To all the men and women who are in a relationship with a partner who is always busy with work, I want to remind you of one simple thing: You deserve to be more important than your partner’s job.
I’ve seen countless couples whose relationships are void of intimacy and emotional closeness because one partner, often the man, is too consumed by their job while the other partner continually justifies their partner’s unavailability and convinces themselves they’re perfectly happy. Not surprisingly, the more emotionally involved partner is unhappy and dissatisfied.
This isn’t just my observation. In fact, a few studies into heterosexual relationships found that the men often gave priority to work and lacked emotional commitment, leaving the majority of emotional work to their women. These women were deeply disappointed with the lack of intimacy in the relationship and expressed a desire for an empathetic partner. What’s interesting about these studies is that they were actually published back in the 1990s and 2000s and the reason why these women accepted coming second to their partner’s job was largely because they were dependent on their partner financially.
It’s over 20 years ago now. Nowadays, women have more rights and economic power while men have less pressure to be the breadwinner and are more encouraged to share emotional responsibilities with their partners. Thus, there’s almost no reason that a modern man or woman accepts such an unhealthy relationship dynamic.
Really, Why Should Relationships Be Prioritised Over Jobs?
The most obvious reason is that intimate relationships are healthful while workaholism doesn’t only deteriorate the workaholic’s wellbeing but also negatively impacts relationships and causes work-life conflicts. When the workaholic is the man, it also perpetuates gender and power inequality.
Fancy some evidence?
This Harvard study found that, regardless of social backgrounds and life experiences, more socially connected men are happier, healthier, and live longer. They also have sharp memories well into their 80s if they’re in a securely attached relationship. The findings were also presented powerfully in this famous TEDTalk.
Another study on happy marriages found that “being married could improve your likelihood of surviving a heart attack and is associated with reduced length of hospital stay.” On the other hand, workaholism has been found to be linked with work stress, regardless of gender, and negative states, “such as anger, contempt, disgust, guilt, fear, and nervousness”, which are further linked with anxiety and depression.
Also, if you look up common regrets in life, working too much and not spending enough time with loved ones are usually at the top.
Ok So — What Does “Being More Important than Your Partner’s Job” Mean?
Simply put, you deserve to be your partner’s first priority. You deserve to have your partner’s time and full attention.
Calls can be missed, meetings can be rescheduled, but if something serious happens to you, your partner should drop everything and be by your side — you deserve to expect this.
When you and your partner’s job are weighed against one another and you’re in a serious, committed relationship, you deserve to come before your partner’s job. Jobs can be changed to accommodate building your life together.
Your partner should show up for you and important events in your life. They should not brush off or undermine your feelings. They should share emotional responsibilities with you — you should never feel like your emotions are a burden. They should willingly make time for you, honour your plans together, and factor you in their decision-making. When you’re together, they should be 100% present.
Don’t settle for less.
Spot the Emotionally Unavailable
If you’re still early in the dating process, you need to watch out for signs of emotionally unavailable people including workaholics and people who identify themselves with their job, use their job to fill an emotional void, or are obsessed with power. These people are likely to have major intimacy and ego issues. And don’t bank on them changing — it’s borderline delusional.
See, if your partner keeps rescheduling or canceling dates with you or they always answer emails and calls while on a date with you, they do not respect you and your time. If you feel like you can’t freely express your emotions with your partner or your desire for closeness is not satisfied, your partner is not emotionally available or committed to you.
When you let these behaviours slide, you’re telling them it’s okay to disrespect you and your time and you’re okay with a relationship void of intimacy.
As you continue to be together, the dynamics of the relationship will likely be set as such and you will always come second to their job and who knows what else. They might have millions of things to do just because and making time for you might be the last item on their list.
Remember that if they don’t respect you and your time, they won’t respect your needs — Ditch them.
Bring the Same to the Table
The same goes for you.
If you want someone who prioritises you and is emotionally committed to you, you should be willing to put them first and be emotionally healthy yourself.
Often times, people are drawn to emotionally unavailable people or generally accept poor treatments because of their own psychological issues — for example, low self-esteem or having an absent parent. So, if you find yourself repeatedly getting involved with this type, you should take a step back and investigate your inner working. You might need some self-work before you’re ready for a relationship with an emotionally committed partner.
On the other hand…
If you’re the busy one and your partner doesn’t expect to be your first priority or care whether you’re emotionally open or not, you should be wary of who you’re dating because they might not want you for you. They might have already checked out of the relationship and had their needs met elsewhere.
The Key Takeaway
Relationships are good for you and working obsessively hard often leads to more issues than benefits. You don’t want to be one of those people who reach the old age and wish they had paid more attention to their relationships.
It’s not too late. You can develop new relationships and reap the benefits of nurturing your existing ones now.
When it comes to love, you should find a partner who has the same values and priorities as you and, in the context of this article, it means understanding the importance of intimate relationships on wellbeing and life satisfaction.
You deserve to be your partner’s number one priority. Don’t be afraid to ask for this.