Sheryl Cattell's passion for her work is so intense she is often still at her desk at midnight. "I just go into a zone and literally have no idea of space and time." With such single-minded focus, Ms. Cattell, an online marketing director, said personal relationships have been challenging. "Most partners are jealous when you love your job that much."
As the country moves into summer wedding season, an increasing number of singles say they are happily married to their jobs. On television, "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest and Bravo's Andy Cohen are high-profile examples, two single entertainment/media mavens who devote most of their waking hours to their careers.
As of 2011, there are 101 million people in the United States over the age of 18 who are single, up from 83 million a decade ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's America's Families and Living Arrangements survey. Of the singletons, 62 percent have never been married and about 2 million earn more than $75,000 a year.
Research often cites the ideal worker as someone who is perpetually available, has no outside responsibilities or interests, rarely gets sick and prioritizes work above all else. Barbara Teszler, 26 and single, said that describes her 100 percent, and she's OK with it.
"Ms. Teszler started a Los Angeles public relations firm six months ago. She wants a social life and relationships, but work gets top priority. "The last couple of guys I've seen have accused me of being cold. They thought I didn't show as much interest in them as I did my job. I'm not going to apologize for that. My business is my baby, and that has to come first."
Entrepreneurs are among the most likely to report being married to their jobs. "They feel the 24/7 pull to get it right," said Todd Dewett, a professor of management at Wright State University, who wrote "The Little Black Book of Leadership." "For many of them, being successful at work is fulfilling but it's never stress-free."
To maintain a romantic relationship, Mr. Dewett said, overachieving professionals must have an understanding spouse or partner. "One of the top reasons relationships have trouble is one person puts their job first. For it to work, you've got to have a partner who is absolutely supportive."
Miami relationship expert Bari Lyman said making a relationship work when you're married to your job often requires a new mind-set. "If finding true love is a priority, you have to make the time and space to meet someone."
Then, to sustain a relationship you need communication, maybe even an agreement that emphasizes quality time together rather than quantity, said Ms. Lyman, founder of MeetToMarry.com. "What's important is to find someone who shares your vision of work-life balance."
Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life. She can be reached at email@example.com. First Published June 24, 2012 12:00 AM