The Dangers of Dating a Workaholic

The red flag signals that you might be dating a guy who loves his work more than he loves you … and how to handle when happy hour with colleagues turns into a confessional.

Q: I've been dating a guy who is always, always working. He's way over-committed to his two jobs. So, I never ever get to see him. Which is a shame b/c I really like him, but he's canceling at the last minute and not calling and the whole spiel. So, I decide I've had enough. He likes to text, so I text him: "You're clearly pushing me away. Let's take a break and stop the insanity." The text didn't go through. Argh! Right after that, I get this text from him saying, "Babe, I really appreciate your patience. My life is kinda crazy and it means so much to me that you're sticking with me. Love you, sweetie." He's a wonderful guy, but I NEVER see him. We haven't had sex in two months! What should I do? -- Neglected


 
Office space

Spend too much time in the office, and your love life will look like this. (Photo credit: Flickr/Matt Wharton)


A: It’s pretty simple: Either you accept that he’s a workaholic and deal with it, or accept that you can’t deal with it, and go forth accordingly.
 
I know what you’re thinking – that your failed take-a-break message, followed by his emotional textclaration of love, is the gods telling you to hang in there, right? Interesting timing, I’ll give you that. As is the fact that as soon as I started writing this response, Cake’s “Never There” happened to come on the radio. A few of the lyrics: “Never there, you’re never there, you’re never, ever, ever, ever there.” Even if you’ve never heard the catchy little ditty, that should sound familiar.
 
Let me put it this way: Take out the part of your letter about what your scarce sweetie said – via text, mind you – and what do you have? A lot of actions (canceling dates, not calling, no sex, text-o-holic tendencies) that are making it very clear you’re not even on the back burner — you’re shivering from frostbite in the backyard.
 
The only ray – wait, sliver — of hope I have is that if one of his jobs is temporary. Otherwise, you’re dooming yourself to a role as an afterthought, not a priority, in this relationship. At the very least, though, you’ve already got a built-in date for any Halloween parties on your social calendar: the Invisible Man.
 
Q: I'm confused and somewhat creeped out by this, and I hope you can help. There's a guy from work that I've gotten closer to over the last few months, just platonically. There's a few of us from the office that have semi-regular happy hour gatherings (that's how we met). He and I live pretty close also, so we've run into each other outside of those too. I really enjoy his company. Although he's quiet and reserved at first, after a few drinks he loosens up and has a wicked sense of humor. (There are no romantic feelings on my part, though, and he knows this.)
 
It was after some drinks one night (just me and him) that it happened … he confessed that he's never. had. sex. (I don't know his exact age, but I would guess it's mid-30s.) I was so caught off-guard that I jumped up and went to the bathroom, and then made an excuse that I had to go to work early. We've had lunch since then and never spoke of his confession since, but I feel sort of weird that he would tell me this. I mean, what in the devil does he want me to do with that information? Is there anything I can do to salvage what had been a good friendship? (Oh yeah, I just reread this and I guess it's important to note that I'm a girl.) – Wish He'd Kept Quiet

 
A: I’m confused. I guess I thought a good friendship was one in which friends could share personal stuff with each other. Maybe what you meant to ask is how you can turn this back into a casual or professional friendship?
 
More on that in a bit; first, some thoughts on possible motivations behind his confession. I don’t think he wanted you to drag him home and deflower him like a horned-up cavewoman. I also imagine the booze played a role, but perhaps the simple fact is that he’s short on friends. Maybe he was feeling empowered after watching The 40-Year-Old Virgin, or maybe he wanted input from a woman’s perspective. Whatever the case, if you can reframe the situation as evidence of his trust in you, and not an attempt to lure you into the sack, maybe that will ease the creep-out factor.
 
But I can’t help wondering what the big deal is anyway. I mean, you “really enjoy” his company and “wicked sense of humor,” so why should this tidbit, personal as it may be, change that? It’s not like he pulled out a laptop crammed with kiddie porn or that his virgin status doesn’t apply to his relationship with his dog, for Pete’s sake. If anything, a little more compassion could go a long way.
 
Still, if the damage is done in your eyes, then cut off the post-work socializing. And, for next time, remember that when you move a friendship beyond cubicles and conference rooms and add alcohol, the result is often conversation that goes beyond TPS reports and which schmuck is eating the leftovers in the break room fridge.

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