I remember the first time my boyfriend came to spin class with me. It was like the first time I put my old dog in the pool. She splashed her paws along the cement side in a panic, glaring at me like I was murdering her, until she eventually settled into a comfortable rhythm. Really, the only difference between the two was that my dog couldn’t bemoan the experience before and after. With words, anyway.

If you want to date a busy girl, you have to be flexible, both with your schedule and your approach.

Spin class is not for the faint of heart. We’re talking forty-five minutes of heart-pounding, music-blasting, sweat-dripping exercise—a pretty foreign concept to him. (Of the many tasks he excels at, athletics sure ain’t one of them.) But, sore muscles aside, he was a real trooper that day.

So why did he agree to the torture?

It’s simple; I’m a busy girl. And if you want to date a busy girl, you have to be flexible, both with your schedule and your approach.

Before that, though, you need to make sure she’s actually busy. Women tend to give excuses to guys that they don’t really like, and “I’m busy" is among the easiest (and most believable). To determine fact from fiction, try suggesting a specific day, time, and place for a date. Asking her to go see a band play at 7 on Friday night forces her to give an answer, and if that answer is no, it forces her to tell you what she’s doing instead. If you leave things open-ended by saying, “Let’s get a drink sometime,” you are leaving the door open for her to brush you off.

On the other hand, if you’ve been seeing each other a little while and she then starts using the “I’m busy” bit, you need to ask yourself if she’s having apprehensions or just isn’t into you anymore.

But let’s get back to conquering this busy girl. 

Getting on her calendar is tough, so stay with her by staying one step ahead of her. Understand her schedule, then plan dates that show you respect it. If she works nights, try meeting for lunch, going for a walk in the park, or taking her to a museum early in the afternoon. If you can’t make the face time happen during the week, schedule a boozy brunch on the weekend. I love when my boyfriend meets me for a late afternoon round of ping-pong during the week (earmuffs, boyfriend’s boss!). Putting in that extra effort to make it work for her schedule tells the woman you are kind, thoughtful, and sensitive to her needs.

Then you’ve got to make it worth her while. Since the dates might be shorter or less frequent, make sure they’re special and fun. Don’t just suggest dinner or drinks; do better. Find out what she’s into and keep it interesting. (Like ping-pong!)

You could also invite her to group outings. Maybe your friends are all going to the Yankees game, or getting together at a bar for a friend’s birthday—see if she wants to come. Not only is there less pressure and less commitment, it’s another opportunity to spend time with her. 

To win a busy girl, you need to master the time in between dates. I’ve said before that being at the top of my inbox and top of my text queue is tantamount to being at the top of my mind—be thoughtful and use technology to your advantage. If your girl is an emailer, then even a one-liner in the middle of the day will do wonders for getting to know one another online in between the offline times. Get familiar with her preferred medium and get on it.

Don’t be afraid to go old school and leave her a handwritten note. Scribble something sweet or funny in a card or on a Post-it note and you will keep her laughing, keep her thinking about you, and perhaps most importantly, keep her talking about you. The more you are the topic du jour between her and her girlfriends, the better.

Through all of this, don’t forget about your own schedule. A busy girl typically likes a busy guy. She values her work, her hobbies and her friends, so she will value and want the same in you. While I love when my boyfriend comes to afternoon spin class with me—and I think he even likes it now—I don’t want him to bend so much to my schedule that he loses himself in the process.

There’s a way to be persistent without being desperate. Even when I used to say I was too busy to have a boyfriend—plus, who really wanted one of those anyway?—he stuck to his guns, waiting the better part of a year, determined to show me why love was worth my time.

And really, who can argue with that?

Busy, shmizzy.

In Two Weeks: Single at the Wedding