Startup entrepreneurs are not easy people to date. They have long and weird working hours. Many of them suck at communication. It's not unlikely that they have to leave in the middle of a date to solve a crisis back in the office. And starting out, they usually are broke.
For entrepreneurs, the person you date better be ready to put up with a lot. Chances are that he or she will have to hear all the war stories that you're facing at work over and over again. Last minute cancellations will become the norm, and he or she must be ready to step aside for your startup. This takes a lot of patience, great listening skills, and thick skin to hear. It's not an easy job to put up with an entrepreneur as a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife.
On top of all of this, it's tough to relate to a lot of the people you're dating unless they are in startups as well. You have to explain to them that the hours of your job aren't 9-to-5 and that you love what you do. The weekdays are when you come alive, not the weekends, and you put in a ton of hours without much pay to chase a giant dream you believe in.
Because of this, it's important that as you look for someone to date you make sure he or she can deal with your lifestyle as a business owner. Below, I'll go into three traits you should look for before dating someone as an entrepreneur.
1. He or she thinks what you're doing is cool
At Alumnify, I love designing new ideas for our alumni apps. It's a lot of fun for me, and sometimes in the middle of the night I'll get an idea and rush to the basement to get to work. What's great about this is that my girlfriend thinks designing is cool, too. Because of this, she totally gets when I want to skip movie night to draw something up. Even better, she'll actually sit with me and help. It makes working fun and is a great way to hang out together. Two birds, one stone!
Being with someone who is interested in what you're doing for your business is extremely helpful. When your company is getting off the ground, chances are the person you're dating is going to have to take a backseat for a while. The best way to deal with this is to have the person you're dating appreciate what you do and be involved. When you achieve this, you'll run into fewer arguments about spending time together. The person you're dating will get why you're so busy, and he or she will be much more accepting of it. Even having them know the basics of being a business owner goes a long way.
2. He or she gets along with your co-founders
It's almost inevitable that your co-founders are going to become your closest friends. I spend more time with my co-founder than with my family and girlfriend combined. Because of this, it's almost impossible to date someone whom your co-founders don't like. There's no way to separate them from each other. That's why it's such a huge advantage that my co-founders love my girlfriend.
The separation between work and pleasure is extremely blurred in a startup. Long hours and hackathons may be considered work, but as startup junkies, we live for events like this. What makes most of us happy is not finally getting to the IPO or acquisition, but the late nights and 3 a.m. pizza deliveries that got us there. These moments happen with your co-founders, and that bond is one of the strongest people can form with one another.
That's why it's essential that the person you date gets along with your co-founders. Nothing should come between you and the people you started your venture with.
3. He or she is willing to put up with you venting about work 24/7
When something is bothering me about my business, everyone can tell. My attitude completely changes, and all I want to do is vent about it to someone to get it off my chest. Bless her heart, my girlfriend usually is the one who has to hear about all the problems I had with my startup that day. What is great is how supportive she is about it, and how much she tries to help me think through the problems.
In a startup, especially if you're the CEO, it can be tough to find someone you can vent your problems to, someone who is willing to put up with it. You can't go to your team and tell them everything that's going wrong, or you'll scare them. Because of this, the person you date should be an outlet for you to go to. This will help you get through the roller coaster ride of a startup, and it'll also give you someone to ride out the journey with by your side.