Restless Romeo: Dating as a successful lawyer in Hong Kong is awful. I earn good money, but have no time to spend it. I have a great home, but come home alone. I have a successful career, but no one to work for. I’m happy with my career, but my personal life depresses me. I’m so lonely and unhappy outside of work. When I was younger I used to mask it by partying all the time and having as much fun as I could. But it feels empty to me now. I want something more. Maybe I am a hopeless romantic, but I want to be able to dedicate my career to supporting a loved one and looking after a family.
Easier said than done though. I work very long hours, sometimes all through the night, sleeping at work. I’m expected to be on call for my most important clients, even at weekends - actually the idea of a weekend means little to me right now as I’m normally working, even if just from home. And work frequently requires my attention without notice even when I’m not in the office. Sometimes I don’t even have the chance to warn a date that I can’t make it.
This all makes it impossible to sustain a relationship. Even if someone can tolerate my erratic work schedule, I can never make fun plans or even commit to spending quality time with anyone. I have no friends outside of work, and my family is currently not talking to me because work made me miss my sister’s wedding, which I’d booked time off for a year in advance but couldn’t attend when the firm’s top client demanded me in another country. So, how can I find a partner who will tolerate my work?
code-R: Stop whining and smell the roses! You’re overlooking some key advantages you have that very few are able to enjoy. For a start, you’re in the ascendancy of your career and have the sort of power, wealth and success that most of the rat race spend their whole lives fantasising about. But crucially, this achievement isn’t actually what you desire most in life. And that gives you some resilience to make the tough choices that will allow you to take more responsibility for your life.
The thing is, you’re placing the blame on your empty love life on work. Yes of course, your work is everything you described - but the responsibility for both your work life and your love life lies solely with you. Your work is dominating your personal life only because you allow it to. If it is dominating your life to the point where you cannot build a stable long term relationship, then you will have to put your money where your mouth is and commit to your love life as much as you say you want to.
Inevitably, this will cause some conflicts with work. How much conflict depends on the midway point you choose between love and work. Perhaps at first, you may be able to get away with some minor and infrequent limitations on work. But at some point, especially if a relationship starts becoming more serious, you will have to start choosing between work and your partner.
Which do you want more? You cannot give 100% of your time and attention to both, so you have to decide what the balance is. If you truly want to focus on love and family over anything, that might very well mean having to climb down the career ladder to make it realistic.