People are busy these days. Between family commitments, demanding jobs, hectic travel schedules, and — you know — actually trying to have a social life on top of all of that, it can seem nearly impossible to squeeze dating into the mix.
And for lots of people, saying you're too busy to date could just be a coded way of saying, "I'm not interested in dating right now, but since much of society doesn't believe that's a good excuse, I'm just going to say my calendar is too full." But for those who actually want to date, but struggle to find the time to actually meet people, a stacked calendar can make that prospect seem impossible.
It's a good idea to first take a look in the mirror and make sure that you're actually a person who does want to date, instead of one just using the idea of being busy as a wall. "We can all rearrange schedules for things that we really want," says Jessica O’Reilly, PhD, sexologist and creator of the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. "If Oprah called you tomorrow and asked you to lunch, you're probably going to find a way to make it work." It's totally fine to be prioritizing the other things in your life over dating at the moment. But your inability to skip Thursday night drinks with your pals in order to squeeze in drinks with the babe you met on Bumble last week might actually be an unwillingness to rearrange your schedule. "I don't think you need to apologize for that, either," Dr. O'Reilly says. "Just be honest with yourself."
If you and your potential S.O. work near one another, you can scoot out for a quick brew to get to know one another.
However, if you are someone who really does want to make room, but finds yourself bogged down with plans, you can start by taking a look at your schedule. "Dating takes a conscious effort," says Dawn Michael, PhD, a sexologist and relationship expert based in California. "If you are so busy that you make yourself unavailable, then the theory is you're going to stay unavailable." The easiest way to open yourself up is to build in time that you make no plans, says Dr. Michael. You might consider keeping one night a week free as your "date night" — and if you don't happen to have a hangout planned that night, just take the evening to spend some time decompressing solo.
Dr. O'Reilly says you can also reconsider what the term "date" actually means. "You don't necessarily have to meet for dinner," she says. "Dating has shifted to 'hanging out,' so you can meet for a quick, simple coffee instead." Dr. O'Reilly is actually a fan of the mid-day coffee first date. If you and your potential S.O. work near one another, you can try to leave the office for an hour for to get to know one another. Or, you can factor them into your workout routine by inviting them on a mid-week run or a walk around your local park. "You can think beyond the traditional 'dinner and drinks' date," she says.
Another easy way to sneak a date in? Bring them to something you're already going to. "You can say, 'Hey, I'm meeting friends for happy hour. Do you want to come with me?'" Dr. O'Reilly says. "Or offer to meet them at the bar you're going to anyway an hour before your friends show up." (Though if you go that route, make sure you give enough buffer time so that your date doesn't get crashed by your friends.)
The point is, if dating is something you'd like to prioritize, you might have to consider shifting things around a little bit. "Everybody has a responsibility, if they want to meet someone, to make that time," Dr. Michael says. Being busy is great — but finding time to also fit in the things you want to do can make those crazy times seem even better.