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I’m a successful and independent woman. How can I fit love into my life?

I’m a successful and independent woman. How can I fit love into my life?

As busy, ambitious women who are working hard, and often helping others to achieve their goals, it can be easy to put the love department in the ‘too hard’ basket or say, “I’ll get to it when I finish this piece of work”.

They can also be mistaken for being too independent and not needing anyone.

But women don’t need to settle for loneliness just because they are being their amazing self, kicking career goals and achieving great things. How can they have both, or at least find some balance in both love and their professional lives?

Counselling psychotherapist Karen Phillip works with many high achieving women, and sees that for them, finding love can certainly be challenging.

So how can women have their cake and eat it too?

The challenges

From her experience working with clients, Phillip said career-driven women can find it challenging to find a partner due to several reasons.

“They often have high criteria for a partner to fulfill and are after someone of equal intelligence and drive. They often indicate a man is intimidated by their success, money earning capacity and strong confidence. They would like equality in decision making, housework, child raising and want to be treated equally, respectfully and kindly,” she said.

Dating coach Debbie Rivers finds women often spend a lot of time building their careers but don’t invest the same amount of time in meeting someone.

“They find it easier to focus on the career as they can get the results that they want and can control that,” Rivers said.

Be clear on what you want in a partner

For women looking for an ideal partner, it is important to be clear about what you desire from the outset.

“Most intelligent people want a partner with similar interests and intellectual capacity. They enjoy the debates and variety of topics they can discuss. They find a balance by investing in someone who has similar drive and passion,” said Phillip.

“Investigate early while dating to ascertain what this prospective partner wants, how they see life, love and relationships to ensure it matches yours. If it doesn’t, move on.”

Holly Bartter, founder of online dating service Matchsmith, said she helps her clients to explore this information while dating.

“I encourage them to know what kind of personality versus work identity traits are important to them. A job title doesn’t define you as a person. You may want to date someone who has a well-paid, high-powered job, but that could mean they spend a lot of time online or at the office and you might be someone who likes lots of quality time,” she said.

Phillip said she has seen many women who fail to set clear criteria being disappointed.

“I find the women I work with, who can develop clear criteria for a prospective partner, can seek it out faster and it’s easier to obtain the best for themselves. They do extremely well,” she said.

Andi Lew, a wellness expert and author of Where’d They Go?, said she’s happy being single and waiting for the right person. She’s an example of a woman who has a clear idea on what she wants in a partner.

“I always invest in my health. I know I’ll attract a partner who’s also healthy,” she said.

How to fit love into your busy life

When you’re busy plugging away at life, it seems the lines between career and love can be blurred.

“My corporate clients definitely see success in their work as an ‘hours in equals end result’ formula, and this is tricky when it’s applied to our love lives. However, they can use this ‘high performance’ mentality and channel that energy to be present when trying to meet others,” Bartter said.

“Try to apply some work techniques to narrow down your dating goals. Is it long-term, marriage and kids? Or to just get on the dating scene more? Then, set a few short-term goals like x amount of first dates this month. It doesn’t have to always be dinner.”

Lew said she prefers meeting people at the gym or on a morning coastal walk and admits to juggling dating with life as a single mum, author and wellness coach.

“I incorporate it into something I’m already doing, like speaking at an event or going on a hike or to the gym together,” she said.

“My work is my life and passion and incorporating a partner into my current values around wellness works. The best date I had recently was where we met for a lunchtime yoga class. We both enjoyed it so much and worked on our wellbeing at the same time.”

As well as being proactive and creative about fitting dating into your life, Bartter said you may also feel the need to brush up on how to present yourself, much like how you would prepare for work meetings or interviews.

“If you’re rusty, you can feel overwhelmed and not show up as your best self. Just like a job interview, do a bit of prep. Know what you will and won’t share on a first date, show up feeling good about how you’re presenting yourself, know what you’d like to find out about this person, such as important deal-breakers,” she said.

“Several female clients realised they needed to put time into their profile with my help, get some new photos, be clear about what they want and mention this in their bios. Two are now in happy long-term relationships.”

Rivers said career-driven women can get too focused on controlling the outcome, so it’s important to have fun and remember the fun side of dating.

“We wouldn’t go to the gym once and expect results. You have to go regularly and that applies to dating too,” she said.

Tracey Cheung - writer - SHE DEFINED

Tracey Cheung

Tracey Cheung is a freelance writer and mother passionate about empowering women, providing them the tools to become their best self in all areas of their lives, particularly in health and wellness. Her other writing passions and projects are in travel, parenting and social impact.