Too Busy to Date? Learn to Make Time for Meaningful Connections

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It is easy to feel too busy to date, especially when working long hours, rushing to late dinners with friends, and squeezing in workouts at the gym. Here’s how to revamp your mindset and schedule to bring some romance into your fast-paced existence.

Let go of your picture of what dating looks like

You might need to challenge your current views on how dating should happen. Here are three suggestions:

1. Integrate Dating into Your Social Life

Constantly choosing between dating and seeing your friends? Why not combine the two? Andrea Bain, host of the podcast “Single Girl Problems,” points to a client of hers who found love by going on a group date with her single girlfriends and a group of single guy friends. She adds that this is a practical way to date without having to sacrifice the plans in your busy schedule.

“If I was dating right now and I met someone online, I’d invite them to join me on an outing I already had planned with friends — something short and casual like grabbing a drink after work or inviting them to stop into a birthday party I’m already attending,” Bain says.

Group dates have benefits in addition to saving you time. For one, they’re less awkward and less stressful because you don’t have to spend your entire night with the same person, writer Brittany Smith explains. You also get the opportunity to see how someone interacts in a group environment, which can help you see a side of them that you wouldn’t normally experience in a traditional one-on-one date.

This can also work well if you already have a game night or dinner night planned with friends. Inviting your date along can make the entire experience less stressful, especially if your date decides to bring a friend. Babble’s Krishann Briscoe suggests ideas for group first date nights including skating, miniature golf, wine tasting, a concert, or a cooking class.

2. Connect in Casual Moments

Think outside the box. If you don’t have time for long dinner dates, then small lunches, walks, coffee dates, and shopping might have to do, says Verily co-founder Kara Eschbach.

Double up! Meet someone while getting something done –  it can be a good compromise if it works for both people. When the person you’re dating is also a busy professional, he or she will understand your struggles and might also benefit from this model.

3. When it Comes to what Works, Set Your Own Rules

You might be bombarded with your married friends’ lives on social media. Or you might have friends in relationships who see their partners every night. Remember that everyone is different, and what works for you might not be what’s working for them. Your career may be more of a focus, or some of your friends’ relationships might be stale and the sex may have tapered off. Rather than measure what you have against facebook posts or friends’ experiences, ask yourself what’s most important to you and make a plan to see it through. This might mean a relationship where you only see each other on weekends, or one where you have one overnight date and one lunch per week. If it works for you, then there’s no reason to second-guess it.

Letting go of the need to meet expectations and norms can help you realize that quality is often more important than quantity. As the The Lipstick Project points out, it can free up more room to help you figure out how dating can fit into your life, while communicate those expectations to your dates.

Change Your Schedule — and Your Priorities

Busyness has become a rite of passage among modern professionals. The busier you say you are, the happier and more productive you must be, right? Life coach and writer Amita Patil disagrees. She believes that we need to stop glorifying busyness as a virtue in our culture. This is because many of us are busy doing things that don’t make us happy.

For busy professionals, finding time to date will likely mean giving something up. If you want to create more opportunities to meet someone, you have to prioritize it. Priorities are what guide our everyday actions.

Author Frank Sonnenberg explains, “Priorities serve as a guiding star to keep you on course… Every action that you take and every decision that you make will put you one step closer or one step farther away from your goals.”

Are you wanting to date but not prioritizing your search for matches? You’re likely making choices and taking actions that put you farther away from your goals. Part of this prioritization will require that you literally change your plans and cut out aspects of your daily schedule that are demanding too much time. If you’re not willing or able to make great sacrifices, consider carving out a small, consistent block of time for dating. For example, there might be one night a week that you can reserve as your dating night. This night can stay free whether or not you fill it with a date.

As writer Maria Del Russo explains at Refinery29, you can take an evening to yourself to spend some time decompressing alone. And if you do end up making romantic plans, you’ll always know that this is your go-to free day of the week.

coffee date - too busy to date

Transform Your Dating Mindset

Saying you’re too busy to date is an easy way out. Being too busy lets you avoid the potential frustrations and setbacks the dating experience might bring. According to clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D, using busyness as an excuse might even be a coverup for letting in the right person..

On the flip side, when you prioritize dating, you create emotional and mental space for the possibility of finding the right match. Making room in your life will make you more open to dating, relationship expert Betty Russell explains. This will help you to recognize and hold onto your match when you meet him/her.

Russell adds that being vulnerable in the dating process can also help create more space in your life for finding a match. To make time for dating (and have that time be well spent), you must be vulnerable and open about who you are. This will ensure that the time you spend dating is more meaningful, even when it doesn’t work out, author and writer Marisa Donnelly explains. “The sooner you can be open about your past, where you’ve been, what has shaped you, and how you’ve changed—the sooner you’ll be able to have raw, honest, and beautiful relationships.”

Life coach Sharon Stokes agrees. She adds that people should take time to think about why they want to find someone, and what finding a match really means to them.

“We all live such busy lives these days and it makes it challenging to do everything on our to-do list,” Stokes says. “To make sure you’re able to focus on your priorities it’s important you ask yourself the ‘why’ behind everything you do. Once you have a deeper understanding of why something is important to you, it makes it easier to follow through with getting it done.”

Once you uncover why you want to date, your priorities will naturally shift to support this goal.

Although some investment of time is necessary, dating success does not directly correlate with the number of hours you devote. What’s important is that you know what you want, you make at least some time available, and you find creative ways to integrate dating into your life.

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