Online dating could ruin my professional reputation

Hi Meredith:

I'm a 26-year-old woman who is having some trouble dating. I've never had a serious relationship. My problem is a lack of resources and time when it comes to dating. I moved to Boston about two years ago for a prestigious job and to attend grad school. While I have a great job in a high-profile industry (and for privacy reasons, I'd rather not mention the industry), it doesn't pay very well yet and I've had to pick up two extra part-time jobs. My typical day runs from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. and that includes all three jobs and grad school. The weekends aren't much better, and when I do have a spare moment on a weekend night or afternoon, I honestly use it to catch up on sleep or do errands. Being this busy has made it hard to make friends, let alone date.

My friends from back home all suggested finding someone at work, school, through other friends, joining activities, online dating -- you know, all the normal suggestions. Unfortunately, almost all of the people in my graduate courses are women, and I've found that my work hours (very long with sudden travel) clash with any local groups I'm interested in joining.

But the biggest roadblock is my main job. This is an industry where having an online presence can be very detrimental. Online dating was going to be my last recourse, but I'm worried that if someone were to stumble on my profile, it would seriously affect my future in this industry (and yes, this is a relevant concern). I don't even have many pictures or much information on a Facebook account for this reason. This is an industry where people will take the smallest snippet of information to try and destroy your personal and professional reputation. Having to erase myself from the internet for the sake of my career is something I knew I would have to do, but in a society so concerned with social media, it’s made it hard to find someone to date.

So what do I do? My lack of a dating life never bothered me until the past few months, when things quieted down enough for me to realize that I was lonely. But how do I go about finding someone when I have very little time or very few options? Is it even possible? Or should I resign myself to never having any dating options?

– Too Busy, Boston

If you're working 16 hours a day and prioritizing your career above all else, you might have to forget about dating right now, TB. I'd love to tell you that you can have it all, but there are only so many hours in the day. Instead of trying to add one more obligation to your schedule, focus on finding a way out of the three-job lifestyle. You can't maintain this schedule forever.
I also want you to spend some time thinking about the online dating thing. Yes, you have every reason to be paranoid about your internet presence, but there are ways to keep profiles private. I was recently reading the autobiography of a minor celebrity who mentions that she briefly considered online dating, and I thought, "How would she have gotten away with that? Everyone would have noticed her." But she could have hidden her profile, sought out specific men, or just accepted that people might find out that she was looking for a partner. And would that have been so bad? She's human, after all.
Just think about it, and maybe play around on some sites. You'd be shocked at how many high-profile people are online. And please use some of your weekend time to apply for more lucrative second jobs. There's no magic workaround for this. You either make time and change your rules, or you don't date.
Readers? Can she have it all? Do you believe that she can't date online? Would it be so bad if people found out that she was looking for a partner? How paranoid should she be about online dating? And what about her schedule? Help.

– Meredith