Would You Start a Business with a Romantic Partner?

No, dear reader, I have not taken a lover. Rather, this topic was inspired by several episodes of The Profit that I recently watched. (See original article on this show here.)

I’m still only about 25% of the way through the 5 seasons of The Profit, and I’ve watched at least a half dozen episodes featuring business partners who either started the business as romantic partners, became romantically involved while growing the business, or fit one of those categories before breaking up (while still remaining at the business). All of those relationships resulted in stress or tension, either to the business and/or to the relationship.

I couldn’t help but wonder: Why? Why mix business with romance? Does a romance ever help a business? It seems like at best it wouldn’t have any effect, but there’s a decent chance it will either hurt the business or hurt the relationship.

Now, of course I understand that we don’t always choose whom we love. But if you run a small business, you choose your partners and your employees. There is some amount of agency here.

That said, my perspective is that of an outsider–I’m observing these situations from afar, not speaking to them from experience. So if you do have experience with this, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about dating a coworker. I’m talking about small business owners who are romantically involved with a business partner or employee.