My annual birthday blog post

August 11, 2011

L.A. 1 Year Decision Anniversary: The NY/LA non-rivalry

August 11, 2011

Why you and your boyfriend work at the same place, even if you and your boyfriend don’t work at the same place

August 11, 2011
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I’m bumped into my roommate Mike last weekend on his way back from a run.
“Oh…hey…you’re…here,” he said through gasps of air, “Good. I have a blog post idea.”
(Implied inside that statement was a how are you?? Great to see you?? How’ve you been??)
“The idea is that when you’re in a relationship you work together by default – even though you don’t work together technically.”
“Like, to be a supportive person you have to know the other person’s work place so well that you practically work there yourself?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what he means,” R chimed in. The look on his face implied that Mike was right about the fact and even more right about it being an involved enough issue for a blog post.
But I need to back up a bit to best explain this whole deal.
The reason I say I “bumped into my roommate” and he said, “Oh, you’re here,” is because for the past 18 weeks, I hadn’t been.
In late April I started managing a daily web series through my current job. The show shot every day from approx. 3pm to 10pm. Because I am a full-time employee of the company I also had to work my actual job (branded content stuff), so it was arranged that I come into work between 10 and 11am. The show shot Sunday night through Thursday night so I also worked from 4pm to 10pm every Sunday. But again, because I have my usual job with the company, I still worked Fridays from 10am to 5pm (or later depending on my work load). So to recap that’s Sunday 4pm-10pm, Monday through Thursday 10am – 10pm and Friday 10am to 5pm. Math is not my strong suit, so let’s just say that’s too many hours per week…for 16 weeks…which is 4 months, or in this specific case, Summer.
My attitude about this situation was…challenging. By this I mean that it was challenge to be dealing with this weekly schedule, and that I was extremely challenging as a result.
I saw R when I could throughout the week, but it was usually for 1-2 hour catch-ups before I fell asleep mid Breaking Bad episode (we’re finally caught up!!). And by “catch-ups” I mean bitch sessions about the frustrations of my days.
…Which is precisely where Mike’s blog post suggestion comes in.
If you work a typical 9-6 schedule, 5 days a week you are spending about 40% of your waking life at work (I’m assuming 7 hours of sleep per night). If you work the schedule of a 20-something American (I’m going to call that 50 hours a week for the sake of an average) you are spending about 50% of your life at work. I won’t do the numbers on the percentage of my life spent at work these past months, but Mike and his boyfriend John can often match if not top them at their respective places of work. So to say the details of our jobs – the people we work with, the office politics, the specific projects – are a significant part of our lives would be an understatement. And to say that we don’t need/rely on/demand that the people we date know those people, politics and details would be a lie.
I go to R for advice on how to handle challenging conversations at my office. If he isn’t familiar with the players at play, he can’t provide the most helpful advice. R comes to me to pre-pitch his show concepts (he works in TV development). If I’m not knowledgeable on the mandates of his network or the tastes of his co-workers, I can’t give him an honest critique. It’s not just being able to say, “yeah, ________ is being a bitch about that, you’re so right babe, and you always will be.” It’s “getting it” to the point of caring about it to a degree that respects that fact that 40% percent of your partners life is spent in that world.
Ergo, for all intents and purposes – when you’re in a relationship you essentially work together.
Or, more specifically, when you’re a work-obsessed person in a relationship with an equally work-obsessed person you’re forced to work together…
Ugh. I think it’s that.

3 comments

  1. I don’t think you have to be work obsessed for this to be the case. Both my husband and I are in “career” jobs, but neither of us are really defined by our work. Even still, we both know a lot about our respective coworkers, bosses, clients and projects, and it’s definitely crucial in being able to give informed advice. Not to mention, in really understanding the back story behind a rant.

  2. I would probably blabber on and on about my job and the people there to my boyfriend if not for our unspoken rule: don’t bring work home. At the beginning of our relationship we established this rule and it was difficult to stick to for me, especially since there was so much drama at my work place (my bosses were swingers, coworker offering me ketamine, etc). Now it’s easy, two jobs later, and has allowed us to focus on the fun things in life we both enjoy doing together…without our heads still stuck at the office. That being said, it would be nice to have someone to vent to after a bad day, but I guess that’s what happy hour is for.

  3. I think that it’s good to share ideas about work or brainstorm solutions to work problems with your SO. He or she needs a working background to understand where you’re coming from. I also think that airing some grievances for a set amount of time (pre-dinner, post-tv show) is healthy and can get the issue out of your mind so that you can relax with your SO for the rest of the night. As long as one partner isn’t dominating the conversation with work drama for the entire evening 5 days a week then work is something that a couple should talk about. Like you said, you’re there 40% of your day. Like it or not, that’s a large percentage of your life and what you’re doing.

    I would also comment that happy hour is not the place to air grievances about work with your coworkers unless you want those issues biting you in the ass later. My SO is the only person I trust with info about work because I know that he will never and has no reason to reveal anything I say to anyone else. It might be to a coworker’s benefit to air the dirty laundry you shared at cocktail hour.

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