Relationships: What You Want vs. What You Pay For It

Stephen Hussey

People think they want a relationship with a successful millionaire entrepreneur. Or a celebrity. Or an artistic genius. Or a health freak. Or someone who looks like an Instagram model.

But they never ask: What is the cost?

I’m not telling you that being married to a billionaire won’t come without perks (even if they’re not of the dubious Christian Grey variety).

The question that really matters though is: what does the person I desire truly value? How do they spend their time? Because fundamentally, it’s not what someone is that truly determines the quality of the relationship, it’s what they are like to spend enormous amounts of time with. It’s how well they account for our needs in their decisions. It how much they are willing to play on the same team.

For example, we can easily imagine the same kind of successful person with two very different sets of values.

One kind may be successful because of a burning creative drive, a passion for serving others, a striving for excellence and making a positive impact on the world, a dedication to their purpose.

Another kind may be driven in pursuit of hedonism, status, a desperate need for validation, a need to dominate and control others.

This is why we have to dig deeper when we picture who we actually want. And guess what? Even with that great, kind, successful person there is still a hidden cost.

If you’d like to be with (or become) a successful entrepreneur because you dream of a stress-free, glamorous lifestyle, bear in mind: 90-95% of highly successful entrepreneurs work most of the hours God sends, including weekends, and are barely focused on anything beyond an obsessive drive to grow their company. They regularly skip social events. They may have few friends. They may not be very attentive to anything that isn’t convenient outside of their mission.

For some people, they look at this and think: AWESOME, I’M THAT KIND OF HYPER-DRIVEN MANIAC TOO! Or alternatively (I WANT A HYPER-DRIVEN MANIAC LIKE THAT SO I CAN BE THE LAID BACK ONE!)

In which case, by all means: go and power couple it up.

This is where the self-knowledge is the key to happiness.

We have to ask ourselves: How would I want to spend the evenings and weekends in a relationship? Do I want to hike up a canyon until I’m dripping with sweat, work on my laptop next to my beloved while we catch up on emails, or cuddle on a couch in front of Disney+ with a Domino’s pizza and a side of chicken wings?

And how about that social butterfly extroverted partying-daily adventure-loving guy who seems so cool on social media? Do you love the idea of being with someone who has zero off switch and is CONSTANTLY surrounded by other people? Because that’s what you’re likely to get.

It actually doesn’t matter which we choose: as long as we realise that every desirable trait often comes with a hidden cost:

  • People think they want a super ambitious partner, until they see the sacrifices that person has to make.
  • People think they want an arm-candy hunky Instagram model who, until they try 10 minutes of conversation.
  • People think they want to date a dedicated artist, and then balk at the life of insecure finances, crazy work habits, and obsessive focus it requires.
  • People think they want someone who adores their mother, and then resent the amount of time that person spends with their mother.

The actual lived experience of relationships, even great ones, is one of trade-offs. Some are more comfortable to make than others. Some of them may even fit us wonderfully if we choose someone whose lifestyle and values complement our own.

So by all means, order your favourite item off the menu. But make sure you know the cost before you do.

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2 Responses to Relationships: What You Want vs. What You Pay For It

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  1. zoey says:

    Thank you Stephen. This is so true. The last few years I’ve been working all the hours that God sends, building my own writing practice and completing book-length projects, which have been all-consuming. I have hobbies, take extremely good care of myself, and do all that I can to maintain all key friendships and relationships in my life. In dating, I have found that men like the idea of me, building up an image of the person they think I am, often disregarding the reality of my life (which manifests as anything from patronising comments [“you’re too pretty to work this hard”] to guys who show me off in front of their parents, friends, and bosses, telling me how great, smart, and worldly I am, but then are never willing to read, learn languages, or join me for a yoga class, which are some of the things that account for my time). While I’ve never struggled getting interest from guys and have been in several relationships, I’ve never been able to find the right fit and have asked myself many difficult questions about the changes I’d have to (be willing to) make to be in a relationship. I’m hopeful and always look forward to new connections, but I’m at times wondering whether what lights me up in life is even compatible with a long-term, deep, committed partnership, and, if it is, what type of person would excite me and keep up with me, while making me willing to trade off some of the things I love now for this new thing I’d love in the future (and what kind of life they’d have to [want to] be living for me to fit in with their vision).

  2. Prisca Nobukhosi says:

    In my career i always encounter the term “hidden cost” but i never thought of it when it comes to relationships. From now on,i will consider this!I know this information will help me choose to enter into a relationship with costs that i know i can handle very well. Thank you!

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