Founders suck at relationships

It took me almost 40 years to figure out who I was and what drove my behaviors. Why did it take so long? Because I never took the time to figure it out sooner. But, this year, there was a moment. An event. Something that forced me to look deeper at what drove my actions and brought me happiness.

I wish I had done it sooner.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t too late. I still have plenty of time left (I think), I just wish I had known that figuring myself out wasn’t as daunting as it seemed.

If you’re a founder like me, we probably have a lot in common. Relationships are hard for us, but not for the reasons you might think. You might suspect it’s because we put in long hours. Or, because we never shut down. Those things are at play, but it’s deeper than that.

Do you know why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same outfit each day? He does it to reduce the amount of decisions he needs to make each day outside of Facebook. To you and me, that sounds smart. Almost inspiring to a degree. To someone that doesn’t understand how we think, it sounds fucking nuts. I mean, think about it.

A few months ago, while on my computer, my wife overheard me swearing at myself. Of course she wondered what was wrong. I explained to her that I had a to respond to every customer within ten minutes no matter the day or time. I was swearing at myself because it took me eleven minutes. I shit you not. She got upset. Not because I missed my goal, but because I would have the nerve to give my customers such respect without giving her the same.

My initial reaction was that she didn’t understand. How could she expect me to do both?

But, she was right. She deserved the same respect. I would often go weeks without responding to her requests.

What I’ve come to realize is that, like Zuckerberg, I’ve also been minimizing my responsibilities and decisions at home to optimize my performance as a founder. However, until I took the time to ‘figure myself out’, I had no idea I was doing it.

Entrepreneurs are independent. We don’t like others to instruct our behaviors or make decisions on our behalf. We need to be in control of our own actions. We’re all a bit narcissistic and believe that, without conviction, we’re the next big thing. We set lofty goals and allow ourselves to dream big — really big.

Rational people think we’re crazy for the things we do and the things we believe. Rational people set rational goals for fear of disappointment. Not us. We’re irrational. There is no end in sight for us. We don’t retire. If we don’t hit our goal by next year, we keep trying up until the day we die.

Founders are hard to be with. I’m hard to be with. This is the truth that I discovered this year. Because of all the things that make me an entrepreneur, I have to work twice as hard at being a good husband and father.

  • You have to treat it like another project, with items (buy gift, flowers, etc.) scheduled on the calendar. Once you get it into project mode, then it can be fit in and it works. Been married 26 years and she knows I have a system going in the background, but I don’t flaunt it and she doesn’t push because I’m way more attentive than 90% of the guys out there who are just winging it.

    Love doesn’t have to be always spontaneous. For some of us, it needs to be planned. But that doesn’t make it bad.

  • Agreed…one didn’t know how to keep one as she complained he never spent time and what he did? He got her position in his company despite her non-experience.

    Apparently sex was great and he was desperate to keep her anyways.


    P.S. poverty in her background gave her stamina to stick with it as nobody believed in her true love here. It’s kind of Pretty Woman story, although she wasn’t pretty at all….well, he was far from word handsome, either.

  • I just read my wife your story. Her 2 word response? So true.

    I’m exactly the same. We are hard to deal with, to the point where I don’t keep a lot of friends – simply because I know I think so differently to most people and that most people simply wouldn’t understand it.

    One thing I will question is the dreaming big. I’d say rational people also dream big. People l like us dare to take action on those dreams. We turn dreams into the goals you say we pursue relentlessly. One step at a time.

    Question? Would you want your life to be any different? I know I wouldn’t. I love being all those things you write of. Love it.

    Thanks for sharing your story and good luck with your venture 🙂

    • Think about motives of your wife to be with you.

      I think only somewhat desperate woman would commit to founders “madness”.

      My sincere apologies to real love stories.

  • “You are what you think all day long” Unknown.

    Hey man, if you think you’ve got the next Big Thing… do it brother.

    Do it brother. Strike it rich. Make billions of dollars.

    yea, man…only in America.

  • I like reading Startup Anonymous articles because they’re usually informing and/or interesting.

    I apologize if I’ve simply missed the obvious somewhere in this particular article, but it left me with nothing but two questions regarding its purpose; take your pick.

    1) Couldn’t the same goal have been accomplished if it was hand-written and given to your wife, accompanied by a bouquet of flowers?


    2) Did you make sure you got all of the KY off your hand before your next meeting?

    Well, make that 3 questions. Pando readers needed to hear this because… ?

  • I’m a woman. I really admire your honesty here. I’d say I’ve had the opposite problem. I’m really good at relationships, but some really nice guys have assumed I’d be too busy with work to be in one. I just let it go and accepted that I will likely never get married. I love my work, what can I say?

  • To anyone, founder or not, who is entrepreneurial, independent, always got something cooking on the side, etc: If you’ve exchanged vows and are married, take care of your spouse. Make them happy. Make time for them, go on dates. Invest in THEIR happiness. Communicate. Simple as that!

    As they say, “Happy wife, happy life”. Life is about relationships. No amount of money, prestige, material possessions, or business “success” can replace a priceless relationship, or the happiness of cultivating those relationships – spouse, friends, or family.

    It’s totally uncool to ignore your family at the expense of a business. Imagine, you suddenly got out of “the game” next week for whatever reason, business folded up, whatever. What will you have then?

    We only “suck at relationships” if we choose to. (True story.)

    mr. miyagi

  • The key is you try to stay committed in the relationship, not just let your wife be the only one holding it. Your wife will appreciate the effort regardless of your irrational goals.

  • Relationships and marriage are too much work.. They don’t even work out most times, I think they are a waste of life, not to sound so negative but they do waste a lot of time if they don’t work.

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