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Dating A Rambling Man


Can you forge a rock-solid relationship with someone who travels frequently for business? Here’s advice from other gay daters.

By Stephen F. Milioti

ou’re nearing the end of your best first date in recent memory. Right after the check comes, the gorgeous guy across from you leans in and says, “I’d love to see you again.” You nod in agreement, mentally clearing your schedule for the next week. “Great,” he says. “I’ll be in Bogota for two weeks on business, but I’ll call you when I get back.” “That sounds fun!” you say. He responds: “Oh, I go there two weeks a month. Sometimes longer if I have to.” Your face falls. So much for standing Sunday brunches, and weekly walks at sunset. You’re sitting across from a rambling man—a guy with a serious business-travel schedule. But when it comes to love, is he a sure bet if he has so many frequent-flyer miles? It’s hard to categorically answer that, but here, an expert shows you the signs to look for so you can make your best decision.

Before you get started, be realistic about the situation
When you’re faced with jumping into a relationship with someone who travels a lot for business, take off the rose-colored glasses. Don’t
Did he take this job to avoid a “real” relationship?
expect the other person to change right away. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if he falls in love with you, he might find a way to sidestep the business travel. Similarly, keep in mind that you will be giving up frequent dating, for the most part—like impromptu walks through the park or grabbing a spur-of-the-moment movie on a Wednesday night after work.

Your sweetie’s unavailability might actually work well for you if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to be “smothered.” But if you like more frequent interaction, it won’t work as well. Doug, an office manager in Philadelphia, made the mistake of deluding himself: “I dated a frequent-traveler guy for nearly a year, and because I was so taken with him, I told him that his being away was no big deal. But it was a big deal—I was feeling lonely and wanted someone I could see more often. I wish I’d admitted that sooner to myself and to him sooner. It was a tough breakup for both of us.”

Find out why your date took the job in the first place
“Your date’s reason for taking the job will tell a lot about him,” says Dr. Ari Fridkis, a psychotherapist in New York, who focuses on gay/lesbian issues and couples-oriented therapy. “Did he take the job simply to run away from something and avoid true growth in the long run? Or was it actually just a great career move? Ask him why he took the job.” Your date’s answer will help clear things up—if he’s got a brilliant career and enjoys his hometown, he could very well be well-balanced, but if he lives with five other guys in a subletted apartment and never even opens his mail, he’s probably using his business travel as an excuse to shirk true adult responsibility.

Make sure that when the guy’s here in town, he’s really here
It’s one thing if your guy frequently leaves town a lot—but quite another if he’s mentally absent while he’s in town. Does he just sleep when he’s in town or prioritize friends and family over you? “You have to ask yourself, ‘Is he present when he’s in town and you’re on a date
Ask yourself: Do I need frequent contact with my sweetie?
with him?’” says Fridkis. “If he’s not, that’s a bad sign.” Namely, says Fridkis, that means his work travel is causing distractions and he’s always on a mental business trip—which likely means he’s not going to give enough attention to a budding relationship. Rob, a medical technician in San Francisco, learned this soon enough. “I dated a guy who went to New York on business every other week,” he said. “That was fine with me. What wasn’t fine is that not only did he answer his cell phone on dates to take business calls, but he showed up more than a few times complaining of jet-lag and being overtired. I’d understand if he were tired now and then, but it started to overtake his personality and it made me question his emotional stability a little. So I broke it off.”

Does he put an embargo on email and phone calls when he’s gone?
If so—bad sign. “It’s one thing if the guy’s busy and unable to talk on the phone with the same frequency as you do when he’s in town,” says Fridkis. “But if he doesn’t email or call at all when he’s away for work for extended periods of time, that’s bad—he’s closing the lines of communication, and that will breed resentment on your part.” If your date never checks in when he’s on the road, you might have to revisit the situation—you don’t want to be out-of-sight-out-of-mind. That isn’t good for your confidence. Michael, a public-relations executive in Atlanta, dated a guy for six months who frequently traveled on business: “He barely ever called when he was out of town, and he’d be away weeks at a time. I confronted him about it, and he got mad and called me clingy. Call me clingy, then, because I feel that at the very least a call once a week is in order if someone travels a lot. Now I’m dating someone who lives half a mile away.”

Does he ever make an effort to include you in his travel?
Now, this one comes down the road a bit, but after the getting-to-know-you phase, if it’s at all feasible, it’s not unreasonable for your date to ask you to join him in his other work city—even just for a weekend. “Some big companies might occasionally pay to fly another person down for a day or two,” says Fridkis, “but even if that doesn’t happen, your date can show great interest by inviting you to come for the weekend, when he’s finished work for the week.” It’s understandable if various circumstances — be they financial or geographical — make it impractical for your date to ask you to visit for a few days. But if he does, that bodes well for the relationship.

Don’t assume he’s seeing someone on the side. If your new business-traveler paramour is taking steps to make things work, and you’re inherently OK with the fact that he travels a lot, there’s no reason to worry needlessly. Yes, that goes for you folks who worry about cheaters. “It’s not healthy to automatically assume someone’s cheating just because he’s traveling on business a lot,” says Fridkis. “Remember, someone in your own city has just as much chance to cheat as someone who travels.” Bottom line: You have to develop trust in a relationship, no matter how you look at it—whether from thousands of miles away or just next door.


Stephen F. Milioti is a New York-based writer who’s contributed to New York and Salon.com.
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