A Complex Equation for Love

She’s fallen for a scientist with a specialty in absences, and how to navigate the choppy post-divorce waters when it comes to friends.

Q: I'm in new territory here and need some advice. I'm a professional female with a challenging career, friends and interests. I'm one of the most independent, non-clingy chicks out there. I'm dating a scientist who isn't just a workaholic -- he sincerely LOVES his job. I guess if I was that intelligent and creative I'd be that passionate about what I do, too. So I get that -- I really do.

dating a mad scientist

He's the scientist, but you're the one going mad.

Unfortunately, due to his schedule of travel and lectures all over the world, we have only been able to spend a night every couple of weeks, which has made it difficult to have anything develop. He has admitted this has been a challenge for him in the past. I honestly think he's been doing it this way for so long that he doesn't know how to find the right balance between work and personal life. Should I just continue to enjoy his company and see how things adjust naturally? Or should I just consider him a fantastic person but destined to be a bachelor and move on? -- Stuck on a Scientist

A: Guess what Friends episode I happened to watch last night: the one where Phoebe runs into David, that geeky-sweet scientist she’s madly in love with, while he’s in New York for a conference. These two quirky characters had something really special, but David decided to take a potentially career-making job in Russia. Despite the crackling chemistry, the distance ultimately kills their chances.

Unless your scientist is inventing a way to clone himself, I’d hypothesize that you’re headed for a similar fate. He has told you his work schedule has been a problem, and it’s not rocket science to see that’s a gentle way of saying he’s not ready to slow down anytime soon. (That could happen one day, but I wouldn’t bet my lab coat on it.)

If you can handle dating him on those terms, go for it. But remember that being independent and non-clingy doesn’t mean you have to put up with less than you deserve. There are plenty of other guys out there who will both light up your Bunsen burner and be stoked to become part of your life, complete with its own friends, interests and challenging career.

Q: My two friends are getting divorced. Basically, the guy wasn't providing for his family (wife, two boys), and the wife got tired of it. Anyway, they're both my friends but my question is how do I remain friends with both of them? Do I tell them I'm not taking sides? -- Friend in the Middle

A: Yessirree, you do. But you also realize that when you hang with them in this raw, wrenching time leading up to and after the Big D, no doubt you will be hearing all the details. Just try your best to arm yourself with a bevy of non-judgmental responses: “I know how hard this must be for you,” or “I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this” and especially “Umm hmm. Yes. I understand. Here, have some more wine.” The idea is to be supportive without judging or alienating the other.

And despite your best intentions to remain as neutral as a Rooms to Go couch, in the end you’ll likely end up closer to one of these friends. That’s just part of the gnarly aftermath of breakups.

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