Founders are a rare breed. We’re sales machines, relentless hustlers, and wholeheartedly dedicated to making an impact in the world. At the end of the day, however, we’re human— not superhuman. We have finite hours in the day and often find ourselves walking a tightrope between our emotionally charged days and our equally demanding personal relationships.
Entrepreneurship is all consuming — we’re often tired and distracted. We’re perpetually in our own heads — which makes us terrible lovers. But with any ‘problem,’ there is a clear solution.
Best-selling author, TED speaker, psychotherapist, and consultant to Fortune 500 companies Esther Perel — author of Mating in Captivity — has seen these challenges over and over. She’s committed her career to studying and strengthening relationships, particularly between romantic partners. We recently invited her to Clarity Live to talk about a topic that so many entrepreneurs experience but are afraid to talk about: the tension between our greatest loves and our greatest biggest successes.
The biggest takeaway? We can have it all — but the process requires changes to your routine. Perel navigates the three questions that are on almost every entrepreneur’s mind:
What It Means to Love
Perel points out that the concept of love has undergone a seismic shift. We still expect our partner to provide what we expect from traditional committed relationships — companionship, economic support, children, and social status.
But now, there’s more to the story.
In addition to these traditional values, explains Perel, we expect our partners to be our most trusted partners and confidants. And our best friends. Not to mention, we’re living twice as long.
The Journey to Parenthood
The transition to parenthood is complex, as Perel points out. It’s a process that spans five years at minimum — at least until the youngest one is in kindergarten. The journey is exhausting and in Perel’s words — “a long stretch.”
This transition brings a diminishment of resources — time, money, freedom, etc. Couples will inevitably undergo a significant change in their roles. This process will happen naturally and likely inspire confusion — perhaps even an identity crisis. One parent will ultimately evolve into the primary caregiver and the other will keep moving forward with business as usual.
It’s crucial that couples learn to embrace and navigate this dynamic. Perel explains how.
The Myth-Meets-Reality of Having It All
Entrepreneurs can have it all — but it’s going to take a lot of work. Some days, you might find yourselves floundering. You’ll hit a dead end.
But relationships are like business. They take practice. You need to implement systems. You need to study what’s worked for others and implement these solutions for yourself. Perel walks us through a few key strategies.
The stereotype of the lonely founder is far too common — enough to convince us that the experiences of starting a business and finding love are incompatible. But life doesn’t stop. As entrepreneurs — naturally passionate, empathetic, and curious people — we owe it to ourselves to find love. It takes practice, patience, and continued learning. Keep fighting. Don’t give up.
Esther Perel is an psychotherapist, business consultant, international best-selling author of Mating in Captivity, and TED speaker (4.7 million views). Her experiences include:
- Completing more than 30,000 hours of private practice work.
- Being featured as a world-renown and New York Times recognized expert on relationships and sexuality.
- Establishing fluency in 9 languages.