Being in a relationship with someone who’s naturally creative can be really exciting. You may get to be the first taste-tester for the cupcake recipe your bae dreams of one day using in their bakery. Maybe you’ll get the sneakiest of sneak peeks at the song your partner has been writing for years. If you’re the creative one in the relationship, your S.O. gets to reap those benefits. And if you’re both creators? Well, that sounds like a win-win.
It’s not all fun and games, though. Chipping away at a creative project or launching a side hustle based on a personal passion can be stressful and time-consuming, and a creative person requires a lot of support if their venture is going to be successful. That can feel like a lot of pressure within a romantic relationship, so we’ve compiled expert tips from relationship professionals and artists to help you navigate the situation. Keep scrolling for all of their advice, which you can put to use if you’re supporting your significant other… or you can “accidentally” print it out and leave it under your partner’s pillow if you’re the one who needs some more support.
1. Help create the time the other person needs. Obviously, one of the biggest obstacles that any of us have to pursuing our passions is the seeming lack of available hours in the day. You and your partner can help minimize that obstacle by intentionally creating space in your collective and individual schedules. “What can you do to buy your partner a little more time?” prompts couples counselor Raffi Bilek. “Maybe it’s going shopping for them so they don’t have to, or taking care of their laundry. Maybe it’s ordering takeout this week to avoid cooking and doing the dishes. Small things can add up a lot. Finding ways to scrape together extra minutes and hours for your partner can be a big help in allowing them to do what they do best.”
2. Be curious, not critical. “Ask questions about their ideas and help them brainstorm their latest ventures and plans,” encourages coach and relationship expert Andi LaBrune. “Make sure the questions aren’t doubtful of their abilities. Offering to be involved in a non-critical way really shows your genuine support and love for their ventures.” Focus on open-ended questions that you know you don’t already have the answer to — if you think you might know the answer, your tone may come off as less encouraging. Be ready to learn more about your partner’s process and ask about unexpected ways that you can contribute.
3. Show up. It sounds simple, but showing up for your partner consistently — both physically and emotionally — is actually a pretty big deal. Writer Janet Ruth Heller‘s husband is a musician, and she shares with us the many ways in which they show up for each other: She attends his concerts and goes with him to purchase new instruments. He’s her go-to guy when she runs into computer problems while writing, and he tags along when she needs to go places to inspire stories. Making a habit of showing up allows you to more naturally become a partner in your significant other’s creative process. (It’s also just a nice thing to do.)
4. Know when to step back. Artist Kevin Caron was driving a truck when he decided to pursue art over a decade ago, and he credits his wife of 25 years as his number-one cheerleader (as well as his business manager). While Caron has picked up many best practices for creative support over the years, one of his suggestions is to “know when to back off.” If your S.O. is managing a tight deadline for their side hustle or is frustrated by a creative challenge, you might need to learn to show your support differently from usual. Take a (sometimes literal) step back, understand that your partner’s stress has absolutely nothing to do with you, and find ways to help their project run smoothly from afar, like breaking down their schedule for them if you’re a meticulous organizer or providing awesome snacks if you’re great in the kitchen.
5. Don’t act out of jealousy. If bae is spending all of their time working on a creative hustle, you might feel a little out of the loop. This is perfectly normal, according to Northampton Center for Couples Therapy founder Kerry Lusignan, but that doesn’t mean it needs to take a toll on your relationship or personal mental health. “Talk openly about the challenges and feelings you have,” Lusignan suggests. “Do so in a way that is not blaming or accusatory. Ask questions. Share feelings. Make requests. It’s valid and reasonable to want your partner to prioritize you and to ask that your relationship has time that is protected.”
6. Focus on yourself too. “Your partner is moving forward,” explains mental health writer and psychology expert Emily Mendez, M.S. EdS. “They are pursuing their dreams. You should be doing the same. You can inspire your partner by pursuing your passion.” Refocusing on a creative aspiration or side hustle of your own will go a long way toward giving your partner the time and space they need to be effective. Even more important? It will ensure that you’re not getting too wrapped up in someone else’s dream. Remember to follow your own too!
How do you and your partner help each other be your creative best? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)