Balancing Work with Dating and Relationships: Independent Research
Are you a single person who is trying to get back into the dating world, but just can’t seem to find time because of your career? If so, part of you may want to focus on work to make your financial life better. But, there’s another side of you that probably feels empty because you hardly ever date or go out.
If you’re not single, and are actually in a committed relationship (but also work a lot of extra hours in your profession), then it’s possible that you may be working too hard, and inadvertently ignoring your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse. On the other hand, you may be on the receiving end of getting ignored, and are constantly trying to get your partner to not work so much.
Whichever person you are, the problem is similar: you’re having an issue with balancing work and dating, or with maintaining the relationship you have because of an imbalance between the two. And, it’s time for you to do some soul-searching to finally figure out which is most important, your career or your social life.
The Importance of Having a Social Life
The way that most people (especially younger people in their 20’s) think about their social lives today is a 180 degree turn from the way folks the same age thought about theirs in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. For example, have you ever walked into a restaurant and just scanned the scene, paying close attention to the couples who were dating? They’ll be sitting directly across from each other, but both people will sometimes be looking down at their smartphones instead of paying attention to what the other person is saying or doing!
When social media websites such as Facebook (which was created in 2004) came along, lots of people started associating having a good social life with how many virtual friends they had, and not how many real-life friends they came in contact with physically on a regular basis. According to Psychology Today, “Technology has changed the ways people interact with others in their daily lives, but it hasn’t affected the basic need to form supportive bonds with other people.” What they mean is that, as human beings, we are essentially social creatures. And, whether you realize it or not, we are all in need of real human contact in order to remain socially (and mentally) healthy.
Let’s be clear. Many of us have careers to pay attention to that we just seemingly need to dedicate entire days to sometimes. And, depending on where you are in your life, you may simply find much more joy in consistently attaining your short and long-term work goals, meaning that you will blow off a date if more hours or opportunities come available that will likely enhance or accelerate your career.
Madeleine Dore, a Contributing Writer to the Worklife section of BBC, wrote an article where she described how she purposefully ignored going out with her friends for a month, just to see how productive she could be at work. Madeleine said that she suffered from something called FOMO (fear of missing out) for the first several days of her personal experiment.
But, what she ended up finding out about herself is that her becoming exhausted and/or unproductive wasn’t because of the fact that she was overworking or partying too much. Madeleine actually felt it was because she wasn’t taking a personal break from either one of them. Simply having “me time” to herself (without either overworking or going out with her buddies for drinks, movies, parties etc.) was very satisfying in her opinion.
Of course, that’s not to say that having close friendships, romantic relationships or dating isn’t beneficial to your life. I mean, when you finally do get that promotion that you’ve been working so hard for, who are you going to share the good news with? Who are you going to feel the most comfortable celebrating with? In your online social media account, there is likely only a small percentage of those people who you come in contact with physically on a regular basis. That being said, you may have thousands of friends on Facebook, but the quality of your relationships will always mean way more than the quantity of them, especially when most of them are only virtually social, and you never physically hug, kiss or touch them.
In actuality, being in a good relationship, a close friendship, or a romantic union with someone that you care about, according to Mayo Clinic, can “increase your sense of belonging and purpose” and “boost your happiness and reduce your stress”. Many of you may associate that second one with sex. And, you would be right, because it truly is a major stress reliever, and it sure can make you happy!
But, we all know that sex with someone that you don’t genuinely care about doesn’t mean anything after the intimate episode is over. Without truly caring for the person, you’re really just “hooking up” instead of “making love”.
Megan Scudellari, a Boston Globe correspondent who wrote a social life article once in the newspaper’s Findings section, even pointed out that having an active social life could actually lower your chance of death by 50%. There’s apparently a lot of truth to it, especially since the Director of the Center for Population and Development Studies at Harvard, Lisa Berkman, also had pointed out additional evidence from other studies suggesting that social isolation can be as dangerous to your mortality as smoking.
Maybe you’re undecided about what you should spend more time doing, working or dating. It’s more about having a balance of the two, and maybe your problem could be fixed by finding someone who works as much as you do. That way, at least you two will have that thing in common, both of you being workaholics.
Then, when you do plan to go out on a date, neither of you will likely cancel it for work or anything else. The opportunity to go out and have some fun will mean a lot to you both, and it’ll be that much stronger of a cherished memory for you to share.
Should I Choose My Career Over a Relationship?
When it comes to careers and relationships, and trying to balance them both, there are two types of people, 1) the person who is single and trying to find a way to balance work and dating, and 2) the individual who is currently in a relationship and trying to balance their career and quality time with their significant other. If you’re the person in a relationship, then your workaholic ways may be having a negative effect on your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse’s feelings.
Melissa Orlov, author of the award-winning book entitled The ADHD Effect on Marriage, pointed out in one of her articles that the person who is getting ignored will many times initially complain about the fact that they don’t get enough attention. She points out how doing this could push the working person away, and make them not want to talk to them or spend time with them even more.
Melissa suggests that this person talk more calmly to the workaholic partner, and explain to them that they are looking to accomplish “comprehension and partnership around solving the problem, not guilt and anger”. The person who is working too much may not even realize that they’re doing anything hurtful, and may just be trying to provide a better life for them both. They just need to be reminded in a nice way that they aren’t showing enough love and affection, not scorned because they’re trying to make life more financially comfortable by putting in more hours on the job.
There was an episode of The Steve Harvey Show where he asked a few of his guests, “Is it wise to put your love life on hold for your career?”
One of the ladies was a Doctor of Clinical Psychology named Venus Nicolino (aka Dr. V). “It reminds me of something my mother used to tell me,” she began. “She used to say, don’t marry for love, marry for support, because support is an outward action of love… I don’t have a career in spite of my husband, because he helped me build that. And I helped him build his career.”
This means that not only does the person who is working less have to be considerate when they tell the workaholic that they’re working too much, but it also means that the workaholic should try his or her best to find the nicest way to tell their partner that, maybe, they should fill in the time that they are not together and focus more on their own career.
Most people will agree that too much of anything will kill you. That applies to relationships, too. This is because if you see way too much of each other, you can inadvertently grow apart.
It’s a delicate balance, but if you both work at it, it can be done. The keyword is “work” at it, because relationships in themselves are work. Not like the work you do in your career, of course. The work in a relationship are the emotionally driven tasks that you have to tend to in order to keep the one that you care about happy.
CNBC Contributor Marla Mattenson points out situations where you or your partner should be putting more time into your work than your relationship. For example, she says that if your career is just in its beginning stages, you may need to work more than a normal person would. Or, if it’s simply a hard time in your career, you might have to work more hours in order to fix certain problems.
That being said, if a person genuinely cares about you, then they would understand situations like that, and realize that real love is patient and kind. If they truly care about you, then they’d never hinder you from trying to do better career-wise, because they would know that you’re not absent because you’re purposefully trying to ignore or hurt them. It’s also important to remember that there are a lot of men and women out there who are just independent-minded people, and always have been, way before they even met the person that they are currently dating or in a relationship with.
For example, Beca Grim did a piece for Bustle some time ago that pointed out so many reasons why a person should put their career ahead of love, dating, and relationships. Beca points out that if you’ve been already working towards your goals, then why should you stop now just because you ran into somebody who doesn’t work as hard as you do?
Plus, when the person has always only had themselves to rely on for finances that they use to buy the things that they need, pay their bills, etc., it can be really hard for them to stop on a dime.
In the end, we all have to work. This is true whether we are single and supporting ourselves, or if we have children and/or other family members to take care of. If you’re living with your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse, it’s somewhat different than when a person is single and can’t really find time to date.
If you’re under the same roof and paying bills together, then you should have been clear about finances way before shacking up with the person. If one of you is working more than the other, and “carrying” the other person, then chances are your relationship will fall apart. So, to avoid having a very possible breakup, explain to the other person that they need to work harder. Or, explain to the workaholic in the relationship that you are there to support them, and that they don’t have to work as much as they used to before you got together.
As for single people who are simply trying to find time to date, your problem with balancing work and relationships is a little easier to fix, being that it’s a problem that you yourself only have to deal with. All you need to do is simply remember that all of us human beings are social creatures, having romantic or non-romantic relationships is healthy for you, and you shouldn’t deprive yourself of a little dating from time to time. This way, you can at least say that you have a social life.