When Career Interferes with Relationships

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-30-2009
When Career Interferes with Relationships
Sun, 07-07-2013 - 4:36pm

So.... here's the short version:  The man I have been dating has had a wonderful career (what most would call a dream job) and turned 40 last month.  The thing is, as a semi-pro athlete, 40 normally marks the END of the career.

When we started going out, he informed me that his "schedule" had caused issues with past relationships (the other women basically grew weary with coming second to work), and though I was willing to accept the challenges that accompanied his career choice, I am seeing a much different side of the situation now.

In a futile quest to prove that he still "has it", he has chosen to take on additional conditioning sessions, meetings with teams (to see if he can find someone who will accept him at his age), meetings with sponsors, etc all at the expense of us spending time together.  I have tried to be understanding, but dealing with the constant disappointments of cancelled dates and being put on the ba\ck burner ALL THE TIME has started to take its toll.

To make matters worse, he has had offers to coach or work in other areas of the field, but he refuses to entertain those ideas.  I told him that I would never ask him to chose between his career and me but he says he deosn't want to lose what we have (which is nothing right now).

I don't want to break up with him, but it's clear that this pattern will continue and I would feel awful if he made a decision to keep me happy only to resent me later, and the prospect of waiting indefinitely until no one wants the old guy or he gets hurt (and the subsequent  backlash from that) is not appealing to me at all.  Besides, it's not fair to ask me to wait in the wings for something that may or may not happen.

(sigh)  This is hard...

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 07-07-2013 - 5:20pm

I am surprised that someone who is "semi-pro" could actually make a good living doing that.  I'm just thinking of baseball players who aren't in the majors, for example, who make very low money.  But the real issue is that he isn't treating you with respect.  I'd say that the only kind of profession where it should be acceptable to cancel dates is one where you actually have real emergencies like doctors or police.  He should be able to know his schedule in advance.  I also wouldn't like the mentality of "if I have time, I'll fit you in."  I think in that kind of situation where someone works a lot and I"m maybe thinking of a CEO who might not have much time off, I'd say that I'd date him casually but it would really be impossible to be in a relationship with someone like that.  So the question is what do you want?  Even though it seems like it's not that great a decision for him to rule out coaching in his quest to keep playing, you're right that you can't tell him what to do.  But you can tell him what is acceptable behavior to you--like, it's not acceptable to me if you constantly break dates with me or if you won't make any time to see me.  Now you see why he couldn't keep a girlfriend.  And if he knew that this behavior caused a lot of breakups, but yet keeps on doing the same behavior, I guess he hasn't learned much from that or he doesn't really care if he has a GF or not.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-25-2013
Sun, 07-07-2013 - 10:35pm

If you are frustrated, unhappy and unsatisfied the majority of the time in a relationship, it means it's not right for you. I know how you feel. I was once in a one year relationship with a man who worked 60 hour weeks and only had Sunday off. He went to bed early, woke up early, and was so exhausted by the time Sunday got there, he usually had a headache and just wanted to watch t.v. I like to go out and do things on my day off. Work was always his priority, and I could see the results. His grown daughter didn't speak to him. He had no guy friends. I was frustrated and unhappy. I can't believe I stayed with him that long. 

Life's too short to not be getting things we need. My goal was to have a companion to spend at least twice a week with. I finally met my future husband who set up dates with me 2 or 3 times a week from the get-go and called me everyday, several times a day. It was so great to be a priority.

Free yourself up so you can achieve the relationship goal you wish for yourself. I predict that when no one will hire this guy, he's going to go into a depression since his ego and only job he's ever known will dwindle away. He also doesn't have the sense to see that he needs to evolve in a new direction that's still in sports but in another role. He's a person who doesn't make wise choices both in his career or his relationships. What you see is what you get. You can do better.

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Mon, 07-08-2013 - 6:06am

So what are you hoping for by staying? That he'll suddenly decide you are more important than his career? You're No. 2, and will be as long as you stay in this relationship. He made that abundantly clear to you at the start.

So my question to you is: Why settle for second place?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2001
Tue, 07-09-2013 - 11:41pm

How long have you been dating him?  

I think you got really good thoughts from the others.  You're not being treated respectfully, clearly are coming in second (as he said you would) and with that, I think you have all the info you need.  You are not the important factor a partner should be, you're #2 and will always be second. Gambling that when his career ends he'll have time for you is indeed a gamble because he's already been clear that you're #2; based on his behavior and mind set there's absolutely no reason for you to rationally think you'll become #1 when his career goes away.  It's more likely that he'll find something else to focus his drive on - that's his personality.  

~ cl-2nd_life

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-30-2009
Wed, 07-17-2013 - 4:26pm

Well, we made the mutual decision to end it last night and I am sooo sad about it.  I voiced my concerns and let him know that I wasn't getting what I needed, and he was not willing to budge at all stating that missed workouts could damage his career and that's what's most important (its sad to see someone who identifies so much with what they do).

He was gracious enough to apologize and admitted that asking me to sacrafice so much while he focuses on his career isn't fair, and he finally admitted that as much as he would LIKE to do both (career and relationship) he simply can't.  It was amicable (I waited until after the conversation to burst into tears), but it still hurts.

In the end, I know it was the best,,, but it still hurts