The guy I'm dating is studying for a certification and pretty much said that’s his biggest priority for the next few weeks and that his free time will be dedicated to studying. Should I be offended? Understanding? How should I handle this? —Anonymous
It sounds like the guy you’re seeing might be studying for a test to advance his career, which means you’re dating a man with some ambition.
Should you be offended? No, boo! You should be happy. Do you know how many messages I receive from women (and men) who complain about partners not making any effort to advance at work, or even work?
If you’re interested in getting to know this man better, what you don’t do here is flip out. Yes, it’s frustrating not to have the same amount of attention you may have been getting from him, but being upset about this temporary situation will reflect poorly on you. It will seem as if you’re not supportive of his goals and, equally bad, as if you don’t have and haven’t had any goals yourself—otherwise you would get where he’s coming from.
Surely you’ve had to buckle down and focus to study for an exam or complete a project at work, right? So you know that getting ahead requires some sacrifices, including your social life. Would you want someone pressuring you to hang out and be frivolous while you were trying to accomplish a goal? If you would not, then don’t do it to someone else. Also keep in mind that for most people, a partner who doesn’t understand sacrifice or who would be selfish enough to demand attention at a critical time would be a gigantic turnoff.
If you want a chance to see this guy you’ve been dating after he’s taken his test, you should be, for the most part, understanding of his situation. I like that he’s been forthright about what’s going on. Keep in mind that his studies won’t last forever. Tell him that you get it and that if he ever has time for a study break, he should give you a call.
If he’s been attentive while you’ve been dating thus far and you think this situation might lead to a commitment in the long run, then offer to help him study sometime. All he has to do is call. If he’s been really amazing until now, you can drop off dinner at his place (assuming you’ve been there already) once. Other than that? You wish him well and tell him to look forward to celebrating when he passes. That line is really important. It shows that 1) you’re supportive, 2) you have faith in him and 3) you’re looking forward to seeing him again.
After that, leave him alone until you hear from him again. Is there a possibility that you won’t? That he’s lost some interest and the exam is an excuse to put space between you? Yes. You’ll know if that’s the case if you never hear from him over the next couple of weeks. But if he’s interested, you will hear from him sooner rather than later.
Yes, he’s buckling down to study, but no one studies all the time. He will take study breaks and have a night off from time to time. If he is interested, he will call or, at least, text. He will miss you. I promise. And you don’t have to do anything for that to happen.
While he’s studying, what you won’t to do is check your phone and run down your battery waiting for him to call. You will call your girls and you will go out (even alone) and have fun. You are a single woman who is not in a committed relationship, so you will not sit idly by acting as if you are.
You should also be dating other men or, at the very least, meeting them. Who knows what could happen? Keep your options open.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. She is also a blogger at SeeSomeWorld.com, where she covers pop culture and travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “My Boyfriend Claims He Won’t Display My Picture at His Job Because That’s Something Only Husbands Do. WTF?”