By Gina B.
I was talking to a friend about a new prospect, and in her description she provided general physical characteristics. I delved deeper, and eventually asked what he did for a living. She replied that she wasn’t entirely sure, but that in her opinion, his choice of occupation wasn’t important. I completely disagreed – not from the standpoint of his earning levels, but because his professional circumstances might not have blended well with her life.
Years ago, one of my aunts gave me exceptional food for thought: “Choose wisely, and consider all circumstances, because who you choose can affect the rest of your life.”
First, you need to respect his choice in occupation. For example, if you have an inherent hatred for attorneys, it’s probably best not to get involved with one, unless you can walk into the situation with an open mind and commitment to acceptance.
Second, it helps if your achievement levels are well-matched – unless you agree that one of you will be the primary earner. If he’s content being an hourly employee with no desire for raises or promotion, he might not have appreciation for your dedication if you’re a career-oriented heavy-hitter on the partner track.
Also, understand that there are consequences to our choices. If you want to date someone who earns a high salary, prepare to sacrifice a lot of your quality time to his work schedule. Likewise, if you have a day job, recognize the difficulties of dating someone who works at night. If he’s an entrepreneur, prepare for a wild ride of 24-hour work and a lot of uncertainty.
I used to work in the consulting industry, in a job that forced me to travel five days a week. It sounded glamorous and it was somewhat fun at first, but after a while it took its toll. The worst byproducts were that I was unable to have a regular schedule, a real life, and I wasn’t able to sustain relationships. My travel schedule made it difficult to meet anyone, let alone start a relationship. There were no men willing to sign up to date a woman who was only in town two days a week. I couldn’t say that I blamed them. I wouldn’t have either.
I pounded the pavement with the goal of finding a job that wouldn’t force me to take two or more flights per week. Eventually, I happily forfeited the travel benefits and abandoned my Hartmann luggage in exchange for a more fulfilling position that would allow me to have a normal life.
I was happily settled into normalcy. I envisioned meeting a guy with a similar schedule, with whom I could spend a lot of quality time.
Then I started dating a man who pulled the bait-and-switch on me a few months into our relationship.
When we met, our schedules were aligned. And then he abruptly quit his corporate job in favor of a career in the restaurant industry, which was a decision that I didn’t understand that caused a major shift in our relationship.
Our formerly perfectly synched schedules were suddenly horribly divergent. He worked nights and weekends, which eliminated our prime dating time. He also worked very late and we argued about him showing up at my house in the middle of the night, overserved, wondering why I wasn’t happy to see him when I had to get up for work three hours later.
I grew to despise his job, which drove a wedge between us. Although we had other significant issues, I blamed his job for taking them over the edge. I hated that I never saw him, and I resented that fact that he spent more time with his invasive co-workers than he did with me. (I also took issue with the fact that he began sleeping with one of his co-workers, but that’s a different story for a different time.)
Our relationship didn’t survive, and I’ve dreamed of dating a person with a normal schedule ever since – even though I sadly seem to gravitate toward workaholics with chaotic jobs.
That said, I believe that occupations do matter – especially if you’re thinking of entering a serious relationship.
If you find yourself hating your mate’s job, there are a few questions to ask yourself to get to the heart of the issue:
- Are you bothered/offended/disgusted by what he has chosen as his occupation?
- Is it a temporary situation? Is his current position a means to an end, or is this the way things will be for the foreseeable future?
- If his job remained the same for the next 10 years, would it be a deal-breaker?
- Do you feel he’s underachieving? If so, do you think he’ll ever be able to rise to your expectations? Are you willing to be the bread-winner if necessary?
- If quality time is an issue, is he willing to carve out moments for the two of you where his conversation and thoughts aren’t consumed with work-related topics?
- If he supports the two of you, are you prepared to sacrifice time for increased earning potential?
- If he has an erratic schedule, can you be flexible and make plans with the understanding that they might be pre-empted? Will you resent him for cancelling on you in favor of work?
- Can you work on joint projects to increase time spent together?
- Do both of you regard the relationship as important? Can the two of you make the necessary compromises?
Ultimately we can’t control what people choose to do for a living. If he loves the very job that you hate, it’s unfair to expect him to change career directions. The onus is yours to decide whether or not you can handle the circumstances. Or you could hang in there to see if things change. You know your breaking point better than anyone.
Just a little food for thought . . .