If you’re an entrepreneur, the best thing you can do is be honest about the startup lifestyle and understand how it might impact current or potential partners. If you’re dating an entrepreneur, or thinking about it, you should realize exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Here’s a list of some of the most challenging aspects of dating an entrepreneur.
Think you’re going away for a nice weekend escape? Think again. Even the best-laid plans can (and often do) change at the last minute, and are frequently cancelled altogether. Being flexible is essential to dating an entrepreneur.
It’s an emotional roller coaster
One moment they’re flying high, and the next they’re laying on the ground certain of their startup’s death. (Note: These extremes often happen in the same day.) With all of the fear, excitement and frustration that goes into launching a dream, you can’t expect entrepreneurs to always keep their cool.
Competing for attention
Dating an entrepreneur is like dating two people at the same time–the business and the actual person. You may sometimes feel like you’re competing for your partner’s attention, and when you’re up against a startup, sometimes you lose.
Long work hours
You’ll rarely hear entrepreneurs talk about work-life balance because they don’t have any. When you’re starting a business there’s no such thing as regular hours, weekends or the end of the day. Though entrepreneurs don’t work 24/7, be ready for work days that go well past five o’clock.
“Putting out fires” is a catchphrase for a reason: When you’re starting a business, things always go wrong. Be ready for unexpected interruptions to pop up at any time, especially during date night, family time and vacations.
Building a business is all about connections and often those connections happen over distance. Entrepreneurs frequently travel for business–from meetings and conferences to important investor pitches–which means partners need to be ready for a little long distance.
Weekends are for working
A business is like a newborn baby. It requires constant attention and doesn’t differentiate the workweek from the weekend. While it’s essential to have designated couple time, don’t be surprised when you’re partner needs to work over the weekend.
When you start your own company, you put everything into it, including your finances. When times get tough (and at some point they will), there’s no such thing as disposable income. If you’re not up for living lean, you’re probably not up for being with an entrepreneur.
From the day they start dreaming, founders are on the hunt for funding, and it’s a hunt that never ends. Get ready for constant conversations about investors, pitch meetings and the next business trip out of town.
The journey of the business–the good, the bad and everything in between–is a big part of a founder’s life and will become a big part of your life too. Adopt inclusive language like “us” and “we” and take pride in the vision. This will be a big source of support for your entrepreneur partner.
Founders may exude strength and confidence, but even the surest of them need to know that their dreams are supported. It can be hard to continually back an entrepreneur (especially when all logic says that they’re crazy), but supporting your partner will empower them like nothing else can.
There’s no secret equation that will ensure a successful relationship (with an entrepreneur or anyone else), but being aware of these common challenges will better prepare you for the road ahead. As in any relationship, honest and frequent communication is the key to avoiding resentment and making sure both partners are fully supported.