How to Find Time for Dating While Working Long Shifts as a Nurse

Dating for Nurses

Though dating as a nurse might seem as unique as the rest of the profession, it does not have to be–even though they can work long hours, including overnight shifts and sometimes for seven days in a row, it is possible to find time for dating if you approach it with a bit of finesse and a lot of time management.

If you’re a nurse who works long shifts, your schedule could be upside down compared to regular 9 to 5’ers: You are sleeping as the rest of the world is waking up, and you are pulling out of your driveway when the rest of the world is pulling into theirs. Add in holidays and weekends, and it’s quite possible to feel like it’s impossible to make time for dating.

But don’t take up knitting and become a hermit just yet–there is always hope.

Listen, no one would turn down a date with a nurse. They are independent, kind, and the absolute best when it comes to TLC–it’s literally their job. Anyone lucky enough to date a nurse can count themselves among the lucky few; of course, dating an RN does come with specific schedule-related challenges, such as getting the time and opportunity to get to know the object of their affection in between their shifts.

If the thought of a nurse’s demanding schedule puts you off dating one, it’s your loss and will be some other single’s gain–relationships are all about compromise, and a nurse’s long hours have to factor into the romantic dynamics.

7 Tips for Dating as a Nurse

Whether you’re new to dating, are starting a new relationship, or have been together for a while, balancing a relationship with a demanding work schedule can be difficult. Here are 7 ways to make time for dating and romance despite your busy schedule.

1. Use Dating Apps

Online dating is the hub of the single’s scene in today’s society, making dating apps an excellent choice for time-pressed nurses.

Signing up for a dating app is the easiest way to meet people who share your values and hobbies, and there are even dedicated dating apps for nurses!

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2. Don’t Be Afraid to Shake Up the Usual Time and Place

If you’re a nurse who works nights in the ICU or rotates shifts in the emergency room, you might need to get creative about when and where you go on dates.

When a potential romantic partner is willing to see you at unorthodox times, like for a breakfast date, it demonstrates that they care about you and will work around your schedule in order to spend time with you. If you want to have quality time with a date, think about going for a walk before your shift–spending time talking with a potential love interest is a great way to start your day (or night) at work!

The shift work and irregular hours of a nurse can render standard date ideas like cocktails after work or dinner and a movie more unlikely to happen. Think outside of the regular date box and try some unconventional date ideas like the following:

  • Go on a morning hike
  • Take a pottery or art class
  • Hit up a concert or festival
  • Cook dinner together

3. Find a Date Who Gets #NurseLife

Nothing brings more sense of comfort than hearing a possible partner comment, “My mom is a nurse.” A significant other who knows what it’s like to have a healthcare worker in the family is more acquainted with your job’s challenges and schedule.

Now, while we don’t recommend going around and hitting up your RN buddies for the phone numbers of their single-family members, finding someone who gets it and is capable of handling the schedule conflicts you’ll have as a couple would be a big bonus!

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4. Create Boundaries to Manage Expectations

If you work nights, communicating your needs and boundaries to a possible partner is essential if you want a relationship to work. One partner’s disappointment at having to spend a special day (such as a birthday or holiday) alone can be prevented with open communication about potential scheduling problems.

As a nurse, another boundary you should establish is a no-phones-or-texts-after-a-certain-hour rule so that you can get some much-needed shut-eye.

5. Put Commitment and Self-care First

If you’ve come off a 12-hour shift and totally fried, it’s easy to skip exercising, hit the McDonald’s drive-thru on the way home, and then hit the sack. While that is fine to do once a week, if it becomes a regular routine, it could become a problem.

However, nurses need to remember how important it is to care for themselves by pausing to reset between a stretch of long shifts.

Rather than planning an evening out with a group of friends or a date on your first night off, you should focus on taking care of yourself so that you can function at your best when you are with other people.

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6. Specify Your Availability

Tell a date or friends your availability rather than your days off when making social plans–most of the time, non-nursing friends and dates will miss the reality that your day off isn’t really a full day.

Instead of saying, “I’m off Saturday,” say, “I’m free Saturday night,” to prevent miscommunications.

7. Try Not to Bring Your Work On Dates

Nurses get to see all sorts of fascinating things on the job, but certain stories are better left behind the curtain in the ER. While it’s the norm to talk about a patient’s hiatal hernia over coffee in the break room, it doesn’t mean your date wants to hear about it.

Avoid rehashing your previous 12-hour shift on your date—it’s not enjoyable for either of you!

The goal is to go on a date with someone compatible who shares your interests so that you have conversations about subjects beyond just the usual small talk.

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As a nurse, your dating life may have fewer romantic prospects due to your crazy schedule–you work long hours and often don’t get enough sleep, so while it’s vital for you to have a love life, you also need to be well-rested and stick to a consistent sleep schedule when you aren’t on duty.

However, some nurses are able to “stack shifts” and have four or more days off at a time, which means they have more flexibility in their schedule and more time for dating. Even if you can’t get consecutive days off, if you really want to work a little romance into your schedule, it’s more than doable–especially if you match with someone who knows what they are getting into and respects what you do.

Regardless of your schedule, dating as a nurse can be a challenging affair. But one of the keys to a healthy relationship is finding a partner who understands and supports your demanding schedule, time commitments, and the emotional toll being a nurse can take.

When it comes to love, it’s all about perspective, and having the right one can make all the difference–if you work four consecutive 12-hour shifts, you’ll have plenty of time to woo potential partners and make your dating life as busy as your ward rounds!

Molly Davis
Molly Davis

Molly is an East Coast writer who lives on West Coast time. She’s been in the journalism field for over 20 years — newspapers are her first love but she’s finding digital media to be just as fun and challenging as print! When she’s not giving therapist-quality dating advice, she’s curled up watching movies, reading, or volunteering at local dog shelters.