Am I too busy to date?

I am a 25-year-old single male and I have been reading your column and listening to the podcast for about a year now. Season 2 and the discussions around dating (and how hard it can be!) have been very relevant and helpful for me.

I was wondering how you think people should approach prioritizing their career and personal goals versus dating. I am a graduate student getting my master's in social work and I work full time, as well. To put it simply, my schedule is a mess. During the semester I work about 35 hours a week, have an unpaid internship for 15 hours, and take classes. Free time can be tough to find. Plus, working in the mental health field can be draining, so I am often exhausted by the end of the week.

I have dated here and there over the last two years, but usually find I don't have the mental and emotional energy to seriously invest in other people. I have one more year of grad school, so I will by quite busy until next June.

However, I really do want to find a partner and would like to date around. But I can’t seem to get the timing right. I keep going back forth between dating a bunch and not wanting to date at all.

Do you think "being too busy" is a fair reason not to date, or is it cop out? Am I saving myself (and the women I might date) the difficulty of a crazy schedule, or am I selling myself short?

- Busy


If you're overwhelmed by your hectic schedule and would rather use your free time to sleep than date, that's OK. People take breaks. Sometimes people take very long breaks (stares in mirror).

But you should be taking time off for yourself, not for others. You don't have to spare hypothetical women the pain of dealing with your schedule. There might be some excellent potential partners out there who are just as busy or like to do their own thing. People with packed schedules can make excellent significant others.

Thanks to apps, which are available 24 hours a day, dating can feel like something you have to be doing all the time – that if you're not swiping and messaging like it's a full-time job, you're not doing it right. But that's not true. If you have time to read the column and listen to the podcast (those episodes are 22 minutes, right?), you have time to swipe on a few faces and send some messages. You can set small goals and tell friends you want help with the search.

Really, your experience sounds pretty typical (in a good way). Many of our letter writers date a lot and then take time off. They feel like they're not making any progress with their love lives, and then, all of a sudden, they do.

As you continue the process, think about whether you might benefit from choosing an app that only gives you a few options a day. I'm not endorsing any specific platforms here, but I do know that some dating apps limit your choices. That might be better for the man on the go.

- Meredith

Readers? Too busy to date? Should I start setting up letter writers?