The dating game is exciting and equally difficult. Finding someone who is potentially a perfect match for you can put you on a serious high and before you know it, you are feeling whisked away, like the sunshine is brighter and the flowers are bigger and sweeter and you’re even losing weight without even trying because your brain is so in love that it is sending out these marvelous chemicals that help you to overlook the subtle, and not so subtle differences that will one day become an issue of conflict. Dating a workaholic will one day, no doubt, become one of those issues of conflict that can either make a couple much stronger or become the demise of the relationship.
It is completely unreasonable to believe that either half of any relationship should have to give up being who they are in order to be loved and nurtured within the relationship. So, is being a workaholic part of someone’s identity? In some cases, unfortunately, it is. In some cases, working too much is a method of avoiding emotions. Before you came along, your candle burner may have been putting in the extra hours at the office in order to avoid feeling lonely or hoping they would be too tired for their restless nights in a bed that can feel far too large when you’re restless.
Sooner or later, the workaholic’s significant other is going to start to feel slighted, and may even start to make additional demands on the time of the workaholic just to see how far they can push the limits. After all, it’s normal to want to know what is more important, the relationship or the job. Unfortunately, using these types of tactics are not only manipulative and unfair, but you would be likely to find that you don’t like the response that you receive and you will end up believing that the job is more important. In most cases, that’s not the case. But really, how likely are you to bend when you are well aware that you are being manipulated in order to prove your love?
If you are dating a workaholic you may become tempted to try to push the limits and find your significant other willing to offer up tokens of proof of their devotion. Check yourself when you find yourself feeling this way and schedule (if you have to) a time when you and your partner can sit down and discuss the amount of time you need and the amount of time spent at work. Some people are just naturally driven while others are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Is there a great big reward with fewer hours if they meet a goal? If there is a obvious and tangible goal to the long hours and the weekends behind the laptop, then chances are good that once the goals become tangible realities, the hours won’t be quite so long.
Some people honestly simply don’t know how else they are allowed to live. When intelligent children are pushed beyond their limits time and time again, challenged to an unhealthy level of learning that forces them to give up Saturday soccer games and date night and even the prom, they turn into adults who honestly don’t know how to kick back and relax. Overachieving starts very young, and there is almost always a very pushy parent behind the scenes which is subtly threatening (whether it is to stop loving them or to stop allowing them a freedom or pursuit) them to do better and better. In situations such as these, it may take a very long time, a lot of love, and a boat load of trust for the workaholic to be able to not only take a little time off, but do without climbing the walls, pulling out hair by the roots, or going into a catatonic state waiting for Monday morning to arrive. Okay, it probably won’t be that bad, but depression is likely when a workaholic gives up some of their working time.
A workaholic may not be able to change their priorities. They certainly won’t be able to do it for you. We’ve all seen those family movies where the father is sitting behind his desk at his home office, working feverishly on his big project that will make him or break him and he looks out his window at his children and has an epiphany. While it’s certainly some Hallmark material, the angle is still true. When you’re dating a workaholic, you can’t expect them to close the laptop and join you for a vacation unless they are able to realize the benefits in participating in life beyond work.
Since you are not going to be able to force a workaholic to change you are going to have to ask yourself what are you willing to accept. Are you willing to only see a limited amount of this individual? Are you likely to get bored or jealous? Are you thinking that monogamy will be impossible because you simply need more attention? Do you think that the time you get to spend with them is valuable enough to have it supplied in limited quantities? How you are able to honestly answer these questions will have a lot to do with how you end up resolving your portion of the relationship.
Be honest with yourself. Be honest with your needs. Be honest with your working warrior. And know that your needs may change over time, as will theirs. Dating a workaholic requires a huge amount of honesty, negotiation, understanding (from both parties) and a commitment to maintain the relationship at it peak level for as long as possible and as often as possible through direct and open communication. Maybe someday your workaholic will watch you through the window and realize that they are missing out on one of the best things life has to offer them. But until they do, can you accept them as they are?