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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

When your S.O. is constantly on the go, is it worth it to wait around or should you find someone with a little more time on their hands? The 4-way responds.

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Dear 4-Way,

I just met someone I really like. Right off the bat, I noticed how insanely busy he is. He’s a professional that works nine to five, he coaches a hockey team, and they practice three times a week and have tournaments every weekend. (And this is supposedly the off season.) I live in the city and he doesn’t, so the distance adds to the problem.

Already, our dates have only been on Tuesdays and Thursdays and they’ve had me staying up really late, which affects me the next day at my job. I am a professional too, and my career is very important to me. I cannot do my job after really late nights, and I don’t want to compromise my work or my sleep too severely, especially when I am the only one making a compromise.

I got really hurt in my last relationship and it has been a while since I’ve dated anyone. He’s the first person I’ve had real feelings for since the breakup. And one of my buttons is getting people’s leftover time. I’m busy myself and enjoy my own space, but I prioritize the person I’m dating. I don’t like feeling that everything else comes before me. I also don’t want the only time I spend with someone to be when we are both tired and when he has spent all his energy on everything else. Should I give it a chance, or should I walk away now? I want to make a decision soon—before our feelings get deeper or before I get really hurt. What do you think? —TB

The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer

There is a bigger issue here than if this is the guy for you—and that is falling for unavailable men. I have learned over the years that I am destined to repeat my mistakes until I accomplish the work I need to do to move on. That being said, I think that you will keep finding yourself attracted to unavailable men until you take a long hard look at why you are drawn to them in the first place. This guy has not been able to meet your needs from the start and I don’t think he will change.

If you want to make space for the right guy, start by making a list of all the people in your life—lovers, family, and friends—who you really wanted to connect with and yet they did not have the time you needed. If you are anything like me, I am sure you asked, and in some cases demanded and begged for more time, to no avail. For some of us, there is something almost sexy about being drawn to someone we can’t fully have. As for your wonderings about this particular guy, granted he may seem like a good one, but a guy who doesn’t make time for you at the start won’t learn to do it later.

The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown

If one of your buttons is getting people’s leftover time, I’m surprised you haven’t already left Mr. Busy-Pants in the dust. Are you a glutton for punishment? Because when someone’s that busy at the beginning of a brand new relationship—when things should be easy and exciting—it feels a little like people are running (or hiding) from some past issue they’ve not yet figured out, with a little “I’m not sure if I’m that into you yet but I’m going to dangle you along until I figure it out” sprinkled in for good measure. And as I said last month (and will continue to say), nobody wants to be Simmering-on-the-Back Burner-Girl. You deserve to be Front-Burner-at-a-Full-Boil-Woman.

Everybody’s busy. But the truth is, if you like someone, you make time for him or her—no matter what, come hell or high water. You deserve someone who wants to give you his or her full attention and is excited about spending time with you and getting to know you.

But before you run like the wind, put your concerns out there and talk about them. Give him a chance. If you don’t ask for what you want, you might never get it. Besides, you have no idea how his past relationships have affected him. A conversation will give you a better idea of this and also help you determine if he intends to change his busy ways. You might be surprised to find that he’s willing to give you more and it sounds like you like him enough to take a chance. (But just one.) Remember, without risk, there is no reward. Damn that Winston Churchill (or whoever said that).

The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox

The one comment you made that stands out the most to me is about you being the only one making a compromise in this relationship. It sounds like, after just meeting him; you are already resenting him a little bit because he doesn’t have enough time for you. I’m going to guess that resentment will only amplify when the season really kicks in and he has even less time for you.

My question is this: do you think you’re getting what you deserve out of this relationship or do you think you’re just trying really hard to make it work? The truth is, you’re already questioning the worth of the relationship, and you clearly state that one of your buttons is getting people’s leftover time. Throw it out on the table before it builds into something you explode about one night over dinner. Ask if this might change at any point. Tell him you enjoy a balance of time with him and time alone but that you don’t feel the scales are adjusted quite yet. If he tells you things will only get worse from here, he’s given you his answer. And you should not be afraid to give him yours.

The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy

(Sound of referee’s whistle) As an advice columnist, I have the power and duty to call dating penalties as I see them—I also have the right to use this whistle, which I’m really enjoying to my neighbor’s dismay. I summon you to two minutes in the penalty box. While you’re in there, I want you to think about some of the things you wrote.

First, I have to clarify. How is it off-season when there are tournaments every weekend and practice three times a week? That sounds like “season.”

Second, you say you’re the only one compromising but that’s not true. This guy is allotting time in his busy schedule for you—Tuesday and Thursday nights. I think you’re higher on his priority roster than you think. He doesn’t have more time for you because he is honoring his commitments made prior to meeting you—as an employee and a coach. Very redeemable qualities. I assume you agree and that is why you have “real feelings” for him.

You want more playing time from the coach? Well, you don’t become a starter by default; you’ve got to earn it. How do you do that? Effort. Show him you understand he’s busy and that you’re on his side. Coaches love team players. Go to his games and cheer him on. Treat him to a quick dinner after practice and then go home so you can get some rest (and so you can function at work).

This will all take a lot of energy but what do you “net” from not trying? It seems you’ve got a guy “on ice” who’s worth the effort. You’ve got a chance to get in the game here after being on the sidelines for some time. Whether it is hockey or dating, you’ve got to take a shot if you’re going to score.

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