Ask Your Bartender: Relationship Advice

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Hey Bartender

I have a question about this twisted industry you (we) are in. Right now I’m serving and bartending at an independent bar/restaurant and will work until about 1 or 2am every shift. It’s throwing the rest of my life out of wack.

How’s your social life been? I’m wondering what it’s going to be like for me in the long term, now that I anticipate serving or bartending for the next five years. Do you have enough time to hang out with friends? Can you keep a relationship going, working those kinds of hours?

I’m worried that things might not pick up.


Hey Warren

That’s a heavy question. To be honest with you, it’s not easy. My choice of careers has been responsible for the demise of several wonderful long-term relationships, and I chalk it up to one sad fact: I was never home.

Most people work from 8 to 5. I, like you, work from 4 in the afternoon until 1 or 2 in the morning. Since I tend to date women that are like most other people, with normal jobs and normal hours, that limits the time I can potentially spend with the one I love to lunches and Sundays. It’s not enough.

Sitting alone at home every Friday and Saturday night while your boyfriend/girlfriend is at work is a sad and lonely existence. Add to that the perception that we’re basically at a huge party every night, and you can see how the distance can kill a relationship.

As for friendships, it’s kind of the same thing.  Your friends are going to get tired of only being able to see you when you’re at work, and who can blame them?  Hanging out at the same bar night after night kinda sucks.

So what can you do? Well, here’s some advice:

  1. Try dating someone in the industry. They work the same hours you do.  If you’re lucky enough to find someone with the same schedule, you’ve made it.  Just do yourself a favor and don’t fish off the company pier. You’ll most likely just end up hooking a shark and they will bite you.
  2. Go to bed.  Really.  You don’t need to stay up every night until 5 or 6. Years ago I learned the joy of having a day.  I come home after work, get in bed, read for a bit, and sleep until 8.  I get outside, I surround myself with people who are also awake, and try to have a great day before I head in to a dark bar for eight hours.
  3. Save your money.  I take a walk to the bank every morning and deposit my tips into the ATM.  It’s so easy to spend fifty bucks at a bar after work, especially when you walked with $150, but remember: that $50 could be your phone bill.  Grab a six-pack and go home.  You’ll thank yourself in less than a week’s time.
  4. Do things that people with regular jobs do.  Go to the gym, take a walk, go jogging, call your friends, see a movie in a an actual theater (it’s cheaper during the day, too), read a book, join a club, or have lunch in a nice restaurant once a week.  You’re going to end up meeting people, it’s a side-effect.
  5. Join a social networking site.  I know they’re stupid, but I get a kick from keeping in touch with my friends on MySpace.  Once a week or so, I’ll get a message from someone who I haven’t talked to in a long time, and it brightens my day.

Warren, the most important thing you can remember is this: either you get on top of this business, or it gets on top of you.  I’ve seen a lot of people fade away from working all night and partying until the wee hours of the morning.  They do too many drugs, they drink every night, and they spend all of their hard-earned money after work.  It’s sad, but it can be avoided really easily.  Remember, it’s only a job, but it comes with some odd hours.  Keep your head about you and you’ll be just fine.
Good luck.

One Reply to “Ask Your Bartender: Relationship Advice”

  • Dominik MJ says:

    I don’t see so many problems with your friends – in the last dozen years I got more and more friends out of the same business. And maybe you cannot hang around together every day – but at least you are not isolated…

    With your better half it is a different story. It is heart driven – and I have and had a lot of difficulties to maintain a relationship and I failed also very often.

    For me bartending is much more than a job, so it is worth the effort and the disadvantages – not for the money, just for the thing itselfs! It is even more difficult for me, as I am acting internationaly – less money, and you loose the contact to many friends if you change the bar…

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