Dating a workaholic can be a challenge. On the one hand, financial security is sexy. On the other hand, working yourself into an early grave makes all of that hard work seem kind of pointless. Either way, when you are dating a workaholic there are things that you need to know.
With the pressure to be married with 2.5 kids, a dog and a house it really is no wonder that people become obsessed with working.
For some, work is enjoyable and they want to work as hard as possible. For others, being married to the job is a result of the need to make money to afford the kind of lifestyle that they want. It is not easy to find balance when you live paycheck to paycheck, either.
Being married to the job is usually a choice for single people. Without having a family to come home to, working becomes something that they do to pass the time.
Workaholics encompass all of these things. They work all of the time, whether out of necessity or because they have an urge to excel in their jobs and in life. Working hard (usually) means more money, and more money means an increased ability to buy things that make them happy.
Dating a workaholic comes with its own set of complications. Sure, it’s nice going out with a guy who works hard and pays for nice dinners and has a nice car. But is that enough to make up for the fact that he is never around?
Things To Know when Dating a Workaholic
People become workaholics for different reasons.
Sometimes they become workaholics because they are trying to impress their bosses. Young doctors working through their residencies and newly graduated lawyers trying to pass the bar will work insane hours as a rite of passage to reach the next level of their careers.
The drive to succeed and the drive to achieve more in one’s career is admirable. But it should never consume you.
It is easy to date a workaholic when both members of a couple work a lot. You don’t notice it as much that way. It’s also easier when you are in a long distance relationship, where you don’t see your partner regularly.
However, if you are the kind of person who likes having your romantic partner around in the evenings and on the weekends, then dating a workaholic is definitely not the way to go. There’s no way around it, either; unless your partner is willing to dial back the work, then you either need to be okay with her not being around or you need to rethink the relationship.
If you meet a workaholic, and if you start dating a workaholic, it is very important to understand why he or she is so obsessed with work. What drives him? What is he working so hard for? What are his long term goals? If you understand the motivation, then you might understand how you can fit into his plans.
One major upside to dating a workaholic is that there is an expectation that with so much time spent working, it means she is financially successful. She works hard so that she can afford the nicer things in life. She isn’t living on ramen and trying to make ends meet, which is refreshing.
Workaholics usually have some goal in mind, or some kind of motivation that spurs them on at work. Perhaps he wants to buy a new car, or be a homeowner before he’s 30. Whatever the reason is, knowing that all of the hard work is meant to create a better life down the line is an attractive quality.
Dedication Breeds Success
Let’s face it, workaholics are dedicated to their jobs and dedication is an admirable quality. (So long as the dedication to the job doesn’t surpass dedication to you!)
If you are dating a workaholic, it might seem strange for someone to focus so much time on work but that’s how you get ahead in life. She wants to be the best, and it takes hard work to get to the top.
You see this trend a lot with doctors and lawyers because they are always competing for the top spots, whether it is in medical school or law school or later on in the workplace. Getting ahead means putting in the time, even when that means sacrificing personal time and special events and working over holidays.
Time spent working aside, being dedicated is something that you want in a partner.
Goals Are Good
If there is a pendulum where being a workaholic is on one side, the other side of the pendulum is where people have no idea what they want. Ideally you find a balance, but for some of us it is better to be with people who have goals and dreams than people who are content living a mundane life.
Some people spend their whole life in the same place. They go to school, get a dead end job and stay in the same place because that’s all they know. This works for some people. For others, it’s good to have goals.
When you think about bringing your new boyfriend to meet your parents, do you want to introduce him as the soon-to-be partner at the firm or the junior executive taking the company by storm, or would you rather introduce the guy who has been a cashier at the sporting goods store for the past eight years.
Having goals is a good thing. So long as it doesn’t take over her life, being a workaholic means she’s working towards being her best self at work and in life.
Cons of Dating a Workaholic
One of the most pervasive problems with being a workaholic is burnout. No matter how much a person strives for success, the physical demands of pushing one’s self too hard always catch up.
Burnout is very common among workaholics, and it can cause huge problems with relationships when your workaholic partner becomes irritable from lack of sleep. He’ll be grumpy and defensive and not pleasant to be around.
It’s a little easier to deal with burnout when you have an idea of when it will end. For example, if she’s finishing her residency then you know it will be tough until she gets done with it, and then life will get easier. (Or as easier as it can be when you’re dating a doctor)
If there is no end in sight, he might crash and burn and it will be hard for a relationship to survive it.
Not only does being a workaholic cause burnout, but it also clouds judgement and keeps people from making time to be with the people who are important to them.
He might work late when you have a date night planned, or she might work through the weekend so that you don’t have time to see each other. Soon it will be missed holidays and birthdays with the promise that he’ll make it up to you…but that time might never come.
When you’re with a workaholic there’s a good chance that no matter how amazing your relationship is, you will always come in second. That means you could spend date nights, birthdays and holidays all by yourself. She won’t be there for gatherings with friends or for important events in your life without making time for it, and that might not happen.
If you can deal with having lots of time to yourself, then dating a workaholic can work for you. But if you don’t like playing second fiddle in a relationship, then you might need to think hard about what you want to do.
When Will It Be Enough?
We’ve talked about having goals in mind when you’re working hard. It is not a bad thing to be goal-driven and to want to get to the top, but by the same token you need to have a finish line in sight.
If your partner has a goal, great. But if she just keeps going after reaching every milestone then you need to think about whether she will ever have enough. And if she doesn’t seem to have a stopping point, then consider how long you can last in a relationship where you aren’t the most important part of your partner’s life.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, you need to go into a relationship with a workaholic with your eyes wide open. There is very little chance that you can change behaviors that you don’t like, so either you accept that she is a workaholic and make it work for your relationship, or you don’t.
In time, of course, should the relationship blossom and talk of marriage start, it is entirely possible that the workaholic tendencies will subside so that you can have your happily ever after.
The most important part of a successful relationship with a workaholic is communication. If you both like each other and want your relationship to work, then you need to set some ground rules about when you can expect to see each other and when your workaholic partner will actually have time for you. If the parameters are satisfactory, then you move forward and see what happens.
There is always the chance that your workaholic partner will start to yearn to spend time with you, and then the time spent at work will start to decrease until it is at a normal amount of time. The key here is to demonstrate what he’s missing by being at work so much.
If you start dating a workaholic, make sure you know what you’re getting into. It might be a difficult adjustment, but if the relationship is strong then you will be able to adjust and make it last.