Community + Relationships

Why Relationships with Lawyers Can Be Difficult

  • Lawyers often work late into the night or have to cancel plans at the last minute, and it is difficult to build a relationship with someone who is so time-challenged
  • While all couples fight every now and then, it can be particularly challenging to argue with a partner who argues for a living
  • It’s not all negatives! Though it can be tough to be in a relationship with a lawyer sometimes, strong communication can help overcome almost any hurdle

Being in a relationship with a lawyer sounds pretty great, right?

After all, lawyers are often smart, driven, and successful—all ideal qualities in a partner. As it turns out, though, being with a lawyer isn’t all glitzy firm parties and free legal representation. In fact, being in a relationship with a lawyer can be straight up difficult.

While it’s not fair to overgeneralize about any group of people, much of what makes someone a great lawyer can also make them a challenging partner … and that’s the case whether they’re dating another lawyer or not. Here’s why:

They Work—A Lot

While it’s true that not all attorneys work around the clock and through the weekend, many do. And still more will often find themselves pulled suddenly onto important cases, compelled to stay at the office late regardless of after-work plans. This can make relationships challenging—after all, it’s hard to build something with someone who’s never around. Even the most understanding and supportive partner must become accustomed to doing things alone or calling off plans at the last minute, as busy lawyers often struggle to balance their social and professional lives. It’s not an insurmountable hurdle by any means, but it can be a tough one to overcome.

They’re Stressed Out

You already know that most lawyers are constantly under a lot of stress.

Stressed-out lawyers in relationships are more likely to be unaffectionate with their partners, as well as more likely to be irritable and withdrawn. While people handle stress differently, the presence of such a strain on even the strongest relationship can complicate things. Communication is always important, but it’s even more crucial when your partner (or both you and your partner) are experiencing stress on a level that so many lawyers are.

Consider how work stress may have impacted, or be impacting, your relationships. Are there times when work frustrations cross over into your personal life?

They Can Be Arrogant

What most lawyers would likely frame as “confidence,” others might experience as arrogance or narcissism. While a little confidence is absolutely a good thing, it can be tough to be in a partnership with someone who thinks so highly of himself or herself. Of course, the most successful lawyers have to be confident (at least superficially) to succeed in such a cutthroat profession—but that doesn’t make it any easier to be around the rest of the time.

They Argue for a Living …

Think you’re good at arguing? If you’re in a relationship with a lawyer, think again. As good as you might be at proving your case with your parents or friends, lawyers argue for a living; chances are, your partner is really good at it and, quite likely, prone to it. Of course, all couples get into arguments from time to time (in fact, it’s actually healthy to do so), so you’ll have to get accustomed to getting shut down anytime a tiff arises—or up your own arguing game.

… And They Argue Differently

Yes, as mentioned above, all romantic partners get into fights every now and then. But when at least one half of a couple is a lawyer, those arguments are often different from the typical spat. Lawyers are trained to argue differently, and their objective on the job is to win arguments on behalf of their clients. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always translate well to disagreements in their personal lives. Just imagine a lawyer aggressively listing out her grievances against her boyfriend, one by one; it doesn’t take much to envision such a scenario not going well.

Emotions Can be a Challenge

Lawyers are generally a smart and resourceful bunch, often strong problem solvers who are adept at getting what they want. In law school, they learned to be ambitious, competitive, skeptical, and tenacious—all great qualities in a litigator. Great qualities in a romantic partner, though? Maybe not so much. The attributes that make for a successful attorney often are at odds with those that make for a good relationship, like emotional intimacy and vulnerability.

As mentioned at the start, it’s not fair to overgeneralize about lawyers, but many of the qualities that make a good attorney can be a challenge in a romantic partner. The good news is, though, that none of the qualities above is necessarily a relationship killer. The key, as with relationships of any kind, is to make strong communication a priority. And don’t forget: There are perks of being in a relationship with a lawyer that should definitely be enjoyed!