Career versus Relationships

Career versus Relationships


We’ve been told we can have it all, but the reality of balancing a successful career while enjoying fulfilling relationships, is easier said than done.

Career versus Relationships
Sergey Nivens / 123RF Photo

My dear Singularians, today we tackle that slippery scale: trying to weigh career vs. relationship commitments. Fortunately, these days we have choices. Personally, I admire those who know what they want then proceed accordingly without blame or shame. When I see people who’ve been married and divorced five times, my first instinct is to say (which I don’t): “Hey! Stop torturing yourself and other people! You may be a brilliant actor but in marriage, you’re a “rotten tomato.”  But can career and relationship commitments co-exist? You bet. Are some choices tougher solo? You bet. It’s a rough road and requires that we be truthful — with ourselves.


Marnie: I’m a 25 year old woman with serious ambitions. Ever since college, I’ve put career in front of relationships. I date very little, because 1) my career requires me to move every year or so, 2) I’m not that interested at the moment. My family and friends tell me I’m making a mistake and should at least try to find a partner and settle down. They also show me magazines and books featuring “How to Get a Date” and “The 10 Commandments of Dating.” They claim that in 10 years I’ll regret not having a family of my own if I don’t start getting serious now. What do you think? – Too Many Messages in Malibu

MARNIE SAYS: I think you should light a match to those odious books, websites, and mags featuring dating lists, rules, and commandments penned by “enlightened” women, whose greatest (and longest) commitments are often to their Jag lease.  

Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:

* Listen peanut, it’s hard enough to get a career leg up without ripping your pantyhose on the jagged glass ceiling. Heck doll, I know of no nobler pursuit than following your passion!

* Despite the family, the friends, the fear, and the mad magazoid-mumblings, we can’t alwayshave it all” — all the time. If your present mission requires you to keep your options open to commune with Arctic wolves one year and swampy crocs the next, or spend your days and nights buried in books while blissfully contemplating the fantastic possibilities of your craft, your choice to fly solo for now is not only sane, it’s the right thing to do! 

* So go set the cosmos ablaze with your talent while it’s ripening! And once you begin to reform the legal system, colonize Mars, or invent a pair of jeans that look decent on anyone over size two, you may, if you wish, be able to manage all the accolades, the long hours, the Sasquatch-sized burdens — and maybe even a mate.  


Dear Marnie: I’m a 36-year-old single male. I have always been the brightest throughout school, and now in my profession. (My I.Q. is 155.) But, whenever I date, I find either the woman isn’t smart enough for me, or, if she is, I become very competitive. I have high ambitions and want a partner who can keep up. I really want to find that special someone. Any suggestions? – High I.Q., Hollywood

MARNIE SAYS: Pookie, rip up those test scores, OK?  They’ve messed around with the rest of you. The total you. The emotional and ethical side of you. In sum, your I.Q. is both a blessing and a curse. You want to up your blessing ratio. And I promise you, living successfully is way more than the sum of your I.Q. scores.

Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:

* Somewhere along the way, no doubt in childhood, you were accorded genius status on all fronts. The truth is, even little Einsteins who have “excess grey” matter, may lack the emotional maturity to make sense of all that smarty stuff.

* What happens then, is the Einsteins start feeling quaky and sport wormholes in their self-esteem. If an egghead puts all his yolks in one basket, he’s liable to suffer some major scrambling in the game of life.

* And you, friend, sound like such a victim. Here’s what I’d do:

— Re-think your priorities. You see, you can’t love, or find someone “special” if your brain and maturity are miles apart. More, you can’t keep someone special if your ego is invested in competing, rather than loving. Lovers need to be partners, not competitors. If you’re still looking to be Alpha Dog, you’re not ready.

— Work as hard at developing your social and emotional skills as you do “proving” your smarts. As you grow, you’ll learn there are lots of brilliant people out there. Some are 78 and still walking around in a personal fog. Your intelligence is a gift, but even the most valuable gifts have to be used with judgment and compassion to become a truly realized human being.

So move it!  Quit hanging onto some I.Q. test you took in fifth grade. Yes, you may fail. Yes, you may not be the best and the brightest. But you will have learned something far more important. You will have learned to try, fail, and try again. All of which is vital to real success in your life and in your relationships. 


Dear Marnie: I am 48-years-old, female, with a great career. I’ve been widowed for 10 years, have my own home and a satisfying social life with friends. One issue remains. I find it really difficult to date. Either they’re looking for younger women with loudly ticking biological clocks or older women who are content to live a quiet retirement life. I’m often deemed too aggressive, too assertive, too independent to be a reasonably good life partner.  I don’t want to play kid games with these men by lying about who I am and make that clear to them early. But on the other hand, I’m sick of losing out to women who are nubile, needy, with baggage I got rid of ages ago. Help? — Peri-menopausal on the Periphery

MARNIE SAYS: Come listen to a story about one PM-er (peri-menopauser) who blew a 55-year-old Daddy Warbucks off his bar stool. It seems Ms. Brenda Pinchik, 49, was at a trendy pre-theater watering hole when she spotted a Silver Fox with a nubile nymphet, younger than the bubbles in his Crystal. The legal-aged Lolita was giggling at him in “text-speak.” The lovely Ms. Pinchik, (who enhances her “nice-but-no beauty” looks by  designer resale frocks, a luscious “do,” and magnificent ’tude), waited for “woman-child” to go potty, and, with a wink in her voice, said, “A sophisticate like you must find it a challenge talking to a young blossom who thinks the Chicago seven is a heavy metal band in Illinois.” Then she flashed him enough flirt to fog up his Saint Laurent shades. Silver Fox returned during intermission — alone — to get Ms. Pinchik’s number. She refused. She didn’t need a cradle robber — and a cheater.

Getting It!  Your Personal Strategy:

* Think Pinchik. You don’t want the cradle-robbers or gray-groupies. They’re not entirely baked. You want — the good ones.

* Tell yourself, “Tis My Season!” Could you be a more perfect age? (OK, we’re all a perfect age. Sheesh!) But … the forties are glorious! Old enough to capture the minds of the world’s top turks, young enough to capture their imaginations. (Read: when you lean over a mirror, the bottom half of you doesn’t collapse in a cellulite heap.) 

* You have a sharp “wit,” my PM-er. Another wit-trick is not stabbing men with it.  
Marnie’s First Rule of Magnetism: Know thy customer. Enough men like “smart.” Most like sensual. All hate “scared.” Dating is all about Personal Marketing. 

— Don’t down your I.Q. Raise your other lively assets. Look fetching. Putting your best heels forward while telling man about a fascinating stock that didn’t crash is a turn-on. So is sublime humor, and a little mischief is irresistible. Be you. Package well.

— Offer up an emotional challenge with warmth. Show ’em your sweet soul beneath the grit. Think of the wood nymph who offers a tantalizing glimpse then darts behind a tree. Let yourself be a little …  unguarded, vulnerable, quixotic, and yes, mysterious. 

* Knock yourself out over you, angel. Because you see, you described yourself as a PM-er, yet and according to my Timex — you’re still ticking. Now get kicking!


Dear Marnie: When is the best time to have a child when you’re single and have a busy career (physician)? – BlackPearl

MARNIE SAYS: I love this question. I always prefer it when people think before adding new commitments. I will assume you’re asking — in general — because we both know such a decision should never be left to a strange aging advice duenna.  For general guidelines, I, however, will oblige.

Getting It!  Your Personal Strategy:

* Get the facts. Like it or not our fertility declines starting in our late 30’s, and risks increase. Should you watch the clock? No. But yes, keep time and look at other options for pregnancy later. Make some smart decisions before the room starts getting warmer all by itself.

* Parenting is the most serious career choice there is, way too often chosen or thrust upon us without the brain cells we use to choose a pizza topping. Parenthood makes Disneyland’s California Screamin’ roller coaster feel like you’re on a Nyquil drip. Thrilling, chilling, but once you’re chugging to the top, come heck or heaves, you’re going down that hill.

When you are so secure in your passion for a child, so confident that you can do it solo, so willing to adjust your career and life that you are aching to add this holiest and un holiest of burdens — and are willing to chuck the china for Melmac – you’re ready to start the toughest and one of the most rewarding journeys this sweet life has to offer.

And that, dear Pearl, is it in an oyster shell.

Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2016 Singular Communications, LLC

Marnie Winston-MacauleyAdvice guru Marnie Winston-Macauley — therapist, author, speaker — has been a radio, TV, and syndicated advice columnist and counselor for over 20 years. Witty, wise and totally irreverent with a self-professed loathing for psychobabble, she’s written over 20 books and calendars, along with  hundreds of relationship columns and features for prominent publications.  She has her MS degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work.  In media, her work has garnered her Emmy and Writer’s Guild Best Writing nominations. She is widowed and now living single. For personal advice, you can also find Marnie Macauley on or on Presto Experts. She invites you to join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

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