Who to Date: The Starving Artist vs. the Workaholic

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The_Starving_Artist_by_Pomegranate_PenEditor’s note: L.A. Actually is a weekly column about dating in Los Angeles. Read the previous installments here – and for date inspiration, don’t miss the Caper of the Week.

The great thing about big cities like L.A. is that you’re surrounded by transplants who had enough smarts and ambition to figure out how to move here (and stay here). We’re all joined by our desire to explore the world, take risks, and make the most of life. Granted, there are downsides. Those that are climbing their own mountain can fall into two categories: the starving artist and the workaholic. When it comes to dating, each group provides its own distinct advantages – and challenges.

The Starving Artist


There’s romance in poverty. It’s easy to produce faux ardor when The Bachelor flies you in a chopper around Iceland, but it’s a lot harder to be romantic when you’re lying on the pier drinking “two buck chuck” out of a canteen.

Although the starving artist gets paid very little for his craft, his reward comes from taking risks and pursuing his passion. And by pursuing what you believe is your destiny, it makes you happier and more in tune with yourself and your emotions.

When he’s not brooding in front of the blinking cursor or a blank canvas he’s actually really fun to be around — he’s free in a way that many of us wish to be. Sure he can barely afford that multisyllabic cocktail he just bought you, but he can provide for you in other ways.

The largest benefit of dating this man is that he will always have time for you. You can plan picnics in the park, cook dinners, even have last-minute dates in the middle of the week.


You’re going to have to do all those things in an studio apartment, and dinner plans may consist of PB & J in the park.

The Workaholic


The corporate workaholic conjures up the images of a strong protector, a man (or woman) who can provide — one that your parents would be proud introducing at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

This person is a relentless workhorse and has no problem putting in long hours. The goal is to get promotions, bonuses, and a fat savings account. It’s all about sacrifice now with the end goal in mind. And ambition is sexy.

At the end of those fourteen-hour days, he can come home to his giant house with a well-manicured lawn, pull his Mercedes in the garage, and lay his head on 1,500 thread count Egyptian cotton pillows. And so can you.


He’s never home. Your kids will ask, “Where’s Daddy?” And after a while, you’ll realize you have no clue what the answer is. He’ll never have time to chat about your day or watch “The Bachelor” on the couch, and the most you may see him is when he’s hunched over your oak dining room table eating microwaved pad thai and checking his Blackberry. By the time he recovers from the workweek, it’s already Sunday and the grind is approaching yet again.

No matter who you choose to date (or be), at the end of the day, it’s really about finding balance. If you have money, then you may crave a little bit of art. If you’ve been poor your entire life, you may value security. I’ve been both of these archetypes. I started as the workaholic, then chose to be a starving artist — I’d rather have less and do more than do less and have more. Although I’m aware of the importance of money, I hold fast to the knowledge that joy comes from experiences, not many of which can be had in a cubicle.

Caper of the Week:

Go: Manhattan Beach
Park: Free parking on the neighborhood streets off of Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Eat: The Cakes & Eggs at Uncle Bill’s Pancakes House or the Day Boat Scallops at The Strand House
Drink: The Lote 44 Malbec at Simmzy’s or the Kona Fire Rock Pale at Manhattan Beach Brewing Company
Do: Buy a homemade ice cream sandwich at Manhattan Beach Creamery and walk down to the pier to watch surfers or a sunset volleyball game.

Chris Backley is a native Angeleno writer/photographer who blogs about dating and happiness (mutually exclusive). He’s also a former paramedic and an exquisite Oreo chef. @BackleyChris on Twitter.