Yes, we are all busy, busy. We have jam-packed schedules full of work, travel, family commitments, exercise, social activities, personal development goals, and so many good TV shows. It’s amazing that anyone finds time to date!
Well, it turns out we’re not any less time-starved than before – at least compared to 14 years ago before the invention of Snapchat and Pokemon GO, according to a recent Gallup poll. In fact, the same percentage of Americans – 48 percent – said they didn’t have enough time to do everything they wanted to do. What’s interesting is that 52 percent of people felt they did have enough time, meaning our so-called cultural “time crunch” boils down to people’s perceptions.
How does this affect dating? The way we talk about time influences our dates’ perceptions about whether we’d be a nightmare to date, frankly. Are you someone who takes a week to return emails and might have an opening for an actual date three Tuesdays from now?
There’s a fine line between appearing to be worth the wait and not worth pursing because you seem totally unavailable.
Here are some tips on how to prevent a busy schedule from sabotaging your love life:
1) Don’t talk about how busy you are all the time
This is a good tip for relating to all people and not just romantic prospects. People who vent about how incredibly busy they are tend to suck the air out of a room. They’re usually terrible company because they keep conversations focused on their hectic miserable lives. They’re probably not that busy anyway because truly busy people don’t have time to complain.
Whenever I listen to one of these busy braggers, my shoulders tense and I shrink back because I know I’m not going to get equal treatment in the conversation – let alone in a relationship. So yes, talking about how busy you are might make you sound important, but it’s a terrible dating strategy.
There is one important exception, however. If you are unusually busy, let the other person know. Saying this goes a long way: “I’m sorry I’ve been hard to reach lately. It’s been a crazy time at work. I can’t wait when this case is over next month and I’ll have more free time.” This last point is really important. Let your dates know when you’ll be more available. It will be easier for them to stay motivated to get to know you better if they know there’s an end in sight.
2) Always return emails, calls, and texts promptly
Even if you are so swamped that you can’t see someone for while, you don’t want to give someone the impression that you’re hard to reach. Set aside time each day to respond to all emails, calls and texts, even if it’s a simple “Got your email. On deadline for a project. Look forward to writing more shortly.”
Then follow up. You’re showing the other person that their efforts to communicate with you are appreciated. You’re also offering a preview of what life will be like with you during the times you are busy. The message: Your partner will still be important.
3) Get creative about planning dates
Fit in breakfast or even a quick coffee on the way back from the airport. Indulge in some ninja multitasking by inviting a date to your yoga class or evening run. While you probably won’t earn points asking someone to accompany you to the grocery store, it’s fair game inviting someone out to the farmer’s market and an iced coffee afterwards. Bonus: You’ll start your week off with a supply of fresh produce.
4) Find time to fit in something when you have your kids
Most people understand that parents with kids must make them the priority. But for parents who split custody, it can be hard to get a romance off the ground when you can fit in a date every couple of weeks. Never mind during long blocks of summer vacations.
Don’t put your love life on hold. If evenings and weekends are out, can you schedule a lunch or quick drink while your kids are at a birthday party? Sometimes you might need to hire a babysitter. Your date will appreciate your flexibility.
5) Keep in touch while traveling
We live in a world in which we never had to be disconnected, thanks to Skype, FaceTime, and texting. You don’t want that much constant communication in early dating. But you don’t need to say “Talk to you when you get back,” either. Let your matches know they’re on your radar by sending them a pic of your hotel view or family reunion group pic. Also, put a real date in the books so you both have something to look forward to when you get back.
We wish our potential sweeties were available to be with us most of the time. But we’re more willing to handle busy schedules if we know they’re thinking of us in the meantime.
How do you stay engaged in dating when you’re crazy busy?
About the Author:
Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate, and Salon.