Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Busy Schedules Hurting Romance

DEAR NATALIE: I have been dating this woman for a few months now, and while we have a great time together, we don't really see each other as often as I would like, and it is hard to build a relationship through text messaging. How do I explain to her that while I know she has a busy schedule (she is a surgeon, and I work in finance), I really want to make sure that we make time for each other if we are going to grow as a couple? -- DATING A DOC

DEAR DATING A DOC: It can be challenging to date someone with a hectic schedule, especially when you, yourself, are very busy. It sounds as if you really care about her and your relationship or you wouldn't be stressing over this. Try a little "meta-communicating" to help things move forward. "Wait, what's that?" So glad you asked. It's communicating about your communication. Sound a little weird? It actually can help anyone's relationships improve. The next time you are together, talk to her about how the communication between the two of you could be better. Explain to her that while texting can get you through the day, it is important that you connect with each other in meaningful, substantial ways. Whether that's a 10-minute phone call at the end of the day or early in the morning, or whether that means no phones when you're together at dinner, there are ways to improve how you spend your time.

She may just say, "Look, this is my life. I'm busy. I have a crazy job. Take it or leave it." In that case, you may ask yourself why you want to be in a relationship, and why you're putting yourself in one with someone who seems emotionally unavailable as well as hard to reach. You may realize that maybe her lifestyle and yours just aren't a good fit. Relationships are so much more than just being in love (or lust), and you need to have the same vision of the future to have any hope of it lasting. However, if she acknowledges that her schedule is insane and would also like to spend more time together, find out now. If you are on the same page, get on a schedule for communicating regularly through the day and make solid plans to see each other at least twice a week. Sounds lame, but trust me, it will benefit you in the long run and help you stay close even when you are miles away.

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)