When Your Partner Is Already Successful And You’re Just Getting Started

March 16, 2018  |  
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In an ideal world, the only things that would affect the success of your relationship would be your chemistry with your partner, one-on-one. However the two of you are when you’re alone, that should (ideally) be all that matters. But your relationship doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The world will touch it an affect it. Things like your family, friends, and career will greatly impact the success of your relationship, and likewise, your relationship will greatly impact the success of your family, friends, and career. Of course, if your partner can’t get along with your friends and family, you usually naturally know it isn’t meant to be. But there is another aspect of life that stands alone, that nobody can really control, but that greatly influences your relationship: your career. You don’t control that the way you do other parts of your life. Here is what it’s like when your partner is already successful and you’re just getting started.

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It’s awkward financially

Your partner is making tons of money, while you’re possibly still paying off student debts from your master’s program. At the very least, you might be making minimum wage in a starting position. But realistically, your partner has to cover the bills and you might contribute to date night cocktail expenses.

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You may intern for his peers

If you’re entering the field a bit late in life, you might be an intern or assistant to your partner’s peers. Even if he doesn’t personally know your boss, when he meets your boss, there will clearly be an interesting dynamic. You also may legitimately just work for someone he knows.

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Your peers are his peers’ children

Meanwhile, your peers are your partners’ peers’ children, or at least the same age as them. When you bring your coworker, who is at the same level as you at work, home for a drink, she is half your age.

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Your big wins seem little

For you, a win is getting a “good job” on a project from your boss. For your partner, a win is making a career move that could increase his yearly income from $100,000 to $200,000.

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You need someone supportive

Because of the last point, you need to be with a partner who is extremely supportive of you, and treats your promotion from intern to paid assistant as important as any of his financial victories.

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Dinner with his colleagues is funny

You kind of feel like a college student having dinner with your parents and their friends. They’re all talking about work, and when they ask what you’ve been up to, you tell them what you learned recently.

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Sometimes, he’ll mentor you

Your partner may be able to mentor you. Even if he isn’t in the exact same field as you, he knows some basic things about business and career moves. That’s an odd power dynamic—having your partner as your teacher.

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But he also has to let you do it alone

Sometimes, you have to remind him to back off because it’s important that you succeed and move forward independently. Sometimes, he backs off when he thinks you need to go it on your own, and you get mad that he isn’t being more helpful. It’s a delicate dance.

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He might have connections

Your partner may very well have connections in high up places in your field. That’s a strange topic that is almost off limits. Just because he could put in a call that would help you skip ten steps in your career, should he?

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But you want independence

Ultimately, you don’t want people saying that you made it because your husband called in favors. And you want to know you can earn this on your own. So sometimes you have to tell your partner to put the phone down, and stop trying to set up meetings for you.

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(But you also need connections)

But also, sometimes, when a meeting seems appropriate, you do ask your partner to make the call. But only when everyone involved would be benefiting from the interaction.

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His stress is financial; yours is not

If your partner makes a mistake, he could cost someone their job, or he could lose out on a lot of money. If you make a mistake, the stakes aren’t quite as high yet. But you do feel very stressed still and need your partner to acknowledge that.

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He has to see you be bossed around

Your partner might have to watch you get bossed around. If you are just starting out in a field, you’ll likely be an intern or assistant. It’s hard for him to see someone talk to you the way your boss does, but he can’t interfere.

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His friends assume you’re higher up

When you sit down with new people over dinner and tell them in which field you work, they assume you’re further ahead than you are. They ask leading questions about your position, until you finally have to tell them you’re just an assistant.

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People wonder why you’re doing it

Some people think (and often say), “Why are you putting yourself through this? Your partner has already made it. He can support both of you!” But you need to forge your own path, for your own peace of mind.

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