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Dating Tips and Advice for Workaholics

When I first began Internet dating, I was a marketing director for one of Milwaukee’s largest construction firms, I went to school full-time, and I was working on publishing a book of poetry. And yet, I wondered, why hadn’t I met the right person yet? It never dawned on me that my crazy, frenetic schedule could possibly be the reason.

I approached Internet dating like another work project. Soon I was emailing and meeting new guys on a very frequent basis. Of course, I always met them somewhere convenient and quick, a coffee shop as my favorite place. I could pop in, chat for an hour (which was always my personal rule) and then be on my way. It was merely another meeting I mentally checked off my ever-growing list of to-do’s.

And sure, the occasional guy would gripe because I’d have to reschedule our dates... and reschedule... and then sometimes, cancel. But hey, I figured, if he can’t understand that I’m a busy girl with a life of my own then he wasn’t worth his salt. Right?

It wasn’t until I had met one man via email, who was slightly older than me, with kids and a business he started up and had recently expanded. He sounded smart and interesting and I was intrigued by his emails. Finally the day came when we agreed to meet. I scheduled the date on my calendar for the next week, but as the date approached I realized there was no way I’d be able to make the time and called him to cancel. He was gracious and we continued to talk on the phone, each time I was anxious to get him off the line because I figured I’d have time to get to know him once we met. We scheduled another date and I had to cancel that was as well – a last minute proposal had popped up at my desk courtesy of my unable-to-please boss.

I’m ashamed to say I rescheduled our date three more times. Then finally, finally a couple weeks later I met him right before Christmas. I had taken the day off work but was going in to “catch up” on last minute paperwork. I agreed to meet him for a quick cup of coffee on my way in.

He was handsome and funny and I liked him immediately. Then he said something that made me stop in my tracks, the needle loudly screeching off the soundtrack of my busy life.

“I just had to meet this girl who thinks she’s busier than everyone else.”

It was said in an amusing, not condescending or rude, way. No doubt my mouth hung open as I said, “Huh?”

Perhaps from his own experience, he said, “You my dear, are a workaholic.”

I tried to tell him, it wasn’t me, it was my stupid job... but he shook his head, instead challenging me to go out with him on a real date as soon as Christmas was over and then not change or cancel. He left it with me.

Try and I might, I never really found the time, and when a month had passed, I was too embarrassed to call him. I got his point, however, and wondered how many times I’d given this same runaround to other men. I saw my life in a different light, and vowed to change my ways.

As it happened, that change was made for me as I was abruptly let go from my job. I found it ironic that the job I’d given so much energy to (not to mention 60-plus hours a week) would discard me so easily. And when I looked my life I saw I had nothing left. I continued going to school, and spent some time working on my book. But there was a change in me. I took things at a slower pace.

I continued Internet dating and this time approached it with more patience. Three weeks later I went on a date with a man that was running late. He called me to let me know and instead of just canceling or rescheduling I hung out and drank my tea and relaxed while I waited. As if by fate, my original date, the one who’d claimed me the workaholic, popped in.

He laughed when he saw me, asked “how’s the busy lady today?” and when I told him I lost my job, he shook his head. I told him “I’m much different now” than when we went out and he looked at me a long moment before concluding that he believed that. He left just before my new date, Andy, showed up, and instead of my “hour and out” rule I stayed for three. We chatted, and in short, I married Andy a year later.

Would I have still met and married my husband if I’d had been the crazy workaholic girl from before? I doubt it. So for all you guys and gals that live with the die at your desk mentality, take note:

1) First Determine If You Are a Workaholic
Any kind of “aholic” works to fill an inner-need by filling it up with something else, and the first step is admitting you have a problem. If you are truly a workaholic you’re probably putting aside your friends and potential mates in favor of work. Or, have you simply fallen into a pattern of working long hours? Did you wind up with a demanding boss and equally demanding clients and can’t find enough hours in the day to satisfy them? Or are you working towards a promotion, and once you get it you’ll be able to slow down? Or maybe you just like being busy. Once you determine the root of the issue you can work to correct it. If you feel like your boss doesn’t understand maybe you’ll have to get a new job. Or maybe you just need to learn to say “no” once in a while.

2) It’s All About Priorities
I’ve heard it said that when someone tells you they are too busy to call, they are really telling you they don’t have a priority to call you. As harsh as that may seem, it rings true as we get older and our lives become busier. Maybe you really don’t need to work the hours you do, but you find it a good excuse to put off potential dates. If you don’t want to meet a particular date, do you use work as your standby excuse? Do you find that you really do have time to do certain things and not others? Sure, work emergencies come up, but you need to realize that you are in control of your life. Not your boss.

3) Make Sure Your Attention Is On Your Date When You’re With Them
Even if you have a demanding job, you’re going to have to learn to balance your work and home life. And if you don’t get this concept down, you won’t have a home life to balance. So when you are with your date, pay attention. Listen. Acknowledge things they say and respond to them. Use the time you are with them to truly get to know them, instead of thinking of what you have to do back at work. Turn off that super-busy switch in your head and relax so they can get to know the real you. When you are at the office, take time during the day to email them and let them know you are thinking of them. Call them. In short, communicate. Yes, it will take effort on your part but all relationships do. And it’s worth it.

4) Take Some Tips From Your Married Cohorts
If you’re single you’ve probably noticed that sometimes married folks have a better deal when it comes to business emergencies. If a project required working late, my married coworkers would have real, honest-to-goodness obligations – picking up their kids from daycare, have to put dinner on, etc. Inevitably I would have to work late while I watched them leave on time each day. Was it fair? The married folks would probably say yes, but consider this – is your life less important? It can be hard to tell employers no when you don’t have to pick up kids from childcare but just really need to get home and do wash. But don’t be afraid to say no. You don’t need to give an explanation, you can simply say, “I’m not available.” Your time is just as valuable as the next person’s.

5) Start Developing Your Life Outside of Work
If the majority of your friends are at work, you need to get out. (This goes double if the majority of your ex’s are people you’ve met at the office.) Spend some time engaging in your hobbies (or finding some, if you’ve really been cooped up at the office.) Hanging out with non-work folks will broaden your horizons and help you to converse about things other than work. Don’t you hate it when someone drones on and on about their job and can’t talk about anything else? You might even meet someone cute and fun that you’ll end up dating.


By: Cherie Burbach, author of "At The Coffee Shop"

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