Balancing Act: Dating Advice From a Woman Who Has Your Back
How to juggle work, friends, women, and Shark Week
PC: Julia Kostreva
Did everyone have a good Shark Week? I know I did. Besides my birthday week (which is July 26th, by the way. I like donuts. And peonies.), Shark Week is probably my favorite week of the summer: sharks are so scary, so unpredictable, so fascinating. Just like dating can be! And with that awkward transition…
Let’s dive into some well-intentioned dating advice, shall we?
As I’ve gotten older, I can’t get over how busy everyone is. During the summer months there is no limit of social activities happening after work. And then, once the summer is over and you finally get all the sand out of your pants, work life picks up (if it ever slowed down), your social calendar is full for the next three months, and then the holidays are looming. How in the world are you supposed to date in that environment?
Having a crazy work life or being serious about your job is in no way a deal breaker. Neither is a vibrant social life — we love guys with a fun group of friends and a family they actually like spending time with. And as far as work goes, ambition is HOT.
Overall, I am really attracted to men who:
1) have a career and long term goals
2) are never willing to settle for anything less than success
3) have a great social life and group of friends they want to make me part of
But I also get that balancing your work life, social life, and love life can feel as daunting as trying to get the perfect shot of a 16-foot-long great white shark while riding on a raft behind a boat in open water. Have no fear, it is completely do-able, if you are smart about it.
So, a few things to keep in mind:
1) Respect and remember that everyone is busy. Going on a date means giving up free time we could be putting to good use hanging with friends, going to spin, or catching up on Olivia Pope’s latest love triangle.
A guy once cancelled on a friend of mine the morning of the day of their first date. On a Saturday, no less. Why? Because he was too hungover from Friday. Yep, you read that right. Here is real quote from his text: “four nights of drinking has (sic) caught up with me!” He didn’t understand why she wouldn’t go out with him again when he finally got around to texting her for a make-up date a couple weeks later.
So why wouldn’t she give him another chance? Because she gave up her Saturday night for him, and he bailed. Because he was hungover. This gal is busy. She’s an attorney in NYC and has ma-a-a-a-ybe eight free hours a week that she’s not at her desk or sleeping. So why should she give up the few hours of free time she has to a guy who’s thus far been proven to be flaky, and apparently can’t handle his liquor like an adult? Are you thinking she shouldn’t? Then you are correct. She shouldn’t.
The only appropriate reason to cancel a first date on a weekend night is for an emergency. During the week, we understand last minute work emergencies can get in the way, but canceling a week-night date is still not ideal.
If you truly have to cancel a date, weekend or week night, for any reason, be sure to A) apologize profusely and B) suggest an alternate time immediately, or as soon as you can. Otherwise, I’m going to think that I’m not a good enough reason for your to brush your teeth, put on pants, and go outside for the first time all day. Which isn’t a fun way for anyone to feel. Bonus points if you follow up your cancellation and reschedule with a delivery of cookies or cheese or pad thai (chicken, no bean-sprouts) as an extra “I’m sorry.”
2) Train yourself to follow up. So you’ve gone on a first date. But then your work schedule got crazy and you’re entirely focused on a project/presentation/deadline that is looming. Before you know it, over a week has gone by and you haven’t followed up for date number two. How to avoid this rookie mistake?
Yes, I ascribe to the idea that if a guy really wants to see you again, he’ll find a way to see you again. But I also am realistic about the realities of dating busy world where everyone is trying to get ahead. Call me a hopeless romantic.
After a really good date, I recommend setting yourself a calendar reminder to follow up a few days later and make plans for another date. A calendar alert may feel regimented, but if you’re in work zone mode, a gentle reminder of “Time to text that foxy lady and take her out again,” is probably helpful. And it takes two seconds.
You’re busy, I’m busy, but we can all make the time. I always try to take a few seconds the day after a great first date to shoot a text saying that I had a good time and would love to see them again sometime. So remind yourself to do the same, and everyone will be happy, and then I won’t feel like I’m chasing you screaming “HANG OUT WITH ME HANG OUT WITH ME!” Because that’s not cute.
3) Be realistic about what you (and your schedule) can handle. I was seeing a guy for a few months this winter, and it went from being weekly, planned dates, to stalling at casual, last minute meet-ups and cancelled plans. It wasn’t that he was fading out; it was that he was so busy in every other part of his life that there was no room for me. He (for a number of reasons I won’t get into, but are #SG approved legitimate reasons) wasn’t at a place in his life where I was going to be a priority over his college buddies, high school friends, or brunch plans on his one free day a week from work. I understood, but I also ended it, because unusual set of circumstances or not, I expect more consistency and respect in my dating life.
As we all should.
How do you date on a busy schedule and balance everything you’ve got going on? Any tips or tricks to share? What’s the worst reason you’ve ever cancelled a date?
Lizzie Thompson lives in New York City where she works in media and freelance writes. She recently realized that instead of just talking with her friends about the good, the bad, and the ugly of their dating lives, she could turn those sometimes-lousy, often great experiences into real-world advice, in the hopes of helping even just a few good men date with a little more style. You can follow her on Twitter.