Creatives, your romantic partner DOES NOT have to be your #1 fan

Creatives, your romantic partner DOES NOT have to be your #1 fan

By Jonathan Roseland

Do you feel scorned (perhaps even slightly betrayed) by your partner's insufficient support of your creative endeavors?

This person, who you share your life with, professes to be totally committed to you yet they just aren't all that enthusiastic about the creative work that may be the first thing on your mind every morning and the last thing that consumes your thoughts before sleep. You have a grand vision for the book, music, art, or other creative project that you're in the process of delivering which will deeply impact your audience yet this person who loves you seems more interested in the banal things of life. They don't care to read your book, they can't be bothered to leave a like on your (hoping it goes viral!) social media post sharing your art, or when you unveil to them your latest creation, the only feedback they can muster is "looks good."

Success meme

Perhaps, your journey as a creative has been a rocky one rife with false starts and unrealized visions. And your romantic partner was supposed to be there to make up for your weaknesses. They were supposed to encourage you every day, be your accountability partner (keeping you consistently productive), or they were supposed to handle some pragmatic department of details that you simply don't have the time or talent for.

It hurts that they just aren't more interested in what you're interested in. Perhaps you two have fought about this. You've told them what you want from them, yet what you get from them supporting your work is often too little, too late. Well, I've got liberating good news...

Your partner DOES NOT have to be your #1 fan (even if they once promised to be)

Your creative work is a unique expression of you; your experiences, your interests, your passions, your curiosities, your pain, your culture, and your desire to bring something of beauty to the world. It's NOT their thing. Unless you found your partner among your most ardent fans, isn't it unrealistic to assume that they'll naturally match the enthusiasm you have for your work? Even if you share a lot of interests with your partner, your creative work will not perfectly match the preferences and curiosities of your partner.

Do your thing

My wife is my #1 fan (but not necessarily the #1 fan of my work)

For over a decade I've poured my creative energy into crafting content (articles, videos, podcasts, documentaries, infographics, and two books) about the intersection of health, science, and personal growth - Biohacking. It's a consuming passion for me. And while my wife has done a lot to support my work, before she met me had NEVER read a book about health or personal growth. She had never purchased the kinds of health products that I research, write about, and self-experiment with. She was subscribed to zero podcasts or Youtube channels about Biohacking. She had thought about the topic of my obsession as much as you probably think about Ugandan politics. It really wasn't her thing.

Being a great wife, she's done a lot to support my work...

  • Proofreading my articles and books.
  • Co-hosting Q&A podcasts.
  • Being my camerawoman for videos I shot outside in public.
  • Dealing with a painful amount of import office paperwork for the endless string of product review packages I receive. 
  • Leaving some very witty, supportive comments on social media when I shared my latest article or animated video.

But, she did all this because she's committed to me, not because she's naturally very keen on the subject matter. And that's fine, she's done more than enough because the main thing that the partner of creative should do is simply NOT get in the way of the work. Your partner should give you space and time to work on your art; if you need an hour in the evenings or a few hours over the weekends to get deep into a productive flowstate they can wait to talk to you about that toilet that needs to be fixed (or whatever.) Beyond that, your partner should simply be holistically supportive of you - this my wife nails...

  • She helps me with a multitude of little domestic to-do's (shopping, errands, etc).
  • She prepares nutritious meals daily.
  • She provides ample rejuvenating emotional and physical intimacy.
  • She helps me stay in touch with friends and family.
  • She's a consistent source of good conversation, banter, and humor.
  • She encourages me to get enough sleep - giving me a reason to get off the computer when my productive energy is spent.
  • She's beautiful - she's all the muse I need to stay inspired!
  • And, importantly, she's not particularly dramatic. There's not a lot of (almost none, actually) unnecessary conflict distracting me from my work.

This gives me everything I need to be a consistently productive creative. And both the quantity and quality of my creative work have improved since we've been together - thanks, babe!


Being the supportive partner of a creative is TRICKY

Creatives want enthusiastic support but they also need constructive criticism - no criticism, no improvement of your craft. But it's damn near impossible for a partner to strike the right balance between the two. Your relationship with your partner is complicated and it can get contentious when you invite them to poke criticism at the sensitive spot of your creative work.


Also, as the creative, it's your job to stay motivated, productive, and enthusiastic. This should not be outsourced to your partner because they are more disciplined than you - if you need an accountability partner, hire a coach.

Still longing for a partner more involved in your creative work?

Let me point out a few of the ways that this might undermine your creative projects...

  • You have a vision (perhaps a very specific one) for your work; every day in your mind's eye, you can see it completed, shining for the world to see. The greatest creatives, who have become household names, were often very stubborn people who labored away for years bringing to life something that those around them discouraged. Inviting your partner's involvement may very likely subvert the vision you have.
  • Your partner may, very likely, have little-to-no understanding of the subtleties of your creative field. Yet their involvement in your endeavor holds sway over the final creation. You wouldn't ask a bicycle mechanic how to performance-tune a Ferrari, so why are you asking your partner for feedback on your work if it's in a creative field they have little experience with?
  • Feedback and criticism make you better as a creative, but you must carefully discern the source. If someone more successful in your field offers advice, listen up! The opinions of those handing you money for your work also matter. If your partner falls into neither category why are you longing for helpful feedback from them?
  • Your passion for your creative work may infect your partner, and they may decide that they want to get VERY involved as your co-creator. This might sound great, but what if they are severely lacking in talent and ability? Consider the unfortunate addition of John Lennon's talentless wife, Yoko Ono, to The Beatles.

I wish you the creative freedom that comes when you let your partner be as interested or disinterested as they want to be in your work.

As long as they give you the time and space to be creative and a hug when you need it, that's good enough (and should earn them a mention in the acknowledgments section one day).


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