Too Busy For A Relationship? It’s Not His Problem!

This is article #24 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

This week’s article contains an incredibly important message. Entitlement culture today is greater than ever, and success in one area (our careers) can often lead us to think we deserve something in another (our relationships). Steve breaks this down and shows that no matter how successful you are at work, you’ve still got to do the hard work of keeping your partner happy if you want a fulfilling relationship.

(Photo: Ed Yourdon)

Enter Stephen

I’ve met many extraordinary women at Get The Guy events.

I’ve seen women who are managing successful careers, who manage to juggle multiple high-pressure demands and who are world leaders in their fields.

And at some point in the event one of them will usually stand up and say the inevitable: “Matt, this is all great stuff, but I just don’t have time to invest in a relationship with a guy.”

To which I immediately wonder: Then why on earth did you give up a day of your life to come to a seminar on attracting guys?

I don’t think the unique problem today is that people want it all. I think that’s been true for at least the last few decades. It’s also understandable why people want it all. Consider what we might call the modern Holy Trinity of Fulfilment:

(A) A successful career
(B) An exciting lifestyle (friends, hobbies, travel etc.)
(C) Extraordinary relationships

Who wouldn’t want all of these things?

The problem today is that many people not only want it all, but they want it all entirely on their own terms.

And that’s when things get selfish and unrealistic.

I get it. We’re busy people. We’re used to being able to get what we want ‘on-demand’ according to our own schedule. We’re used to having the option to pause the new episode of Game of Thrones when we want to go fix ourselves a sandwich.

But relationships don’t conform well to this model. Because a relationship won’t wait for you while you decide whether or not you have time for it.

Relationships and people have no pause button. They move on. They change. They react and shift according to the input (or lack of input) they receive.

Yet it’s easy to find lots of people, particularly busy people, who want to apply the ‘on-demand’ attitude to love: They want a relationship, they want attention, they want excitement and romance, but they want it all ENTIRELY ON THEIR OWN TERMS.

Most of all, they want an extraordinary relationship without doing the work of being an extraordinary partner.

Why Success Doesn’t Entitle You To A Great Partner

Many busy people like the idea of a ‘luxury’ relationship – something they can rent on a whim like a hotel, where they are pampered with all the beautiful aspects of life but with all the bad bits ironed out.

I’m not singling out women for this attitude, as this tendency is just as pronounced if not more so in career-driven men, who see casual relationships as merely an injection of stress relief into their hyper-driven lifestyle.

What’s particularly disturbing is the way this kind of person shows utter disdain when you suggest the joy of contributing to a relationship. Things like cooking a meal for their partner, looking after them when they’re stressed or ill, or planning some time to meet their family or take them somewhere special, seem to fill them with revulsion. They groan at the idea of putting in effort, as though it were an annoyance they need to work around to get to the ‘good part’ i.e. sex, validation, and someone to keep them company.

This person views every part of the relationship through the eyes of a shrewd investor. With every kind act they think: What’s my return going to be for going this extra mile to please my partner? Do I have to?

My advice to someone with this mindset (which is absolutely your right to have) is simply this: Maybe a close relationship isn’t for you at all!

I notice a lot of career-driven people tend to view success in their job as an entitlement to success in other areas. They think because they have worked hard to achieve a lot of material success, suddenly they also deserve an amazing partner who tends to their every need. But investing in one area of your life does not entitle you to returns in another area.

It’s like the old-fashioned 1970’s husband who says his wife has no right to complain because he works hard and puts dinner on the table every night, as though that excuses him from being a crappy and inattentive partner. Or it’s like the young girl who spends all of her time only working on her body and her looks, filling her days with makeovers and shopping and beauty treatments, and then wonders why smart, successful men don’t take her seriously as anything but a casual fling.

I’ll say it again: You can’t invest ALL your time in one part of your life, and feel entitled to returns in other parts.

See, I think you can have it all in life. At least, you can have a wonderful relationship, a fulfilling and successful career and an exciting lifestyle, but you have to give a hell of a lot in order to achieve it.

For many people, this is too demanding. To which the answer is: just become less ambitious in one of these areas. Cut back on one of the three and be happy in your decision.

But most people don’t want to do this. Most people want to continue having it all, without investing the amount required to get it.

If you barely have one day a week you’d be willing to spare for a great relationship, then just stop aiming for a great relationship. It won’t happen. It’s like wanting a million dollar company but saying you only have three hours a week to contribute to building it.

I don’t have some secret formula to solve the problem of how to have everything. Balance is always difficult and takes constant refinement. The way I see it, if you are currently stuck in the ‘too busy’ mindset, you have two possible options:

Option 1. – Just focus on your career – For those who are too busy for a great relationship right now, there’s no shame in it. The only thing you have to do is take the guilt off, and accept that while you’re 100% focused on work, you’re only going to be able to have a part-time partner. Be honest with yourself and the guys you date to save disappointment later on.

Option 2. – If this article has brought greater awareness to your desire right now for a relationship, cut back on the time you spend on your career – This doesn’t mean jeopardize your job, it just means that it’s time to accept that you have to allocate your mental energy differently if you want BOTH a career and a great relationship.

The best way to do this is to decide what it is you want, and then work backwards from that vision in how you list your priorities in your day-to-day life. Your daily priorities can shift over time, but you have to be clear in how they’re helping you work towards your goals. Some weeks you’ll have to go crazy and plough every resource into your career, and that’s ok, as long as in the weeks after that you’re going to devote extra time to nurturing your relationship.

One thing that’s certain: if you’re not even trying to balance, failure is practically guaranteed.

If nothing else, just remember: you can’t devote all your time to one thing and expect to deserve everything.

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29 Replies to “Too Busy For A Relationship? It’s Not His Problem!”

  • The photo of this is a little strange. Either this woman has an uncentered nipple or a massive stain on her boob

  • I agree people think that they deserve a really great relationship without even working at it. You can’t have anything in life without working at it. And a lot of relationships fail because once a person has done the work to get a relationship they become too complacent and don’t work at keeping the relationship

  • I think you are spot on here. I have direct experience of this and I have often thought that some people are not suited to more than casual relationships. I’ve had meals cooked that were not up to Michelin standard or suitable at ridiculous times of day and night go straight in the bin! The house, me, everything not looking perfect not acceptable.Real life is not like that and if one just wants romance and roses in what looks like a hotel suite every time it suits then maybe a girlfriend/boyfriend casual hook up is going to fit the bill.
    The best meal I ever had was plum tomatoes on toast cooked alongside and together, chatting and really enjoying each other’s company.
    It all starts with being totally honest with yourself about what you want and what you can offer.
    Kathryn x

    1. I’ve had meals that I have cooked be thrown in the bin and other such awful selfish behaviour. My sentence made it look like I did the throwing away, lol. My reply also makes it look like I can’t cook, since when has tomatoes on toast been a meal?

  • This is spot-on. Before I met my husband (thanks, Matt!) I was dating a guy who was much too busy for me. Even in his breakup email to me (yes, he broke up with me via email) he said that he hoped we could meet up for coffee and talk about him dumping me after his job settled down a little bit. I knew his job would NEVER settle down, because it was his priority, and I told him that. Point is, I totally agree, people need to be honest with themselves–if you don’t have time for a relationship, don’t try for one. If you want one, make time for it. I would have respected him much more if he’d just told me from the start that he didn’t have time for a serious relationship, instead of stringing me along and then ending it via email.

    1. Wow – that is one ‘busy’ guy! lol You’re right though: it’s also good to be able to spot signs in someone else that they’re too busy for a relationship and won’t be a good partner early on, then you save yourself a lot of crap.

      All best Erin. And congrats on meeting your husband! ;)

      Steve x

  • Yeah, I guess moderation is key for happiness in life and it has to be maintained and that’s enormously hard. I wonder how people who have kids do that.

    And I think this ‘too busy’ mindset that single people have comes sometimes from an insecure place, because having a relationship puts you at risk of getting hurt and all that.

    And when someone is in a relationship and still is too busy for investing in it, I don’t get it. Because if you love someone, then you want to make this person happy, and you will find time to do that, no matter how busy you are.

    1. Yea that’s the other side of the coin: when being ‘too busy’ is your excuse for hiding away because you’re scared to be out there. Seen countless people in that trap.

      Thanks for flagging it up,

      Stephen x

  • You hit the nail on the head, Stephen! People *will* find and make the time for things that are important to them. Whether it’s a relationship, a work-out routine, or meditation. If finding someone profoundly significant is a priority, then most people will move stones (and eventually the mountain) to find it.

    Lovely work as always =) Keep it up!

    . . . You don’t really hit the pause button during Game of Thrones, do you!?

    1. I only pause to answer the door to the pizza guy. That’s allowed right?

      Thanks Shae (loving that you’re named after one of the characters as well)!

      Steve x

      1. Yes, I suppose that’s allowed ;) The far greater crime would be not to watch/read at all!

        Thank you! It’s my small coincidental “tie” to the series. Now if only I could meet Richard Madden or Kit Harrington . . . !


  • For a long time, I was choosing Option-1. I was focusing on my career and spending several weeks a year on travel. But I had no relationships or exciting life apart from travel. It was a rational choice. I had decided that I had control over my career and no control over my personal life. After all, in my studies and in my work, the more effort I was putting in, the better outcome I was getting. In relationships it was the other way around, the more I liked the man, the more painful it was. As Matthew tells us, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I was not insane, and so I was choosing what was working for me.

    But Matthew also cites Oscar Wilde that success is a science, if you have the conditions you get the results. After I read Matt’s and Steve’s book and listened to their programs, I learned these conditions and became interested in putting them in practice. Relationships started looking like a rewarding project rather than fits of masochism.

    And so I am working on creating relationships, which means that I am doing the “work” of Option-2. So far, it’s been fun.


    1. Great to hear Victoria! And I think you make a really good point – the ‘work’ we put into our careers is not the same as the kind of ‘work’ we put into relationships. We can’t just put in more effort and get a result, relationships are more subtle and require learning different kinds of skills of empathy and attraction which don’t all correlate purely with effort.


      Steve x

  • Hi Stephen
    Once again a great article from you. I agree with this totally and ask myself these same questions and try to be honest with myself. I only wish others would also be more honest with themselves.
    I believe that although there is a growing number of successful women who feel this sense of entitlement, it is mostly successful men I see who behave like this. Traditionally men have been the bread winners and a great amount of importance is placed on a man’s level of success as it enables him to not only have more choices but to make the best choice as well as keep it. A lot of women will forgive bad treatment if a guy is high status and successful.
    The same is true for beautiful women. They feel entitled to a great relationship simply because of their looks even when they have nothing much to offer. However, beauty and youth do fade over time (unlike success, which can increase) and therefore, this behavior is stronger in men. Successful women have it worse because for a man a woman’s success seems to be even less attractive, even prohibitive when it comes to romantic relationships.
    Both groups are able to get away with this because people let them. I have seen men worship the ground beautiful women walk on and women worship successful men at any cost.
    I don’t understand why.

    1. Hi Kish,

      I am never convinced of the “success in women is unattractive to men” argument – I think a confident, independent woman is attractive to men, but I don’t think that always has to be in the form of career success (though having fulfilling work can be a good indicator of these qualities). I certainly don’t think more and more success means more and more attraction though by any means.

      Men are attracted to beauty initially (i.e. good grooming, being fashionable, nice skin, fit and healthy), that’s true. But as I’ve said in a previous article, that only gets you to a certain stage:

      I think with success or beauty both are able to get someone attention, but as I show in the article I just linked, much more is required to get someone of quality for the long-term.


      Steve x

  • The question I want to ask you all is-
    is it wrong to feel entitled (not necessarily to a great relationship) but a man who is equally strong and successful, educated, well traveled, cultured, well-behaved, polished etc. if a woman is like that herself?
    Is that too much to ask or is it unfair?

    1. Just because you’re successful in one or more aspects of your life doesn’t strip you from your right of having a blissful relationship with someone equally successful chica ;)

      1. Well, what about having standards?
        Yes, one is not entitled for a relationship without taking the time and work for building it. But with whom you invest all this energy, aren’t you? One should be entitled to pick a partner with traits that fit your standards. Am I so wrong?

  • Olé Steve!
    PS: When you say you don’t have a secret formula I say WRONG! hahah “The best way to do this is to decide what it is you want” IS the formula, it’s the ‘stick’ holding the balance so that none of the sides falls off!
    At least that’s how I see it… The problem rises when we forget to spare some time to the person holding that stick; that is to say ourselves. ;)

    I’m deffinetly printing this one for my beloved workaholic dad. yep.
    Wonderful job once more! Thank you annnnd Keep rocking!

    1. Hey Randa,

      Yes you’re right. Ultimately, the only solution to balance is making choices to prioritise the important things in your day. It’s also crucial to remember to schedule “important” things (i.e. meeting people, seeing family and friends) on your to-do list instead of just “urgent” things (i.e. everyday work demands like emails).

      Hope you’re well!

      Steve x

  • How is it that it’s supposedly an article by Stephen, but it’s Matt who talks in first person about his experience from get the guy seminars? Weird….

    1. Hi edith,

      I do work on some of the Get The Guy Seminars and Retreats, so I speak about my personal experiences from the perspective of someone who works alongside Matt and meets the women at the events. I should probably make that clearer in the article though so it’s not confusing.

      All the best,


      1. I think the real question being asked here, Stephen, is “Are you Matthew’s imaginary friend?” Your presence at the same seminar could be explained by a combination of bilocation and clever disguise.

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