We were in a relationship for four months. We spoke several times a week, and our lives had become quite enmeshed. As it became clear we were heading towards something serious with long-term implications, I realized there were several key components missing from our relationship. I wanted to break up but wasn’t sure how to approach it. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to initiate the conversation. My partner baled on me first. There is one little twist: this was a business partner, not a boyfriend!
We began working together on my dating webinar back in September. ‘Kay’ and I were introduced through a mutual friend, sort of like when a friend sets me up on a date. We seemed compatible; she hosts a radio show for singles who are divorced or widowed, and I’m a dating coach for the same audience. I wanted to promote my new “Naked Truth About Dating after Divorce” webinar on her radio show. She had a different idea.
She was interested in expanding her services to include webinars, and asked if I would like to partner with her on my webinar. After much deep thought, I said, “Yes”.
Partnering is complex.
In any relationship, you’re melding two personalities with possible different communication styles and different backgrounds. Luckily, Kay and I got along well, and we offered one another complimentary skills.
After four months, we were almost ready to launch. The powerpoint was complete. The script was written.
Then I realized there were legal issues that needed to be addressed. I wanted to be sure we were well prepared for any outcome.
When I brought up the topic of legalities, Kay wanted nothing to do with lawyers. She wanted to continue with a good faith agreement based on mutual trust. That didn’t work for me. I was worried about issues that might arise in the future if one of us left the partnership. Who owned the intellectual property? What if the webinar was converted into an information product and we wanted to sell it on our websites? How would we distribute sales?
It was kind of like planning for a possible divorce!
I wanted to protect myself and spoke with several lawyers to see what would be involved.
They suggested drawing up a contract. It would be like a prenup. In fact, every lawyer I spoke to compared it to a pre-marital agreement. Interesting…
While explaining my project to each lawyer, I realized that in my heart, I didn’t want to work with Kay anymore. This webinar was my baby, and I needed to proceed by myself. It was my passion, not hers. But I was torn. I had already committed to Kay, and I take my commitments seriously.
So, I decided to go to contract.
A few days later, right before signing off on the contract, I called Kay for our scheduled phone meeting.
“Sandy, you’ve taught me to speak my truth and follow my heart”, she said. “I’ve been checking in with myself all weekend. I now realize that this webinar is not my first priority, as it is yours. I have other work that is calling to me. I have decided that I need to either postpone the webinar or pull out completely.”
Wow! I couldn’t have asked for a more clean and amicable breakup.
Kay and I both realized we needed to move on. I was so grateful that I hadn’t yet invested $1,000 for the lawyer to draft the contract. We both acknowledged how much we appreciated and learned from each other and promised to stay in touch.
The parallels between our work partnership and a romantic relationship are obvious.
What I learned from this breakup:
1. Go into any partnership with eyes wide open. It’s easy to fantasize when there is a high degree of chemistry and compatibility. But try and refrain from magical thinking. Stay as grounded as you can and focus on the positives AND the negatives.
2. Pay attention to your intuition. If your gut is telling you that something is off, it usually is.
3. Advocate for your own needs. While a partnership is ultimately about two people coming together, you need to make sure that your own needs don’t get negated. If both you and your partner’s core needs aren’t met, it’s probably the wrong partnership.
4. Speak your truth. If at any point you feel your needs are not met, make sure to speak up. Develop the type of relationship where you feel safe to talk through anything, especially the hard stuff.
5. If it’s not working, get out. The sooner the better. You may have made a commitment, but if it’s no longer working and you compromise too much, the cost of staying is greater than the cost of leaving.
Do you have any stories about the parallels between romantic and work relationships? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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Dating at this age can be confusing and frustrating. That’s why Sandy created a fabulous coaching group, a community of women who meet via teleconference 2X monthly to learn about men, dating, and relationships after 50. Sandy helps you stay focused and positive towards your goal of attracting the love you deserve. Click here to learn more about the Inner Circle coaching group.