When You Don’t Believe In Your Partner’s Business Idea

March 22, 2019  |  
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I once dated a man who was in the throws of trying to get his business idea off the ground. He was living in a boat—not like a nice, big yacht but a little tiny boat—because he could only afford a boat slip and not real rent while he put everything (read: money) he had into this idea. I found his enthusiasm and go-getter spirit very attractive, but, in my gut, I worried that he should be dedicating those assets to something else. It was, to say the least, awkward. When someone wants to launch their own business, whether that’s an app, a restaurant, a store, or a jewelry line, the work consumes them. It’s all they think about. It’s all they dream about. Those factors are already hard on a relationship when the business idea is a good one. Now imagine how tough it is when your partner’s business idea is taking over your relationship and you don’t even think it’s a good one.

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Large investments worry you

You have to sit quietly while this man puts some of his life savings (or, worse, takes out a loan) to invest in this business. If you aren’t married and your finances aren’t joined in any way, you can’t stop him. But my goodness do you want to stop him.

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He turns down good jobs

You’ll watch him turn down good jobs in favor of pursuing this dream. His family, his friends, or even your family and friends who are also worried about him offer him jobs. They try to hook him up with interviews. But he says, “No thank you” and your skin crawls.

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His friends sense you’re unsupportive

His friends can sense that you are unsupportive. They just know it. They say things to you like, “Isn’t this so exciting?” or “Isn’t he so impressive?” and you so clearly don’t match their enthusiasm. So now, they think you’re a bad partner to their friend.

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You put on a fake face with his family

You have to put on a fake face in front of his family. They cannot know that you don’t support their son. Unless, of course, they also think this is a bad idea. Then you have this awkward scenario by which they pull you aside for a side bar and ask you to talk him out of it. You don’t want to team up with your man’s parents against him. But, they’re right.

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You have to be the greatest actor

You find yourself having to act a lot. You have to pretend to be excited when things go well for your guy’s business idea. Deep down, you think progress is a bad thing because it gives him false hope. You have to pretend to be sad when things go poorly when, truly, you’re hoping your guy gets dissuaded.

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You must word concerns very carefully

If you say anything that sounds like concern or doubt, you have to word it so carefully. In fact, it must never sound like doubt. You become very good at choosing words diplomatically.

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When he tells your friends about it

You cringe a little when he excitedly tells your friends all about his business idea. You know your friends have similar thinking to your own, and are sitting there finding all the holes in his idea, also pretending to be excited for him.

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And you tell your friends the real deal

You have to pull your friends aside and tell them you know it’s not a good idea, just so they know you’re still sane. But you also feel guilty doing this, because now you’re talking about your partner behind his back.

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You can’t engage in brainstorming talks

Sometimes he wants to brainstorm with you and it’s very difficult. Coming up with ideas for a business in which you don’t believe feels like trying to get blood from a stone.

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You want him to know you believe in him

The sad and strong underlying feeling throughout the experience is that you want your partner to know you believe in him. You do believe in him. You wouldn’t be with him if you didn’t think he was intelligent and hard working. But, it’s almost impossible to say anything doubtful about his business idea without sounding like you don’t believe in him.

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You don’t want to be the negative Nancy

You feel like a negative Nancy, when all of his friends (and perhaps business partner) are just talking about how great this will be. You resent being made to feel that way when you know you’re just realistic.

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But you know his skills lie elsewhere

You know your partner’s skills lie elsewhere. There’s no diplomatic way to say that. If you tell him he’s good at something else, all he’ll hear is that he’s not good at this thing he’s trying to do.

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Your financial future is a concern

Even if, at the moment, you don’t share finances, if you plan on spending your life with this person, then you feel like your finances are impacted. You watch his savings go into this business—savings he could have combined with yours in a stock or bond one day, in the hopes of growing that money to buy a home.

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If the tables were turned…

You know that if the tables were turned, it would be very hard for you to have a partner who was vocal about doubting your dream. In fact, you know you’d probably think that man was just wrong for you.

 

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He has to learn on his own

Ultimately, you have to grin and bear it and understand that, if this isn’t meant to be, that will reveal itself in due time. It’s best to protect your relationship and make sure your bond remains intact and the only way to do that is to let your man figure this out for himself.

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