“I’m too busy to date right now.”
We’ve all heard it and most of us have said it ourselves. While it is very likely true that you are busy, if you really want to meet a man—or have a relationship with one—you can make time to date.
So let’s operate on the premise that you do want to date, or even get married. How do you reconcile this desire with the fact that your career is crazy and making time to date sounds like a pipe dream akin to training for a marathon or cooking home-cooked meals?
So I decided to ask some of the busiest people I know: entrepreneurs.
Meet my friend Kara Eschbach, Verily‘s co-founder and editor-in-chief, and Juan Pablo Segura, CEO and founder of District Donought in Washington D.C. They’re your typical twenty-something entrepreneurs, running from one meeting to the next and not always sure when home is work and work is home. But Kara goes on more dates (and to cool classes) than most women I know, and Juan Pablo is crazy about his girlfriend. How do they find time?
01. Decide to prioritize.
With your hectic schedule, getting around to dating when you feel inspired means it will rarely happen. Kara told me that having an active dating life means deciding you will. “Make a conscious decision that this is a priority in your life,” says Kara, “otherwise you will always put it off till next week, or next month.”
A good way to do this is to ask a friend to hold you accountable. Tell your friends about your decision to prioritize dating and maybe even enlist her as a wingman at social events or as your Wednesday night online dating buddy—open a bottle of wine and respond to those unopened greetings from the mysterious men in your inbox.
Juan Pablo’s trick to prioritizing his relationship? Be attracted to the person. You may roll your eyes a little at this advice, but there is plenty of truth to this.
“This might sound like a joke,” Juan Pablo explains, “but what I mean by that is if you’re constantly finding excuses to not be with a person—like work—then there’s definitely something wrong with your relationship.”
Juan Pablo explains that even though there is always more work to be done, he is always trying to be as efficient as possible during normal office hours so that he can spend more time with his girlfriend.
Which isn’t to say you have to be wild about every date you go on. Give men you might not feel that initial “spark” with a chance—afterwards, if you find that you would rather stay home and do work than see your date, then this might be the reason your determination to “get out there” has dwindled. And don’t be afraid to switch up your strategy. Take a break from online dating if you are just not feeling it and try something else, like set ups or professional matchmaking (Kara will tells us all about that another time!).
02. Make Goals.
Sometimes the prospect of “getting out there” can feel daunting. But Kara says that, just like tackling a project at work, she also finds it helpful to set goals for her dating life.
“My brother offered me a really great perspective,” says Kara. “He pointed out how, in our career, we make goals and we acknowledge that there are tangible things we need to do to make that happen. If I want a promotion, I need to work on certain projects; if I want to make a career switch, I may need to develop different skills. There is no reason why we shouldn’t apply this same principle in our dating life.”
So what is your five-year plan for your love life? Would you like to be engaged? Married? In a healthier emotional state than you currently are? Once you have that figured out, break things down into small pieces. Kara explains that “smart goals” are less about the outcome and more about the action. For example, instead of setting the goal as “I’m going to have a boyfriend at the end of the year,” challenge yourself to go on one date a month for six months.
03. Be flexible.
The biggest challenge we face is simply finding the time to date. Too often we are boxed in by the way we think about how we should be dating. But both Kara and Juan Pablo have found that being flexible about what a date looks like has helped them to make time for it in their busy schedules.
“In a former long-distance relationship, I had to think outside the stereotypical weekend dinner night model,” explains Kara. “Because I had the flexibility to work remotely, sometimes I would travel mid-week so that we could hang out on a Wednesday night.”
Both Juan Pablo and his girlfriend travel a lot for work, but they find time to see each other in all of the little times in between. ”It doesn’t always have to be a romantic dinner or an extravagant gala or show,” says Juan Pablo. “What we do plan are small lunch or coffee breaks to say hello. Even these small things demonstrate how much she means to me.” Experiment and find what works for you. Be open for lunch dates, mid-afternoon walks, or even grocery-shopping together.
At the end of the day, you know what’s best for you. If you just don’t want to date right now or maybe you don’t want to get married, that’s ok! But the moral of this story is that if you want a love life, you always have time—it just may mean shuffling life around a little bit.