How I've Learned to Keep Relationships Going When Crazy Work Schedules Get in the Way

Publish date:
July 30, 2016
Dating, Work Life Balance

There's nothing like trying to juggle your personal life and workload, especially if your job has crazy hours. Relationships are hard enough, and combined with conflicting schedules or demanding jobs, they can even seem impossible.

Rest assured, there are ways to stay happy in your relationship. I've been in each situation below, and I learned firsthand how to handle it.

When you work crazy hours (and they don't)

Getting into a rhythm is key, no matter what your workload entails. If you have the sort of job where you work a lot but have the opportunity to leave it all at the office (or whatever your workplace may be) at the end of the day, by all means, make sure to leave it at the door. Being caught up in work when it's not necessary will make time with your significant other significantly unpleasant. You'll feel stressed, and they'll feel unwanted.

This was particularly challenging for me when I was dating someone who was laid off. My personality prodded me to obsess about the details of the workday or analyze projects and interactions with other coworkers long after I left each day. The person I was dating felt invisible. He spent his alone time preparing for me to come home, making sure the house was clean, getting food ready, and pouring wine — but I walked through the door to our place like I was walking into another office.

If you constantly have to check your emails and work on projects, designate a mandatory "no work" time, even if it's to share a meal or have an hour of uninterrupted conversation. Get as organized as you can so that the majority of your work is getting done during work hours.

And whenever you're able, do something nice for your partner. Even if it's picking up coffee and chocolate on the way home, little gestures will remind them you still care.

When they work crazy hours (and you don't)

Oh, how the days can feel so long when your partner is working 7 to 7 and you're folding laundry and keeping up with the Kardashians. If your workload is less than that of your S.O., especially if you're not working at all, you're going to need a personal schedule to abide by. There's nothing worse than watching every minute pass until you can see your partner.

When I moved to a new state, I had trouble finding full-time work. At first, it was nice because I had a lot of free time. I was able to keep my place as spotless as if HGTV was coming by any moment to do a shoot. I took to cooking and baking and realized I was actually pretty good.

But the weeks of joyous dog walking and pie baking slowly morphed into loneliness. I found myself anticipating the exact minute to expect my boyfriend to be home and would feel sad when he wanted to go to the gym instead of hang out. The only way to shake the feeling was to keep myself busier, either with work or personal hobbies, and learn to be in the moment with the time we did have together.

It's important not to get upset and badger them for being a workaholic if you know it's coming from a place of jealousy or a lack of productivity on your end. Appreciate that they're a hard worker and let it motivate you to get where you want to be.

When you both work crazy hours

The solution to this scenario is simple: Understand that your quality time will not be conventional or even ideal. When you rewrite your expectations for the relationship and realize that instead of a weekly date night, you may only have a monthly date night, you'll feel less disappointment. Your norm may be an hour of Netflix a week and dinner at the same time on Sundays. Being content with the situation and knowing that while it's difficult, it may only be temporary, will make it all the more bearable.

It's for this situation that texting and social media platforms are a godsend. They are tools to make you feel connected in the few free seconds you have while running around, even though you're far from seeing each other again.

The first time I was in this situation, it was weird. We made all the time for each other that we could, but it mostly consisted of quick takeout and passing out on the couch together, clothed and exhausted. As it occurred to me that this wasn't anything like the dating I was used to, I wondered if I was crazy. I wondered if we should even be dating at all. I thought about breaking it off, if only for the reason that the relationship was "different," but I realized that I really liked being with him.

As soon as I adjusted my reality that this was just our norm (for now), it didn't bother me. Eventually, our crazy schedules worked themselves out, and we've been able to do things "normal" couples do, like go out in the daylight and confirm the other is not a vampire.

Ultimately, a little understanding — and willingness to be flexible — about your partner's work schedule goes a long way.