The working date

I was interviewed yesterday by a Wall Street Journal reporter on the concept of working dates. Does this mean you bring your date to work, as you would bring a son or daughter on those “bring your kid to work” days? Does it mean you agree to have a date where you do chores around the other’s home?

working dateNo, neither of these. It means you have some work that must get done on the weekend or in the evening, yet you also want to see your sugar. Does it work to have a working date? It depends on how you work it.

I’ve had a number of working dates, all with guys I’ve been seeing for a while. So let me share some guidelines:

  • Only suggest a working date when you have built up trust with the guy. It can be off putting if you suggest a working date as the second date, as it implies he’s not interesting enough to get your full attention.
  • Agree that it will be a working date before you get together. Don’t spring it on him as he (or you) arrives, “Oh, by the way, I need to spend a few hours on my presentation for tomorrow. I hope you don’t mind.” Some men will be flexible and watch TV or read a book, but some will resent it as they expected to have your focus.
  • After you explain your need to get some things done, invite him to bring some work or reading. It’s cozy to sit on the couch with your sweetie reading together with some body parts touching. This can even work if you both have a laptop.
  • Accept that a working date may not be what he wants. If you tell him before you get together, he then has an option to do something else for the evening. Don’t take it personally.
  • Set some ground rules. For example, don’t check your Blackberry every 10 minutes unless you’ve told him you’re expecting an urgent email from a client or your boss. If you are at an event or restaurant, if you need to respond, it may be best to excuse yourself to the restroom to take care of business.
  • Agree on an end time. If the deal is take out dinner, work for a while, then watch a DVD, agree upon an end time for the work. If one of you doesn’t honor the end time, the other can understandably get upset. Even if you say, “Go ahead and start the DVD without me,” he may resent that you didn’t honor your agreement. If you really just need a few more minutes, negotiate for that, but then don’t push your luck by going beyond. And unless you’ve been dating a while, don’t try to multitask by watching the DVD and working on your laptop.
  • Be sensitive to interrupting each other. My ex and I liked to read sitting next to each other. We’d often read something that we thought would be of interest to the other. So we developed a simple code: “Tell me when you’re interruptible.” This was not enough to bring you out of what you were reading, or if writing you could complete your thought. When we came to a stopping place — usually within a minute or two — we’d turn to the other and say, “I’m interruptible now” and we could share what was interesting.
  • Let the other know if something isn’t working. If he interrupts you every few minutes, that won’t work. I had a working date with a guy who talked to himself out loud. This was very distracting as I didn’t know if he was talking to me specifically, or just thinking aloud. Finally, I said, “I like that we’re working in the same room, but if we’re going to continue, I need to ask you to not vocalize your thoughts unless you are talking to me.” He understood.
  • Decide how much you will tap the other for input. I dated a former newspaper editor, so I’d ask for his opinion when I was in a quandary about a word choice, or was struggling with how to phrase something. But I made sure to not do this often as he was working on his own stuff.

Have you had working dates? If so, what have you found works?

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3 responses to “The working date”

  1. datexpectations Avatar

    Hey nice idea. I’ve never heard of a working date, but there is some logic to it – particularly if your a busy person.

    Congratulations on your interview with the Wall Street Journal by the way – that’s a great bit of publicity for you and your blog.

  2. Kelly Avatar

    Working date? I would say that was the default state of my relationship with my boyfriend. He started it first. He would invite me over and then he would announce that he had to work on something or other. Or he would say, ‘you can come over, I just need to finish up such and such.’ I always had my own stuff to work on anyway, and so we were always working, because at least we were in the same room and I was enjoying his presence. Then, after a year and a half, we broke up. I had just quit my job to start a business, and just moved to the other side of the bay. He comes over and announces that he wants to scale back and spend more time alone & working, and only see me once a week or so. I realized I wasn’t content to not be a priority in his life, and I didn’t want to be that girl who waits and waits and waits, so I let him go. Lesson: if you’re both really busy people, don’t let working dates become a habit.

  3. Sassy Avatar

    To me a working date isn’t a date at all. It’s a chance to hang together. I just don’t see the need for someone to come over while I’m working. Sure, if I had “one little thing” to finish before we left on a date, that would be one thing. But inviting someone over to basically watch you work is just plain bored and even borderline rude. If you want to date me, date me. If you want to hang out, that’s another story.

    I will say that reading together is a lovely idea. That would be recreational reading, not work reading. And certainly wine and dinner could be involved.