8 mistakes workaholics commonly make in relationships

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a blessing to have a hard working partner. 

However, too much of a good thing is bad. 

So many couples struggle—and some even break up— because one or both of them work too much.

And this is when we should step back and assess how workaholism can be detrimental to our relationships.

In this article, I will share the most common mistakes workaholics often commit, and some remedies on how to make things better.

1) Expecting their partner to always understand

Work is important, and people—especially our partners— will generally understand when we can’t give them much time and attention because of work.

After all, it’s not like we always have a choice. Sometimes, we REALLY have to work.

But the mistake that many workaholics make is in assuming that their partners will ALWAYS be understanding.

As a result, they would stop explaining and apologizing for it…and assume their partner to just be okay about it all the time.

Because of this, they unintentionally make their partners feel neglected and unloved.

What can help:

  • Good communication. If the hard working partner needs to work overtime, they need to explain to their partner why it’s important for them to do so—and be specific about it.

They also need to be apologetic about it instead of expecting their partner to just be okay every single time they go home late or cancel a date.

2) Not giving their partner enough assurance

There’s a limit to how absent one can be in their loved ones’ lives. Go past that limit, and they’ll rightfully start getting suspicious. 

Even if the reason is that they can’t be present because they’re working their ass off, their loved ones will find it hard to believe or empathize, especially if they can’t personally see them working.

If the hard working partner has been working overtime for weeks (or even months), infidelity is definitely something that can cross their partner’s minds. 

It sucks but we can’t blame them. Office romance is a thing, after all. 

This can lead to trust issues if not handled well.

What can help:

  • Transparency and reassurance. The hard working partner must tell their partner in detail what they’re doing in the office and who they’re working with.

It’s their responsibility to do so.

3) Talking about work all the time

Work is nice, and so is money. 

But people don’t generally appreciate being subject to discussions about either of these for hours on end. 

But for some workaholics, work might as well be their entire world, and they can’t help but share their latest pursuits and milestones.

And for that reason, they simply can’t resist making every discussion about work, or how they can come up with ways to earn more money.

This can bore their partner because let’s face it—when you simply want to bond with your partner (after they’ve been away for too long because of their work), the last thing you want to hear is their work.

What can help:

  • Talking about other stuff. It’s impossible for the workaholic partner to not talk about work. So what can make things better is by setting a time limit for work-related topics.

They should instead focus on their partner and ask them what’s going on in their life so they can still make up for the time spent apart.

4) Letting work intrude on personal time

Unless you work in a field where you must always be on call—like if you’re a surgeon or cop—you’re not generally expected to answer to work off-hours.

 In fact, it can be illegal and put your employer in hot water.

It’s bad enough that many employers don’t care for this and call their employees off-hours, the problem is that workaholics take it to another level by doing it themselves.

And in doing so, they’re basically throwing away what little time they could and should actually spend with their loved ones. 

Imagine going on a date with your partner, only for them to get a phone call and start filing paperwork instead.

Their partners might be able to see that, yes, they’re busy with something important, but this also breeds resentment if it happens often.

If they have kids, their kids will also remember just how unavailable they were, too.

What can help:

  • Being unreachable. Turning off company phones, not checking emails, and not giving personal information like home address or social media accounts to colleagues.

Of course, if possible, avoid working in or volunteering for positions where there’s a need to be always on call.

5) They skip on important events

There are things in life that we simply can’t miss out on—birthdays, weddings, graduations, funerals, New Year’s Eve. 

And then there are those moments that simply can’t be missed like a child’s dance performance or a medical or personal emergency.

But workaholics often bury themselves in so much work that when these events come, they often have to choose between attending them… or to continue working.

And unfortunately, many make the mistake of choosing their work over attending those events.

Some of them don’t give it much thought, thinking they can just catch up on it afterwards. And others regret they couldn’t be there but they simply have no choice.

What can help:

  • Prioritizing important life events always. There’s no other solution for this, unfortunately. It’s the workaholic partner’s responsibility to make sure that they will be present on important life events.

They can, for example, file a leave weeks in advance, and put all their effort into finishing work earlier so they can actually be free on those dates.

And if it’s really impossible for them to skip work on those days, they must at least have a phone call, and make sure they don’t do it too often.

6) Compensating by giving material things

Workaholics often make the mistake of thinking that giving their loved ones material gifts—like, say, a brand new lamborghini, fancy rings, or pretty purses—is enough to compensate for their absence.

And it simply doesn’t. 

Love isn’t built by gifts and money, even if dating culture might sometimes imply otherwise. 

Love is built by human interactions, by spending time with one another and building deep, personal connections.

Gifts are appreciated, and they do help make it easier to handle absence, but they are no replacement for quality time.

What can help:

  • Being thoughtful with their gifts. If the workaholic partner must buy a gift to make up for not being present in their loved one’s life, then they should at least pick their gifts carefully. 

          Sometimes a heartfelt letter is more meaningful than a brand new watch.

7) Expecting their partner to adjust

Relationships are a matter of give and take, and ideally both parties would adjust and accommodate one another.

It’s simply unreasonable for them to expect their partner to do all the accommodating. 

Not only is it unfair for their partner to always be the one to bend, sometimes there really is no way for their partner to do so.

As important as their work might be, the workaholic partner still needs to play their part in keeping the relationship going

And so when their partner tells them they can’t move their date to another day, they must not take it against them and instead adjust their own schedule to maintain a good relationship with their partner.

What can help:

  • Not making commitments they can’t keep. The workaholic partner must only say yes to plans when they’re 100% sure that they can commit to it.

And speaking of commitments, they must also avoid overcommitment at work. 

If they know that an important date is coming up, they must inform their clients and colleagues in advance.

8) Saying “I’m doing this for us”

When their partner confronts them about their workaholism, they defend themselves by saying “I’m doing this for us.”

While this might be the case, as most workaholics always have good intentions, it can sound like they’re gaslighting their partner.

What the workaholic partner must bear in mind is that their partner’s feelings should always be acknowledged and considered.

What can help:

  • Active listening and compromise. When the workaholic’s partner is voicing out their sentiments and frustrations, then the hard working partner must pay attention.

They must use it as a time to discuss how they can improve their relationship and how they can ensure that their partner still feels loved despite their busy-ness.

Last words

There’s no doubt that we all need to work.

But we should never let work rule our lives so much we end up ruining our relationships with our loved ones.

After all, what’s the point of achieving great success if we don’t have people to share it with?

If you have a workaholic partner, be a little patient.

It’s not easy to stop being a workaholic, and some people simply don’t have the luxury to cut down or be flexible with work.

And if you’re the workaholic one, then slowly try to achieve a good work-life balance. Your partner and future self will thank you for it.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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