Momentum Podcast: 425
What No One Will Tell You
by Alex Charfen
As entrepreneurs, we tolerate too much. You know that, and I know that. And we also have a hard time finding romantic relationships. As a result, there're a lot of entrepreneurs that get into relationships and stay in them may be longer than they should. And what's shocked me, throughout my career, is that there's a lot of entrepreneurs who are in abusive relationships and if you're in one or you think you might be, let me give you some insight and tell you what no one else is telling you about what your abusive relationship is doing to you.
As entrepreneurs, we tolerate too much.As a result, too often, we get into relationships (personal and business) that are totally wrong and stay in them for much longer than we should. Throughout my career, I've seen over and over again, entrepreneurs stuck in abusive relationships.As a result, too often, we get into relationships (personal and business) that are totally wrong and stay in them for much longer than we should.
Throughout my career, I've seen over and over again, entrepreneurs stuck in abusive relationships.If you know you're in an abusive relationship or you have a suspicion that you might be, let me give you some insight and tell you what no-one else will.If this episode resonates with you and you want some more information on this topic you can check out ‘Entrepreneurs and Abusive Relationships'
Full Audio Transcript
Alex Charfen: As entrepreneurs, we tolerate too much. You know that, and I know that. And we also have a hard time finding romantic relationships. As a result, there're a lot of entrepreneurs that get into relationships and stay in them may be longer than they should. And what's shocked me, throughout my career, is that there's a lot of entrepreneurs who are in abusive relationships and if you're in one or you think you might be, let me give you some insight and tell you what no one else is telling you about what your abusive relationship is doing to you.
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop. And we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be.
It's crazy how often I see entrepreneurs in abusive relationships. I think we are predisposed to be in relationships that are unhealthy for us. And I've been in a long-term relationship that I was told, after it ended and when I went and saw a therapist, he just straight up told me like, "Alex, you don't understand. You were in an abusive relationship." And then I got to learn interesting terms like gaslighting and the explanation of it, you should always feel safe in a relationship. But I was actually surprised by that because I realized that I hadn't felt safe and that I was always looking over my shoulder and I was with somebody who just had a hard time with being transparent and being real and being truthful.
And I stayed in it way longer than I should because, like so many entrepreneurs, I see the best in people and I try and see the best in people. I'm also an optimist. I always feel like things are going to work out. And a lot of things in my life had been really hard. So I thought I was working for something that was going and then the things have been really hard, have been really good and I thought I was working for something that was really hard and it was going to be really good. And it just didn't work out that way. The harder I tried, the more challenging it became. The more I felt there was a lack of transparency. I actually found there was a lack of transparency and I was just being flat out, lied to and manipulated and finally I got out.
But so many entrepreneurs are in relationships where they don't feel safe. Where they don't feel heard. Where they're scared. They're scared of repercussions of their actions. They're scared of being threatened that the person's going to leave, or that the person is going to hurt them, or that the person's going to spend money, or the person, whatever it's going to be. It's whatever it is. Whatever that control mechanism that the person in the relationship is using to make an entrepreneur of feel unsafe or unheard or invalidated or taken advantage of that. If that is long-term and you've communicated your discomfort and things aren't changing, that is probably an abusive relationship.
And here's what's happening to you if you're in a relationship like this that I knew after I got out and people were real with me and told me what was really going on and explain to me how it was. Like when I would share like, "Well, this is what was happening," because in the moment you often don't share like, "This is what's happening," Because I know I felt ashamed. I felt it was my fault. I felt if I did share that, that it would just show that I wasn't doing the right thing in the relationship. I didn't know how to communicate or I didn't know what I was doing. As entrepreneurs, we don't communicate in the moment, but when I communicated later and talked to people, here's what they told me and here's what I came to realize. It's a combination of both.
So one, if you're in an abusive relationship, and you know what, I'll also just throw this in. If you're in an abusive relationship with a business partner or a client or someone else in your world that acts in a way that's threatening. If you have a client that's always telling you they're going to fire you, that's an abusive relationship. If you have a business partner that's always threatening to leave or threatening that they don't want to be involved and throwing in the towel and you'd have to talk them back in like that that is an emotionally abusive relationship. That's not how it should be. You shouldn't feel unsafe, you should feel hurt.
A lot of entrepreneurs might have a really good personal relationship, but they get into abusive relationships at work with partners or with clients. If clients are yelling at you if they're making you feel invalidated if they're doing any of those things that is an abusive relationship and here's what it does to you. So first, it is causing more pressure and noise than you could possibly understand because if there's a primary relationship around you and it is abusive, that means that it's costing you one of the most valuable things you have as a entrepreneurial personality type, as someone who is creating the future, it's costing you your discretionary time.
Because when you're in an abusive relationship, when you're driving, when you're showering, you're thinking about the relationship, not the business, not your future, not your kids, not what you could be doing. You're not thinking about the outcomes you're creating. Instead, you're thinking about this relationship that you have, and here's what it does in your life. Entrepreneurs have this fantasy that if they're in an abusive relationship, they can somehow compartmentalize it. And through usually the rigorous use of routines or alcohol or drugs or something, or they just try as hard as they can, and they think that they can somehow compartmentalize the relationship from the rest of their life. But here's what I want you to know. I know now that it was affecting every facet in my life because the amount of things that improved when it was finally over, for a lot of the time I was in that relationship my fear was that it would end.
When it finally ended and six months went by and I saw an EMDR therapist and I understood more of what was going on and I had more clarity and I read a ton of books on being in abusive relationships and being in relationships where you feel invalidated and on how to have the right relationship. And what I didn't realize was how much it was holding back everything in my life. It was holding me back physically. It was holding me back in my business. It was holding me back in friendships and the people I had around me. It was holding me back in the connections I was making because when it ended, almost, not immediately, but within such a short period of time, all of those things just exploded. It was like I had offloaded an anchor and it really was because the amount of operational drag that an abusive relationship creates around you is overwhelming. It's holding you back in every way in your entire life.
And what no one's telling you right now is that you're hard to be around if you're in an abusive relationship because here's what is by definition going to happen. You're going to be aloof and distant and it's going to feel the people around you that you're not really transparent and that you're hiding something and holding something back. And not everyone might feel it, but here's where I can tell you that people who are really in tune, the people who really, you want to be close to, the ones who are, they can really go out into the future and predict the future, you want to be able to tell them what's really going on. And you want to be able to, with pride, tell them about your family and what's going on in your life. And there's something you're hiding, they have a hard time being around you.
And that's going to hold you back and here's the thing too, the clock's ticking. You don't know how much it's holding you back. You can pretend it's not that much, but we both know it's probably more than you would ever admit, but you can't predict until you're out how much it's really, really holding you back, and how people around you see you like this; as aloof and distant as someone they shouldn't get close to.
Here's another thing, it's hard to be friends with you and have a relationship with you because when I got out of that relationship, what a lot of my long-time friends said was, "I didn't like to call you when you were with her because we were close enough that you told me about what was going on at sometimes and it was the same story every time and it always felt like you were surprised by it. But every time we talked it was the same thing. She had done something you'd asked her not to do and she lied about it and didn't tell you. Then you figured it out and you were really upset and you felt betrayed and violated," and I was like, "Holy crap," and when they played it back to me, it was embarrassing, and it didn't happen once.
It happened a few times because I was in it long enough that a lot of my friends have been affected and I was in it long enough that I had shared with a couple of people. So then when somebody would say like, "Hey, it feels off, are you okay?" I would tell people what was going on. And so I had two or three friends that had heard this and every one of them sat down with me or told me afterwards like, "This is why I didn't talk to you a lot back then because it's overwhelming." They told me it was, "Overwhelming talking to you. It was consuming. All you did is talk about what was going on with her."
And here's the other dynamic that happens. If you're not telling people in your life about what's going on, you don't realize this in the moment, but there's this natural separation that happens with people around you. They always feel a separation. They always feel a gap. They always feel that lack of total transparency where you can't just tell somebody about your life. The easiest way to live your life is in a way where you can just tell someone about what's going on in every aspect of your life, and then that way life is really simple. And if there's an aspect of a relationship you have that you wouldn't be willing to share, then you really need to think about why. And if you're in a relationship where any of these things are happening, where you feel scared or you feel threatened, I assure you there is to some degree everything I just shared with you happening to you and I'm telling you when other business coaches won't tell you, when other coaches won't tell you because this is a tough subject to bring up.
But as someone who's been through it and as someone who has coached tons of entrepreneurs and sat side-by-side with and been friends with and had clients that were and had people who I hired, consultants that I've used, and so many people who I've talked to that have been through this and then those who got out, all of them agreed to these things that, and I can't tell you how many people I've talked to that when I share. I even had friends tell me that I was hard, that they didn't talk to me and there was a reason and other people have said, "Oh, yeah, I've heard the same thing," but here's what no one's telling you also, is that the abusive relationship that you're in, especially if it's your significant other, is so consuming that it makes you really hard to be around.
And here's why. With the friends that you're sharing, it's overwhelming. And that's all that happens because that takes the majority of the conversation, especially if the relationship is in some type of a flare up, and that's when you happen to reach out. That's all that person's going to hear about and that's overwhelming. And then when you don't talk about the abusive relationship, the other person feels that you're not really being transparent with them. And they can also tell that you're just waiting for the time to talk so that you can share all the stuff that's happened because they're one of the few outlets you have because that's just consistent. And so if you feel you're in an abusive relationship, one of the hardest things that you will ever do is figure out a plan to get out of it. One of the ways I did was I started just writing ... You know what they say in relationships? You can't keep score.
And I had to because I was so overwhelmed and so confused, and I kept feeling it was my fault. So I started writing down, in my planner every day, the things that happened that made me feel unsafe. That felt unpredictable. That felt, confusing. That felt like I getting taken advantage of, and not to communicate to her but to be able to remember everything that was really going on. And when I finally did what was looking back at me was so overwhelming that I had to get out. And I quickly figured out how to do it and got out of the relationship and it was very difficult and it. I went to EMDR therapy. I was told by more than one therapist I had the symptoms of PTSD, and we don't talk about this because we all feel it's our fault.
But if we did, we would realize how many people like us, how many entrepreneurial personality types with the hard wiring we have get in with the tolerance levels we have, because we will tolerate a lot, end up in abusive relationships. I think it's a huge, huge amount. And so if you're in one, consider writing down what's going on, making a list to show yourself what's really happening and building a plan to get out. There is another podcast I did on abusive relationships that will let you know if you're in one. It's called How To Know if You're in an Abusive Relationship, and you can look it up as well.