Can You Commit Fully to Both a Business and a Significant Other?

12 August 2019 | 31 Comments

I’ve run Stonemaier Games for the last 7+ years (full time since December 2013). During that time, I’ve never had a girlfriend.

Until this summer.

I’ve talked about my relationship priorities a bit on my personal blog and Facebook Live, but here’s the rough idea: When I started focusing on my company, I was still trying to date. I met some nice women, but I never felt like I could give the proper time to both my company and any of them. I love my company, so I prioritized it over dating. Pretty quickly I just stopped dating altogether.

Without other commitments, I was able to focus solely on Stonemaier Games. I still had time for meaningful friendships and hobbies, but I woke up every morning to Stonemaier Games, and I went to bed every night with Stonemaier Games. That’s how I envisioned my life continuing for years, and I was happy with that choice.

Then I met Megan.

More specifically, then I started dating Megan. That was 2 months ago (we had met well before that and were friends first). It’s been a completely new experience for me to learn how to commit to both my company and my girlfriend, so today I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve learned.

  1. I don’t need to constantly be at the computer to offer good customer service and communication. Everything about Stonemaier Games is designed to steer people towards asking those questions in public where an amazing volunteer or fan can probably answer faster than me even if I’m at the computer. If I spend a delightful afternoon with Megan, I often return to a few dozen e-mails and some online queries, but it’s very rare that I’ve missed something super urgent.
  2. It’s not just about me–we’re both committed to our jobs. I may have been looking at this whole job/relationship in a self-centered way. The truth is, my commitment to Stonemaier is only half the equation. Megan is just as committed to her job, and I highly respect that. There’s a mutual understanding that we both want to do the best for our respective companies, and through that understanding we give each other the time and space necessary to fulfill those commitments.
  3. I’m becoming more efficient. My typical work day is 12 hours. But it doesn’t need to be 12 hours–I could probably do all of that work in 10 hours. Maybe 9. Maybe 8. The relaxed pace prevents burnout, but there’s plenty of room for efficiency. I’ve had some of my most productive, efficient days ever while dating Megan, especially when I know there’s a specific time I’m going to see her after work.
  4. It’s amazing how much you can do from your phone in 3 minutes (and how often I find myself with no people around and 3 minutes to spare). This is the case whether I’m hanging out with Megan or with friends (or both). Other than to take photos, I ignore my phone when I’m with people, but there are still plenty of little lulls or breaks when I can check in on social media if I feel like I need to. Yes, sometimes this is when I’m going to the bathroom. But I’m fine with that. I’d rather do that than be focused on my phone instead of Megan when we’re together.
  5. There’s some overlap, and there are also some boundaries. It’s just a matter of asking. Mine is a job that can often involve other people if I want it to, whether it’s a business dinner with localization partners, events, playtests, brainstorming, etc. Megan is very supportive, and she’s an avid gamer, but I’ve tried not to assume that she wants to be involved. Instead, I’ve asked her both specifically and generally about the types of things she wants to be involved with.

I still have a LOT to learn, and I look forward to the journey. Perhaps most important, I’ve learned that adding something great to my life doesn’t mean I need to sacrifice the other great things I already have.

I’m sure many other entrepreneurs out there have considerably more experience balancing their company and their significant other. I’d love to hear your insights in the comments!

Also read: Running a Business from the Road

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31 Comments on “Can You Commit Fully to Both a Business and a Significant Other?

  1. It’s funny how we make blind assumptions; I’d always thought you were married with children already. But I thought that because I saw you as someone who followed through on commitments and handled interactions, communication, yes, relationships well.

    Glad you’re completing the picture. Good luck to you both.

  2. Having started a business with my wife while we were dating, our relationship to each other and the business has gone through multiple iterations over the last 7 years. At first we were both crazy committed to the business. Then my wife decided to pull back. Then we fought about how much I was working, so rightfully I started delegating more. That cost our business more and lowered profit, but was 100% worth it. Then we had our baby…and I wanted out of the business altogether! We are now 3 months away from closing on the sale of our business.

    My advise is to accept that your involvement will change over time and you will hire more staff to take your place on things. That’s healthy for you and your business! If Megan says something like “I feel like you’re always at your computer”, it doesn’t matter if that’s true or not, something has to change. It sounds like you have found a nice balance for now or being fully with her or fully with the business at the appropriate times. Just watch for subtle clues pointing to a need for another adjustment. As your relationship moves forward, your balance WILL need to change.

  3. I like how you sum up even things about general relationship. Maybe some dating advice guidebook soon ? :d just kidding. Enjoy each other, best luck :)

  4. Congrats on the relationship! The older I get, the more I realize how vital a healthy work / life balance is, and how it contributes to a positive outlook and peak productivity. I’m sure this will help raise Stonemaier to even greater heights.

    1. Jamey,

      While entrepreneurs will naturally find solace and a bit of inspiration in your words, I would offer that anyone who juggles multiple priorities will certainly find your comments resonating with them. As a full-time employee with the Department of Justice, a Reserve Air Force Officer, and one who serves a number of designers and publishers on a contract basis, it’s about balance, open communication, and managing expectations. I enjoy all of the three aforementioned areas of my life, but I love spending time and gaming with my girlfriend and friends, traveling (as I write to you, I’m sipping a cider in a London Pub), and reading.

      As Lucretius said, “Everything in moderation. “

  5. My belief is that there is much to consider when defining “richness” of life. One aspect is certainly success in a career, and another is wealth, but family and relationships trumps these in the end.

    I am very happy for you my friend!

    My advice to you as a man with three businesses, five kids (actually 4 + a 38-week pregnant wife), and extreme drive is this:

    Balance doesn’t mean 50/50. My balance point is more like 25% family and 75% everything else. We make it work together, and my family supports the hard work. The 75% hard work makes me treasure the 25%!

    Also, was Megan a Stonemaier Champion before dating?

  6. I *strongly* believe most of us can be more successful (whatever success may mean to us), in less time, than we are now. The argument is too long to put in a comment, but I’ve detailed it in an essay, along with a discussion of how I’ve changed my own life accordingly, here:

  7. As you and others have already said, it is fascinating how having someone you want to spend time with can make you more productive in less hours. This balance is something I have been working on for the past 30 months and each time I can manage my time and balance better. Plus, the insight she gives me for work topics is always good-hearted and fresh-sighted.

    Of course, there are some tough times when work takes a lot of attention but she has always been understanding and eager to see my projects unfold.

    I went through a significant growth as a person when I started to feel fulfilled in my profesional life and my romantic life as well and I believe both parts of my life interact in a good way; I feel happier, more confident and more excited to live each day.

  8. When it comes to life balance, I’ve always liked this analogy:

    The secret to balance between difference parts of your life is the same as those acrobats that balance many plates on sticks. All their plates aren’t ever perfectly balanced, it isn’t possible, but the secret of not letting one fall is to look for the one wobbling the most and spin it (or focus on it). So if see my wife or one of my children need me now I try to move things around to give them extra time. Other times my day job takes priority, and sometimes it my church responsibilities.

    Keep up the great work.

  9. Relationships are work. Good relationships are hard work, from both people. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s difficult all the time, but there is an effort required. I’ve been with my wife for almost 32 years, married for 19. It’s hard and wonderful and we are both always aware of the effort we need to put into each other and ourselves to make it work and be happy. Support each other’s dreams, hopes, goals, and crazy little side interests. Take an interest in the things the other person is into even if it’s not really your thing.

    And good luck. Life is crazy, laugh at it and it laughs with you.

  10. I remember running to the kitchen several Facebook Live-casts ago, yelling to my girlfriend-of-10-years “Jamey has a girlfriend! Jamey has a girlfriend!”.

    I believe this sounds very cliche, but we’re really feeling a part of this awesome journey you’re taking the whole gaming world on. We’re discussing almost every day stuff that you share and that happens around SM Games and we’re genuinely feeling happy for you with every next personal or business-related success.

  11. Congrats on finding that balance, Jamey. About 5 years ago i learned i could balance my day job, and a hobby (game design), AND a family! When I’m focused on any one of those I’m FULLY focused on it and that makes all the difference in the world!!! Multi-tasking is a fallacy. The best way to show up as your best self is to be entirely focused on either that person or that task in front of you at that moment.

  12. Very happy for you to realize that you can balance SM with a significant other when that person respects you enough to support you and your vision for your company. She sounds like exactly what you needed at this point in time. It’s often said that you’ll find someone when you’re not even looking! I hope you share more pictures of your adventures together (especially of New Zealand!) as I think we’re all invested now, lol ;)

  13. Congrats Jamey,

    Running my company is only possible because of the support of my Wife, I could never have made it 4 years without her doing miracles both at work and at home. Now I look forward to building something that my kids may want to be involved with in the future. Significant other is a significant plus.

  14. I started my own business in 2005. Married with 2 kids, ages 5 and 7 at the time, it was difficult to balance everything. I was at the salon 12-16 hours a day the first year. But, I noticed my happy, smiling children were turning into cranky children that missed mommy. So, I cut down to 8 hours or less and delegated more. It took a while to find the right balance. It was super hard to leave the salon in the hands of someone young that just needed part time income to hang out with friends. Things didn’t always run so smoothly, but my family was the most important thing in my life and I had to work from home sometimes when I really should have been at the shop. I sold the business in 2016 after 11 years after several spine surgeries left me unable to work. I do miss it. Running your own business is such a rewarding endeavor.
    I love that my kids grew up knowing mom started a business from scratch and employed a lot of people over the years. They both worked part time for me as teenagers. I hope it inspires them to take their own paths someday.

  15. I can’t say I know you that well, but I’m just super happy for you! Everything you mentioned sounds very healthy, mature and well communicated between the two of you.

  16. I’m in a similar boat. I work a day job, have a girl friend (who I live with) and work on a small business. For me it’s just a matter of prioritizing things as they come.

    I make sure to sit down for dinner with my SO almost every night, and I prioritize spending time with her every day. I also prioritize the needs of my small growing business. A new priority for me has been prioritizing at least 6 hours of sleep every night, and cooking at home most meals (instead of ordering). The prioritizing cardio a few days a week.

    Last on my list is prioritizing my tech job, but I guess that’s why I just need to hurry up and make my side gig my main gig lol. Overall I think this is a very satisfying and healthy life balance, for me at least.

  17. I love your attitude about dating, and am very happy that you have found someone to hang with! I am sure it is lots of fun and she is very special to have taken you away from your business :) I hope it all goes well, and I think your ability to be honest, transparent, and act with integrity are all EXC skills to bring to a relationship.

    But there is a much larger issue to consider. How do Biddy and Walter feel? ;)

    1. Jamey ! I am a firm believer in doing what is best for self care. I am glad you are sharing your life with someone special. I firmly believe that the Stonemaiernauts would want you to be your best self. If that ment less Facebook live we would just value those time more. I wish you the best in this new adventure!

  18. 6. Having a lovely young lady to spend time with makes you more time effective and more decisive. Especially if she’s waiting!

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