Q&A: where's the help for single FIFO women?
By psychologist Angie Willcocks
Q: Why is it that all the advice, articles, community groups, websites and dating sites specifically target single male FIFO workers? There are single ladies working in this industry and personally I’m starting to feel like the "invisible" problem in the FIFO industry. Do you have any idea how hard it is as a single female to fit in finding potential dates or fitting dates in when you work away? Not to mention the fact that potential partners tend to be less than happy with the fact you work away for most of the time and in your days home also need to find time for family, friends, social commitments, doctor, dentist or whatever. Then if you make it past that hurdle the fact you live/work with a male crew tends to make them a tad jealous. Seriously why is no one addressing this? Even my friends used to laugh and say "it must be easy to find a guy". Having watched me struggle for 12 months, they’ve changed their minds. I love what I do for a living but this is the one area I find is an issue and one everyone seems to ignore it.
A: Thanks so much for your email, and please accept my apologies because I know that a lot of my columns and advice here at Mining Family Matters are aimed at families and skewed towards the fly-in, fly-out worker being male. Of course, a lot of what I write is relevant for both male and female FIFO workers, and it’s mainly to make the writing clearer that I don’t write ‘he/she’. We’re always aiming to provide information, resources and advice to as many people as possible, so thanks again for your feedback.
One of the very common issues for FIFO workers is fitting everything you need to do (let alone the things that you want to do) in the days of R&R at home, and I’m sure that it’s harder for single people than those in a relationship – because you have to do it all!
The best advice I have for you about this is to be very clear on what your priorities are, and make sure that how you spend your time when at home reflects this as much as possible. For example, if family is very important to you, make sure you organise a catch up with family each time you’re home. Also realise that you can’t possibly do everything every time you’re home. I know this sounds really obvious, but it can help to make a point of remembering this each time you’re home.
You raise a very interesting point about men not being keen to date a woman who works away. I wonder if men are less likely than women to want to date someone who works away? I have no idea if that’s the case and it would be interesting to see some more research in this area. In the meantime (and this will sound like a cliché sorry!) I’m sure when the right person comes along, the two of you will work out how to cope with your rosters. And the same goes for the jealously issue.
On how to meet men, I wish I knew! I know a lot of FIFO workers, male and female, who struggle with this issue. The usual advice is to join groups and clubs you’re interested in, to try new things and to say ‘yes’ to as many invitations as possible when you are home.
To read other columns written by Angie Willcocks during her six years with Mining Family Matters, please click here. And remember that we offer a free email Q&A service with our psychologists, so just click here to ask a question about relationships, parenting or your career. All advice on Mining Family Matters is for general information only and should never be regarded as a substitute for professional health services or crisis services. To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.