Awkward Things About Running A Business With Your Partner
For about two years, my partner and I worked together producing events. It was a small night gig that brought in some extra income, and involved an industry that we both knew a bit about. Doing this work together nearly ruined our relationship—nearly. Looking back, I’m grateful that we had already been together for a long time before this happened, so we were already standing on solid ground. Had we been a brand new couple, I honestly think that doing that work together could have caused us to break up. It’s not like we got in a lot of massive arguments: it’s more like little incidents slowly began to pull at the threads of our relationship. Certain subtle conflicts and tensions started to plague us that just don’t plague a couple who doesn’t run a business together. Again, I’ll state that simply being coworkers at the same company someone else owns isn’t that bad (though that too requires some tact). It’s when you try to run a business with your partner and are equal partners. Here are uncomfortable things that come up when you run a business with your partner.
When a male client gets flirty
This happened several times: we’d have some male clients get flirty with me. They didn’t outright ask me out—if they had, that actually would have been easier, since I could have shut the situation down. Instead, they just walked the line of hitting on me, never quite crossing that line. But my partner, the client, and I all knew what was going on.
Do you lose the client over it?
What were we to do? Say something about it, knowing we would likely lose this client? And how did we say something, since he’d never tried to kiss me or touch me inappropriately, and had never outright expressed sexual interest? We grappled with it for a long time.
Who puts their foot down?
When we did decide to do something about it, we had to decide who would put his or her foot down. This client, unfortunately, was a bit misogynistic and we could tell that he may not leave me alone if I, the woman, put my foot down. But my partner also didn’t want to make it seem like he didn’t think I could fight my own battles. On the flip side, he was protective of me and wanted—very badly—to call this guy out.
When your mistake costs you money
There were a few times when I made mistakes that cost us money. Either I spent too much of our company money, or made a mistake that caused us to lose business. Mistakes happen, but it naturally made my partner very annoyed with me. Alright—he was downright furious.
You feel that financial loss at home
The worst part about making a financial mistake at work is that you both feel it at home. We both see how we’re nearly short on rent that month, and we both know that we can’t really afford to dine out much that month due to my mistake (or his—whoever made it that time).
A friend wants a job
Then there were times when a friend would want a job, and we didn’t see eye to eye on whether or not to hire her. I once gave my friend an interview—just an interview, not a job—and my partner was furious because he thought she was incompetent and would never want to hire her.
Both of your friends want a job
Then we had this awkward situation: a friend of mine and a friend of his wanted the same job with our business. They were actually both very competent so…who should we give it to? If it’s my friend, I’m the hero. If it’s his friend, he’s the hero. This came up a few times.
When outsiders mistake rank
Sometimes people would ask me to ask my “boss” about something (they were referring to my partner) or, they’d ask me if I always let “employees” talk to me the way my partner did. We didn’t want to correct them and start conflict because, well, they were clients. But it was awkward for my partner and I.
When an employee vents to you about him
Sometimes, people we’d hire would complain to me about my partner. I think they thought that since I live with him and date him, it would all be in good fun, and that I’d understand what they were talking about.
When an employee vents to him about you
Then sometimes people we’d hire would complain to my partner about me. Again, I don’t think they really realized how uncomfortable it was for us. But at the end of the day, allowing people we are paying to talk badly about the people doing the paying doesn’t set up the right precedent.
When he sees you procrastinating
We’re not always on top of our game. That being said, working with your partner and living with him makes you feel extra bad when you’re slacking off or procrastinating a project. When I would just be watching TV, he and I both knew I was supposed to be working something else. It made our home life a bit less relaxing.
When he micromanages you
Even though we were equal partners in the work, because we are also a couple, my partner would feel comfortable micromanaging me. And I hated that. It was as if he felt comfortable talking to me like he was my boss, because he’s also my boyfriend.
When one person has to stay home to work
Sometimes, one of us would be done with work and the other would still have things to do. That meant only one of us got to…go to a friend’s birthday party or…go to the Fourth of July BBQ on the beach. And the other had to stay home. The person staying home couldn’t help but resent the person having fun.
When someone tries to poach you
At various times, we both had people trying to poach us and get us to work with them. And honestly, sometimes the offers were really good. But even though they say business is never personal, it is for sure personal if you abandon your business with your romantic partner to work with someone else.
Any time that work leaks into home life
Ultimately, if my partner upset me at work, I couldn’t do what I’d normally do and complain to my boyfriend about it. He was my work partner. The lines were too blurred. I need separation of work life and home life, so we stopped running events together.