You sincerely want to find a lifelong mate, really... but your schedule’s so jam-packed you just don’t have a moment to spare. Sound familiar? No question about it, dating is time-consuming. As a dating coach, I hear complaints all the time from men and women about being too busy to carve out the time required to invest in the search. The excuses include: I’m too busy at work, I’m too busy being a single parent, I’m too busy traveling, exercising, commuting, fixing my house, etc. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s how to refocus on love with four tips that will help you find more time to date — and be more efficient doing it.
Tip #1: Find your number
How much time for dating do you really have? How many minutes or hours a week? The right way to find your number is to ask yourself this: If you were in a serious relationship with a great man or woman, how much time would you spend together talking on the phone, emailing, having lunch or dinner, driving to his/her house, going to movies, cuddling on the couch, etc.? Add it all up... maybe it’s 20 hours per week? Then that’s the amount of time you could — and should! — carve out to search for someone. Most people just don’t make the time to spend on their love search, but surprise, surprise: They suddenly find that time when they meet the right person.
Tip #2: Challenge your perspective
Most people ask the wrong question. They ask, “Given that I’m working 70 hours per week, how can I find time to date?” But working 70 hours per week does not have to be a “given.” Seriously. No matter who you are, no matter how big and important your job is, no matter how many people depend upon you. The right question (for your happiness) is, “I want to make finding my mate a priority, so I will spend 20 hours per week on dating-related activities. Given that commitment, how can I scale back at work in the short term?” A good reality check is to look around you and evaluate how many hours others are working or doing similar tasks, such as parenting. Are you working so hard to keep ahead of schedule? Then why not work only to keep on schedule (or, gasp, even a little behind!) instead of ahead? Do married people leave the office at 6 p.m.? If so, why can’t you? The key is finding a balanced perspective that physically and mentally allows you more time to date.
Tip #3: Try the triage approach
In hospital emergency rooms, patients are treated not on a first-come, first-served basis, but rather based on whose ailment is in most urgent need of care. This “triage approach” can be applied to dating as well. What area of your life is in most urgent need of care? For most singles I know, it’s their dating life. Especially if you’re a woman and want your own children, you know the truth is (now don’t shoot the messenger…) that your biological clock has an expiration date and your career (or home renovation, travel plans or whatever) doesn’t. If you want to find your mate quickly and efficiently, you have to make dating your #1 priority. Put those plans and projects that are keeping you so busy on the back burner for now. Really. You’ve been conditioned to put everything else first before your mate search, but by using the triage approach, you can decline taking on that extra work project, postpone changing those kitchen cabinets and fly to Australia on vacation for three weeks next year.
Tip #4: Stop wasting your time!
In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. The dating world has a similar motto: it’s all about efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. You have to be extremely vigilant about not wasting your time when you’re looking for The One. Dating efficiently does not mean you should just be going through the motions of “getting out there.” It means no dating or flirting with unavailable candidates even though they’re very cute — no married people or people who are in committed relationships, no singles who really want kids when you really don’t. It means not going to a party with three friends and standing in the corner talking to them all night (go alone, you’ll meet new people, and the evening will be more productive). It also means not falling in love with an online fantasy for months; when you connect with someone online who seems promising, meet within two weeks and make sure the reality is as good as the fantasy. Because you’re busy, you have to constantly monitor that you are putting your limited time to the best possible use. That attitude will help jump-start your love life.
Rachel Greenwald is the author of Find a Husband After 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School.She is also a dating coach and matchmaker. She is a frequent guest on The Today Show and has been featured in many magazines, from Oprah to People.