Friday, June 29, 2007

The Working Date

I've been waiting for this.

Sue Shellenbarger (Wall Street Journal, 6-28-07, Personal Journal, Work & Family) titles the story, Dinner and a PowerPoint.

She tells us, in case you aren't in the know, that for powerful people, dating now means bringing along the laptop, or more commonly, staying in, having dinner and perhaps a little wine, then working for a nice satisfying stretch before perhaps going out for ice cream. Sex included if agreed upon.

The date, interestingly, is mapped out, which I've always thought a good thing, so that prime-thinking hours aren't wasted. Ms. Shellenbarger quotes Beth Schoenfeldt, co-author of "Ladies Who Launch," saying that entrepreneurs don't really separate work and life so it's best that they find dates who don't stop working, either.

Sounds like a good idea. Matching a date's attachment to work means probably having compatible needs for psychological space, which can work well in a relationship. Of course, I'm always pushing to decrease that need for space, to increase the need for intimacy. But oh well. High powered people might not have time to see a therapy doc, either.

WSJ quotes Ian Kerner, a relationship therapist (my team). who feels that a work date says a lot about a person's inability to put a relationship first in life.

My feelings exactly.

Work is a quest for Money

Not that I'm down on money! It's good, it's important. Work is creative and expressive, too, and it makes everything else flow, except, of course, if a couple's relationship is lacking in other areas. But being able to share work hours can be phenomenal.

It's when one is watching another who can't stop working, it seems, that there's a problem. But when both are happily clicking along?

I think about back to back computing with FD, monitors aglow, only three feet apart, our chairs potentially touching if we move to get a bite to eat. It's a type of work for we're sharing what we know, but it's fun, and we can talk if we want to talk, and we do talk.

So don't get me wrong, I'm not totally against being able to share the same space to do something solitary, as toddlers do in parallel play, by the way, before learning that playing TOGETHER is much more of a blast.

My take is that work is that it's wonderful and necessary, and that all kinds of work, including stay at home work, are equal. Work and academic pursuits amount to the same type of time commitment. If 8-16 hours of a person's day is tied up in work or school, then there's much to talk about.

The real focus in intimacy, however, isn't the screen that's glowing on the table, it's talking. Is it a good thing to relegate your best talk hours of the day to a screen?

Wouldn't it be nice to spend at least half of that time, the better amount of time on the date, talking about families, past experiences (if they're not too embarrassing), issues with George Bush, preferences on toothpaste (don't use some overseas brands, apparently they're tainted), difficulties with friends and co-workers, dreams or fears about having children, fantasies, thoughts about future avocations or vocations, sharing funnies in the New Yorker, or singing?

I'm thinking if you can LIVE together, as in really LIVE, the relationship has a much better chance than if you mostly work and sleep together. Money comes, money goes.

There's only so much time, you know, before time's up.

Copyright 2007, therapydoc


Swan said...

I heard this somewhere in a woman's magazine, oh, at least 16 or 17 years ago and I feel they are words to live by: "Don't be with someone you can live with, be with someone you can't live without."

I accept the rules may have changed - i.e., maybe having the PC there gives content they can talk about - but without some effort this could be a huge block to trust and intimacy. It's very easy to hide behind a screen...

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear! Two thumbs up! As in two people together each putting one thumb up.

In other words, I couldn't agree more.

Midwife with a Knife said...

I have to say that I love my work, and sometimes I feel like I live for my work. Endless source of intellectual stimulation, humility, connection with people, amusement, great stories, etc.

However, I don't think I would want to do dates that involve work. I have this recurring fantasy that one day there's going to be something in my life in addition to work, and well, to work during a date seems counterproductive to that goal.

By the way, nice blog you have here! :)

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you say that people learn the fine art of intimacy in their family of origin -- and that the laptop is just the modern version of whatever obstacles to intimacy existed in the era of our parents, or our grandparents, or our great-grandparents? Lack of intimacy in relationships is not a new phenomenon... but now we have way cool technologies to hide behind.

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