I saw this article posted by a friend on FB by Scott Weiss a VC at Andreessan Horowitz called Success at work, Failure at home.
To me pulling back the curtains behind a life, relationship or personality allows us to see the truth: that there is no such thing as the “perfect life” to aspire to. Instead we are all simply working hard on the goal of being the best people, friends and mates we can be. So don’t be so hard on yourself, learn a little, and share a lot.
With that in mind his post inspired me to post this learning from my own life as a serial startup/”entrepreneur guy” in a relationship.
Why You Can’t Optimize for Intimacy
The style of conversation that helps drive interaction, trust, and motivation within a business and its employees doesn’t translate completely with a person you have an intimate, loving, sensual, and sentimental obligation to.
Some things do translate well. For instance, the patience and even keeled temperament required to maintain a level of respect and openness is important to both work and home lives. On the other hand the levels of distance and tone you employ can have a stark difference between the two environments.
As an example, working on an emotional issue with a significant other doesn’t work well with checkins, progress updates, and check lists (which can be cold to a person you sleep next to every night.) While on the other hand focusing deeply on emotions doesn’t work well when communicating clear objectives and goals with peers and employees (that you hopefully don’t sleep next to – ever.) Again, there is some overlap, but the differences are monumental.
For me, being a startup guy in a relationship is a constant lesson in understanding those differences; not focusing on “optimizing” for your relationship but simply nurturing it together.
So in short as the title says: do not optimize for intimacy. And I know if you are a startup person you are thinking right now “I disagree, of course I can if I just…” Stop right there. I know you “can” – but don’t. — I know you think you can – but don’t! The other person may be feeling more focused and diligent (yay!) for now, but probably feeling less connected, heard, loved, or nurtured over all. Even worst they may be feeling like they are at work – and not in a “intimate relationship.” (boo!) :-p