Even if you feel like you’ve won the career jackpot where you’re excited to go to work every day, tackling new projects and deadlines with vigor, very few people can feel completely fulfilled by their jobs. It takes more than success to reach contentment, making interpersonal relationships and friendships another non-negotiable facet of your life.
But giving your best both at work and in love? It’s a tough task for most people, hence why work/life balance continues to be a pressing topic for many professionals. While it’s difficult to ever reach nirvana on this lifelong seesaw, if you find the majority of your stress derives from your relationship, the remnants of arguments might wreak havoc on your office performance.
While only you can determine if your romantic life is truly interfering with your ability to scale upwards in your industry, these warning signals are ones to heed with major caution. After all, you don’t want your pink-hearted love affair to result in a pink slip of another kind. Here, some ways your relationship might be ruining your career.
They don’t support you emotionally
Though everyone goes through periods where they’re not their best self — after family trauma or drama, woes with friends and the list goes on — seeing the glass half-full is a quality we should all strive for. If you consider yourself a mostly positive, empowered, and resilient human, while your partner tends to be dismissive and sour on most topics, their energy could following you everywhere you go, including the office. After all, as brand and career coach Colleen Star Koch explains, the company we keep speaks volumes about our state of mind and our personality. Because we all need an emotional backbone to keep us sane, if your home life is hectic, it can be tough to leave the chaos at the door when you clock in with your boss in the A.M.
“The people that we spend the most time with have an enormous impact on our identities, period,” Koch says. “No matter how smart, talented, and fabulous you are, a romantic partner who isn’t a good match has the potential to be the single determining factor in whether or not you’re successful in your career.”
They don’t agree on your meaning of ‘quality of life’
Consider your friend group from college: While some married as soon as their diploma was in their hand, others waited a decade and traveled the world instead, collecting passport stamps instead of stroller seats. While most people land somewhere in the middle of being nomadic and growing roots, Koch says choosing a partner who values and desires the same quality of life as you do will ensure your happiness post-working hours.
“For one partner, quality of life might mean ample time off to spend with your partner, adventuring around the city and having time to spend on personal growth. If the other partner in the relationship equates ‘quality of life’ with ‘financial security,’ and becomes a workaholic as a result — you have a problem,” she says.
To figure out if you’re both speeding toward the same endgame, Koch recommends to have a brainstorming session together where you envision what an ideal life would look like — from how you both excel in your respective job titles to how you’d like to spend your vacations and weekends and beyond. “This is where you can discuss where you have differing ideas and consider attending a facilitated core values workshop to help you understand what is fundamentally important to you both,” Koch says.
They don’t support you at home
While Koch says this all-too-common occurrence primarily impacts women who are balancing their maternal and professional timetables, men can also feel the brunt, too. What it boils down to is how active your partner is within the duties of your home. When there isn’t an effective balance and one person is spending more time cleaning, tending to children, and running errands, they’ll ultimately feel run down and exhausted, leading to a poor work performance.
“No one can work 24/7, and if you don’t have adequate support at home, you’ll find yourself constantly exhausted. Tired brains don’t make for smart, accomplishing professionals,” Koch says.
To help remedy this situation, Koch warns it’ll take ample patience and reinforcement to implement change. The first step though? Having a candid conversation where you barter about the responsibilities of the home and decide who will take which task. The key is to keep the energy light and positive, and really think about which chores make the most sense for each of you.
“If one of you finds dishes meditative, and the other really likes folding warm, fluffy laundry, then those should be your assigned tasks,” she explains. As for the must-do’s that no one wants to add to their docket? Keep it neutral and make it fair. “Do your best to take traditional gender roles out of this conversation. Arbitrarily separating ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ jobs is a shortcut to resentment,” she says.
They make you feel bad about yourself
Those cheerleaders you’ve collected over the years — from high school and college comrades to those pals who made a new city feel like home and the travel buddies you’ve shared the world with — make you feel joyful and appreciated. Of all the quality friendships in your life, though, your relationship should be the one that’s the most empowering and encouraging. Because your partner is meant to be there through all of the trials and triumphs that inevitably come with life, having a partner who doesn’t make you feel like the rockstar you are can be detrimental to your confidence. And poor self-esteem doesn’t have a place in any office, anywhere.
“If you have a partner who is constantly telling you how awesome, smart, talented and wonderful you are, that’s going to influence the running commentary you have in your head. Those thoughts will lead to feelings like competence, confidence, passion, excitement, daring, and drive,” Koch says. “If, on the other hand, you have a partner who doesn’t care about your work, feels like you’re doing something that isn’t worthwhile, or reinforces any of the ugly things you think about yourself, you’ll find yourself caught in a litany of thoughts that make you feel insecure, incompetent, unsupported and afraid.”
The bottom line
Seems pretty straightforward on which one will earn you the most happiness, right? A partner who doesn’t come to your corner and isn’t present for you only has one way to go on your ladder: kicked off, ASAP.
“Just as you would choose a business partner whose skills complement your own, and who doesn’t undermine you, be intentional about choosing a romantic partner who makes you feel more like yourself in the best, most deeply satisfying and supported way,” Koch adds.