When Your Partner Quits His High-Paying Job To Chase His Dreams

December 2, 2019  |  
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career change and relationships

Source: Jay Yuno / Getty

When we’re young, it’s hard to understand that almost nothing in life is guaranteed. Everything is fluid. Many of the things that bother you today probably won’t last forever. Meanwhile, many of the things you take comfort in today probably also won’t last forever. Getting through this thing called life requires flexibility and the ability to adapt.


I bring this up because, it’s so important that the things you love about your partner are the permanent things, namely, his character traits. Those are about the only things you can be sure are here to stay. His appearance, status, income, and all other superficial factors can and likely will change many times throughout your lifetime. If you met when you were both quite young, you’ll likely be together through many of those changes. And one big change that may occur is career path.


Perhaps you met your partner when he was young, and thought he’d picked the career he wanted for life (because that’s a decision we feel forced to make young). But, as he gets older, he may find that the job he got because of the internship he had in college because of the major he picked in college isn’t what will make him happy for all of his working years. And he may quit it, to follow his dreams. Which is admirable. But, what his miserable job lacked in inspiration it made up for in salary and structure. Now that your partner is chasing his dreams, those two things are about to go out the window—at least for a while. And you’ll be along for the ride. That’s why I said make sure the things you love about your partner relate to his character. That will be important right now. Here’s what it’s like when your partner quits his high paying job to follow his dreams.


He’s about to be very busy

Busier than you could imagine. If you thought he was busy at his salaried job, that was nothing. There are no set hours to chasing your dreams. You set your hours. You can work as little or as much as you want. If he’s ambitious and really wants this to work out, he’ll lean to the as much side. He may be up earlier than you and later than you, sending out emails, chasing down leads, working on his website, and so on. He’ll be anxious about working as much as he can each day, probably for fear that, if he slows down, he’ll never pick it back up.


And very sensitive

He may be sensitive at first. He’s literally just shrugged off part of his identity. Even though you know that he is more than his job, and he knows it, too, men do hang a lot of their identity on their careers. So he can feel…very lost right now. He can feel like he’s lost touch with who he is. This can lead him to feeling very sensitive, and he probably won’t take well to you teasing him about it.


Particularly about free time

He is feeling insecure about “not having anything to do.” If he doesn’t yet have work or clients, he may feel useless. He may project that onto you. So if you ask if he’d like to grab lunch in the middle of a weekday, he may lash out and say something like, “Don’t think that just because I’m working for myself right now that I’m busy at a moment’s notice.”


Get ready to brainstorm

He pretty much needs to think about his goals constantly until he’s achieved them. When someone is starting from scratch, he doesn’t get the luxury of leaving work at the office. There is no office. Or, well, the home is the office. His mind is the office. He’ll feel anxious, fearing that if he takes his mind off of his goals for a moment he’ll lose sight of them. So he’ll want to talk to you about them a lot.


And prepare to budget

He may tell you that your spending habits don’t need to change at all. He may even insist that. It may be true, and it may be his pride speaking. It’s hard for a man to tell his partner, “I can’t afford to do that right now” or “We can’t afford to do that right now.” You may have to guess, on your own, that it’s not a good time for you two to go on a cruise or buy all new furniture.


People will have a lot of questions

People—friends and family—will have a lot of questions about what exactly your partner is doing. Has he tried this? Emailed that person? Checked out that resource? Updated this skill? Everybody wants to help, but the help can feel like judgment and/or pressure. While you appreciate their input, you also didn’t come to this dinner party to work on your partner’s resume.


He may not sleep well

He may not sleep well during the first few weeks of this change. I know my partner didn’t. When you have a regular, office, salaried job, you sleep well. You know what the schedule is. You know you are allowed to not think about work for the 16 hours you’re away from it, so you sleep soundly. You know what’s to come the next day (or basically know), so you aren’t up wondering. That all goes away when you start from scratch.


You may worry about money

You may find yourself worrying about money. Things have been working well so far. You both pay your parts of the bills. You’ve been saving. You have some financial goals—perhaps you hoped to buy a home in a few years, renovate your home, or plan a trip to Europe. You can’t help but wonder how this change will affect things.


Have a talk about it

It could help to just sit down and have a talk about what his financial plan is. You may find comfort in knowing that he actually has one. My partner let me know that he does, in fact, have a few savings accounts that he can dip into if he must, and he is prepared with a financial cushion for several months. He can afford for things to take a while to take off.


There may be mood swings

He might go through some mood swings. Losing structure can do that to a person. Leaving a salaried job and starting all over can leave a person feeling like the ground has been pulled out from under him. It can lead to existential thoughts, depression, mania, and panic. At his old job, his moods were predictable. He was in work mode, and then he was in relaxation mode. It was that simple.


Celebrate the small wins

You have to celebrate the small wins as if they are massive because they are massive to your partner. If it’s something as simple as one person—out of the 20 he emailed—getting back to him and saying they might have a project for him, that’s a big deal. That’s something to celebrate. He needs you to be excited for him so he can keep his head up.


Understand the “small” losses

You also have to understand that the “small” losses feel quite bad to him. If he has a lead, and then it turns cold, he’ll be devastated. He has very little to work with right now, so every turn of events impacts him greatly. Try to sympathize if he’s very down about something that you don’t think seems like a big deal.


Your parents will have something to say

Your parents will be worried about your partner quitting his good-paying job to chase his dreams. They are parents—they are just worried about you. It’s not that they don’t believe in your partner or don’t want him to be happy. It’s just that no parent loves to hear that their baby’s partner is now…making zero money.


You can protect him, to an extent

You may try to avoid the subject with your parents. You may make up a few white lies about how well things are moving along for your partner. You may tell them they should be happier for him—they should even be impressed that he’s chasing his dreams. You can’t protect him from their questions forever though—he knows he has to face the music and assure your parents that he will still provide for their baby.


Remain very positive

What your partner needs more than anything right now is for you to be very positive. If you have any concerns, I can promise you that he’s already thought about them. He is hard enough on himself. He doesn’t need outsiders telling him what the odds are that he’ll succeed or what obstacles he may face. He knows. He needs you to be positive, even when he isn’t.

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