By Reed Alexander
Elon Musk and Amber Heard are driving off into the sunset — just, not together. Moneyish asks Susan Winter to share tips for balancing work and romance.
After a year of dating, the Tesla CEO and actress are calling it quits on their relationship, according to Us Weekly. Sources say that their demanding work schedules are to blame.
“[Musk is] super busy and works all the time. Amber is filming [Aquaman] in Australia until October. She’s in no position to settle with him. She feels her career is just starting,” a source told the celebrity magazine.
Musk, the father of five children, has long sought romance — as long as it fits into his schedule. Back in 2012, Business Insider reported that he mused: “I need to find a girlfriend. How much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours?”
Celebrities often find their dating lives encumbered by hectic work schedules. Ryan Seacrest and ex-girlfriend Julianne Hough broke up in 2013 for a similar reason, after two years together. At the time, a source told Us Weekly that Seacrest’s professional life was all-consuming. “It’s a lifestyle [that Julianne] couldn’t handle anymore.”
And other billionaire CEOs like Musk have also found themselves strapped for time to devote to a relationship. When Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg dated his then-girlfriend Priscilla Chan, whom he married in 2012, Chan set some guidelines. She wanted no less than 100 minutes of alone time on his calendar each week — and at the bare minimum, one date.
Productivity at work doesn’t equal productivity in your love life. Data published by Forbes in 2015 showed we’re more wired than ever: 50% of us check email in bed, 57% on family outings, and 38% at the dinner table, according to mobile-software firm Good Technology.
And according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Personal and Social Relationships, “the mere presence of mobile phones [inhibits] the development of interpersonal closeness and trust.” We have less time away from work, which means less time to devote to loved ones — and that can spell trouble.
Work got in the way of Musk and Heard’s relationship — but it doesn’t have to do the same to yours. Follow these tips to keep your work life from tanking your love life:
1. Think like an executive: New York City relationship expert Susan Winter tells Moneyish: “The biggest rules we know in business we always forget in romance… Negotiation, time management, collaboration — yet when we get into romance, [suddenly we say] ‘I don’t know.’” Winter advises using the skills you’ve honed in the workplace to benefit your relationship. Listen and communicate with one another — especially when time management becomes an issue.
2. Make an agreement: In relationships, negotiation is key, Winter says. “It sounds terribly unromantic, but 15 years ago, so did online dating.” Set clear terms upfront, and make your partner know what you expect in order to make the relationship work. Winter suggests examples like: “I can shift this weekend to be with you; I can take this other hour and meet you for lunch.” And, if your partner suggests a solution that you need to mull over? A diplomatic answer like, “Good idea, let me think that over,” is the best way to go.
3. Unplug: Publicist Michael Kaplan, president of Gandalf Integrated Marketing, says that “[being] on call 24-7 can certainly put a strain on a relationship.” Kaplan, who consults for Northwell Health and represents medical professionals, recalls when news recently broke of Senator John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis, spurring an army of reporters to reach out to him in the midst of his 17th wedding anniversary. “The following week for my wife’s 60th birthday, I was sure to let clients and contacts know that I’d be offline for several hours,” Kaplan tells Moneyish.
4. Be flexible: If you run your own business or are senior enough at work to set your own schedule — do it. Try “Wednesday lunch and an afternoon off, set in stone, a Thursday morning breakfast and yoga class, or device-free Sunday,” says New York-based therapist and relationship expert Rachel Sussman. “Commit to putting time and energy into the relationship,” by showing your partner that, when possible, you’ll make sacrifices to be with them, Sussman recommends.
5. Deal with long-distance: If you’re separated by geography — like Musk and Heard — Sussman says that scheduling matters even more. “Be really clear on when [you’re] going to see each other. It can’t be fly by the seat of your pants,” Sussman says. “Have the calendar booked two months at time. And when you’re apart, be gentle with each other. Have set times when you’re going to talk, be patient, and really look forward to that time together.”
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