Busy Busy Bee: Making Time for Relationships


Busy Busy Bee: Making Time for RelationshipsBetween studying and dating and various artistic pursuits, the past few months have mostly been dedicated to planning for September. After what looks to be a very long, idle, penniless summer, I will be starting a new job, and going into the third year of my degree, whilst maintaining blogs, podcasts, and editing positions, and actually trying to get some more fiction published; and all this before I even think about seeing friends, or moving house! (which is definitely the next big thing in the pipeline). I am incredibly excited. I love all the things I do, and I take great pleasure in being busy and productive, but… I can’t help wondering where on earth in my weekly schedule I’m supposed to make room for a relationship – let alone several! I suppose I could pray to meet someone who is also completely busy except for Friday night, or someone who could give me the weekend twice a month, and maybe a lunch here and there. Or perhaps I could just have holiday romances – a week at Christmas, and Easter, and during the Summer, and a lot of flirting in between? Overall, it seems somewhat ridiculous.

But here’s the thing: this is my life. This is pretty much exactly the way I want it. There is nothing I’ll be doing next year that I am in any hurry to give up; nothing that does not enrich my day-to-day existence. This is not a busy phase; this is how I live. So perhaps what this really comes down to is the question of how much time I am willing to give to all the different things in my life. I’ve often wished for eight day weeks and twenty-eight hour days; I’m sure that if time was expanded like so, I’d be able to do everything. Although a good friend assures me that time is elastic, and if I had more time, I’d just fill it with more stuff. He may be onto something there.

So why am I writing about this? Well, having received my official job offer in the post, chosen my degree modules for next year and committed to another exciting creative project, time is on my mind. But it also seemed like a poignant topic because when I tell people I’m non-monogamous, of all the questions I could be asked, of all the enquiries that could be made, the response I hear most often is “How do you have time?!” In a lot of ways I adore this reply; it’s such a symptom of city life, not to mention the fact that it seems to show an attitude of acceptance towards alternative relationships – my fellow students at college are more concerned with my time management than my sex life. But it’s also a good question because – as you can see – they are not the only ones asking it! Just like my friends and family, I too am wondering how the hell I have time for it.

Fundamentally I think in this modern age – and particularly in a fast-paced, no-time-to-stop-and-breathe city like London – everyone is busy. Almost all the time. I cannot tell you how many relationships I’ve lost simply because we didn’t have time for each other. Or, more precisely, because he didn’t have time for me. There is always some busyness on both sides, but in general, it seems to be the men I date who have the least time to spare – possibly because they’re older and have more responsibilities?

But I digress. Come September, it seems that I’ll be in that boat, with all the busiest people. I’m already looking at four fifteen hour days a week, and eyeing up a couple of evening things I’d like to get involved with. Bottom line is this: if I want to see people next year, I am going to have to make time for them. And that is basically what I already believe: that no one has time, and the onus is on me to make time for what’s important. I just hope I can stretch my calendar a little! and find someone who will stretch his too.


Harper Eliot is a writer and podcaster whose work mainly centers around eroticism and social observation. You can find an archive of work, and links to all her other projects, on her website Harper Eliot. Harper lives in London, but rarely sees her own house, spending most of her time on public transport, listening to podcasts and tweeting too much. Her vices include cigarettes, lubricant, Earl Grey tea, opera, nail polish, and pinwheels.


  1. Interesting read Harper. I too am a person who can fill their schedule so tight it seems like sleep is the only time you’re not doing something. For me it comes from a place of loneliness that if I’m working all the time it all feels important because it makes me feel wanted. However when someone actually comes across which would/does fill that void suddenly what was important doesn’t seem so important anymore. Good luck finding time for your love and friends, trust me if you have them jiggle things and cherish them. 🙂 <3

  2. George and Ann on

    Dear Harper/Stella,

    Congratulations on the next phase of your life. Welcome to the “workaday world”. Four thoughts come to mind…

    1. Left unconstrained, work will expand to fill every nook and cranny of space-time. The nature of modern employment is that you will be plugged in, connected AND expected to respond to the needs of your employer. There is always something more to do.

    2. It is permissible to schedule time for yourself. Your calendar, which you alone keep, needs to include time for you. You have to give yourself license to schedule time for you. This might seem ‘unspontaneous’. Yet it is essential.

    3. A secret to the longevity of our relationship is finding the opportunities for relationship work in the ordinary activities of daily life. We built a shower large enough for two–for four really–and make it a point to be there together. Laundry time is also conversation time. And so on.

    4. Dating/marrying someone who has substantially more ‘free time’ than you will only lead to unhappiness. They end up waiting for you, you feel guilty not making time for them and/or neglecting work. When you are both busy, making time for each other is a challenge, but oh so sweet when you make the schedules fit.

    Good luck.

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