5 Signs Your Work Is Messing Up Your Love Life

Licensed Clinical Social Worker By Nathalie Theodore, J.D., MSW, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Nathalie C. Theodore, J.D., MSW, LCSW is a lawyer-turned-therapist located in Chicago. She received her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington, and her master's in social work from Loyola University, Chicago.

Ever started a fight with your partner after a bad day at work? Or maybe you've been so consumed with your career that you've put dating on hold altogether. If so, you're not alone.

Like it or not, our personal and professional lives are often intertwined, and it can be difficult and daunting to separate the two, to find a way to cultivate a healthy mode of compartmentalizing.

Sure, it's only realistic to accept that our jobs may very well impact our relationships. But our stress levels shouldn't be running our love lives. Often, we blame work without thinking about how we might be contributing to the problem as well. It's time to shift the paradigm.

Sometimes immersing yourself in work is a convenient excuse for avoiding aspects of your life that you're less satisfied with.

If you’re having trouble leaving work frustrations at the office, or feel like balancing career and relationships is a ridiculous pipe dream, read on for five signs you’re letting work interfere with your love life.

1. You’re not making time for a relationship.

Let's start with the obvious: working all hours of the day and night doesn't leave much time for love. If you’ve given up on dating because you're swamped, or you're in a relationship but keep missing time with your partner because you're putting in overtime at the office, think about reevaluating your priorities. The truth is that your priorities are ultimately in your control.

If you want a relationship, simply start making time for one. And if you're in a relationship but keep choosing work over your partner — no matter how understanding your partner may be — you're still missing out on quality time together. Decide what's important now so you can make the changes you need for better balance in the long run.

Work may occasionally require you to put in late nights and skip out on social events, but if you're regularly at the office until 10pm, think about the choices you're making that are keeping you there so late.

2. You’re using work as an excuse to avoid relationship issues.

Focusing on your career is great, especially if it's a career you enjoy and feel passionate about. But sometimes immersing yourself in work is a convenient excuse for avoiding aspects of your life that you're less satisfied with.

Whether you’re using work as an excuse not to date because you're afraid of getting hurt again, or you're putting in long hours to avoid a relationship you’re dissatisfied with, get really curious about what it is you may truly be avoiding.

Hiding out at the office may provide a temporary escape, but it's not a long-term solution. Acknowledging your relationship concerns will give you a sense of control over the situation so you can approach it more proactively and move forward.

3. You’re letting work affect your self-esteem.

The unfortunate truth is that sometimes our colleagues don’t treat us with the respect we deserve. If you find yourself feeling defeated at work more often than not, that sense of inadequacy and self-deprecation can carry over into your relationship, and/or even cause you to avoid relationships altogether.

While it’s one thing to remove toxic people from our personal lives, it's quite another to avoid these personalities at work. In fact, sometimes it's impossible (a hyper-critical boss, a competitive coworker, and so on). So, set boundaries where you can, but remember that you can choose not to take these at-work dynamics so personally. How someone treats you is a reflection on them, not you (and certainly not of your love life).

4. You’re putting too much pressure on your relationship to "save" you.

If work is making you miserable, you may find yourself slipping into an increasingly codependent dynamic with your partner. Specifically, you may be relying too heavily on your relationship to counteract your unhappiness at work, and constantly find yourself looking to your partner as your sole source of joy and fulfillment.

Even if you have a great relationship, it's unreasonable to expect that one aspect of your life can meet all your needs. So recognize if you're putting pressure on your partner, and decide to release your grip. From there, you can try to find some balance.

Start by considering whether there are small changes you can make at the office to increase your job satisfaction. If not, it might be time to think about applying elsewhere or even making a bigger career change. In the meantime, make self-care a priority to take the edge off your work stress. Pick up a new hobby or revisit an old one, commit to regular exercise, and schedule quality time with friends so you can find more balance in your life.

5. You’re taking work stress out on your partner.

After a particularly stressful day at the office, it can be difficult to switch gears and enjoy an evening with your partner. As a result, you end up venting about work for hours or, even worse, lashing out at your partner for forgetting to take out the trash, when a demanding client is the one you're actually upset with.

If this sounds like you, think about adopting more productive outlets for your frustration. Stop by the gym after work and take it out on the treadmill, or sweat it out in a hot yoga class.

If you're constantly venting to your partner about work, consider seeing a therapist or career counselor who can help you manage your work stress and determine what changes you need to make for a more satisfying career (and relationship) in the long run.

Work can be an easy scapegoat, but taking the time to examine the choices you're making with respect to your career and relationship might offer some much needed clarity, and help you find better balance.

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