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Date & Relate
by Sara Hodon

Finding Love at Pink Slip Parties

Bars and restaurants in New York have started throwing Wall Street Pink Slip Parties.  It’s a brilliant idea — a chance for folks who have received (or live in fear of receiving) a pink slip getting together to drown their sorrows a little, network, and hopefully find their next big career opportunity. 

Other establishments have been holding Depression Happy Hours for the cautiously employed (as in, they are hoping to keep their jobs but expecting to hear otherwise any day now) with drink specials, food, and yes, networking opportunities.   


With a 7% unemployment rate and an economic climate getting worse every day, expect to see more gatherings like this near you.   Why not use them to your advantage?

Whether you’re looking for a new job or not, this could be the perfect opportunity to connect with new people and maybe find love. 

Let’s assume you do meet someone at one of these events, and you really hit it off.  As in any dating situation, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

  • Be sensitive and sympathetic. 
    If they are currently unemployed, they are probably going through a bit of an identity crisis.  So much of our sense of self-worth and self-confidence is connected to our jobs.   Even if they didn’t particularly like what they were doing, it was still steady income and a place to go every day.  Once they lose that feeling of security, people go through a range of emotions—anger, fear, sadness, and yes, even a bit of relief (“I’m so glad I’m not involved in those stupid office politics anymore!”)  If you do meet someone at a Pink Slip Party or a Depression Happy Hour, expect to hear a hint of “Poor me!”, but try not to let them dwell on it.  Be clear that you want to get to know them—their interests and passions.  A person’s profession is rarely a reflection of who they truly are.  They could be a former accountant who’s always dreamed of being a landscaper, so talk to them about something besides their former job.   

  • Keep it casual. 
    Get to know the other person and develop a friendship first.  Don’t get too attached right away.  This is important for a number of reasons.  If you jump right into a romantic relationship, it may make them even more depressed about not having the cash to spend on a date.  You could wind up resenting each other if your job is secure and they can’t say the same.  Also, if an opportunity presents itself in another city, they may take it.  If this happens, then you need to talk about where you see your relationship going.   If you both feel that what you have is special and worth pursuing, wait until they are settled in their new location before taking it to the next level.  

  • Be supportive. 
    It might not seem like it, but things will get better.  Be encouraging and don’t let them fall too far down into the dumps.   It’s completely normal to feel a bit depressed and panicky when you lose your job.  Make plans with them to get them out of the house--chances are, they’re going a little stir crazy if they’ve been out of work for more than a few weeks.  Schedule some time with them at the gym.   Encourage them to get back into a hobby they used to enjoy, or to pick up a new one.  Remind them of how much they’ll miss some of the free time they have now once they do start working again.  Let them vent if they need to, but don’t let them sit around feeling sorry for themselves.  When the smoke clears and they do find a new opportunity, it could mean very positive changes for your relationship!

  • Offer to pay. 
    Try not to make this a habit, but offer to cover them once or twice.  They might protest.  They might even be a little insulted.  They may decide not to join you rather than have you cover for them, but at least make the offer.  Don’t make a big deal out of it, and definitely don’t use it against them later.  They’re probably painfully aware of all of the things they’re missing out on because of their financial situation, but again, don’t dwell on it.  If the tables were turned, you’d want them to do the same for you.

  • Help them in their search.  
    Whether or not something romantic does develop, be a friend and send leads their way.  Ask your own circle of friends if they’re aware of any openings at their companies (make it clear that it’s not for yourself, of course!)  Looking for a full-time job becomes your full-time job when you’re unemployed, and chances are, your new friend will probably appreciate any help you can give them. 

It might be easy to write someone off because they’re unemployed.  But keep in mind that folks in all lines of work—professional, artistic, trades, retail, entry-level—are feeling the crunch.  It has absolutely nothing to do with their personality or work ethic.   If you are truly interested in getting to know someone and they show every sign of actively looking for a new opportunity, don’t be too quick to say goodbye. 


Date & Relate is published every Thursday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Sara Hodon.

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