It’s hard enough to maintain a relationship when you have a regular 9-to-5 job.
But when your job could take you halfway around the world at the drop of a hat, and missing out on family events is the norm, things get exponentially more complicated.
“You miss a lot of holidays and you miss a lot of big things, like graduations,” Annette Long, a flight attendant with 13 years of experience, tells Business Insider. “My family is kind of used to it. They don’t even expect me.”
Long says that, because she is on reserve and has to fly wherever and whenever the airline sends her during the month of December, she hasn’t spent many Christmases at home with her family.
“I think when you become a flight attendant you kind of have to give up big holidays with your family, and you find other ways to celebrate them,” she says. “You do what you have to do.”
Long says that flight attendants often find dating to be particularly tricky. “It could be difficult I think trying to explain your job, your schedule, and what going out means,” she explains. “It’s really not going to the nightclub. It’s going out to dinner, maybe getting a cocktail, and then to bed.”
Aircrew will generally do things together for the duration of a trip, she says. “But we’re just a family for the three or four days we’re working together and that’s it. We’re done.”
“When you say, ‘Oh yeah, I went out with the crew and the pilots picked up the check’ — I’m just using this as an example because it usually doesn’t happen that way — a guy could get jealous,” Long says.
“If you start dating someone who doesn’t know what the business is like, I think there could be a lot of opportunities for jealousy,” she explains.
It’s not surprising, then, that, according to data from the US census bureau, flight attendants are highly likely to marry other flight attendants. The reason likely comes down to lifestyle compatibility.
As Dr. Michael McNulty, a master trainer from the Gottman Institute and founder of the Chicago Relationship Center, previously told Business Insider, it’s understandable for people who share atypical hours, intense demands and responsibilities, and a distinct way of life that goes with their occupation to marry each other.
“It may feel more workable to marry someone who shares the same kind of schedule, rather than having to constantly explain the demands of one’s position to a partner or spouse who works in a different profession,” he said. “The fact that partners hold the same type of position may mean that they can relate to each other’s compassion for work or the challenges one another face.”
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