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?
No, 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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