Every profession enjoys certain advantages and disadvantages that may project onto the relationships of the people working within its confines. Dating a musician may certainly be a fun, exquisite, and enriching experience but one has to be prepared for some drawbacks, too. For all of you finding yourself ‘enamored of’ someone from the music industry (and those who would dream of it), we’re bringing you 10 useful tips for dating a musician.
1. Be prepared that you won’t always be the top priority
Being a musician is traditionally a very creative and emotional profession that is often powerfully driven by one’s passion for music. Therefore, for those who make music and are in the industry because they are passionate about it, establishing a music career is usually their top priority. As a result, they may often sacrifice their personal time and energy to be fully devoted to their profession. Someone interested in forming a relationship with a musician should be aware and respectful of it.
This doesn’t mean that musicians are interested in building a healthy relationship any less than people with other careers - or that they are not keen on giving their prospective partners the love and care they desire. However, it indicates that music may often come first for them, whether it’s composing and writing music, learning a new instrument (or developing their skills), or practicing with the band and preparing for an upcoming gig.
Having an understanding of this may put the relationship at ease while insisting that your partner, a musician, dedicates time to you rather than to their craft may create high tension in the relationship, potentially leading to a split. Naturally, it also comes down to what you, as their partner, are looking for in a relationship and to what you can accept and tolerate. Trying to change your partner instead of accepting is simply never a good idea.
It’s also good to keep in mind that a musician’s list of priorities, as well as its order, may not necessarily change even when they decide to settle down and have a family with their partner. This, however, greatly depends on the person’s character as well as values and desires, so make sure to have these aligned with yours.
2. Be okay with spending a lot of time separate
It’s not only the priorities but also the busy schedule of a musician that may often lead to a lot of relationship time spent apart. Whether it’s the process of writing and composing music, rehearsals with the band or a series of gigs and a tour, it’s easy to say that musicians’ schedules are typically everything but flexible (and relaxed).
Additionally, many musicians, particularly those that don’t have an established career yet, tend to have another job, often such that allows them flexibility for their music (mostly touring and performing). Especially with these artists, it may feel as though they work all the time and have little to no time for you and the relationship. This is something that you’d most likely have to adjust to if you’d want to be their partner.
It’s also crucial to remember that specific genres (and sub-genres) may require specific conditions and time availability. For instance, electronic music artists often perform during nighttime and on the weekends, too. If you’re looking for a partner with a stable sleeping routine (aligned with yours) as well as free time for date nights on the weekends, a musician from the electronic field may not be the right choice.
Generally speaking, the chances are that your own schedule with often conflict with that of a musician, with you often being the one that needs to be flexible and accommodate their timetable.
This means making yourself available when they suddenly are; being prepared for them to cancel your plans together (and having understanding for that); having dates in odd places, at odd hours; or going to bed late to provide them with support after their gig. Make sure that this is something you agree with while being aware of its downsides as well as possible consequences.
Being in a relationship where one partner works odd and unpredictable hours while the other has, for example, a 9-5 job, may be somewhat difficult. Such partners may often lack quality time spent together, which is very likely to negatively impact their connection and intimacy. You will need a lot of communication, mutual understanding as well as self-awareness to make such a relationship work.
3. Don’t freak out when they go on tour
Even if you and your partner communicate enough and you have an understanding of your partner’s music profession and busy schedule, tours are often more challenging to cope with. That’s because touring traditionally means that your partner will be away for a certain period (a couple of weeks to a period of months), unable to see you or provide you with any quality time.
It’s particularly difficult to remain connected with your partner during this period, as well as to stay informed about what they’re doing when not performing at the moment. One may think about all the ‘dangers’ accompanying life on the road, particularly meeting new people (of both genders), attending multiple backstage parties, and being more exposed to alcohol and drug consumption. Having such thoughts and anticipation, it may be hard to remain calm about the situation and not act jealous and suspicious.
Although tours are often portrayed in a bad light by the media, they are rarely this crazy in real life (especially in the case of smaller, independent artists). When not performing, musicians are often rehearsing for the upcoming gig or traveling to their next location. They also spend a lot of time waiting for something or someone, whether it’s loading and unloading their gear; the sound guy showing up, or actually going up on stage to perform.
Therefore, there’s usually no particular reason to become anxious, mistrustful, or doubtful when your partner is away on tour, if, of course, you consider them loyal and trustworthy. It may also be a good idea to get more informed, in advance, about what touring, as an experience, actually looks like. As a result, you’ll be more capable of reacting reasonably in certain situations, not letting your initial thoughts and emotions affect it as much.
4. Make sure that trust and loyalty are valued by both of you
Although trust is an essential asset in every relationship, it’s a huge ‘thing’ when dating a musician. That’s because the level of temptation that musicians are exposed to on a daily basis is much higher than in other professions.
Musicians and other artists are also usually perceived as rather unpredictable and perhaps flirtatious and passionate but that may often just be the general perception we have of them. The temptation, however, is often real, which can weigh on their partners, too - significantly, when spending a lot of time apart due to a tour, promo activities, or a collaboration.
It may be difficult for musicians to overlook the constant temptation in their life. Whether one acts on it is another story, though, as temptation itself cannot really hurt someone. It’s crucial to openly talk about the pitfalls of being a musician and mostly ensure that trust and loyalty are or would be highly valued in the relationship. It may also help to set limitations and boundaries that should not be crossed in any circumstances.
Naturally, such precautions will not prevent ‘something bad’ from happening but if you don’t even feel that you can trust the person because the temptation is too strong, what chance of working out does the relationship even have?
5. Be prepared to be the more responsible partner and make a lot of compromises
Certain articles on this topic may say that plenty of musicians have the ability to remain in touch with their inner child. Consequently, they may be less responsible and reliable and need people around them to handle the ‘serious adult stuff’ for them.
Now, although this may be true in some cases (more so in movies than in real life, though), most artists, particularly independent ones, tend to be incredibly hardworking, precise, and responsible. They usually have to, in order to progress and make their career work. Be aware that being a musician has much more than just a creative part to it. There’s a lot of administrative, as well as legal work included that may be a tiny bit less magical than the music-playing.
Nevertheless, since musicians have so much to do in their professional life, they may not be able or willing to take on any more responsibilities in their personal lives, especially when getting into a relationship. Therefore, their partner may be required to be the more responsible one, taking care of the household, important appointments (events together, date nights), being on time at these appointments, etc.
One must also be prepared to make a lot of compromises, mainly due to busy and conflicting schedules. As we mentioned earlier, many musicians are driven by their passion, as well as ambitions, and music is often their top priority. They may, therefore, often not be willing to seek compromises on certain issues, mainly if it’s for the price of their music.
6. Accept that there will be music and/or noise around all the time
Inspiration may hit at any time and improving one’s music skills is often a run of a lifetime. It may therefore happen that wherever a musician is or goes, music simply follows them in all possible forms and seems to never stop to play. Whether it’s them rehearsing with the band, singing from the shower, trying new beats, or playing the music of other artists that inspire them, music will most likely be around all the time.
Now, this may not necessarily be a problem - most people like listening to music, after all. However, one must be prepared that it won’t always be sweet melodies that you will be hearing. It will also be various, sometimes particularly annoying, sounds and noises, a mixture of very different instruments or fractions of songs repeated over and over again. If you rather prefer a calm, quiet environment, you should definitely consider this point.
7. Make sure that you like their music
A music taste is a very subjective thing and you and your (potential) partner may not always see eye to eye on particular styles, genres, or acts. This is not really a bad thing - in fact, listening to different styles and genres of music may be beneficial for both of you, exposing you to new influences and inspirations (even if you don’t like them at first).
What’s crucial, though, is that you, more or less, like their music. If you don’t, you may of course try to pretend, if you feel that they are a person you’d want to be with. However, the chances are that you won’t be able to pretend forever.
Confessing then to your partner that you’re, in fact, not the biggest fan of their music may be hurtful to your partner and may create tension in the relationship. Being constantly surrounded by music that you don’t like may not be an enjoyable experience. Not being able to support your partner’s passion fully might put some distance between yourself and your partner.
8. Be prepared to live in a messy place with a lot of music equipment around
This tip may be more relevant later in a relationship when you decide to live together, but it’s a really important one. With a busy schedule, there’s simply not time for everything, particularly activities around the household.
The probability that your partner, a musician, will partake in cooking or cleaning the place you live in is rather low. It will therefore most likely be you in charge of these things. Otherwise, be prepared to live in a really messy place.
However, the thing is that even if you clean regularly, you may still find your household a bit chaotic. That’s primarily because of all the music equipment and gear taking up way too much space. For rock/contemporary artists it may be a wide collection of guitars. In contrast, electronic music artists will most likely have a soundboard, a synthesizer, and multiple monitors with cables, at the very least.
Then there’s the collection of CDs, DVDs, or vinyl that many musicians have large collections of. With so many instruments and other equipment, it may be difficult to make your place feel tidy and clean so it’s better to make peace with it.
9. Remember that as an artist you partner may be more emotional than other people
Professional musicians have long had the reputation of being highly sensitive and openly emotional - more than their peers from other industries. While certain information about artists may be cliches rather than real facts, this one doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, the latest scientific research has shown that musicians are more sensitive to emotional clues in speech than non-musicians.
The research has also suggested that the earlier and longer musicians are exposed to musical training, the better their nervous systems are at sensing and interpreting emotional content in every sound, making them excel at empathy.
This means that musicians should not only be good at recognizing emotions in sounds but also at expressing them, often through their art. While being highly sensitive is an amazing trait for one to have, it may also partly be the reason why musicians are more prone to mood swings as well as mental health issues.
According to research from 2019, musicians are actually 3 times more prone to suffering from depression and anxiety than the average public. You can learn more about music and musicians’ well-being in our mental health guide.
The additional stressors, including their busy schedule, canceled gigs, worrying about finances as well as living up to their ambitions, can make things even worse. Therefore, if you decide to date a musician, be prepared to provide them with a great amount of support when needed. Learning more about the pressures they have to face on a daily basis and trying to understand their emotional thinking may definitely help.
10. Make sure that you have the same vision about your relationship/life together
Before we move to our last tip, we want to make it clear that dating a musician may be a beautiful and exciting journey. You’ll get to spend time around creative minds and energies, experience rehearsals, gigs, or even songwriting sessions, meet interesting people and have meaningful conversations with them, and broaden your knowledge and horizons in music.
At the same time, as stated in our previous points, it may not exactly be a walk through a rosy garden, often asking the partner to make compromises, being the responsible one, adjusting to their schedules, or spending a lot of time apart. It’s therefore important to ensure that you have the same vision about your relationship and the direction it will take, right at the beginning.
Often, a relationship with a musician, as any other artist, may well survive only if the person they are dating perseveres. Knowing what both of you want in and from the relationship may help you prevent this.
These are the 10 tips we hope will help you when dating a musician! Do you have tips of your own, or experience that you think could help others? Feel free to share them with us in our iMusician Comunity Forum!
As a bonus, we’ve come across a cool dating app, called ‘Turn Up’. Although not particularly a dating app for musicians, ‘Turn Up’ uses the concept of music-matching to help individuals match with the right people. We haven’t tried it yet but we do love the concept and the app has gotten some nice reviews! If you decide to try it, let us know in our community, too!
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