March 23, 2019

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An Argument for Ruining Your Horrible Life

An Argument for Ruining Your Horrible Life
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But these Chads and Ricks are just dudes. They’re not supernatural.

And what you’re going through now is awful. This is a stupid example but: One day at my desk while enjoying a nice deli BLT, a wisdom tooth started making shooting pains. The tooth did not magically improve. But to me, nothing was scarier than the idea of confronting the situation. For many years I let this tooth slowly, agonizingly disintegrate in my mouth. I’d be snacking on a muffin and then suddenly I’d be crunching down on a sliver of tooth. I felt more comfortable with the agony I knew and didn’t want to risk something worse. What I’m saying is: I’m the dumbest person alive and also a coward. Fortunately, I don’t think you’re like me.

I’m not suggesting you do something because it’s the right thing to do, or because it’ll be easier than what you’re going through, or because you’ll feel better. I think you should do something because you’re not living by your own ideals. I think you’re disappointed in yourself. You don’t want to make a mess. You don’t want to “destroy” your small team (which should clearly be destroyed). You’re hiding, because you’re afraid. Well, you should be! I think you wrote in for courage, though. The least you can do for yourself is get unstuck. Grab the wheel with both hands and feel alive again.

I jumped into a partnership without any thought. I went into business with friends.

Worse, they came from the most toxic workplace on earth. They swore the toxic workplace was behind them and that, together, we would create a new work environment filled with friendship and sisterhood and respecting of boundaries. And then they turned out to not be my friends at all and to, in fact, still be carrying toxicity, pulsing through their veins and gushing in and out of their wizened aortas. I thought I was being gaslighted, but that seemed too dramatic. (And could women even do that to each other, or was it strictly a male-on-female crime?) Then I looked it up, and I was being gaslighted, and then some.

I came close to a nervous breakdown, and hid out for long enough that their baby company began to crumble without me. Then I ran for the hills. My question is: Are all partnerships impossible?

— Anonymous

I spent, all told, about 15 years as a business partner in start-ups, though probably never a particularly good one. They say the secret is communication. But communication is the worst! Communication usually involves feelings and telephones, two of the most gross things. The best I could ever do in a business marriage is how I try to do regular love-marriage. If you can truly explain and manage the most important values to your partner that are also alien to you — whether they’re about privacy, or dignity, or fairness, or money — then you’re doing the best job possible, even if you’re doing a shabby job otherwise. Partners have to stand together in the face of adversity. If you can’t explain what your partner cares about and why, it’s time to get divorced in the great state of Delaware. In time you will learn to love LLC-style again.

Choire Sicha is the Styles editor of The Times.

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