Dating is not for the unemployed

By Thandekile Moyo

ON MY 30th birthday, and by some disguised stroke of luck, I found myself – with no regrets and absolutely no inhibitions – thrust into the amazing, exciting and scary world of singledom. To be honest, I had, and probably still have, no idea how this dating thing works. I am pretty sure of one thing though – you have absolutely no business getting into a relationship if you have no source of income.

It would be extremely frustrating to be in a relationship with a broke man when you are unemployed. In as much as you may make it clear to the man that you love him for his personality and character, not what you wish he had, he would probably find it difficult to believe you. Most broke guys are highly insecure, depressed and because of that, have zero confidence. You would have to spend the bulk of your time together trying to convince him that you will not leave him for a richer man, explaining what it is you were discussing with that guy in the red car and having to prove that your mother is truly the one who sent you that $50 you spent on your hair.

It is difficult, if not unfair, to share your financial problems with a broke boyfriend as it would serve only to make him feel even more inadequate because a normal man would love to be the one to save the day when any problems arise in their woman’s life. This means that when he is visiting you and your landlord comes banging on your door, you have to try by all means to prevent your boyfriend from knowing that you are late paying your rent, or worse, you have been given an eviction notice.

Imagine asking your broke boyfriend to accompany you to buy your groceries, knowing full well that all the poor guy has in his house is beans and popcorn.

How do you throw that chicken into the basket with a clear conscience knowing he is salivating over it? I am sure the first few times you would probably share your groceries with him and invite him to your house for meals, but sooner or later it will hit you that you cannot afford to support him with your dwindling savings or money from your family. Besides, I would like to believe that no self-respecting man would want to be supported by his woman anyway, but that’s a story for another day.

There are too many complications that come with two unemployed people falling in love. My advice to both parties would be to get a job first, and then find love!

Worse than dating a broke man is meeting the obnoxious rich guy. The man who believes he is the best thing that could ever have happened to you. That totally arrogant and condescending man who tells himself, and you at times, that he will upgrade you and remove you from the throes of poverty. This is the man who assumes that just because you have no income, you are totally unhappy with where you are physically and where you are in your life in general.  This kind of man takes one look at your small flat and immediately calls an estate agent. This is the type of man to be shocked when you politely tell him, “no thank you, I am happy in my dwelling.”

For him to understand, you have to write him a 20-page essay explaining why you believe it is stupid to move into a house you cannot personally afford to pay for. He takes great offense when you explain that anything can happen – death, break ups, bankruptcy – and if any of these things were to occur, you wouldn’t want to go crawling back to your humble flat. ‘I’m not about to die baby,’ he says, ‘and you know I would never leave you.’

Once the accommodation hurdle is passed and he has ‘let you’ continue to live in your flat, this man will do his best to spruce up your living environment. He will want to change your television, buy you a new bed, squeeze a lounge suite into the already crammed up space and even throw in a painting or two, probably of an animal symbolising his totem. He never gives you cash and never asks what you need. This pig headed moron does not get that you are okay with your small TV and content with your 3/4 bed and hot plate stove. If you are like me and tend to keep your problems to yourself, you will be taken to expensive lunches and dinners, gifted with expensive perfume which you only wish you could resell and pay back the $30 you owe your friend.

I don’t know if this type of man has the I.Q. of an orange or they are just controlling, egotistical lunatics who do not realise how dumb it is to buy me $50 lunches when my fridge is empty, or to buy me $200 worth of food when I would rather use the money to register my company. This man will fatten you and doll you up but will never do anything to truly empower you. He will always be ready to tell the story of how he picked you from the gutter and cleaned you up. Employed or unemployed, no self-respecting woman must ever date this type of guy.

Then there is the sweet, respectable, understanding, caring and truly loving, financially and emotionally stable man who has your best interests at heart. This is the man who listens to what you really need and will help you how you want to be helped, before you even ask. The one who lets you use his laptop to apply for jobs, or buys you one if he can afford to. At first he is a Godsend because he makes your miserable life so much easier; you only have to ask and he will deliver.

The problem comes when you are the type of woman who was raised to be independent and asking for help, especially in the form of cash, is a mammoth task. You know he does not mind but you feel it’s not his burden to take full financial responsibility of you. Because he is your only hope, you will make requests but only when there is no other way.

You suffer in silence because of your guilt and hide things from him because if you tell him your problems he will treat them as requests. This is the guy who would be upset to discover your DSTV has been cut off but you couldn’t tell him because he had just bought you groceries. He just gave you money to do your hair so you could not ask him for the $20 you need to register with that recruitment company advertised on Facebook.

The relationship becomes marred by guilt, secrets and fear of being viewed a “gold-digger”, someone who dates solely for financial and material benefits. If one day he ignores your texts or responds late, you spend the entire day thinking maybe he is finally fed up with your unemployed self. Or maybe one day, he will genuinely become tired or unable to cope with your endless needs and break up with you or start to avoid you.

I sincerely believe, to find true love, and be in a happy and healthy in a relationship, a girl must first be able to clothe, feed and shelter herself.

Finding a man who does that for you would then be a bonus, and not a necessity.