Am I Too Busy And Unavailable to Find Love?


Hi Evan, Here’s my situation. I work at night (I go to work at 5pm). I love my job and my employer. This schedule actually suits me and my lifestyle perfectly. However, my dating life isn’t doing so well in the long run. I meet guys and go on dates but they always use my work schedule as an excuse to not continue dating. Now I realize I’m not going to get along with everyone and people come up with all kinds of reasons not to see someone anymore, but something’s not right when you hear the same thing over and over again (“you’re great but we’d never see each other”).

Seriously, how many people know after two dates that they want to see the other person seven days a week? (With my schedule I’m free for dates four times a week fitting into most other people’s schedules.) My dad worked nights and my mom worked days and they were married for over 30 years so I know it’s do-able for real, committed couples. I just feel that guys these days want dating and relationships to be easy and served up on a platter. The worst part is that I let people know on my Internet profile that I have this schedule and to be honest with themselves ahead of time. Nope! Do you have any advice? Are there any dating sites for night workers? Do firefighters, EMTs, 911 operators and ER doctors write to with this issue? —Rachael

Actually, Rachael, firefighters, EMTs, 911 operators and ER doctors would ask me about this very same issue — they just don’t have the time to write.

I’m joking, of course…but not really.

Listen, I’m sympathetic to any busy readers, the same as I am for my busy clients.

Your gift to us is your time, not your mere existence.

Julie works in sales and travels a few times a month. When she’s home, she’s usually training for a bike race or a triathlon.

Jamie is a lawyer at a big New York City firm who has to do her 2000 billable hours a year and rarely has a free weekend to relax.

Charlene is a lawyer and entrepreneur who is about to launch a third start-up in coming months.

All sincerely want to find love — all invested thousands of dollars into making it happen — and all of them are just as single as the day they met me.

Either they didn’t have the time to log in to Match.

Or they didn’t have the time to respond to men who wrote.

Or they didn’t respond to the men who wrote quickly enough.

Or they didn’t make time to talk to men on the phone to screen them.

Or they didn’t have time to plan to meet new men for drinks every weekend.

Or they didn’t have the time to keep a dialogue afloat amidst their other travels, hobbies and work obligations.

Put yourself in the shoes of a man for a second.

You’re talking to an amazing woman online.

She’s cute, she’s bright, she’s interested…and she hasn’t responded to your email in three days.

She’s kind, she’s interesting, she’s relationship-oriented…and she doesn’t have time to see you again until next Thursday.

She’s a wonderful and impressive person…and she’s simply not available.

The truth is, Rachael, guys don’t care all that much about your resume.

They care about your physical and emotional availability.

Most men would sacrifice a “10” who could see them once a week for an “8” who could talk every day and get together three or four nights a week

Just because some women (including your Mom) are willing to marry men in the military, professional athletes, politicians, traveling salesmen, and night workers, doesn’t mean that many men would be amenable to the same arrangement.

Your gift to us is your time, not your mere existence.

As such, I’m not at all surprised that you’re struggling to make a connection — and that you’re losing out to a woman who has more time to give.

And, like anyone who discovers that your natural way of being is impeding her from love, you have a choice to make.

Keep your life the way it is, alienate 95% of all men, and lament the fact that most will still prefer women who are more available than you…

Or…choose a different job that allows you to be more available.

This is honestly no different than any other dating dilemma that comes up for men and women. Play to the majority or deal with the consequences.

The guy with the dreadlocks who complains he’s striking out on JDate?
The woman who says she’s never dating online but wants to meet a man?
The guy who thinks that he shouldn’t have to pick up the first check?

Sure, you can stand your ground, but your results will be the same. You’re expecting the world to change instead of making changes yourself.

That seems to be your blind spot, Rachael.

You think it’s unfair that men want relationships to be easy.

I think it makes perfect sense.

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  1. 41

    @ Helen #38 – when we were in this situation, we ended up finding a new group of friends who all had kids our kids’ age. Now everyone’s kids are in college and/or high school and I’m pretty sure they would agree they all had a blast growing up together, playing together on weekends, going camping together as a group etc. In the meantime their parents had a great time hanging out together as well! Win-win.
    Which leads me to what I’ve been thinking re: this whole thread – that I agree with those that suggested the OP should look for other people with similar work schedules. It’s similar to single parents dating. From what I’ve seen, parents of young children work out better with other parents of young children, parents of teenagers with other parents of teenagers etc. just because they’re roughly on the same schedule. Changing careers just on the off chance it helps you meet someone is, IMO, a ridiculous idea. You can’t overhaul your life just to please everyone. What should single parents do to make themselves more available? what should dog owners do? get rid of their kids and dogs? I kind of understand prioritizing your already existing relationship over your career and (big maybe) children, but a potential relationship with someone you may or may not meet? Um, no.

  2. 42

    Helen, I completely agree that young children through the whole balance off. One thing I believe is part of the reason though is that, post-World War II, the nuclear family became THE model of family. Suddenly, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even close friends and neighbors became either quite secondary figures in helping raise children, or were shut out all together. People give lip service to the whole “It takes a village to raise a child” cliche, but when it comes down to it, the majority of parents do most of the raising alone these days (especially during the first 3-5 years of a child’s life). And given that we’ve had multiple generations believing in this story, it’s harder for parents who do want broader support to get that support. Other family members either don’t live anywhere nearby, or they’re too focused on their own lives to give much help with the young ones.
    There are many things from the past I wouldn’t want to bring forward, but I do think if we had a slightly more communal approach to raising children, the pressure on mothers and fathers to do it all, and be next to perfect doing so, would lessen. Which not only would improve their relationships, but also their general well-being.

  3. 43

    nathan #43, I completely agree. Family becomes so much more meaningful, and childrearing easier, when extended family members are around. For us, that only happens around holidays. Then everyone goes back to their distant spheres and that helpful, meaningful bond is lost. I wish we could return to that aspect of the olden days, but you’re right – family living near each other is no longer as much of a priority today.
    As for choosing jobs over relationships (responding to everyone else’s comments): The other side of the nuclear family myth is that people are rightfully questioning whether it’s even the best way to live. Consider this reader’s comment on NYTimes, on Maureen Dowd’s silly article about Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s single status:
    “We need to put to rest, once and for all, the ridiculous myth that the nuclear family is the only path towards happiness.

    “One of the marked characteristics of modern society is the fact that we are now spending more time at work than ever before. It could then be argued that, as far as overall personal happiness is concerned, it is far more important to have a satisfying career than a satisfying romantic relationship.

    “Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have both. But imagine a life filled with books and music and travel and good food and good friends, and a rewarding career to boot – that sounds like my idea of happiness. It’d be nice to share it with someone, but it’s not essential.”

  4. 44

    hhhmmhh…I agree with at previous poster, she is doing other things, that gets her those responses…..

  5. 45

    Post 8 says men want everything perfect to date women these days; just switch men and women in that and you’re far, far closer to reality.

    As Helen observed, women fare better alone and want marriage less than men. She is spot on. Of course men want  and in fact crave to be with a woman,  otherwise we wouldn’t  knock ourselves out and suffer countless rejections trying to start a relationship. Women are just way more lukewarm and tepid about men. They’d like one, sort of, kind of, maybe if he meets 50 criteria on their checklist.  Women do the vast majority of the rejecting and initiate way more divorces.

    I don’t know why biology came about the way it did,  but we have one gender – and this  has intensified since women became independent economically, obviously an  excellent and proper development – which is simply far more ambivalent and difficult to excite about the other gender than the other. It’s a sad setup without a solution. And as more men continue to fall behind women economically we are going to have increasing millions of  men who are unwillingly all  alone. It’s heartbreaking really.

  6. 46

    “Most men would sacrifice a “10” who could see them once a week for an “8” who could talk every day and get together three or four nights a week”
    They would?   I wish I were meeting these men!   Most if not all the men I’ve ever dated were more interested when I was less available, less interested when I cleared out my schedule to be available to spend more time with them.   They’re so into the “chase”. o_O

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