I Want to Have it All, But My Career Suffers Every Time I’m in a Relationship

More than anything, I want to live the life I want—killing it in my career and my love life—without scrutiny or the irritating question of, “But how does she do it?” That said, there’s a disturbing pattern of my career getting shoved to the wayside whenever I’m in a relationship, and it’s making me increasingly worried about the future.

  1. My career has always been the biggest focal point of my life. I know that every kid dreams about their future and what they might do for a living, but man, I’ve been obsessing over this for just about as long as I can remember. For me, it was never a question of what I might do but rather when I’d get officially started. Now as an adult who actively works every day toward my professional goals, my career never quite leaves my mind even when I’m most relaxed. Some may call me a workaholic and others may think my priorities are not where they should be. But hey, it’s just who I am.
  2. I chose to only date casually in college because of my career ambitions. To emphasize just how important my career goals are, I made a firm decision early on in college that I wouldn’t get into any serious relationships while still in school. After all, I worked part-time and was involved with multiple organizations that I was learning valuable professional skills from. I was busy! Sure, there were some really nice guys who maybe could have worked as long-term boyfriends had I let things progress, but I always cut ties early.
  3. Here I am, 28 years old and on my third long-term relationship. After graduating from college, I let my “only date casually” rule slip, and slip it did! While I didn’t exactly intend to date the first two guys for as long as I did (about a year with each), things just kind of worked out that way. Now I’m on my longest relationship yet and there are no signs of stopping. I’m actually really happy this one, but at the same time, three long-term relationships are enough to recognize a pattern when there is one.
  4. I’m finding it really hard to juggle my professional life with my personal one. This has always come up at some point or another with previous boyfriends, but it’s become increasingly difficult as of late. I often try to merge my professional dreams with my love life—working on my laptop while cuddling on the couch with my boyfriend, planning out a workspace in the apartment we’re moving into together, etc. I feel torn between wanting to spend time with the guy I love and wanting to throw everything I’ve got into the career I want. The really hard thing is that I’m not having second thoughts about either one!
  5. I keep losing my focus and then getting disappointed by my lack of productivity. Trying to combine working toward my career with important relationship maintenance almost always results in me losing focus on my work and diverting all of my attention to my boyfriend. While I don’t regret the time we spend together, I do usually end up deeply disappointed in myself at the end of the day for not making real professional progress.
  6. It was easier with my exes because I didn’t care about them as much. As I said, this is a recurring issue whenever I’m in a relationship. Still, I have to say that setting aside time for my career was quite a bit easier with my previous boyfriends because I just didn’t feel as bad when I left them alone. I later realized this was because I was never actually in love with them.
  7. My boyfriend is very supportive, which makes me feel even worse. I feel awful every time I do take out my laptop while with my boyfriend or when I’m running late to meet him because I was trying to finish some work. But while he has gotten annoyed with me a couple of times, he is far and away my biggest personal cheerleader. He really wants me to achieve my professional goals, and that just makes me feel terrible that I’m even writing this article.
  8. Sometimes I wish my boyfriend was more focused on his own career. I occasionally think that maybe the whole situation would be better if my boyfriend were actively pursuing professional goals of his own. It’s not that he’s not a hard worker or even that he doesn’t have any aspirations, but for now he’s just content to enjoy life as is. When the subject of what he wants to do with his life does come up, he often says that his main goal is to just build a life with me. How nice for him. I want a life with him too, but I don’t either of us should be the sole focus of each other’s lives.
  9. I want kids but I worry about what kind of parent I’ll be. When I do think more about my personal life in the future, I honestly worry that I’ll be an awful mother. I’ve known for a long time that I eventually want kids, but when I was younger and more naive I assumed this would be after I accomplished my main career goals. Now that I know life really is what happens while you’re making other plans, I’m terrified that I’ll be one of those super career-focused parents who doesn’t give their kids enough attention as a result.
  10. I don’t want to have to make a choice because I already know what the decision will be. I’m pretty sure my boyfriend knows by now that he should never try to make me choose between him and my career. I don’t ever want to be faced with that decision. I love him, but I’ve also only been with him for a year and a half. My career goals have meanwhile been there my entire life and I don’t plan on giving up on them anytime soon.
Brianna Gunter is an NYC-born Jersey girl now living in the Rocky Mountains. A graduate of The College of New Jersey's journalism program, her work has appeared in a multitude of publications both online and in print. When not writing about life as a millennial, she can be found hiking, hunting for pizza or making new dog friends.