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He's just not that into TP

OPINION

August 12, 2012|By Niki Fritz, For RedEye

A whopping 75 percent of cold-hearted women say they probably wouldn't date a guy without a job, according to a recent survey conducted by It's Just Lunch dating service.

"This is the rare area, compared to other topics we've done surveys on, where women's old-fashioned beliefs about sex roles seem to apply," Irene LaCota, a spokeswoman for the dating service, told Business News Daily.

Wrong.

I have no doubt that there are some women out there who are "old-fashioned"—aka gold-diggers. In fact I have seen these wretched heeled and powdered creatures on the prowl, and I have heard the post-date analysis of the annual earning potential of future husband prospects. It is scary.

But these manicured vultures are the outliers, not the 75 percent. (And to be fair, only 33 percent said they definitely wouldn't date an unemployed guy.) Most ladies are just looking for a solid partner—and therein lies the problem.

Have you ever dated an unemployed young man? They are horrible! They are the opposite of a well-adjusted partner. The unemployed man is prone to throwing himself gigantic beer-fueled pity parties at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday. He is filled with self-doubt that often leads to relationship doubt, which leads to future doubt, which leads to a general angsty existential existence. He does stupid things like try to save money by not buying toilet paper and using napkins instead. He is a wreck.

And this is all fine. We are all a wreck in those weeks following the initial dump into unemployment. But men have this inability to admit they are a wreck, to accept that unemployment sucks and to try to fix it.

Not that this gracelessness is even their fault. If the slew of recent "downfall of man" articles has taught me anything, it is that men are getting some seriously conflicting messages about what it is to be a man. As a woman, my message has been pretty standard: Be a happily-ever-after Cinderella or a pathetic childless career woman. The options aren't great, but they are clear.

In the past, men have had clear instruction: Get a job, support your family and have discreet affairs with girls whose names end in the letter Y. One of the most consistent male stereotypes is that a man must be employed and have enough money to blow on stupid things like $300 Coldplay tickets. And during the boom of the '90s, little boys were not taught how to deal with the possibility of not being successful, of failing.

OK, I'll admit we all have a bit of trouble dealing with occupational failure. Men, women, Millennials and even Boomers struggle with the loss of a job. Even my retired father has sunk into some sort of post-work crazy, cutting out any newspaper clipping that "proves Obama is a socialist" and saving it in a scrapbook. Without a job, without that beige cube 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, Americans seem to lose a sense of who we are.

That is what 75 percent of women were saying. They don't want to date an identity-less man.

Men, if you want to be dateable in an uncertain economy, you need to define yourself by something beyond your job title. And if you happen to be a man who can deal with his unemployment and be motivated to find another purpose in life, then don't worry—75 percent of women weren't talking about you, they were talking about some other jobless loser.

Niki Fritz is a RedEye special contributor. @fritzfrack

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