I’ve been thinking a lot about partnerships recently.

I’m involved in two major partnerships: a life partnership with Heidi, and a professional partnership with Minh. I feel that it’s vitally important for each partnership to act as an inseparable atomic unit (in regards to its own area), conducting its activities with the best interests of the individual partners in mind.

Heidi and I don’t make major life decisions alone, we have no independent personal finances, and we don’t keep secrets from each other. I really can’t imagine sharing my life with someone in other way.

Likewise, Minh and I make all our professional decisions together, we bill as a single entity, and we have complete professional disclosure. Our income is split down the middle, and we try to match each other’s time commitment. I know that there are other ways to go about business, but this suits me to a tee.

There’s something deeply fulfilling about partnership. You have to trust in the other person completely, and you feel a great deal of responsibility to ensure that you are taking care of them to the best of your ability.

That level of trust and responsibility are fairly difficult to accept at first. In both partnerships, we initially gravitated towards making things perfectly equal: splitting expenses, splitting the billable work, taking turns doing chores. Simply trying to feel that everything is undertaken in the same measure.

That sort of equality is superficial, unrepresentative, and (for all intents and purposes) impossible to balance. The beauty and value of good partnerships are that the partners are different and incomparable. Each contributes in unique and immeasurable ways, and I feel that you’re better off pursuing partnerships in which both are committed and not worried about quantifying value.

It may be difficult to do, but I’ve found that the sooner you think of yourself as one entity and the sooner that you stop keeping score, the sooner your partnership will flourish and the happier and more successful you will be.

But you know, YMMV.

One thought on “Partnership”

  1. Interesting post. I think we’re very different when it comes to partnerships.

    I’m not sure if this stems from noticing from a young age that my mom seems/feels kind of “stuck” or if I’m just wired differently, but personally I can’t imagine having joint funds with my boyfriend. I know it’s not the same as actually being married, but we’ve already had the “if this happens” conversation and agreed that while we’d have a joint account for things like bills, the rest of our funds would stay completely separate…possibly with a prenup. I guess my outlook is more along the lines of you never know what could happen and should consider all possible future outcomes. In addition this way I don’t have to worry or care what he is spending, and vice versa, because he’s buying whatever he wants with his money and I’m buying whatever I want with mine, so we don’t owe each other anything except for our portion of the bills.

    In terms of business partnerships…this could be different, I think. While I like being in charge of my business and being able to make the final decision in terms of instructing contractors, client communications, rates, etc, I can see myself partnering up with someone whom I’m well matched with. I also think that cross-business partnerships are very important. Thinking back on what I wrote just now it seems I do better as a separate entity working jointly/partnering up with other separate entities both in business and personal relationships as opposed to merging into one entity. I think it’s fascinating how different types of partnerships work better for different people.

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