Working 12 hr nights in a hospital, 3-4 days a week. How do I make a relationship work?

I am working 3 days on, 4 days off; 4 days on, three days off...overnight...on 12 hour shifts at a hospital (as a unit coordinator). I have been working on the unit for almost 3 weeks. I just started dating my current boyfriend right before Thanksgiving. We met at a retail store, Banana Republic, where we both... show more I am working 3 days on, 4 days off; 4 days on, three days off...overnight...on 12 hour shifts at a hospital (as a unit coordinator). I have been working on the unit for almost 3 weeks.

I just started dating my current boyfriend right before Thanksgiving. We met at a retail store, Banana Republic, where we both worked. I had been working there since 2001 off-and-on during college breaks when I was home from LSU, he was hired around the beginning of October. We were just work aquaintances at first, until I stopped seeing the guy I had been dating at the beginning of November. He asked me out, we started dating, we fell for each other rather quickly, and sooner than I expected I was calling him my boyfriend.

I found out about my new job right when we started dating, so he knew I would be leaving the store. He would tell me that work wouldn't be the same without me, and that he would miss working with me. I felt the same way, but I knew that taking this job at the hospital was right for my career. He told me, and still does, how proud of me he is. So I know he is supportive of my decision.

He knew from the beginning that I would be working 12 hrs. overnight, rotating, 3 days one week, 4 days the next. But, of course, he didn't know exactly the kind of strain it would put on our time with each other. He is working at the store a lot this holiday season, but on Christmas break from college, so he has more free time than usual...but school will start again for him in mid-Jan.

My new job has created tension for a couple reasons. The time restraints -- we have a limited amount of time to spend with each other, and we kind of work opposite hours. He tells me now that he hates that I work nights, and he doesn't like my new job [because we hardly get to see each other]..but wil still say that he is proud of me. So I know the scheduling conflict bothers him, and I don't really like my schedule either...but he tells me he is willing to work through it (as am I).

Another problem he expressed to me shortly after I got my new job...is that I was "starting my career" (I'm actually taking 1 or 2 pre-grad school class a semester too), and I got the feeling that he thought we were moving in different directions at this particular point in our lives. He is still finishing up school, which I have no problem with whatsoever, but I think it hurts his pride/ego a little that I am advancing as far as my career is concerned. Mind you, I am 23 and he is 21. So, this should kind of, almost, be expected being that there is a 2 year difference. He thinks I "have my stuff together, and am starting my career..." I guess he still feels unsure as to where his degree will take him. The truth is, I don't have everything together, it will take me SO LONG to finish grad school for Healthcare Administration at this snail-paced rate I'm moving at. Not to mention, that a unit coordinator position is like having a sales-associate position at Banana Republic. Its the bottom of the chain, It will take me YEARS to get within arms reach of where I'm trying to go in my career. (This has been my response to him)

I'm not sure what to do. I have comforted his insecurities about the whole "me starting my career, but he's still in school and unsure about whether he wants to go to law school or not", he hasn't brought it up recently, but it might still be bothering him. But as far as the time restraints, I have NO CLUE as to how to fix it. I can't change my hours at the hospital. I don't expect him to change his work hours because he is trying to save money for this semester, and when school starts again for him we will have yet another time obstacle to over come.

How do I get through all of this?? We care about each other so much, and want more than anything to make each other happy. But, in the last few weeks, there has been a lot of tension between us. How am I supposed to get around this?? I have thought about trying to move in together in a couple months, its too soon for me to do that right now. But, will that make anything better? I really, REALLY like this guy, I know he feels the same way...and we are such a darling little couple. I want it to work so badly! He is trying to be understanding of my schedule, but I know he is frustrated, and I am too. Is there anything I can do to over come this barrier in our relationship? I would really like advice from some one that works 12-hour shifts in a hospital, who is in a relationship to explain how they make it work.

Thanks, sorry for the lengthy explanation.
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