This article will help you understand why your boyfriend is a workaholic, what signs to look out for, and what you can do about it.
Is your boyfriend always at work, Is his desk always stacked with unending projects? Is he a perfectionist, always on call with work colleagues?
If you answered yes, to the above questions, you might be dating a workaholic. If your boyfriend is a workaholic, it means he does not have time for you and is basically married to his job.
According to Dr. Bryan Robinson, a psychotherapist and author of Chained to the Desk, workaholics have an obsessive-compulsive disorder. He calls it the “best-dressed addiction.”
Being a workaholic is more than just putting in long hours in the office. Robinson says it is about not being able to turn it off when one cannot balance his work and other aspects of his life.
If your boyfriend is a workaholic, he is never there for you when you need him. It can be pretty frustrating dating a workaholic because even when you are together, his mind will always think about his work because he cannot switch off his mind from work.
Robinson says, “A workaholic believes everything revolves around him,” says Robinson. “He’s the sun, and everyone else is a planet.
The wife and children learn that their role is to support him so he can work, or think about work, 24/7. Children of workaholics often feel they must be perfect and have high levels of anxiety.”
Why Do People Become Workaholics?
Workaholism is a psychological disorder. However, people celebrate people who tend to work too much, not understanding the difference between hard work and workaholism.
The phrase, “work hard, play hard,” has put a positive spin on workaholism. However, people who work hard have a life-work balance; they have other interests outside of work, while with workaholics, all their lives revolve around work.
So, what could have made your boyfriend a workaholic? There are three main causes of workaholism. They are;
1. Psychological Reasons
Your boyfriend could be a workaholic due to his psychological characteristics. According to research, narcissism is related to workaholism. So if your boyfriend is a narcissist, chances of becoming a workaholic are pretty high.
According to experts, if your boyfriend is a perfectionist or has low self-esteem, he is prone to being a workaholic.
When one has low self-esteem, he will try to compensate for that by working more and neglecting other aspects of his life. This is because he feels he has control over his job and not other aspects of life.
Someone with low self-esteem will immerse himself in his work because workaholism is viewed as a positive trait, and he will get recognition and respect from his colleagues and peers.
On the other hand, your boyfriend may be a workaholic because he is trying to escape some issues in his life.
If he is going through some stress or trauma, he may throw himself into work to try and forget his problems.
Sometimes he may become a workaholic if he is too focused on what his colleagues say about him or if he is trying to fill an emotional void.
For instance, when I experience heartbreak, which takes a toll on me, I immerse myself in my work. I work long hours without regard for my health or other aspects of my life.
I fill the void left by my ex with work. Moreover, I am not hurting when I am working as all my energy is focused on my work.
Your boyfriend may be the same; if he is trying to fill a void, he will work more and neglect all other aspects of his life.
2. Childhood Effects
If your boyfriend grew up in an environment where his parents loved him according to how he performed, he might carry that into adulthood. As a result, he will work harder, looking for people’s acceptance.
He may be looking for acceptance from his bosses, colleagues, or family. Moreover, if your boyfriend had to take up work at a young age due to different circumstances like a parent’s illness in the family, he may become a workaholic.
According to Barbara Killinger, author of Workaholics: The Respectable Addicts, most workaholics were forced to take up adult responsibilities in their childhood.
Due to circumstances such as the death of a parent, separation of parents, or due to a parent’s illness. According to Killinger, overly-responsible adults did not have a carefree childhood.
If your boyfriend was brought up by parents who were workaholics, he might have taken up the trait.
It is how he knows to do things and may not feel connected to the family as his parents never had a connection with him.
According to Gary Trosclair, a psychotherapist, people who didn’t have a bond with their parents growing up will be insecure about relationships and compensate for it by gaining financial security and status at work.
3. Work-Related Causes
Some people become workaholics because they get a social and emotional connection at work. For example, if your boyfriend’s friends are his colleagues, he may spend more time in the office.
This may start gradually, but it will become his life with time. He will neglect all other connections outside of work and concentrate on his work life. This will create an unbalanced work style.
Sometimes your boyfriend may become a workaholic due to the financial rewards that come with it.
In the corporate world, workaholism is rewarded with pay raises and promotions. As a result, your boyfriend may work more hours to get the coveted corner office.
Signs That Your Boyfriend Is A Workaholic
If you are worried that your boyfriend may be a workaholic, there are signs that your boyfriend has crossed the line from hard work to workaholic. Some of the signs that your boyfriend is a workaholic include the following;
1. He Does Not Feel Like He Is Doing Enough
If your boyfriend clocks in for work but does not have time to clock out, it could mean he is a workaholic.
We all have the same hours in a day; we are supposed to leave time for work, rest, and other activities.
So if your boyfriend is always working and does not have time for other aspects of his life, he is a workaholic.
Additionally, if he is doing all the work and still does not feel like it is good enough, even when people tell him that he is doing well, he is becoming a workaholic.
He seems to be chasing something that he can’t quite catch. He imagines that if he gets the success he craves, he will be more secure, and the self-doubts will end.
2. He Is Preoccupied with Work
If your boyfriend is constantly preoccupied with work even when he is not at work, he is a workaholic.
Even at home, he talks about work when he is supposed to be resting or catching up with family and friends. His brain cannot switch off and think about things other than work.
According to a 2010 study, people who worked long hours did not have an increased Risk of Metabolic Syndrome (RMS).
On the other hand, workaholics have an increased RMS even though they do not work long hours.
3. He Doesn’t Have Close Relationships
If your boyfriend has trouble making connections with others outside of his work, it could be he is a workaholic.
He devotes all his energy and time to his work, and he has none left to form lasting relationships.
He may not want to be a loner, but his obsession with work prevents him from building relationships or keeping the ones he has built.
When your boyfriend is always working long hours and does not have time for his friends and family, they will give up on looking for him, and he will end up alone.
4. He Neglects Everything for His Work
Your boyfriend is a workaholic if he neglects all other aspects of his life for his work.
If you plan with him, he will make excuses not to go through with the plans if the plan clashes with his work.
Your boyfriend will miss most, if not all, of his family occasions and activities due to his work. This may cause him to have a broken relationship with his family.
You may also find your boyfriend has many exes because he cannot commit to something that is not his work.
5. He Is a Perfectionist
If your boyfriend is a perfectionist, chances are that he will be a workaholic.
He always wants to do better, even when he has done his best. This is because he believes his best needs to be better.
A perfectionist will take time to work because he does something repeatedly, not caring about efficiency.
6. He Is Always On His Phone
If your boyfriend is always on his phone following up with his boss and colleagues at work, even when he should be resting, he is a workaholic.
With people working from home, it may be harder for your boyfriend to switch off his mind from work. He is working even when he is not working.
7. He Is in Denial
Like most addicts, workaholics are in denial. If you tell your boyfriend he is working too much, he will deny it. Then, he may start hiding that he is working too much.
He will always have ready justifications about why he is working. In addition, with modern technology, it is easier to hide this addiction because he can carry his laptop and phone anywhere.
What Do You Do If Your Boyfriend Is a Workaholic
If your boyfriend is a workaholic, you may wonder what to do to make the relationship work. Here are a few things to do;
1. Help Him Set Healthy Boundaries
If your boyfriend is a workaholic, he may not know how to set boundaries. Help him learn how to set healthy boundaries between his work and life.
For instance, you can call him an hour before he clocks out. Remind him to start winding up for the day so that by the time he is supposed to clock out, he will be through with the day’s work and have planned for the following day’s work.
When he is off work, have him do activities unrelated to his work and where he will have to keep his phone away for a few hours.
For instance, I once worked with a guy who was always the first in the office and the last out. He could work weekends, and the boss would call him at odd hours to ask about work. Poor guy could never stop thinking about work
I made a pact never to leave him in the office, and every time he got to the office before me, he had to do something fun out of the work environment as a fine.
With time, he adapted. I left the job after some months, and within the next three months, I would call him to remind him to clock out and not pick up work calls at night.
It worked, and after almost eight months, he had set healthy boundaries for himself and had a good life-work balance.
2. Understand Your Boyfriend’s Job
If your boyfriend is a workaholic, it will help if you understand his job. This will help you know why he gets satisfaction from his work.
The more you know about your boyfriend’s job and the satisfaction he gets from it, the less you will resent him for working long hours.
Understanding your boyfriend’s job will help you better support him when he is stressed at work and needs to vent or needs a sounding board.
3. Focus on Yourself
If your boyfriend is always working, and you have done everything you could to help him overcome his addiction, it is time to focus on yourself.
If you talked to him and showed him how his workaholism affects your relationship and he is not ready to change his lifestyle, you should do things that make you fulfilled.
Do things that make you happy, and take up a new hobby. Start doing things for yourself. This may seem selfish, but it is survival to keep you sane if your boyfriend is neglecting you for his work.
4. Go To Therapy
If you have done everything within your power to help your workaholic boyfriend, it is time to seek professional help.
A therapist will help your boyfriend with tools to help him overcome his addiction. They will also help you work on the relationship, show you how to help your boyfriend and how best to handle a relationship with a workaholic.
Hard work is good; however, some people may need help distinguishing between working hard and being a workaholic.
If your boyfriend is a workaholic, he may have childhood issues that may have led him down this path.
If you think your boyfriend is a workaholic, you will see such signs as being unable to turn off work, not having close relationships, and neglecting everything for his work.
You can help your boyfriend overcome his addiction by helping him set healthy boundaries in his work life.
You may also want to understand his job to support him better. If all else fails, you should seek professional help.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels
Sarah Williams is an author at CandidHaven.com she is an expert in human psychology having graduated with an M.S. in Psychology.
Sarah has extensive experience in relationships and dating therapy having worked for over 6 years with different groups of people including teens, dating couples, and married people.
She is a lover of life, and self-development and believes everyone deserves to be in a fulfilling relationship. Sarah loves reading self-help books and doing research on human psychology.