It’s easy to see the fairytale ending when you date an aspiring entrepreneur, but many don’t realize all of the work it took for men like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, PayPal’s Elon Musk and Bill Gates to be successful. The women who supported them in the early stages sacrificed just as much as the entrepreneurs themselves as they dealt with their stresses and lack of free time. Zuckerberg had to put in so much time at Facebook that his then-girlfriend Priscilla Chan made him sign a contract that called for “one date per week, a minimum of a hundred minutes of alone time, not in his apartment and definitely not at Facebook.” A contract might seem a bit drastic, but it does demonstrate that it’s clearly not easy to date an aspiring entrepreneur. If you want your relationship to survive in the long term, consider these important tips:
1. See and understand his vision: An aspiring entrepreneur appreciates someone who finds his unique idea as exciting as he does. Whatever they’re planning is important to them, so caring about it is essential. Try to see and understand their vision while removing enough from the situation to give them the opportunity to take their minds off of work now and then.
2. Be supportive, understanding and patient: When you’re dealing with an entrepreneur, there are going to be many times that they’ll have to cancel plans at the last minute because of business. It’s important for you to understand that it’s not because he doesn’t want to have date night, it’s just because he simply couldn’t. Entrepreneurs are under a lot of stress: the last thing they need is more stress from you.
3. Make quality time: As mentioned, entrepreneurs are always busy, so your time together will always be limited. Make the most of it, and enjoy your togetherness rather than complain that you can’t be spending more time with them. Remember, quality is much more important than quantity.
4. Set expectations: Many aspiring entrepreneurs seem married to their business, so be clear on what you expect from your relationship as soon as it begins. Rather than make demands, politely tell them what you appreciate and expect from someone you’re dating.
5. Live your own fulfilling life: The majority of an entrepreneur’s days, nights and weekends are going to be spent building the business, so be sure to have your own life to occupy your time. Your partner will be happy to see that you’re getting out and doing your own thing, instead of sitting around waiting for them to have free time.
6. Prepare for Uncertainty: Entrepreneurs are unconventional risk takers who never lead normal, 9-to-5, predictable jobs. It’s important to look forward to the excitement of the inevitable ups and downs and embrace the uniqueness of your life together.
It’s very easy to date a rich and successful entrepreneur, but very few people have what it takes to date an aspiring, struggling one. Overall, however, it can be an amazing experience. You just have to be willing to take the risks with them, and ultimately try to be someone who can add value to their life.
Suzanne K. Oshima is a matchmaker & dating coach at Dream Bachelor & Bachelorette, an exclusive full service agency offering matchmaking, date coaching, makeovers and a date concierge service. She is also the founder of Single in Stilettos. She has been seen on Bravo TV, The Today Show, Inside Edition, ABC, BBC Radio, Men’s Health, Glamour Magazine, Your Tango and more.