Career-Life Balance: What to Do About Dating When It Feels Like Your Work Is Your Primary Relationship

You devote a lot of time and energy to your career. In fact, it feels like your career is your primary partner in life. It gets your attention, passion, and commitment.


There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s wonderful to be ambitious, especially if you are pursuing a career that you love.

But how do you make time for a love life with another human when you are so focused on your career?

All relationships require time and attention in order to grow. If you want to find a romantic relationship that can flourish, then somehow you have to make time for it.

And it is possible to strike a balance.

I know, I know, it doesn’t sound possible. You already don’t have enough time in your day to get everything else done. And you aren’t willing to scale back on your career just to have a date.

So, how can you possibly fit romance in? You can make it work... if you’re willing to get creative.

Consider Your Life Outside of Work

If you are struggling to find time to add a relationship to your career-driven life, chances are you also might reply with a blank stare if asked about your hobbies outside of work. Fun? What is that?!

So maybe start by giving yourself just one hour each week in which to explore a new hobby.

Often people find great partners (and new friends) by sharing time together in activities you both enjoy. Plus, having a rich life outside of work can prevent burnout at work, helping you sustain the momentum to keep you on top of your game.

If you find it hard to even think of a hobby to explore, perhaps just let your mind wander but gently steer it away from work topics if that’s your natural go to. What else comes to mind? Fantasy about ocean waves? Maybe consider taking a sailing lesson on the Hudson. Fantasy about sticking your entire head into a giant glass of wine? Consider a wine tasting class.

Whatever the activity, if you enjoy it then sign up for more. Sooner than you expect you’ll begin develop a little network of fellow (insert hobby here)-ophiles and you just never know who among them, or who among their circle might be a great partner for you.

Employ the "Two Birds with One Stone" Approach

Career-driven people have a lot of events and activities to attend. Some of them are obligatory. Many aren’t necessary but can go a long way toward pushing a career forward.

Why attend every event alone when they provide such a fertile opportunity for a date? Learn to maximize your time.

Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Meet the person at least once so you can get a good sense that they won’t embarrass you at an event.

  • Take advantage of invites to a potential partner’s events. You never know how they might expand your career opportunities.

  • Pay close attention to how you are feeling with this person as you circle a room and network together; how attuned are they to you?

  • Stay professional even though you are on a date. If you’re really feeling the other person, head out together for a nightcap after.

More Tips from Ambitious New York Career Women

Anyone can find themselves struggling with this issue. Your gender, orientation, career choice, and location don’t really matter. All people can feel married to their career.

That said, it’s a problem that frequently plagues super ambitious women living in New York City. And that’s why they’re also a great resource to turn to for tips on the topic.

Here are a few of their additional tips:

  • Dates don’t have to be dinner or drinks. Suggest something you really want to spend time doing.

  • Dates aren’t projects. Don’t fall into the trap of falling in love with someone’s potential. You have enough to do at your regular job. Find a person who you don’t want to change.

  • Shed some armor. You don’t have to wear your power suit to bed. Relationships thrive when you are appropriately vulnerable.

  • Try a matchmaking company. It saves time on the dating process.

  • Maintain a positive attitude. You wouldn’t go into a job interview assuming you’d hate the job. So why would you approach dating with the assumption that it won’t work out?


Focusing on your career is a perfectly normal stage of adult development. However, you don’t have to sacrifice dating just because you want to be successful in work. If you want additional help with this tricky balancing act, click here to read more about working with me.