Pencil me in: How to date someone who’s busy making other plans


File photo. File photo.

In the age of instant communication, everyone is busy. I get that. I am busy too. As a single mom who works two jobs, exercises regularly, has an active social life, attends many cultural events, pursues a few hobbies (salsa dancing, hiking, cooking, “Downton Abbey”), is heading up a major fundraising event, and raising a child who lives at home with many interests and friends, sometimes I feel like I barely have time to breathe. In spite of all that, if I am interested in someone, I make time to spend with them and I expect that in reverse.

However, I have noticed in my pursuit of romance, that there is a brand of single person who claims a desire to have a mate but lacks the room in his schedule to accommodate one. You know the guy; you meet him and then it takes weeks to get together because he has so much going on. Then, between his demanding full-time job, work travel, marathon training schedule, night classes, volunteer and civic obligations, band practice, guys/girls night out, and season tickets (and perhaps spending time with his kids from a previous relationship), he can pencil you in for a 30-minute coffee here or a quick dinner there. After three dates over two months, you fail to determine how you will ever fit into his life—or he into yours.

The most amusing thing about this type of person is how emphatic they are about wanting someone with whom to spend time yet they have organized their life in such a way as to prohibit any real connection. It takes personal time to get to know someone—not just texts and e-mails. It also takes time to get to know yourself so that you will be worthy of a relationship with someone else. If you run across someone like this in your relationship search, here’s my advice: Explain your expectations up front. If you receive an answer like, “Once I am done with night school in six weeks, I will have more time to pursue a relationship.” Then you can ask them to call you in six weeks. If the interest is really there, they will remember. In the meantime, you can be meeting other people who actually have the time.

Mary Burruss is a freelance writer and blogger who thinks moving to Charlottesville was one of the best decisions she ever made.  She writes about art and culture for pubs like Art Times, US Airways Magazine and Virginia Living, and blogs on and  Salsa dancing is the latest in a long string of her passions.

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