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Too Busy for Love

Updated: Jun 12

Overcommitment to other interests may be keeping you from pursuing love.

Most of the single people I know still long for a meaningful, long-term relationship. But they are so overcommitted to other interests and obligations that they just don’t have the energy to pursue one.

They do know that great relationships don’t just happen and they are not available on Amazon. Even if a new relationship seems promising, they don’t have the time, energy, and availability to make it a priority.

Compare that to any other investment—your career, your garden, your friendships, your physical and emotional health, or your financial commitments. To continue to prosper, they require time, energy, interest, and continuous involvement. If you left any of those to maintain their productivity without those commitments, they would stop giving you a return on your initial interest.

The requirements for successful relationship maintenance and growth are not any different. But many people simply don’t have the time to create and sustain them. They have filled their lives with so many other priorities that they cannot allocate the resources to make that happen.

Enter the world of brokering romance. More than 8,000 websites offer up potentially successful relationships. Yet, to take advantage of that opportunity requires several hours each week to do it productively, hours most people don’t have to spare. Hiring a broker to take over that task is expensive and too often a scam.

The result is not a surprise. Many singles would just rather distribute what energy and availability they do have to relationships that are not as demanding. For example, sequential, short-term, exclusive relationships offer excitement without the pressure of too much commitment. They allow people to maintain their freedom to flee if the relationship demands too much, without being weighed down by having to share those decisions with a partner. They just don’t want to hassle with the conflicts of automatic responsibility to another.

As would be expected and understandable, I see relationship seekers losing the skills that are needed to seek, create, and sustain long-term partnering. I see the choices for these short-term, more exciting, and less-burdening relationships chosen more often. I see people give up more easily when the initial passion for a new relationship understandably decreases. I see sequential monogamous relationships as the more acceptable pattern.

Is there a way that intimate, long-lasting, and deep love relationships can develop when the two conflict with each other? Do people have to give up that possibility, or could they develop a different way of life that would allow self-serving priorities to mesh with a full commitment to an intimate partner?

Here are seven behavior changes that are necessary for that possibility to happen:

1. Freedom Within Commitment

If you decide, in advance, that all committed relationships will compromise your individual dreams, you will be hesitant to take that option. But it is possible for two people to be in mutual support of individual dreams as long as the relationship is a priority. Two people who love freedom but miss a partner to share life with can negotiate those choices and needs upfront.

2. Better Time Management

If people want both freedom and the haven of a shared life, they have to embrace better time management, like no longer continuing to waste time doing things that truly don’t matter. Challenging oneself to look at things like spending two hours a day connecting with many people who are not truly friends, investing in people who cannot reciprocate, not prioritizing health and energy over indulgence that then needs time to heal, doing things over and over that don’t work, or living in situations that take much more than they will ever give are examples of ballast that need to be thrown overboard.

3. Clear and Realistic Independent and Mutual Goals

Many people dream of a life they don’t live. Some of that is aspirational and human, but putting energy into an improbable goal and not learning from experience will seduce you into a life that doesn’t work. If you know who you are, what you want, how you can pay for that, and what a partner wants of you, and are brutally honest with those thoughts and feelings, you can negotiate upfront with a potential partner as to whether or not your life will mesh with his or hers.

4. Overlapping and Flexible Roles

To be able to have a life of nonconflicted freedom as well as a meaningful, long-term partnership, you cannot be limited by how you think a partner should behave. People who work together as a team are flexible in how they can support each other without sacrificing what they need to become who they want to be, or who they were born to be. The saboteurs of quality love, like reactivity, unreasonable demands, keeping score, blaming, condescension, blaming, jealousy, or getting even, will drain any relationship beyond repair.

5. Prime-Time Priority

The partners in a freedom-within-commitment relationship do acknowledge and accept that they can expect priority when a true crisis occurs. The relationship must have that safety shield for both to know they matter that much to each other. It is not a martyrdom or resentful sacrifice. Unpredictable hard times happen and require chivalry without scorekeeping.

6. Relationship as the Core Compartment

Committed relationships are not made of different compartments that partners visit to be with each other. They, together, are the main compartment that partners return to at the end of each adventure to make sure it is nurtured and regenerated. Outside experiences bring those nourishments back into the relationship rather than either partner only giving the best of themselves elsewhere.

7. Constant and Continuing Reevaluation and Retooling

Partners who maintain wonderful relationships know that times and desires change and resources may need to be reevaluated as to how they are distributed. They are open to changing things around when necessary and learning new skills that they may have not needed before to accommodate those new challenges. Both partners want the other to fulfill their individual dreams and would never think of tying down someone in obligation and calling that love.

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