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Sex + Relationships

My Boyfriend is a Tradesman: On Dating Someone with a Busy Schedule

I will be the first to confirm that dating someone who is always busy can be difficult, especially when you are working or finishing school from home. They have limited time to spend with you, which might eventually leave you feeling neglected, lonely, restless, and even unsure as to whether they value your relationship as much as they claim. However, there are ways to thrive within a relationship with your busy partner.

I began dating my boyfriend almost nine months ago. He is a welder, and as a tradesman is forced to balance a physically and temporally demanding work schedule. He gets up at 5 AM every morning and doesn’t get home until nearly 5 in the evening (Mondays and Tuesdays, he leaves again shortly after this for his three-hour classes). After his long and arduous days, he is exhausted and, if we’re lucky, will barely make it through dinner and a shower before falling asleep. Further, his job is extremely dangerous and every day there’s a chance he might not make it home.

I became aware of these details as soon as we started dating. We’ve pretty much lived together since. It can be a struggle. I, a college student five years his junior, spend most days at his house completing virtual assignments and helping with chores where I can. It can get lonely without him, and scary thinking he might not come home. At times, my insecurities get the best of me. I worry whether I am enough and whether, compared to my boyfriend, my hobbies and aspirations are interesting or sufficient; whether the work I do is of equal value or worth being proud of. However, it is important to realize that everyone has their own journey, none inherently better or worse than another. I am my own person with my own aptitudes, and am navigating life at my pace. 

I choose to be with my boyfriend knowing the battles he fights and the challenges that come with dating someone in his profession—and the support is mutual. It is a blessing when both people in a relationship can come to support each other without judging their progress against one another and combine the distinct lives they lead. 

When you begin dating someone, ask them about their obligations, priorities, and values. Understand their level of commitment to your relationship. Then, think about the risks involved and make a decision. Know that it is not your job to control your partner’s lifestyle choices (and frankly, why would you want to?). Your job is to be aware of your own limits and choose whether you want to be a part of that person’s life. I love my boyfriend unconditionally. I genuinely want him to be happy, healthy, and successful to his own standards. It is an amazing thing when someone you care about has dreams, goals, and interests that they are passionate about, and those are never things you should sacrifice for someone else or expect another person to sacrifice for you. Take solace in the fact that when they have such a busy schedule and still make time for you, you must truly matter to them. 

Having a steady stream of communication about each of your needs and keeping your significant other grounded when necessary is essential. I, myself, have been in relationships where I wasn’t able to maintain a bond with someone with a schedule half as busy as my current boyfriend’s. This was mainly because communication wasn’t going both ways. 

Use your time apart to tend to your own interests and self-actualize. Look forward to and make the most of the time you have together and help each other grow. Part of this is addressing issues that arise. Talk about what isn’t working for you. If it seems like you are seeing less of them, they aren’t attentive when they’re with you, the way they treat you is changing, or they’re adopting bad habits, bring it up. That way, they might offer an explanation, you can come to a compromise, or they may even realize and admit that their effort has been misplaced or their priorities are beginning to falter. You are in this together, and if they care about you, they will want to have these conversations, be accountable, figure out a way to navigate these challenges to improve your relationship, and come to a solution that suits both of you better.

When you truly love someone, you accept every part of them, celebrate your differences, and vow to build together amidst both of your flaws and the challenges your differences may pose. Each person has the responsibility to assume the best version of themselves. Together, you are a team. Neither of you will ever be perfect, but it’s through being honest, constructive, and respectful of each other as individuals that you prevail. 

My boyfriend is a wonderful person. He has a big heart; he’s thoughtful, genuine, smart, funny, and ambitious. One of my favorite things about him is how passionate he is about his work. It’s part of his identity. We don’t always agree on everything and have many things to improve on. But we both try our best to balance an effort to satisfy our own needs with an effort to help the other person reach their potential. His busy workdays just make the time we do have together that much more special to us. 

If your relationship with your busy partner is falling apart, it’s likely less because they are busy and more because one or both of you is failing in the communication department. Both of your needs deserve to be met, and feelings considered—someone who truly loves you has your best interests in mind, and vice versa. If this is not the case, they just might not be right for you.

Savannah is currently a senior at Wells College. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in creative writing.
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