Are you in your twenties? Are you an entrepreneur? Have you been told by your friends, your advisors, and your professional peers that now is your time to build your own life and not worry about things like settling down and having children — especially if you’re a female entrepreneur?
It makes sense, right? This is the only time in your life when you have no ties, no mortgage, no kids to support. This is the only time you can really do something ambitious, if you’re being practical…
This is a noble cause. There is nothing more professionally satisfying as building something. Something you love. Something you can “get behind.”
There was this girl. This guy.
Eh, fuck it. You’re busy. You have more important things to do. Changing the world is a full-time job and if you don’t do it now, when will you?
As with coding and management and matters of finance and marketing, relationships have a learning curve. You learn the basics of “relationshiptiva” (note to copyed: yes, I made up that word): How to deal with sexual etiquette, mundane everyday things, scheduling, and appropriate meetings with close friends, and some equitable plan for who’s supposed to pay for dinner or wash the dishesthis time. These are basics. And if you’re learning them in your thirties, it’s going to be much harder.
But that is not the point. The point is that thirty (or thirty-two, or thirty-five) is not the age when you want to be practicing serious relationships for the first time. Because learning how to develop a meaningful, sustainable relationship and keep it healthy takes some extended practice. You have to get beyond the basics — the sexual negotiations and the decisions about whose clothes go where and how to talk about exes. You have to figure out how to fight well, how to negotiate major value conflicts (if you can — some are impossible), and how to deal with theinevitabilities that come your way.
Relationships are too important to learn how to face those issues at the last minute. You have to go through a few of them to know how to properly conduct one. You have to fail. You have to date a few terrible people. You have to be the asshole yourself sometimes. You have to learn how not to be the asshole. You have to spend tons of time together — so much time that sometimes you feel indistinguishable from each other and you find that both reassuring and disturbing. You have to have a vicious fight and know it’s not ending you and that you’re going to have to work to repair it and that the effort is worthwhile. These things take time.
I think it’s fair to say — with no scientific evidence — that deathbed wishes rarely include, “If only I had put another twenty hours a week in at the office! That slightly cleaner product release would have made all the difference.” But that guy, that girl? You might regret that.
Thank you Elizabeth. More people need to listen and understand this.