My boyfriend puts my business down. Help!

Dear Aunty B,

My business began operating six months ago and though it’s growing slowly, I am determined to see it succeed.

My boyfriend of two years (a corporate lawyer) doesn’t qualify me as an entrepreneur or a success because in his own words “until you make a living out of this, you’re not a success”.

Our relationship is great in all areas except when it comes to talking about my business. He almost seems ashamed to introduce me to his business contacts. He even refused to let me join his entrepreneur group because he believes my lack of experience will add no value to the group, given that the other entrepreneurs in the group are established and successful.

Almost every time we touch upon the subject of business, he will try to belittle me. He knows two businesswomen in their late 20s who are ‘successful’ and uses them as comparisons. He constantly asks, “When are you going to succeed? When I was your age, I already accumulated two properties, what do you have to show?” I’m 25 by the way.

Friends tell me he sounds jealous of my start up. I personally think he seems ashamed of my struggle to expand my business. I know I will succeed eventually, but in the meantime, how do I shut him up? It’s really discouraging to hear unconstructive criticisms from your partner.


Dear Chloe,

You have very nice friends! Very nice indeed. And can I pass on to you my heartfelt congratulations for your successful start and your determination to succeed. Because it is ultimately that determination that will get you through the next few years. And then Chloe, one day you suddenly realise you have made it! Your business has customers, a brand, great staff, a presence in the marketplace… and you feel fantastic! But now is that hard part, so understand that when things are particularly tough.

So you have a lot of things going for you. A great future, an optimistic, determined personality and terrific friends.

Now for the bad news. Dump your boyfriend. Hear me out because this is very important.

Corporate Lawyer is a mean, vicious, status-seeking man who is very insecure. He gets a boost by putting you down. Why else would he do it? When you love someone Chloe, the deal is that you love what they do. You support them. You are on their side through life. That’s the deal and that is at the heart of good relationships.

Think of Corporate Lawyer for example. How do you feel about him? You probably see a highly successful, intelligent, handsome man around town while everyone else sees a mean, boring, balding corporate lawyer who will burn out at 35. He is not seeing you for what you are: he sees a failure. Furthermore he is dragging you back.

Many successful female entrepreneurs end up leaving their partners because they are not supported. They then re-partner and say it is the best thing they have ever done.

Not convinced? Look into the future. Imagine staying with Corporate Lawyer. You are 30, your business is going well. But it is still not as successful as Oprah or Janine Allis. You have a baby. He comes home at night and you have not got out of your dressing gown. (Yes, it will happen to you too!)

This is the type of man who is appalling when baby comes along. Your confidence will plummet as he asks why you are not socialising like a yummy mummy and pinches those extra kilos around your waist. As you struggle to cope with baby and business, his insecurity will worsen and his attacks will get more vicious.

But forget him. Focus on yourself. Why are you are in a verbally abusive relationship? What is a gorgeous young woman with a great life ahead of her doing with a loser corporate lawyer who is determined to undermine you? I think you are going to need to see a counsellor to work through your choice because women in relationships like yours often just keep making excuses not to leave but never really know why they stay.

Good luck!
Your Aunty B

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