Let’s face it; careers can have major implications on the personal life of a young professional. Many career-consumed and perhaps even self-admitted workaholics claim they do not have time for a boyfriend or girlfriend or even to date for that matter (and it isn’t just to excuse their occasional one-night stand). Admittedly, for some YPs, especially those in medical school, becoming partners in law firms or beginning a career in finance, their demanding schedules may not afford for time investment necessary to begin a new and meaningful relationship.
For others, working long hours and the personal sense of achievement that comes with being “married to one’s job” fills the void of being married (or otherwise attached) to anyone else in the first place.
With that said, the attached YP is not free of career influence on their personal life either, with professional obligations presenting an incredible sense of stress on otherwise healthy relationships. Demanding careers can take away from time spent together, whether because of late nights at the office, client dinners and networking events or frequent business trips. If work is a major source of stress in your life, this inevitably spills into the relationship in the form of bringing both actual work and work woes home, arriving home high strung and tense or feeling undervalued in both in the office and subsequently the relationship.
Besides long distance relocation, should we ever have to choose between love or career? Or can the two exist in harmony for the balanced YP? Here are some secrets to not letting work take over your life…
Be honest with your SO and potential SOs about the amount of time your career demands
The key to avoid not meeting the expectations (and resulting disappointment) of a current or potential SO is, like many elements of a good relationship, communication. If your job demands a more hectic schedule than most, make that known within the first few dates. If the end of the month is going to be a particularly busy time at the office and will involve many late nights and maybe even a few weekend hours, let your SO know ahead of time so that he or she doesn’t make any plans that could get broken or so you can arrange to spend more quality time together (and perhaps a weekend away) earlier on in the month.
Create a clear distinction between work time and personal time
Compartmentalize your work life and personal life (and accompanying mentalities) as much as possible. Your SO will become quickly annoyed if the dinner he or she cooked for you is interrupted by persistent work emails or phone calls. When you are out with your new dates or SO, try to keep work chatter to a minimum. They are supposed to provide a needed outlet to your work stresses and woes, not get dragged down with them. As we said in our recent workaholic piece, designate times when the smart phones are turned off and the laptops are put away. At the same time, when you are at work, be present and focused on the task at hand, not in an exchange of lovey-dovey messages with your SO or getting caught up in text message banter with a sexy single stranger.
Prioritize, don’t sacrifice
Prioritize your career and relationship goals like you do everything else in your life. Though inevitably a few dinner dates are going to be cancelled last minute, or wedding plans are going to require you take some time off work, neither should suffer at the expense of the other. Before making any apologetic phone calls, carefully consider what is of top priority as well as when and what to compromise.
Include your SO when appropriate
Without blurring the lines of personal life and professional life as outlined above, find ways to positively include your SO in your work life so that he or she may gain a better understanding or appreciation for it. Providing he or she can hold their own if you need to greet a client or talk shop, invite your SO along as a date to work-related charity events, holiday parties or company picnics. Furthermore, celebrate work milestones, like a promotion or bonus, together over a dinner or weekend away.
Know when it won’t work
Some things were not meant to be. It is important to know when to quit a relationship that is bringing you down professionally or a profession that is ruining an established and long-term relationship. At the same time, recognize when you are using work as an excuse to get out of a date with a potential SO, dinner at your SO’s parents’ place or a romantic weekend away. It may not be the job, but the other person.