Laura Donovan
November 26, 2013 7:00 am

In August, my best friend Nikki had a heart-to-heart with me at her engagement party. Though thrilled about spending the rest of her life with her fiance Robby, she was concerned about my dating pattern and didn’t want to see me go down a path of misery.

“You’re almost like a walking Katherine Heigl movie, a cliche,” she said, causing us both to laugh. “You’ve been a successful career girl since college but always go for the worst guys. Jobs and love are not mutually exclusive.”

She was right that you can have both an awesome career and a solid significant other, but for some reason, I always finds myself with one or the other. For the first time in years, I have a stable relationship. I also happen to be unemployed for the first time in years.

Since graduating from the University of Arizona in spring 2010, I’ve held many different positions at online news outlets back East. Even before that, I was an accomplished writer and editor for my college newspaper, at which I received several awards. In other words, I’ve been serving in a glamour industry since entering adulthood. I’ve published many viral articles, garnered thousands of Twitter followers, and had lots of conversations and professional relationships with established media moguls. But during my whirlwind journalism career, I was always single, or kinda-sorta hanging out with a dude who was hooking up with at least three other women and only calling me during 3 a.m. moments of desperation.

I put up with this and claimed I was fine being somebody’s third, fourth or fifth choice, because at the end of the day, I still had an impressive body of work and was making a name for myself in online news. Eventually this started to feel really bad, and to quote Woody Allen in Crimes and Misdemeanors, I had my “worst fears realized” towards the end of my NYC experience when a guy that had been stringing me along all year invited me over late one night and drunkenly asked if I loved him enough to marry him and inherit his family farm. The next day, he took a gorgeous young lady, who he would swiftly make his girlfriend, to his best friend’s wedding, at which he was a groomsman. Facebook newsfeeds can be informative, but they can also gut you. And boy, did I feel gutted.

I was newly unemployed and considering moving back to my home state of California, so this unfortunate incident pushed me over the edge and made me raise my personal standards. I didn’t need one more dating slight on top of losing my job, but I also knew I wasn’t attracting quality people, and that was something I could change by acquiring a backbone.

I came to LA with no job or major connections, but I immediately began seeing a kind, hard-working guy downtown. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest and I was raised in the Bay Area, so we have similar backgrounds and he isn’t impatient with my low-key life philosophy as some New York guys were.  There were no games or mixed signals on either end. Like me, he’s super nerdy, so he didn’t try anything sketchy or throw cheesy one-liners or empty love promises my way. There is no one else in the picture. I am the only girl he wants to date, even though he has a successful career as a litigator and I’m a struggling screenwriting student and freelancer. Unlike the NYC fellows with whom I mingled, he didn’t know me when I was a thriving online media professional working around the clock. He’s only aware of the 25-year-old California native seeking a fresh start in the entertainment industry, and he supports me in my brutal pursuit.

It’s tough dating someone with a full plate at work because I don’t want to be judged for falling in the opposite category. But as my friend and fellow giggler Anna Swenson kindly reminds me, someone who really cares for me wouldn’t see it that way, and he absolutely doesn’t. It’s not a relationship of judgment, but I’m afraid I judge myself for my current stance.

I’ve applied to more than 60 jobs over the past month, but I know I’ll land something stable eventually. Until then, I feel like a person who can only be successful in one area of life, and for the better part of my adult years, it’s been in my career. Now the only major thing I have going for me is my attentive, present, and thoughtful boyfriend, and I hate that this has become my reality. As my buddies say, he’s certainly not the “only” positive thing I have to talk about. After all, I’m in LA, which makes me far happier than NYC ever did, but I can’t brag about having a cool job anymore, or any job, period. The good news is I have a support system within my social network, as well as a boyfriend who doesn’t base my value on employment. At least I can say I finally picked a keeper.

Can you balance a rewarding career and a healthy relationship? Do you find yourself only having one at a time? Share in the comments section.

Featured image via ShutterStock.

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