Your career Vs your girlfriend, it’s the battle to the death. But who will win? Which will you end up quitting? The answer should be neither, but sometimes it really does feel like you have to pick one or the other. Let’s look at how you can manage having both a successful career and a happy relationship.

First – compartmentalise. Your professional life and your personal life are two different things. They should stay two different things. What you do at work and what you do with your girlfriend really shouldn’t overlap, unless you’re a dominatrix and even then it’s a bit risky.

When you’re at work, focus on your work. Sure, you can send a text on your lunch break, but don’t let texting or missing your other half get in the way of the quality of your work. You’re in work mode. Nothing can penetrate that bubble of deadlines and achievement.

When you’re with your girlfriend, be there 100%. Sometimes work needs to be taken home, and that’s ok. But when you’re spending designated “couple time” with your other half, don’t let your work become the third wheel. Put away your phone, ignore anything unless you’re on call, and show your girlfriend that right now, she is your #1 priority.

Second – Time management. Both your career and your girlfriend will demand time from you. Both need proof that you’re dedicated to them. Time management isn’t just about saying “I will give this amount of time to my career, and this amount of time to my girlfriend every single week.”

It’s about being flexible and being able to plan around things. If you know you have a big deadline at the end of the month, make sure to book in more time with your girlfriend at the start of the month. If you know your girlfriend’s parent’s are visiting a specific time, book a day or half a day off work to show them around and spend time with them.

Make sure you plan your holidays around both work and personal life. Plan a get-away after the end of a super busy period of work, to make up for the time you’ve been preoccupied away from your relationship. Come back after a holiday re-energised and ready to rock.

Third – Knowing what you want. Different people have different priorities. Some people want to climb that ladder, have an amazing, super successful career, or become famous and those people need to know they will have to put more time and effort into their jobs, which may not be perfect for keeping a high maintenance relationship.

Some people work to live, and care more about the time off they get with that special someone. They value their time with them more than anything, and so would come to resent a time-demanding job that requires them to be on call or available outside of their normal office hours.

Deciding which you want more will help you determine how time manage and how to prioritise. There is of course a balance of having both a good, successful career and a good, successful relationship, but you have to understand what is expected from you from both, and whether or not you can meet that demand.

Fourth – Communicate. Communication is key in both your career and your relationship. If you know you’re going to be very busy with your job, tell that to your girlfriend. Tell her in advance so that she won’t be surprised by your absence. Tell her so she can plan her schedule accordingly.

If you’re being given too much work that you know you can’t handle, tell your boss. It doesn’t mean you’re not a good employee if you can’t deal with everything, by not speaking out, your boss won’t know that they need to delegate tasks better. If there is an event you need to go to, make sure to tell your work in advance that you’ll not be available then.

Finally – Know when to quit. Not everything ends in happily ever after. Sometimes you’ll come to realise that things just aren’t working out for you. If your girlfriend doesn’t understand you, and is upset by your commitment to your work, maybe it’s time to let her go. If you know you don’t want to change your lifestyle for her, then tell her it won’t work. Because it won’t.

If you job is getting in the way and your girlfriend tells you she’s had enough, and you realise losing her would be the biggest mistake of your life, maybe it’s time to change your job. That doesn’t mean you’re going to quit, you can see if you can talk to your company and see if there’s anyway to lesson your work load. If it’s not enough, and you really do prioritise your girlfriend more, then you need to find a job that will let you spend the time you want with your girlfriend.

  • NeilW

    I do not understand how come someone barely out of their teens, who is supposed to be full of the trivialities and inconsequentialities of youth, is so blessed with simple, straightforward sense.

    This piece is uncomplicated, easy to read and understand, well-structured, and profoundly helpful to someone in the early stages of career and lovelife. I have nothing constructive to add to what you say, it pretty much sums up everything which needs to be said.

    Only problem is you’re going to have to publish your advice book under a pseudonym, pretending you’re a 45-year old counsellor, to lend it perceived gravitas!

    • Harriet Sugarcookie

      Thank you! I’m incredibly flattered that you think my advice is helpful! I think keeping things simple and straightforward is the best way, because relationships have a way of complicating all by themselves without us having to add more to that.