I’m a pretty busy guy, and I’m guessing that you, like many modern daters, are pretty busy too. Between my day job, writing, and podcasting (you’d be surprised how long it takes to edit 15 minutes of audio), it’s hard for me to find time to go on dates. I’m guessing that you’ve probably got a lot on your plate too. So many of us are trying to balance working long hours, engaging in activities that keep us sane, and social demands that dating is often something that we’re “too busy” to do, or to do it well. But you know what, I think you can do it. But it’s gonna take some work. Here’s how to do it:
1. Share or take the initiative to plan
First things first, anyone can take the initiative to do the date planning. I don’t care what your gender, or sexual orientation are, you should also be involved in date planning. Especially if you’re a busy person. I get that for some people, having someone take the initiative is a signal to you that the person is a high-value romantic interest. I get it, I really do, but if you’re someone whose schedule fluctuates, or you’re meeting someone for the first time and they have no clue what your schedule is like, it makes it incredibly difficult for someone to plan a date to see you. If you want to go on dates, but you’re the busy one, either share some of the initiative on date planning, or take it on entirely. It’s incredibly easy to plan a date with someone who has a ton of free time, but if you’re someone who has very specific, very short windows of time when you are free, having someone throw out date ideas until they finally land on a time, place, and date that works for you is silly. Date planning shouldn’t be one big game of pin the tail on the donkey.
2. Plan around your busyness
Whether you work in the service industry, medical professions, or engage in a bunch of extracurriculars with non-traditional hours, there is a way to plan around your schedule, whatever it might be. It might take more effort put into planning for you than it would for the average person, but it’s not impossible. In my experience, this has been my best approach to planning around busyness, especially busyness that changes frequently. First, come up with a tentative plan that can be implemented once you figure out when you’ll be free. i.e. Not sure when I’ll be free but let’s go to this restaurant I’ve been dying to try. Next, once you do figure out when you’ll be available, settle on a date and time. Third, go on the date. Rinse and repeat, until desired results.
3. Remember: What keeps you busy isn’t more important than what keeps them busy
I’m one of those lucky people who has never had a job where I HAD to work more than a 40 hour work week, but I know plenty of people who need to do this to keep their job. I’ve always tried to fill my before and after work with my own passions, and while they might seem trivial to some, they are really important to me. This blog, my podcast, are REALLY important to me. So while my busyness because of my blog and podcast might seem trivial, to me, they’re no less important than someone else who is busy because they work 16 hour work days.
What people do with their time, and what matters to them, is no less valuable than what you do with your time. It doesn’t matter if you’re busy because your job is demanding, and they’re busy because they’re helping a friend move, both are equally as valid. The value of what people do with their time is subjective, and just because you like to keep yourself busy by attending book clubs, and the person you’re dating likes to game all day with his friends, doesn’t mean that their busyness is any less valid than yours.
4. Follow through with plans, or cancel ASAP
This holds true for anyone, but especially people who have busy or shifting schedules. If you’re especially busy, it’s possible that the person you’ve planned to go on a date with has been waiting weeks or months to see you. If you can, try to avoid cancelling at all costs. It sucks to be cancelled on, especially when you’ve waited for a while to go on a date. If you do need to cancel because hey, things happen, cancel as soon as you know you need to cancel. Let me repeat this for emphasis. If you do need to cancel, do so as soon as possible.
5. Make time when you can
As busy as you might be, you probably have some free time in your day, or your week. Sometimes, you have to make a hard choice with how you use your free time. I’m a busy guy, but if I like someone, sometimes I have to make a hard choice between going on a date with someone, hanging out with my friends, or vegging out on streaming television. I’m sure you’ve got a dozen other things you could be doing instead of going on a date but at some point, you have to make time. If you workout every night after work, you might need to skip a day to go on a promising date. If you do all your meal prep on Sunday night, but that’s the only night you’ll be free, maybe that’s a sacrifice you’ll have to make. Odds are good that you don’t work 7-days a week, 16 hours a day, so you can probably find SOME time if you try hard enough.
6. Set expectations
We all get busy from time to time, and for a lot of people, when they’re busy and why they’re busy varies from day-to-day. Maybe their work schedule changes, maybe the hours they need to work in a day shift from time to time, or maybe they need to work late on a moment’s notice. Nothing wrong with any of that, but more often than not, the people in these situations do a poor job of setting expectations. Perfect example, one day I had a date scheduled with a woman who worked in field where she’d get busy and have to work late at a moments notice. We had a date planned for 8pm, which she needed to push back to 8:30pm, then 9pm, then 9:30pm, then finally 10:00pm. When she finally did arrive, my issue wasn’t that she had to push back the date. My issue was that she told me she was running late, rather than telling me that something came up at work and that it was an emergency. Instead of setting expectations, she made it sound as though she was on her way out of the door, when she was really wrapping up a project. Had I known that, I probably would have headed to a bar to wait for her, rather than waiting outside her office for 2 hours.
Even if you have the sort of job or responsibilities that change frequently, or on a moment’s notice, you probably have a general idea of how long you will be busy if something comes up, or if something is likely to happen. Sure, sometimes things come up that you can’t foresee, but if you have the sort of job where you sometimes need to work a 12 hour day, you should tell people that. If you might suddenly have to cancel a date because you’ll need to work til midnight, odds are good you’ve had to do that before at least once, to warn people about it. If you wont know when you’ll be free until an hour before a date, tell the people you want to date about it.
We don’t all have the same sort of busyness, but all have a vague idea of what to expect when we do get busy. You should tell the people you plan to date what they should expect. It can be as simple as saying “let’s plan to meet at 8pm. Just a heads up, sometimes I need to work late due to my role. If you’re okay with planning to meet at 8pm, just know that I might have to push back when we meet the day of. Sound good?”. I’ve dated plenty of people who’ve done this, and while it’s never fun to have plans pushed back at a moment’s notice, setting expectations shows that at the very least, you’re trying to be as considerate as you can.
7. Be flexible
I’ll admit, there have been some dating rules that in my past, I’ve been very inflexible about, that as I get older and busier, I’m starting to reconsider. I’d recommend you do the same. Years ago I’d never go on a brunch date as a first date and you know what, I went on one this year that worked out really well. I used to swear off coffee dates but who knows, maybe they are actually a good date when you’re schedules are crazy. Maybe a lunch date could work for you? Maybe a weeknight or weekend date could work? The rigidity you’ve built up over the years, the little rules you’ve made that make it harder for you to date, maybe loosen them a little since you’re so busy these days.
…and that’s really it. I’d write more but honestly, I’m really busy right now 😉
Good Luck Out There.