kids when they want a night out. And I’m 31. And won’t charge. Anyway, maybe there’s someone in your cirlce of friends that feels the same? Of course, it doesn’t help when you want to go out in a group situation.

        If I were in NY, I would glady offer to give you a break.

      35. * single, or married w/o kids, friends?

      36. caitie_didn't says:

        I agree with your “if you can’t afford it you shouldn’t be doing it” statement. I mean, I’m a fairly broke graduate student and I have to be pretty strict with my budget. And if I can’t afford it, I don’t use my credit card to pay for it.

        The issue is that *I* know my budget, and what is a “reasonable treat” or “reasonable amount to spend on fun”. You, (or I for that matter), don’t know the LW’s budget. So I don’t think we have the right to say, “dating is out of your budget” and then judge her for wanting to date. We aren’t the arbiters of her bank account and it’s incredibly presumptuous for any of us to shame her for wanting some human interaction.

        She seems to have her shit together, I’m sure she thought about whether or not she can afford it BEFORE she wrote this letter.

      37. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, I agree. I kind of mentioned that above-that we don’t know if she’s the sole provider or even broke.
        I wish my sister had a spending brain like you do!

      38. caitie_didn't says:

        haha, thanks! I think the line between “living within your means and still having discretionary spending” and “being frugal/cheap” is a fine one….I’m on the “straight-up cheap” side, most of the time 🙂

      39. She never once said she was flat out broke. She said she’s currently unemployed. While I understand that some may equate one with the other, it’s not always the case. The LW could happily be living well within her means, but is embarrassed by being unemplyoyed. She only asked how to deal with that situation – telling someone she’s currenly out of work – when it arises. She never once asked “How can a person with no money date?” I honestly thing we’re reading WAY too much in to this person’s financial situation.

      40. I know I tacked this on to lets_be_honest’s post, but I could have done it to a lot of others. I wasn’t signaling you out lbh.

        And catie, you’re spot on!

      41. lets_be_honest says:

        No, no. You are absolutely right. I am one of the bunch that initially assumed she’s broke, which she easily could not be.

      42. ForeverYoung says:

        AMEN! You picked the perfect post to come back to LBH!

  2. silver_dragon_girl says:

    I’d just be open to it. Maybe don’t use “I’m an unemployed single mother of a 4-year-old” as your opener, though.

    I don’t think that you have to punish yourself by refraining from dating just because you’re unemployed. That’s silly. Work is one aspect of your life, separate from the social/romantic side of things.

    That being said, money is going to be an issue (probably), and I know it’s always harder to date if you have kids. I say just proceed however you normally would when dating. But be prepared to face some judgement from some people when they hear you’re unemployed, unfortunately 🙁

  3. Turtledove says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily treat being unemployed to mean you can’t or shouldn’t date, but it is one more reason among many that call for taking things slowly. When you meet someone, understand that being unemployed may be a deal breaker for them so it may take a while. You’ll also have to be creative in how you date and how you pay for dating– as you are an unemployed single mother, there will be men who are wary of you for fear of becoming a meal ticket. It’s not a pretty fact, but there it is.

    So my main advice would be the same as I would give to any other woman. Really take your time and get to know a man before you let him into your heart. Let him get to know you. There are some men that won’t care that you’re unemployed as long as you’re making an effort to find a job and there are some that will run as far as they can in the other direction. Don’t take the running personally. I admit you’ll have to be a little patient, but you likely would anyway to find a good match for you and your daughter.

    1. BriarRose says:

      I was trying to think of a way to say that delicately, but couldn’t, and you’re right…it’s not a pretty fact. Some men probably will be suspicious and think she’s just trying to get a free dinner. Which sucks, but that’s just how it is. Hopefully meeting up for coffee, etc, at first, will show the right guy that she’s legitametly trying to date! And you’re right, dating with a kid is a tricky thing anyway (believe me, I know) so she’s going to have to be patient no matter what.

  4. I think you should try Ok Cupid. Its free, a good way to see whats out there and it will allow you to get to know a guy before actually meeting him, something that sounds important if you are still a bit shy about dating. I’m going to assume that child care isn’t an issue, but the cost of the dates is. Well look into what free events are going in your town. If you live in an area with pretty parks, a walk date would be a nice free activity, which could turn into coffee-cheap and he usually buys if you wish to continue the date. Also, volunteering with a date could be fun, like after talking to a guy for a bit, you two could look up and see what food banks need help and maybe it would be a way to assess his kindness and generosity.

    I think book readings would be a fun date for a intellectual sort, along with free museum nights-they usually happen once a month. I’m not sure what your city is like, but if you do some research and are willing to think outside the ‘date box’ I’m sure things will appear. But first dates should ALWAYS be in a public place, no matter how nice he seems. Safety first 🙂

    Good luck in your job hunt too LW!

    1. Will.i.am says:

      This is a very good idea. Also, you too get to share a very genuine and caring activity together volunteering. A walk in the park is always a good idea and it doesn’t cost you any money. You can walk as long as you want and really get to know someone.

      In my younger years, I was old school and would drop big dollars on dates. Order steak and lobster and all the drinks you want. I learned that that activity became a pushover. Believe it or not, I have had more success dating when my dinner combined cost $30 or less than any dates I had where the dinner ticket exceeded that.

      I’m not a big movie theater guy since I have blu ray movies and a home theater system at home. I’m not the biggest going out and eat guy, because I feel we can both cook in the kitchen and share a bonding moment together for much less. Plus, going out and eating dinner, I just feel like I’m getting used for them to get a full belly.

      I know with having children in the home, it’s not beneficial to have a man over for dinner, and you may not be ready to show up at a complete strangers house, with a person you met online or the night before. So a park or even a nicer fast food restaurant is the way to go. I’ve always been more impressed with the girl that would eat Arby’s with me, than the girl that had to eat TGI Friday’s or Chili’s for every meal.

      I love to wine and dine, but generally only on special occasions or the couple nights we choose to do date night. At 40, I would look for someone who is going to love you and your daughter unconditionally and not judge you too harshly for your current outlook. It’s not permanent and you are working to change it, which is all that matters.

      Dating is hard for everyone. You just have to keep your head up and keep trying, because dating is nothing more than a numbers game.

  5. BriarRose says:

    Just as your job doesn’t define you, neither does not having a job. Yes, you should probably mention it to those you date, but only because it’s bound to come up in conversation anyway. After all, “What do you do?” is quite a popular conversation starter. That’s your cue to talk about past jobs you enjoyed, and the field you are actively searching for employment in. I would certainly mention something along the lines of, “I always enjoyed working in a bank/library/office/hospital/etc and I’m hoping to get back into that field as soon as possible. In the meantime, my days are filled with taking care of my daughter and sending out more applications than I ever thought possible!” If you don’t make a big deal out of it, hopefully your date won’t either.

    I will also say that if you suggest dates like the library, book store, coffee shop, park, hiking, etc, hopefully your date with be respectful of your need/desire to spend as little money as possible on dates. I don’t think dating is out of the question at all in your current situation, but of course concerts, expensive dinners, and the like will probably have to be put off for now.

    1. Great, practical advice BriarRose to the question asked. I really liked your response.

      1. BriarRose says:

        Aww, thanks! 🙂

  6. I don’t think that this is such a big deal for guys, so long as it’s apparent that you aren’t a parasite, or someone who’s incapable of taking care of themselves. Admittedly I’d probably take things very slowly until I felt confident in your character. But unemployment, in and of itself, isn’t a dealbreaker. You should be aware though that a divorced mom who doesn’t work is going to raise some flags, because of the assumption that you’re looking for someone to take care you and your child – no that’s not fair, but it’s out there.

    What I’d do is talk about the kind of work that I’m looking for, my ambitions, and plans – demonstrate that you have some goals.

  7. ele4phant says:

    If you feel emotionally ready to start dating, by all means go ahead. I do think you should mention it to your dates, its only a fair. For some, but not all, it will be a dealbreaker, so best to let people know upfront to weed them out. I really like BriarRose suggestions for how to discuss your current unemployement.

  8. heidikins says:

    It’s okay to date while you are unemployed, in most cases, there is no shame about being between jobs. The key is that you are between, as in, actively searching for something else. I dated someone who was unemployed a few years ago, and while it didn’t bother me at first, after a few months it became pretty clear that he was perfectly content to slide by on his unemployment checks, selling a guitar or a rifle when he needed a little extra cash, and picking up a few odd jobs along the way. That bothered me. I fell in love with him as a person, but it became pretty clear that his work ethic was nowhere near where he claimed it was, and that was the deal breaker.

    Obviously, your situation is a little different, but the basic premise is the same. The right man will see you for yourself and fall in love with you anyway, regardless of your situation. That being said, I think prioritizing finding a job is your best bet for yourself and your own security, and for the security of your daughter. It may take years for that brand of Mr. Right to come along and unemployment benefits are bound to run out sometime.


    1. *That being said, I think prioritizing finding a job is your best bet for yourself and your own security, and for the security of your daughter. It may take years for that brand of Mr. Right to come along and unemployment benefits are bound to run out sometime.*

      A+. Men will always exist.

  9. I’d say, if you really feel like you have the time and energy to date, and you feel like you are in the right head space for it, then just focus career questions on what you’re interested in and what your previous job was. If you’re not a bum then that will shine through to anyone who is the right match for you anyway. Don’t act self-conscious or ashamed about being between jobs, just be secure and that will come across. As with any subject really, there is no need to go into all the gory details when you’re casually dating. Be honest, be yourself, and don’t delve deeper than you feel like going. You don’t owe casual dates some expose of your life and explanation of every insecurity you have. Take care of yourself and your daughter, do whatever is in your power to get your life as together as you can, and have fun if you do decide to date. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun!

  10. If you don’t have any extra cash, I imagine starting a relationship when you are unemployed would be really difficult. For one, who would care for your kid when you were out if you can’t afford a babysitter? Also, the guy would have to be cool with covering pretty much everything, knowing that you wouldn’t be able to return the favor for a while. More than anything, though, I think it would be difficult because money is involved in lots of the ways that we nurture each other and show we care in the very beginning. Cooking a nice meal, picking up a little present because it made you think of him, taking him out for a drink after an accomplishment or a rough day, buying sexy underwear, etc all costs money. Maybe only a little bit of money, but it adds up. Just because of the logistical difficulties of dating while broke, if you’re super tight on cash, I probably wouldn’t seek out a relationship until you’re in a better place financially. Obviously, if you happen to meet somebody and they ask you out, there’s no reason to say no. I wouldn’t try to hide or spin the fact that you’re unemployed, I would just be honest about the situation from the get-go, and hopefully they would be understanding.

  11. If you are actively looking (for real) I don’t think it’s a big deal to be inbetween jobs to most men. You can look for a white knight complex guy, or a guy with the sugar daddy fetish if you’d prefer to remain unemployed though.

    1. *shudder* White Knight complexes bother me. They usually try to buy their way out of arguments and insist on traditional roles. I’m a self-rescuing maiden, thankyouverymuch!

      1. Firegirl32 says:


      2. LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        agreed! While it’s nice to know your partner is there to help if you need/ask, no white knights!

      3. haha – not saying it was a desirable option for most…but if she isn’t looking to have a job those are two options….life is all about trade-offs.

  12. Look, being a single mom and being unemployed are two different animals. Let’s focus on the unemployed aspect first, since that’s what you’re asking about.

    Thanks to our bust economy, it’s no longer as shameful to be unemployed as it once was. People understand. When/if you are asked what you do for a living, simply say that you lost your job, but X is what you normally do career-wise, and that you are still looking to get back into the field, but you also have feelers out in X area (if you do).

    Be honest about your daughter. You have one. She’s 4. She’s your highest priority yes, but that doesn’t mean that you are going to be a chaste maid or a nun until she graduates from high school. A well-rounded and happy parent is good for a child. You aren’t introducing every date to your daughter, so don’t worry about it. Wait until you are comfortable in a relationship before introducing anyone to your daughter.

    Good luck, and happy hunting (job and date)!

  13. Please re-prioritize dating behind giving your child as much stability and normalcy as possible, healing yourself fully after the breakup, and finding a new job. You get what you offer, and right now you are offering someone who is emotionally dinged-up and in an unsettled domestic and financial state. Are the men who would fit such a dynamic really the kind of guys you dream about? Spend the next six months learning from your past relationship, doing everything possible to find a good job, and modeling feminine strength and self-sufficiency for your daughter. Put yourself in the position of being whole, confident, and full of self-worth so that when you start dating again, you’ll be a good match for a great guy.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      I hope LW sees your comment in a good light. I think its great, although from what I can tell, she has her priorities straight, so that wouldn’t have been my wording. Maybe continue to prioritize, idk.

    2. Wow, did you read the LW’s letter? She has been prioritizing her child. And not once did she say that she was recently divorced or needs to heal from said divorce. This women sounds pretty together to me. More so than a lot of people I know.

      Granted, she didn’t mention what she’s doing to look for a job. But maybe she thought it irrelevent.

      Anyway, just because she wants to go on a date or two doesn’t mean she’s not providing stability and normalcy to her daughter.

    3. caitie_didn't says:

      Really? maybe I’m being a little too defensive of the LW, but she does NOT fit the profile of “emotionally dinged up and not modelling self-sufficiency”. In fact, she sounds really put together, and like she’s thought long and hard about whether this is the right time for her to get back in the dating pool.

      Why do you assume she is going to allow dating to affect the stability of her and her daughter’s life?

      1. Let’s just say I’ve been around the block a few times. I am a single mother. I am unemployed. I have tried dating and not dating. I saw how my children were affected by it. My call on this letter is that dating at this precise moment is not going to yield the positive results this woman would want because she is not in a great life place right now and could benefit from some more time to pull things together. My comments are my opinion, and I think the LW is better served if you will kindly offer her your own perspectives instead of taking potshots at mine, hm?

    4. MiMi, I don’t have kids, so I can’t comment on that part of your advice. But I agree with you in principle – the more put-together you are, the higher the chances you’ll attract (and keep!) another quality person. I wish I could agree with your statement “You get what you offer”, but in my reality, you sometimes get less than what you offer.

      LW, would you date yourself? Would you date an unemployed single dad? I assume your answer is yes, and I’m pretty sure there are quite a few men like that, so your dating efforts could turn out successful. You can find a guy like that pretty easily online – that’s a low-risk, low-pressure environment. You can browse the website and talk on the phone after your daughter goes to sleep. If you’re satisfied with the amount of male attention you get, maybe that could do it for you for a while. (Think of it as dipping your toe in the dating pool)

      I’m also divorced, but no kids. Just to give you a different perspective – I tell myself sometimes, when I’m sick of all this dating that leads absolutely nowhere, that I wish I had a kid to keep me busy, and then I wouldn’t deal with this dating crap anymore. I realize you’re on the other side of the fence on this one. From my side, it looks like you have a bit more – count your blessings maybe? I know, I know – I have a friend with kids and a husband, and every time we talk, she tells me how good it feels to have an adult conversation once in a while.

      Can you afford to take your daughter to activities? My friend takes her 5-year old to gymnastics. You could meet people there – at my friend’s gym, all parents wait outside – they can see everything through the big glass windows. And my latest discovery – rock-climbing (it depends on the gym, but usually an adult with a child is around $20). There are so many dads with their kids there on Saturday! I would imagine that you could spot the single ones somehow. Or you can ask the gym employees to assign you to a group, and that way, you’ll have a reason to interact. I am fully aware that some, if not most of those dads might not be available, so it’s a risky strategy. But hey, so is life. And you and your daughter will have a blast, no doubt about it.

      And, LW, please don’t get your hopes up. Especially online, those guys can get a lot of dates in a short span of time. I used to be so excited about my date, and at the end of the date, I would look back and say – hey, that was a pretty fun date. And then they would never call. Dating won’t solve your problems – it might create more – why didn’t he call yet? what did he think of me? maybe I shouldn’t have said this or that…. Don’t torture yourself. A good friend of mine (guy) told me that whenever a guy doesn’t call back, it’s never what you did, but it’s them (I only know of one guy – he got back with his ex!). Frankly, even if my friend is not 100% right, I choose to believe him, since I won’t torture myself trying to figure out what’s wrong with me, or what I did wrong, and it makes dating easier.

      I can’t tell you whether to date or not. When I wasn’t ready to date, all my dates were so forced, and I had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t have good experiences, and probably some guys hate me right now. But the more I did it, the better I got at it. At least, I was more confident and self-assured. I think it’s one of those “learning-by-doing” things. Or maybe it’s just me. I think what I’m trying to say here is – just because you’re ready to date, doesn’t mean you’re good at it. You might at least get some experience while you’re getting ready.

      Short version – date, every now and then, but don’t get your hopes too high.

  14. Like Scrabble?

    It’s not like you never held a job, you have worked and doing what you can in this Great Recession. Who knows… dating is a form of networking. Dating can help with your interview skills or just meeting new people.

  15. DramaQueen224 says:

    Yes, you should definitely start dating again and yes, you need to mention your unemployment status (and daughter) to potential love interests. These things will be deal breakers for some people and you don’t want to waste your precious time on their snobby asses. The best way to mention these facts is to be straight forward and upbeat about it. If you choose online dating you might want to have a line in your profile about how you’re always hustling both for a job and after your daughter. When it comes to dating I’ve found that no whining, no excuses and no self-deprecation is a good way to go.

  16. Being unemployed comes with less stigma now that it used to because so many people are unemployed, have been unemployed or know someone who’s unemployed. You can’t go anywhere without hearing about someone who is well-qualified and hard-working who lost a job because of the economy. So, don’t worry about telling someone that.

  17. bittergaymark says:

    Truth be told, I haven’t been dating at all since I became unemployed a few years ago and have been woefully under-employed ever since. Honestly, if you have kids and need to be out there looking for a job, maybe dating isn’t something you should be focused on right now. It sounds harsh, but far too many people use dating as a distraction to avoid dealing with their lives.

    1. “far too many people use dating as a distraction to avoid dealing with their lives”.

      That’s me, Mark. How did you get into my head? I did notice that I like to meet new people, people who don’t know about my problems, and the time I spend with them is time away from my problems. At the end of the date though, my problems are still there, and I’m still a few more hours away from solving them.

  18. I am appalled at all the people who are suggesting the LW doesn’t deserve to date because of her unemployment status and motherhood. She said she’s divorced, which means she probably has joint custody of her child and would not need to pay for childcare if she plans dates on the days her ex-husband has custody. And dates do not have to be expensive! When I met my boyfriend, our first date consisted of going for a drive in the country, talking, and looking at the stars…completely free except for a little bit of gas (which was ridiculously cheap in 2003). 8 1/2 yrs later we are still together and still fans of cheap dates…because we love being together regardless of how much $ we have.

    Let’s face it, in this current economy a LOT of people are unemployed. The subject of profession is bound to come up on a date, but just approach it like an adult. Don’t be ashamed. Say you are in between jobs right now and talk about what kind of job you are TRYING to get. That makes it pretty clear you are not just a lazy fuck-off who’s not trying. Who knows, maybe the guy you end up on a date with is interested in the same field or works in that field and may be able to help you network.

  19. demoiselle says:

    Please do date, but watch out for any man who is a little TOO eager to date a fiscally-constrained single mother. Especially if they want contact with your child and offer to relieve your financial burdens/give violin/dance/singing/acting/whatever lessons to your kid, take them out to the park or away for a day to give you a break, etc. You will have to be hyper, hyper vigilant.

  20. To offset some of the commenters that believe otherwise, I’m going to say that I think it’s totally fine that this LW is thinking about dating. She’s saying “IF I were to meet someone…” so I don’t get the impression that she’s going to neglect her daughter & go out with a different man every night. Obviously, her child will remain her first priority– she doesn’t need to justify to her desire to date or point out she’ll only go on cheap dates since she’s unemployed. We don’t know how much savings she has or if she’s getting an unemployment check. It’s not our business whether she’ll have frugal dates or if hey, maybe she does want a free dinner once in a while. Plenty of men still jump to pay for an entire first date & it’s not a mortal sin to accept.

    Anyway…like a few other people mentioned, in this economy, I don’t think most people will bat an eye. LW– as long as you mention your past work (without being defensive about your current situation), I don’t think most guys would hold it against you. I would also make clear that you’ve been looking for a new job– in a calm, casual way– and that you hope to find something soon. And then leave it at that. If you don’t come off as fretting over it, chances are your dates won’t worry either.

  21. I think the answer to both problems–ie, unemployment and not dating–are tied up together here. Find an awesome volunteer gig that lets you use the job skills you have. Take off the sweatpants and put on the work clothes and get out there. I assume you wear sweatpants. I wear sweatpants. I’m transferring. 🙂 Anyway. Volunteer work is a good way to keep your hand in and build up your resume and build contacts of both the professional and social sort.

    I think, as this conversation demonstrates, there’s a bit of a stigma about unemployment, which is unfair and crappy. When you meet a guy and he asks–as everyone always does–you can quite honestly say you’re a lawyer doing some volunteer work for CASA. Or whatever. It makes you sound like the thoughtful, involved person you no doubt are.

  22. I’m a little late to this party, so LW I think it all depends on how you present yourself in the dating world. Before I was dating my fiance I was dating this girl who was unemployed at the time, and she told me this on our first date. It really didn’t bother me at all at first, because our first date really was just a walk around Plymouth, and a stop at one bar for one drink and then just walked around and talked all night, very inexpensive. But once I found out more about this girl, it became a real turn off, because she wasn’t into getting a new job at all, really didn’t mind using the governments money, and didn’t spend any time with her kids. I say if you are on top of you game, and are actively looking for a job, you should absolutely have no problem getting a job, and most guys really wont blink an eye at it, because they know it is tough times out there. Just be honest with people, and if they are a douche because of it then you know they weren’t the right person anyways.

  23. Mommy TRex says:

    Hi Everyone , I wrote this letter and I am super surprised that I got so many responses! Briar rose, HmC, and AkChic I loved your responses, they resounded to me, and a a lot of other responses. Firstly I have been without a husband/mate since 2009 and since then and actually before then my daughter has been ALL I have taken care of and thought of. Actually a lot of people have asked why I’m not dating and I always say its because I’m not desperate or really need to. At this point I need to have some kind of adult interaction, and just to cut loose and have fun. I’m not looking to marry or tie someone down. I don’t “splurge”, I don’t go out except outings with my daughter, and I haven’t been on a vacation since 2007. I mean I know someone that is jobless her parents pay rent, etc and she is presently out of the country. Hmm wish I could do that. I got lucky; my family helped me out when I needed it and I live with family. Its low rent but its rent none the less. My financial obligations start with child first, household, then me. Guess who gets the short end of the stick a lot? I get unemployment, and I did have a 401k from my job, that I lived off for a while. Her family and father are involved in her life . Just wanted to put some clarity on that.

    I realize that serious conversations should be had down the line, and I wrote this letter because I joined a site and wondered if being unemployed would automatically knock me out of the box. I’m not afraid to dip my toe in the dating pool again, or have fun because at my age I know the ropes. Again my daughter is everything to me, if I didn’t have her I would have been out of my mind about 2 years ago. If I do meet someone they will not be meeting my daughter unless our relationship is hella serious! I am grateful that my question was answered and thank everyone.

    1. Thanks for the response! I’m late to the party, but, just wanted to say, yes, you can date while you are unemployed. My brother met his future wife and got married – married – while he was unemployed. They knew it was temporary and eventually things would change; which they did. He had a couple of not so perfect jobs then found the one he has had for the last 20 years.

      If you are looking for adult company rather than a boyfriend, I would suggest Meetup.com. They have many women’s groups that do inexpensive things that you would enjoy. Just pick a couple that look interesting & attend some meetups. Good luck!

    2. honestly, i dont think that there is anything that automatically knocks you out of the dating world…. i mean there are people out there who date like murders and stuff through jail time and trials.. honestly, i really cant think of anything.

    3. SpyGlassez says:

      I met my BF while he was unemployed. We’ve been together two years and he only just recently got hired at a part time retail position. He was finishing an associates degree during most of that time. Him not having a job ONLY bothered me during the last couple of months after he graduated, because he just didn’t seem at all motivated to look for any type of job. THAT was frustrating, but that is not your situation.

  24. Sue Jones says:

    OK, so how are you living? Do you get alimony/child support so that you have enough to live on? If so then your basics are covered and I would say go ahead and hire a sitter, date, etc. If you are living way too close to the bone, then I would say that you do not have enough for a sitter, etc., unless you can find a friend to help with childcare, while you go out etc. And while you are dating and looking for a job, I would make sure that any guy you get involved with is a MENSCH! Someone who is financially secure, and is open to raising kids with you, super mature, etc. would be a start. No dating little boys ( you know exactly what I mean)! You have to be super selective now. You will always need to put your daughter first.

    1. Sue Jones says:

      OK I read the above PS from the letter writer. I say if your bases are covered and you are employable, then date. If you need to get more schooling to become more employable, then do that. The dating/looking for a mate is secondary to getting your life together.

  25. John Farrier says:

    When I was single, my rule was always that if I was unemployed, I simply didn’t date.

    If I’m unemployed, then I have an immediate crisis that requires all of my attention.

  26. Art Chance says:

    Do what pretty much all the other recently divorced women with kids they whelped by some other man do; find some guy who can support you in the manner you prefer to be accustomed and curl his toes well enough that he’ll support you and another man’s kid(s) in exchange for regular sex and reasonably unpsychotic behavior. It’s the new normal.

  27. The question really is, how do you date while employed? I’d like to date but between two jobs and taking care of my daughters I just don’t have the time.

  28. Locomotive Breath says:

    Unless he was beating you, an alcoholic or stepping out, I’ll bet that ex husband is starting to look pretty good.

    1. because those are the only reasons to divorce?

      1. Locomotive Breath says:

        Because, lacking those kinds of problems, financial stability is a pretty good reason to stay married.

        I’ve been married 26 years. When our kids were little my wife and I didn’t get a lot of “date time” either. She should quit whining. At this point it’s all about the kid, not about her.

        While she’s worrying about dating she should ask herself if, given her current situation, someone would date her. Unemployed single mom would make most thinking guys run like hell in the other direction.

      2. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree. Staying married to someone just to be financially stable is a terrible idea. There is a reason most people divorce and I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the LW and her husband didn’t divorce because they didn’t get enough date time.

        And yes it is mostly about the kid but I posted earlier in the thread that my Mother was a single Mom and while we were her main focus she still dated. While it might make some run there will be plenty who are willing to get to know her over coffee. Just because you have a kid doesn’t mean you have to forego all adult interaction.

  29. The comments seem to focus on the expense involved and the apparent need to sacrifice all for the child. I disagree. We need committed adult relationships to grow to become better people and better parents, so dating, and getting on with your adult life, is essential to both you and your daughter. So you should date, and you should be honest with your prospective partners about your child and your finances. (Not that they won’t be able to figure out both, but putting the truth out there first is theraputic.)

    the good news is if you find someone who wants you now, in extremis so to speak, you know they won’t be after your money. Enjoy your life now… tomorrow it will be too late.

  30. The answer is pretty obvious. If a man asks, tell him you are a victim of Bush and the Republican Party that hates women, children, minorities, and gays and did everything they could to harm them. If this woman is a minority and is looking to date other women, she will have been the first target of the Republicans, and any reasonable man would understand and will continue to date you. If he doesn’t want to date you after that, then obviously he is a Republican and ergo a scumbag that you wouldn’t want to date anyway.

  31. The fact that you are a single mom is a bigger deal than unemployed, when it comes to dating. If you look good and don’t have unreasonable expectations (like high standards), you can date.

    Now, if you were an unemployed man, hah good luck. Men will overlook unemployment for looks. Women will overlook looks for employment.

  32. supah-alpha says:

    Interesting how all the people objecting to the use of the word “Niggardly” are assuming the 41 year old unemployed single mom is Black…………
    Wow, you really are a bunch of bigots, aren’t you?

  33. I’ve dated at least a couple unemployed women that I can recall.

    It was no big deal then, it would be even less now. My last visit to the podiatrist, she asked, “Are you working?” A lot of people are not.

    I would expect to pay if I knew she was unemployed, and I can recall that even being the source of some awkwardness (over perceived status markers, I suppose). It’s certainly not the most important relationship issue to be negotiated, however.

    There are probably some interesting indications of character to be drawn from the situation, I suspect.

  34. Having read (ok, skimmed) alot of these comments, it seems that many/most of them are judgments about whether or not this woman should be dating. None that I saw answered her question of how she should bring up her work status on a date. So here’s my advice:

    Usually pretty early on (sometimes even in the initial emailing, if you are online dating) your prospective date will ask ‘so, what do you do?’. At that point (the first time it is asked, not later), I’d answer “I’m a job-hunting marketing analyst” – or “I’m a job-searching IT specialist” or whatever your profession’s version would be.

    If you put that out there with the first question about profession, it doesn’t become an awkward admission that has to be dealt with later. And the way it is phrased above puts emphasis on one’s professional identity and the fact that one is job-hunting, rather than just answering ‘what do you do?’ with ‘I’m unemployed’.

    Good luck – go out there and have fun!

    P.S., I’ve been looking for work for almost two and a half years, and I’d never think of putting my life on hold for that period of time.

  35. Job or no job… she is a “she” unless she is hiddeous and no personality, she shouldnt ever have to pay for a date except the gas to get there….

  36. silvergirl says:

    Well, I just recently became unemployed back in August. The only thing I can suggest is if you were dating someone before you became unemployed, if so hopefully that person may not have a problem with it, but if you are trying to meet people online and date after the unemployment that might be bad. Unless, you have had a couple of male friends that have known you and your character for a while, and does not currently mind your job loss.

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