When you work from home and realize you only know your closest friends by their forum handles, it might not be a stretch to guess that date night is not a regular part of your work week. If you’re a freelance content writer who finds it hard to close the laptop lid and dinner and a movie are all but a distant memory, it might be time to cut the USB cord and venture outside.
Before you sign up for DesperatelyNeedADate.com and sift through your bathroom cupboard to find that makeup stuff you used to wear, prepare yourself for reentry to the outside world with these simple dating etiquette tips from someone who has been there, done that, and had to look up the correct title case for T-shirt.
- Ditch the Yoga Pants. I know, it’s not fair, but the truth is the rest of the world just isn’t ready for freelance fashion. Yes, you have to put on real people shoes. No, flip flops don’t count. And as for that promotional baseball cap that has become an integral part of your “office” uniform… well, I think you can probably figure that one out on your own.
- Turn Off the E-Mail Alerts. It’s terrifying to think you’ll miss a client e-mail or Love List drop while you’re out pretending to be a fully functioning grown up, but sometimes technology has to take a back seat to love. There are few things more humbling than realizing your dinner partner is paying more attention to their smartphone than they are to you, so don’t be that person. Your cell might help you pay the bills, but as far as keeping you warm at night, there’s still not an app for that.
- Reign in the Client Stories. We freelancers find our tall tales about wacky word counts and daredevil deadlines absolutely fascinating, but to the average Joe or Julie the charm of chasing down a job may not be as exhilarating as it is for us. I’m not saying you have to hide your world away in that cave you call an office, just be aware that not everyone finds AP style as stimulating as we do.
- Reconnect With the World. It’s so easy to stay inside, safe and insulated, typing all your cares and debt away until you forget that you haven’t been to a real live bar in months and bowling night is naught but a sepia-toned memory. A superior work ethic is an admirable (and profitable thing), but at some point you have to go outside, and I don’t just mean to the grocery store. You’re going to have to go to a book club or concert or wine tasting or sticky, smelly dive bar and… wait for it…. talk to people. In person! You’ll be amazed at the characters you meet and enjoy interacting with. And if all else fails…
- Stick to the Devil You Know – Sometimes there is a good reason we gravitate towards the friends we do. Our virtual water cooler is packed to the proverbial gills with people who understand us and what we do and why we do it, so it’s only natural that we might find a potential mate in the midst of all the war-story swapping and midnight-oil burning. Just promise me your first one-on-one will be in person and free from shop talk.
Dating is hard, and when your pool of canoodle candidates is severely limited by your choice of occupation and less-than-social lifestyle, it only gets harder. Putting yourself out there and distancing yourself from your work, if only for an hour, is important, and hey – if fear of failure has you trembling in terror just remember that nightmare date could make a real winner of a short story.
Alana M is in a happily committed relationship with her smartphone and kindly asks that you don’t judge.